Greetings from Valentines, Virginia

A community post office helps nationwide senders seal their letters with a kiss

The community of Valentines, Virginia, offers proof that the state is, in fact, for lovers. In the 1950s, Valentines postmaster Willie R. Wright started a tradition that lasts to this day, when he created heart-shaped postmarks for Valentine’s Day. “He designed them himself, and he always had a special vision for them,” says the late postmaster’s wife, Frances D. Wright, who is eighty-seven.

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The post office in Valentines, Virginia.

One mark featured dogwood flowers, another lace, another a cupid, and all were marked Valentines, Virginia 23887. People still visit the post office, a tiny white building with a red heart on its sign out front, or mail in envelopes full of cards to get the special postmark. “We’ve had letters come in from every state, and from abroad,” Wright says. The labor of love continues as the current postmaster, Kathryn Fajna, readies the rubber and ink for another flurry of envelopes this February 14.

photo: Tim Bower

To go the extra mile this year for a special someone, pop your valentine (already addressed, with money for first-class postage) into another envelope and send it to: Valentines Postmaster, 23 Manning Drive, Valentines, VA 23887.