One need look no further than our campus to see that yesterday, Valentine’s Day, is one of the most polarizing days of the year. From the Instagram posts of couples melting over each other to, on the other hand, people who have taken to renaming the holiday out of protest to Palentine’s Day or Single’s Awareness Day. I too have felt torn about the holiday. On one hand, I’m fully aware that it is a manufactured artifice that originated in pagan Rome with the slaughter of animals and the beating of women. Since then, it has been warped by the church and wrapped up in cellophane by corporations trying to sell a delusive guilt trip to people in relationships. On the other hand, it’s really nice to wake up to a heart-shaped box of chocolates and a stuffed puppy with a rose in its mouth.
In the early 70s, a florist shop opened on campus called the Flower Loft. Now existing as the florist at Apple Valley, the Flower Loft was staffed by students like Dr. Meredith Jones-Gray, who then went by Merri Jones. Working her way through her undergraduate career, Jones-Gray put together corsages and boutonnieres for banquet dates, which she says back then you “wouldn’t be caught dead without.”
Along with banquet season, Valentine’s Day was an especially busy time for a florist. In her Creative Writing class with the late Professor John O. Waller, Jones-Gray composed a short story of the plight of a young florist during Valentine’s Day. Looking back at her undergrad writing, Jones-Gray reflected that she thought she was better at writing poetry than prose. While the young woman in the story spouts “Bah, humbug!” at the love holiday, Jones-Gray now says she’s fond of flowers at any time.