We have, as the jewelry ads on television keep reminding us, coming up on Valentine’s Day.  (The amount of chocolate in the stores should have tipped you off if you just don’t watch television these days.)  As valentine’s Day itself is a Monday this year, which is my old joke blog day, I thought I would take note of that romantic holiday now.  I know how you weep when the old joke quiz does not appear on schedule.

     But what I thought I would cover is less romantic than practical.  We will consider the sex aids used by our ancestors.  I have noted elsewhere that our ancestors knew about sex.  That’s how they got be ancestors.  And, like their descendants, they knew there were certain pieces of equipment to make the process easier to accomplish.

     I have mentioned before that a very common, and yet somehow scandalous, part of the Victorian household was the hammock.  I am not convinced of the efficacy of this: it seems too unsteady for me (though I admit my experience with hammocks is nil.)  even more common, though, when intimacy was involved on a postcard, was that ancient sexual accessory: the park bench.

     The card at the top of this column is actually part of a series, in which that bench, against a white or blotted out background, plays host to all sorts of different couples moving in on each other.  (One man actually has his arm around the woman’s waist!)  Not all park benches were built for such heavy action, of course.  These circular ones, though handy in the shade, limited possibilities (although they were not likely to topple over backward if an embrace grew fierce.)

     Now, benches had to be chosen carefully.  One is out in public, after all.  This bench is complete devoid of shrubbery for camouflage, so this couple will be subject to critical review if they move from here to, say, kissing.

     This is much more the thing, with trees, and a handy parasol for added hiding.  (She is ALREADY showing her ankles, Oyster Omelet.  What was the next card in this series like?)

     Of course, if you didn’t care, you didn’t care.  (This has to be one of the most famous park benches in the world.  The number of mismatched and homely lovers photographed by the Bamforth Company on that bench, against that backdrop of that fountain, is legion.  These being Bamforth cards, the course of romance almost never ran smooth.)

     Children, no more precocious on cards than in life, knew what park benches were for.

     Even our cute Dutch children took advantage of the outdoor furniture.

     You have noted, of course, another major accessory to a romantic encounter.  That full moon is virtually a prerequisite for outdoor intimacy.

     This continued into a later era of postcards.  The full moon must be looking on, approving of the goings-on.

     Though it must help if the couple are too wrapped up in each other to notice that the moon seems practically ready to make it a threesome.  (They sure don’t make full moons like they useta.)

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