It is a bittersweet Valentine’s Day for Valentine, Texas. Due to budget cuts, the West Texas town, population 237, could soon lose its post office and the signature Valentine’s Day postmark for which it is known.
The San Antonio Express-News‘ John MacCormack trekked out to Valentine to visit the imperiled post office. “The 2012 postmark includes a sunset, several large plump hearts and the words ‘Love Sta. 79854.’ And on Feb. 7, a week from cupid’s big day, the hand-stamping of thousands of waiting letters began,” MacCormack wrote in his 1,300-word piece about the tradition.
Every year, some 20,000 pieces of mail are routed through Valentine to receive the special Valentine’s Day stamp. (Want one? The Odessa American‘s Lyxan Toledanes assembled a handy primer on how to get a Valentine postmark.)
“Walk-ins also are common, and even good-looking cowboys sometimes drop in for a little help in matters of the heart,” McCormack writes. One such cowboy was 28-year-old Cuatro Brite, of Brite Ranch, who strutted into the post office “wearing a big hat and spurs.” “The whole reason I’m here is to drop off Valentines. It’s a neat deal,” Brite told MacCormack.
Some 3,700 small town post offices made the list of those that could potentially be closed as the U.S. Postal Service tightens its belt. A decision has been delayed until May, but if Valentine’s post office closes, the nearest branch would be more than 35 miles away in Van Horn, Marfa, or Fort Davis. According to a U.S. Postal Service spokesman, an effort could be made to preserve the Valentine’s “unique postmark” for the February holiday. The closure could save the federal government more than $600,000 over ten years.