Valentine tradition spans 40 years

Martha Jones was just extending a nicety 40 years ago when she sent a Valentine to a couple who was new to the area.

But that card soon turned into the symbol of a lasting, 40-year friendship.

Bobby and Barbara Williamson moved to Springfield from Illinois in 1973.

“Barbara came to our church. I was the choir director and she sang in the choir. That’s how we met,” said Jones, now 95, and still a Springfield resident.

So Jones sent a Valentine to the Williamsons that year, with a note.

“I put on it, ‘The economy is pretty bad right now, so this card may have to last,’ ” Jones said.

Barbara Williamson, now 82, said she thought it was nice to get that card.

“When I read what she said about the economy, I thought I’d save that card,” Barbara Williamson said. “Then the next year, I sent her that card back and wrote, ‘Things haven’t improved that much, so here it is again.’ Ever since then, we’ve sent it back to each other with a new note every year.”

That initial expression of warmth has led to an enduring friendship.

“We don’t get to see each other all the time anymore,” Barbara Williamson said. “But we stay in touch over the phone. Sometimes we forget who has the card. Then we have to call each other and see who has it.”

This year it was Barbara Williamson’s turn to send the card to Jones.

“I just put on there ‘Happy VD’ and the year,” Williamson said. “There’s not much space left for notes on it any more.”