A.B.E. Doors & Windows Blog

14 February 2019
The Origin of Valentine’s Day
The Origin of Valentine’s Day

 

If you’re anything like me, you’re of the belief that Valentine’s Day was invented by candy companies and bored housewives. I personally camp out with all the beleaguered husbands and boyfriends, watching the weeping masses pass by the heart-frosted window panes. In the interest of giving my outlook some support, I investigated it this year.

I was under the impression that Saint Valentine was some kind of brave soul who went around marrying people who weren’t allowed to be wed back in the Dark Ages. Or that the mystical saint helped lovers elope or stood in the face of someone with a lot of power to fight for the right to love-who-you-love. Several books and articles later, I am disappointed to learn that Saint Valentine was not a romantic—if such a person even existed at all.

Scholars and historians have actual records of three different Saint Valentine’s dying around February 14th. The first died sometime in the third century with twenty-four soldiers and that’s about all we know about him. The other two are, most likely, the same person with some changes to the story. The second Saint Valentine was most likely out to convert pagans to Christianity and performed a miracle which restored the sight to a Roman aristocrat’s daughter. Unfortunately for him, the Roman emperor didn’t like that and had his head chopped off.

The most likely truth of the holiday is only a little further off from what I already believed. Someone did make up Valentine’s Day, but it isn’t who you might think…

Geoffrey Chaucer, author of ‘The Canterbury Tales,’ made the connection between February and the mating of birds. Apparently, in Chaucer’s day, English birds paired off to lay eggs in February. Soon, the European nobles began sending love notes to each other while the birds and the bees got started. Shakespeare also joined the idea by writing of a lovestruck Ophelia calling herself Hamlet’s Valentine. Englishmen and women began using February 14th as an excuse to write poetry for their beloveds.

As the centuries went on, the commercialization began. Mass-produced cards and smarmy poetry hit the shelves. Cadbury and Hershey began to market ‘Sweets for Your Sweetheart.’ Even though the origins of Valentine’s Day remain as elusive as love itself, at least we live in a time when people aren’t being beheaded for it.

01 February 2019
Back in the Day: Rolodex
Back in the Day: Rolodex

 

Here at A.B.E. Doors and Windows, we have a pretty big age gap between our employees. Our youngest team member is twenty-one and our oldest, Jim Lett Sr who first started the company in 1974, ranks as our oldest. This leads to some comical ‘Back in my Day’ stories.

Today’s blast from the past: the Rolodex!

After our managers emerged from the time capsule that is our basement storage, they had not one but two Rolodexes. One was a cheap knockoff and the other was the genuine article. I had forgotten just how big they were in this day and age of smart phones and Google.

The Rolodex was invented in 1956 by Hildaur Nielsen who worked for Zephyr American, a stationary company in New York. If you didn’t know, the Rolodex was patented to hold specially-designed index cards which would contain contact information. Some companies even cut out the middle man and started printing their business cards so that they fit right into the Rolodex.

Believe it or not, the dated Rolodex was actually an improvement on something similar called the Wheeldex. Zephyr American also manufactured the Autodex which was spring-operated to automatically open to a selected letter, Swivodex which was an inkwell that did not spill, and the Punchodex which was a paper hole puncher. As you can see, they had cornered the market on all things office related that ended in “Dex.”

In today’s age, only the name Rolodex has survived. I know a few people that still refer to their contacts [in their smart phone] as a Rolodex. However, considering the amount of dust we had to knock off ours, I’d say they’re a relict of a bygone age.

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