When Lyndsey Schinzler went to work Monday, she didn't expect to find several men calling her "Sweetheart." But that's exactly what happened to the physical therapist at 4 p.m. when she stepped into her office's waiting room.
"The staff called me out, and I thought I was going to meet a patient. Instead they (the men) started singing," recalled Schinzler as she held tightly to a red rose and valentine.
"Let Me Call You Sweetheart" is a standard from Greg Grey, Dale Jarvis, Phil Rolfs and Doug Ferrier, singing as On Pitch, a barbershop quartet. They had arrived at the Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center bearing valentine tidings from Schinzler's boyfriend, David Fink.
"They sang beautifully. I was in shock, but they had all the other ladies in the office crying," said Schinzler.
Hers was the first of nearly 20 singing valentines the quartet would deliver Monday. Six other quartets will help deliver an additional 70 such vocal valentines today throughout the Twin Cities.
The workload might seem heavy, but the singers' moods were light and they talked about why they were looking forward to the night.
"It always brings a smile to people's faces," said Grey.
"Yeah - either from happiness or embarrassment," added Ferrier, who recalled one valentine delivery to a mechanic, courtesy of his wife.
Fellow barbershop singer Frank Ripsom led On Pitch to each destination Monday. He snapped a picture at each stop so each person could remember the moment.
He and the members of On Pitch have careers in the insurance industry. But, like nearly 100 other men in the area, they spend free time as members of the Sound of Illinois Barbershop Chorus.
The chorus includes farmers, bankers, carpenters and others.
"You name it," said Rolfs.
The group has sent its quartets out every St. Valentine's Day for more than a decade in this area, said Pat Spencer, an Illinois Wesleyan University retiree who serves as the Twin Cities singing valentine organizer.
Her husband, Bill Spencer, will be out today delivering the sweet sounds with his quartet, The Mellow Fellows.
"It's always a surprise," she said. "I always tell them, make sure and clear this" with an employer or teacher or the business wherever the valentine will be delivered.
Many choose to surprise their loved one in a restaurant on St. Valentine's Day. "And that's fun because it really turns the whole room into a festive atmosphere," said Pat Spencer.
"The neat thing is guys are going out all over the country for Valentine's Day and doing this," as part of the barbershop singing culture, said Ferrier.
This is the third year Mabel Poulton has found the barbershop musicians visiting her in Westminster Village's dining room. She and friend Leora Schafbuch sat quietly, listening to On Pitch as they sang "I Love You Truly."
Family friends Pat and Sarah Rolfs, who ordered the valentine, stood in the background, snapping photographs.
Dressed in white suits and matching red vests and bow ties, the men stood in a line, each with his right hand on the next's back. Phil Rolfs led the harmonizing, and finished by saying "Happy Valentine's Day."