Marysville’s Phil Jubie holds a book of poetry by John Greenleaf Whittier that once belonged to his great-uncle, Edwin Ritchie. Jubie would love to know the story behind the book’s inscription, from someone named Lulu. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Marysville’s Phil Jubie holds a book of poetry by John Greenleaf Whittier that once belonged to his great-uncle, Edwin Ritchie. Jubie would love to know the story behind the book’s inscription, from someone named Lulu. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Who was Lulu? 114 years later, a Valentine’s gift won’t tell

A sweet message in a vintage book of poetry has a Marysville man pondering the life of his great-uncle.

Google tells us that eCards are among the most searched gifts this Valentine’s Day, right behind flowers and ahead of teddy bears.

Imagine, though, taking a time machine a century into the future. Would anything be left of today’s heartfelt digital messages?

It’s something to think about as handwriting gives way to current communication methods — whether sentiments are delivered by keyboard, voice mail or text. Technology advances so quickly that devices used just a decade ago are in junk drawers.

What lasts?

Marysville’s Phil Jubie has a personal message his great uncle received 114 years ago. Handwritten by someone named Lulu — in all likelihood a sweetheart — it’s preserved in a poetry book.

“My Uncle Ed, he passed away in 1969,” said Jubie, adding that the book was given to Edwin Ritchie not by his wife, Olga Ritchie, “but somebody else.”

“I thought it was a Valentine’s Day gift. But I did some research on my uncle, and his birthday was February 13,” said 70-year-old Jubie, who’s not sure if it was a birthday or Valentine’s gift.

The book of poems by John Greenleaf Whittier has a handwritten message inside, dated Feb. 13, 1906.

“To Edwin from Lulu.” And on a separate card is this: “Wishing you many happy returns of the day, Lulu.”

Simply titled “Whittier,” the vintage book has other surprises inside. Pressed between its pages are several dried but well preserved four-leaf clovers. Imagining a romantic, pastoral scene, “I can see him sitting on a blanket,” Jubie said. “I kind of thought the clovers were marking poems he was reading with her.”

Born Feb. 13, 1888, he would have been 18 in 1906.

“I don’t think he was in Everett at the time,” Jubie said of his great-uncle.

Phil Jubie holds a poetry book that once belonged to his great-uncle, Edwin Ritchie. With the book, a gift to Ritchie in 1906, are pressed four-leaf clovers and a sweet message from someone named Lulu. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Phil Jubie holds a poetry book that once belonged to his great-uncle, Edwin Ritchie. With the book, a gift to Ritchie in 1906, are pressed four-leaf clovers and a sweet message from someone named Lulu. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Edwin Ritchie came here from Michigan, but Jubie isn’t sure when. Ritchie married Olga Larson Martin, the sister of Jubie’s maternal grandmother, in Snohomish on July 3, 1941. Olga and Edwin Ritchie lived in the Lowell area and later in north Everett, just off Broadway.

Jubie’s great uncle died Sept. 1, 1969.

“He was a painter — he painted signs on business doors with gold leaf,” Jubie said. Also a watercolorist, Ritchie took painting classes from Bernie Webber, an icon of the local art scene who died in 2006.

“This is pretty special to me,” Jubie said. “He was a pretty interesting old character, a neat old guy when we got to see him.”

After Ritchie died, his lawyer-style bookcase “ended up in my mom’s house,” Jubie said. “It sat there many years.”

When his mother, Helen Jubie, eventually gave him the case, Jubie added his own books to it but didn’t really look at the old ones. “A couple years ago, I was thumbing through these, four or five poetry books. They’re kind of neat,” he said.

“I’m surprised at how well the book has held up,” said Jubie, one of 12 siblings who was raised in Lake Stevens and has retired from his electrical and construction businesses.

In that old book, where one clover marks a narrative poem called “The Bridal of Pennacook,” he found Lulu’s tidy penmanship. It doesn’t tell much about a day-before-Valentine’s gift, or the relationship behind it. It does show what lasts, longer than any text or email.

“I’d love to know who Lulu was,” Jubie said, “but we know she’s not around.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Ron Detrick teaches his geometry class Wednesday morning at Lakewood Middle School in Marysville on May 12, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
For real, these Lakewood pupils are back in class full time

Elementary and middle school students are getting in-person instruction five days a week.

Darren Redick is the new CEO of Providence’s Northwest Washington service area. (Providence Health and Services) 20210514
Providence stays local in selecting a new regional CEO

Based in Everett, Darren Redick will lead the health care provider’s Northwest Washington area.

Georgie Gutenberg
Death of Lake Stevens woman not suspicious

Police had asked for the public’s help to search for Georgie Gutenberg. She was found dead Sunday.

Everett man shot while walking his dog identified

Ryan S. McFadden, 33, died of gunshot wounds.

Man killed by train near Snohomish is identified

The Marysville man, 45, was hit Thursday morning south of the Snohomish River.

Students lead charge as Langley council takes climate action

The Whidbey Island city has declared a climate emergency and has pledged to involve United Student Leaders.

Douglas Ryner, 8, brushes twin cows Thelma and Louise at the Evergreen State Fair on Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019 in Monroe, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
11 days of glee: Evergreen State Fair ‘Back in the Saddle’

The fair was called off in 2020 due to COVID-19. Organizers are planning a revised event this year.

Firefighters douse the flames at the NOAA Fisheries Building Friday evening in Mukilteo on May 14, 2021.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Fire damages NOAA site near new ferry terminal in Mukilteo

Smoke flooded the waterfront Friday night as fire crews descended on the abandoned research center.

Karen Moore
Civil attorney appointed to be Snohomish County judge

Karen Moore is a former deputy prosecutor. She also has experience as a pro tem judge and commissioner.

Most Read