Valentine’s Day is nearly upon us! And while it can be a time of joy for many, for some it is more bittersweet, recalling memories of past heartache. If you fall into the latter camp this year, don’t fret—we uncovered the remedy you might need in an old manuscript recipe book.
“A Cure for Love” was penned on one page of this 19th century Collection of Useful Receipts, a handwritten book containing recipes for food as well as home remedies for various diseases and conditions. And while some of the directions might be a tad difficult to follow, we’ve been assured that this cure is the best around:
Take a gram of sence [sense] half a gram of Prudence a dram of understanding one ounce of patience a pound of
resolution and a Handful of Dislike intermix them all together fold them up in the [???] brick of your brain there let them stand for twenty four howers [hours] then set them on the
slow fire of hatred Straing [?] it clean from the dregs of Melon- -colly [melancholy] sweetning it with forgetfulness putting
it in the Bottle of your heart stop[p]ing it down with a cork of sound judgment there let it stand fourteen days in the water of cold
Affliction this rightly made and fully ap[p]lied is the most
effectunate [effectual?] remedy in the universe you may have it at the house of
under- -standing in constant street by going up the hill of self
denial In the town of forgetfullness in the County of Love
This cure for love appears alongside many other medical remedies, including ointments for “warts and corns” and a supposed cure for smallpox. Whoever created this manuscript apparently considered love a very serious condition indeed.
His golden brown eyes stared at the suit in the back of his closet for over ten minutes. It was still in its garment bag and although he had wanted to get rid of it for a while, he simply couldn’t. The memory of the elegant countess giving him the suit and the feel of pride he felt as he wore it for her still lingered in every stitch and every fold. Aléssandro sighed and rubbed his face a few times. No, he had to wear it. This was an important step in his healing process and he had a date.
He reached for the black garment bag and placed it on his bed, unzipping it and pulling out the fine suit. He smiled faintly and sighed, turning back to the table. The red envelope was still there, and he read the visible words on the note:
…at 6:30pm. Seeing you there would make my day. Until I see you, my handsome knight.
Aléssandro smiled at those words and shook his head, looking in the mirror as he trimmed his facial hair and fixed his hair to look somewhat decent. He noticed his hands were shaking slightly and he chuckled. Was he really nervous? He had looked forward to this date and yet, it was difficult, especially since he was wearing the elegant suit and then there was going to be dancing. Of course there was going to be dancing. There was always dancing. He grumbled and washed his face in the basin. He grabbed the towel and wiped the water off his face and chest.
Going on dates was not something he did often. In fact, he hadn’t seen anyone since his last break-up and he while he wasn’t in the mood to jump on to someone else, this invitation was something he felt was necessary. Master Bao even recommended he go and simply let his soul be free. And Aléssandro agreed.
He began to dress, each fine silk piece slipping onto his body, reminding him of better days, but he meditated, remembering the lessons Master Bao gave him about breathing and clearing his mind. He finished the entire ritual by tying his tie and wrapping his blue cloak around his left shoulder. Looking in the mirror, the humble knight went from a simple man to a man of elegance; of nobility. He rolled his eyes and grabbed the red invitation, placing it inside his jacket. He decided to pick up a rose on his way to the event. A red rose. Never again blue.
As he walked to the event, many hears turned and he smiled, bidding everyone a good evening. Girls giggled, and women stared, but Aléssandro carried on, silently accepting the compliments while blushing at the attention. It wasn’t long before he reached his destination. With a rose on his jacket lapel and one in his hand, he approached a woman and cleared his throat. “Matron Nightingale?” The older woman turned and smiled, gesturing to the enclosed area beside the orphanage.
“Go on, she’s waiting for you.”
Aléssandro smiled and nodded. He entered the area and children dressed in red, purples, and blues were running around as the band began to set up. He looked around when he saw a blonde woman walking toward him. He seemed nervous but he bowed respectfully. “Miss Shellene,” he said.
“I’m so glad to see you, Sir Mares. I didn’t think you would come,” she said, a soft blush on her cheeks.
“I wouldn’t miss this even, miss. I am honored to be here.” He looked at the flower in his hand and chuckled, looking at her. “I brought this…”
Shellene smiled and nodded, reaching for his hand. “It’s beautiful. Thank you. I’m sure she’ll love it. Come. Let’s go see her.” She led Aléssandro toward a group of little girls who were gathered and quickly shied away when the knight approached them.
“Lina?” Shellene asked with a smile. A young dark haired girl with almond eyes stepped forward and blushed, taking tiny steps toward the orphanage lady. “This is Sir Mares. You sent him the invitation to our ball, remember?”
The little girl nodded quietly and giggled, feeling rather embarrassed that her friends were staring, although she knew they were jealous. “Hi,” she said.
Aléssandro knelt and offered her the rose. “A rose to the most beautiful lady in this ball, Miss Lina.” The girls giggled as she reached for the flower, but she turned as red as her dress as he reached for her little hand and kissed it.
She looked at Shellene and whispered, “Can I show the girls?” Shellene smiled and nodded as Lina ran back to show her friends the rose. Aléssandro rose and adjusted his cloak.
Shellene looked at him and patted his cloak covered shoulder. “You have made her night, Sir Mares. Not many knights wanted to come to our orphanage Love is in the Air party because they had dates and fancy events to attend. We’re grateful. Thank you.”
He smiled at the group of girls who giggled and looked at him. “Trust me, Miss Shellene, there’s nowhere else I would rather be than here.” He walked toward the girls and asked Lina to dance. As they walked to the dance floor, the girls followed, and the group danced with their handsome knight the rest of the evening.
During WWII, letters had to be dispatched in a quick and easy format with limited characters, similar to Twitter. The military’s approach was V-Mail.
Originally created by the British Post Office and Eastman Kodak, Airgraph was rebranded by the U.S. as Victory mail, or V-Mail. V-Mail was a letter and envelope combination used for correspondence of 300 words or less. The letters were sent to censors and reviewed before being photographed on 16 mm film. The facsimile of the letter was reduced in size and shipped via air transport. Between June 15, 1942 and April 1, 1945, over 550 million pieces of V-Mail were sent by military personnel abroad to their loved ones back home. The letters decreased delivery time, minimized enemy interception, could be reproduced if lost, and freed up valuable cargo space.
The Winifred Barbour Simpson papers is a collection of correspondence and scrapbooks produced by Winifred Barbour Simpson from 1931 to 1984. The papers contain V-Mail sent to her husband, Leonard W. Simpson. Although Winifred was a Charlotte native, she worked in Washington, DC to support the War effort. Winifred’s artistic ability is showcased in much of the V-Mail in her collection.
The Winifred Barbour Simpson papers also contain other WWII paraphernalia, including a USO handbook, an induction letter, and an army songbook. To learn more about Winifred Barbour Simpson Papers visit the online finding aid or visit Special Collections at the J. Murrey Atkins Library.