I was in a big Shopper’s Drug Mart in Belleville a couple of days ago, and a display near the front of the store stopped me right in my tracks. It was a collection of those heart-shaped boxes of chocolates that you see at this time of year as Valentine’s Day approaches. Only – and I think this is why it stopped me in my tracks – I don’t think I’ve actually seen such a display for many years; I can’t say as I recall ever noticing one in any of the pharmacies I ever visited in my recently ended Montreal period.
Ah, but did the deep red boxes, some of them with plush velvety lids, ever bring back memories of long-ago Valentine’s displays! At Johnston’s drugstore in Madoc, to be precise – when I was a kid growing up at the Manse in Queensborough. Johnston’s is a business of very long standing in Madoc, and back in the late ’60s and early ’70s when I was growing up, it was – as it is today – not only a pharmacy and supplier of things like toothpaste and shampoo, but also a gift shop (think lots of Blue Mountain pottery, back in those days) and, for Valentine’s Day anyway, a seller of chocolates in those beautiful red (and sometimes pink) boxes.
I vividly recall, all those long years ago, just standing and staring at those boxes in Johnston’s, thinking how pretty and appealing they were. (I am fairly sure it was more about red being my favourite colour than anything to do with the chocolates inside.) I remember thinking that a person would be awfully lucky to be on the receiving end of such a gorgeous thing.
Nowadays, I would care even less about the chocolates than I did then. But I still see those red heart-shaped boxes through the eyes of a wide-eyed little girl. And I still think they are the most beautiful things ever.