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When Hearts Are Wild : Valentine’s Day Isn’t an Affair Only for Young Lovers

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Valentine’s Day is traditionally viewed as an occasion for young lovers, but visit an elementary school or chat with senior citizens, and it’s clear the day belongs to everyone.

Ralph and Philomena Scola would definitely agree.

Standing beneath a heart-shaped bouquet of red and white balloons in Newport Beach early Friday, the Yorba Linda residents got their Valentine’s Day festivities off to an early start with a tender kiss.

The Scolas, who were married 71 years ago, were at the Newport Dunes Resort to accept first prize in the resort’s “Valentine’s Longest Married Couple” contest.

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Clinging affectionately to 98-year-old Ralph’s arm, Philomena, 92, recalled her first Valentine’s Day with her husband.

“I was working at the Fair Department Store in Chicago,” said Philomena, “and Ralph would come and walk me home every day. On Valentine’s Day, 1921, he gave me a beautiful card with a little piece of candy in it. We were married six months later.”

Gazing out at the crowd of relatives gathered in front of them, the Scolas offered young lovers some words of wisdom culled from the couple’s long married life.

“Love one another,” said Philomena, “because it doesn’t matter who’s right and who’s wrong. It will all blow over eventually.”

Don’t try telling that to 10-year-old Eric Hatch.

A fifth-grader at Costa Mesa’s Killybrooke Elementary School, Hatch was less than thrilled with the idea of receiving a Valentine from that special girl. “Girlfriends suck,” Hatch said Friday as his classmates rushed around the classroom exchanging Valentines with one another.

“I don’t have no girlfriend and I don’t see a point in having one,” the diminutive Hatch said with a disgusted look. “The only good about Valentine’s is that you get candy.”

Candy is what Laguna Hills resident Inez Pierson remembers most about Valentine’s Day. Sitting with her husband, Ron, in the Laguna Hills Mall, Pierson, 72, recalled how her husband of 52 years used to bring her candy every Valentine’s Day.

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“He used to give me a big, heart-shaped box of chocolates every year until I told him to stop,” Pierson said. “After a certain age, you just can’t eat that stuff anymore. The boxes were beautiful though.”

“I couldn’t give her anything else,” her husband said with a laugh. “She’s allergic to perfume and flowers!

“Valentine’s Day has never been that big of a day for us,” Ron added. “But we still enjoy looking for cards for our children and grandchildren.”

Looking over at her husband, Inez chided Ron affectionately: “I’ll have to remind you to give me a kiss on Valentine’s Day.”

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Kisses are something that Killybrooke Elementary fifth-grader Nuvia Rodriguez isn’t quite sure she wants on Valentine’s Day.

Looking at a red card with the words “I want to be your boyfriend. I love you.” scrawled inside it in pencil, Rodriguez’s face became flushed.

“It’s from someone who likes me,” Rodriguez said with an embarrassed giggle.

Rodriguez, 11, explained that lots of other fifth-graders have boyfriends and girlfriends, but said she wasn’t sure what her admirer had in mind.

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“He wants to ask you out!” Rodriguez’s friend, Tamara Trejo, shrieked excitedly. “He’s not my boyfriend!” Rodriguez responded quickly. Then, with eyes twinkling mischievously, added: “At least not yet.”


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