Today is the day we celebrate St. Valentine’s Day. For many people this is a day to give chocolates, flowers, and who knows, perhaps even diamonds. For many guys this is a way to hopefully get some lovin’! For many guys this is a way to stay out of the doghouse. Some guys will get to work today, see the cards and flowers on the receptionists desk and say “Oh crap! That’s today???”

Actually I usually try to get something nice for Sue on Valentines. Sometimes we just don’t have the cash, as is the case this year. She knows how much I love her, and fortunately I have a wife who is not a materialistic money grubber who thinks only how much loot she can get out of a relationship. Sue knows that I don’t have much other than love to offer. She certainly didn’t marry me for my money (or my looks!) However there are a lot of women out there who measure a relationship by how much they get for birthdays, anniversaries and of course on the mother lode of romantic holidays, Valentines Day.

Let’s look at Valentines Day through history:There are varying opinions as to the origin of Valentine’s Day. Some experts state that it originated from St. Valentine, a Roman who was martyred for refusing to give up Christianity. He died on February 14, 269 A.D., the same day that had been devoted to love lotteries. Legend also says that St. Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer’s daughter, who had become his friend, and signed it “From Your Valentine”. Other aspects of the story say that Saint Valentine served as a priest at the temple during the reign of Emperor Claudius. Claudius then had Valentine jailed for defying him. In 496 A.D. Pope Gelasius set aside February 14 to honor St. Valentine. Gradually, February 14 became the date for exchanging love messages and St. Valentine became the patron saint of lovers. The date was marked by sending poems and simple gifts such as flowers. There was often a social gathering or a ball.

In the United States, Miss Esther Howland is given credit for sending the first valentine cards. Commercial valentines were introduced in the 1800’s and now the date is very commercialized. The town of Loveland, Colorado, does a large post office business around February 14. The spirit of good continues as valentines are sent out with sentimental verses and children exchange valentine cards at school.

While most people associate St. Valentine’s Day with hearts, flowers, chocolates and the like, for Chicagoans the day brings memories of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. In 1929 gang violence between Al “Scarface” Capone’s South-side gang and George “Bugs” Moran came to a bloody head after years of escalation. Seven men were killed in a hail of machine-gun fire. One of the men, optometrist Dr. Reinhardt Schwimmer was not one of Moran’s men. He was a hanger-on who was fascinated by the world of bootleggers. Dr Schwimmer picked a bad day to visit his gangland buddies. It cost him his life. Capone of course denied any complicity in the hit, but it was widely known that he had ordered the assassination of Moran. Ironically it was the way the hit went down that may have saved Moran’s life. The killers were dressed as Chicago Police officers. Moran, on his way into the garage, saw the ersatz policemen entering, and chose to avoid the garage that morning.