By Deena Adams
Some of you may remember Alyssa Schwarz from my interview with her on September 29, 2021 when we talked about her debut novel, The Glass Cottage. If you missed it, you can read it here.
This week Alyssa is sharing the cool backstory to her recently released novella, Dear Beth, a sweet Valentine’s Day prelude to The Glass Cottage. Alyssa has graciously offered a digital copy of Dear Beth to one person who comments on this post by February 15.
A Valentine Tradition
I love family traditions—the way they link present and past and bring people together. These unique little traditions can be tied to birthdays, anniversaries, holidays… Maybe your family decorates the house a certain way for Christmas, or maybe there was that desert your aunt always makes for family get-togethers. Whatever it may be, it is the love behind these practices that makes them so special.
There is one such family tradition I look forward to every year, and it’s the Loveland, CO valentine re-mailing program. Ever since I was a little girl, I remember receiving a Valentine’s Day card from my grandma with the iconic Loveland stamp in the top corner. She’d pick out every card, address it, and drop the sealed envelopes in a red box at the grocery store. From there, they’d be taken back to Loveland in early February, stamped, and sent off from there.
Every year, I’d wait for that letter and marvel over the unique stamp and the poem chosen to go along with it. Most of the time, they were cheesy and cute, but that only made me love them all the more. To this day, my mom and I still wait until February to send our Valentine’s Day letters up to Loveland to share the new love-inspired stamps with the rest of the family.
Now, this tradition goes back much farther than my grandma. In 1947, Elmer Ivers, the Postmaster of the Loveland Chamber of Commerce, received some interesting mail. Around February, he was sent a few dozen letters with a note to stamp them with Loveland’s postmark. Thinking it a grand idea, he rounded up the Loveland stamp club and began the letter re-mailing program, complete with its own cancellation stamp. Below is an example of one of the many poems that have been incorporated into the stamps over the decades:
Our sweetheart city has a magical way
To brighten up your valentine’s day
When you open your card it will reveal
The spirit of friendship and the love we all feel
After a shaky start, Elmer partnered with Ted Thompson, the owner of the Rialto Theater in town and the Chamber of Commerce, and they formally declared Loveland the Sweetheart City. Ted and his wife Mable, the real Sweetheart Couple of the city, breathed a new life into the program than had ever been seen.
Now, over 75 years later, it’s as big an event as ever. Still going after all these years, the re-mailing program sees mail from over 110 countries (spanning from Denmark, to China, to Japan), employs 50 volunteers every year to sort and stamp all the letters, and there is even up to a ten-year wait-list to become a stamper.
So, while I continue this tradition because of my grandma, I can feel a part of a larger tradition spanning the years of Colorado’s history.
And thus, began the inspiration for my latest novella, Dear Beth, a sweet Valentine’s Day story set against the backdrop of this real-world Hallmark-ish Colorado town.
Thanks so much for sharing the story behind the story with us, Alyssa. I love the background behind your novella, and I pray God will bless your writing endeavors.
Join the conversation. Have you ever heard of the Valentine re-mailing program? Did you know Loveland, CO was named the Sweetheart City? Does a story based on this tradition sound interesting to you?
Be sure to comment by February 15 for a chance to win a digital copy of Alyssa’s novella. (Keep scrolling to find the comments section)
Dear Beth by Alyssa Schwarz
Click book cover for purchase link
After finishing his veterinarian training, Tye Prescott is back in Colorado and ready to give his relationship with Beth another chance, only she’s made it very clear she wants nothing to do with him.
Beth Walsh is a hopeless romantic, except when it comes to her own love life. In her opinion, love is best left to the storybooks. But when a few nosy octogenarians decide to play matchmaker, she grasps for the only excuse she can think of to avoid another set up.
Set against the backdrop of Loveland’s historic Valentine’s Day letter re-mailing program, Tye and Beth must work together to convince the town of their rekindled romance. But Tye has his own plans of winning back the woman who got away.
Might it finally be time for Beth to risk her heart again?
Contemporary romance author Alyssa Schwarz is a graduate of the Colorado School of Mines with a Master’s in Geology & Geological Engineering. She also works as a professional watercolor artist along the Colorado Front Range and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Alyssa’s debut novel, The Glass Cottage, is set in the Colorado mountains, and released in the Fall of 2021.
If you missed last week’s spotlight with Aubrey Taylor, find it here.
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