Jim O'Leary

Waverly Star

By Jim O'Leary

An e-mail newsletter for and about Waverly people, used with permission in the HLW Herald and on this web site.

Feb. 18, 2002

I am still swiping most of my material from the treasure trove of old Waverly Stars given to me by the McDonnell sisters (Mary McDonnell Anderson, whose husband was Dean Anderson who passed away tragically young, and Catherine McDonnell Westrup of Winsted, who also lost her husband, Don, at a tragically young age.)

Their gift to me just keeps on giving. Their family, of course, were the owners and publishers of The Waverly Star. Many-a-night I stay up late, reviewing the events and names of the past.

Small town papers are like community scrapbooks. I only wish Waverly had a public library where we could read about ourselves and our families, reminisce, and laugh and cry.

For example, in the "Ye Towne Gossip" section of the July 3 edition of the 1952 Waverly Star, we learn that:

"A.S. Mellon of Minneapolis was out from the city Tuesday looking after business matters in Waverly."

"Mrs. Herman Grangroth and son, Harvey; and Mrs. Wilfred Epple and children; and Mrs. Frank Dostal drove to New Brighton Wednesday to visit the Jacob North family."

Dick Mattson tells me Harvey now lives near Cokato. Harvey was a very good guy, one of the hardest workers I ever knew. Harvey used to give me rides to the Green Giant Company in the summer of 1952.

"Mr. and Mrs. Sheldon Kingstedt of Minneapolis were in town Saturday."

And this just in: "Kenneth McDonald, Hollywood farmer, had three cows killed by lightning while standing near a wire fence."

It doesn't say whether it was Kenneth or the cows who were standing by the fence. Since it was my mother who wrote this item, I wish she were still around so I could ask her.

"Is sloppiness in speech caused by ignorance or apathy? I don't know and I don't care."

­ William Safire

It's a wise dog that scratches its own fleas

I found out that the reason people have trouble keeping apostrophes straight is because an apostrophe is shaped crooked.

A common error is to write "it's" for "its" or vice versa. The first is a contraction, meaning "it is." The second is a possessive.

The following information will provide comfort, I hope, to all of us who confuse its with it's and hers with her's and O'Leary with Oleary.

If the Herald staff can learn these rules, it will also be a relief to Dale Kovar, the co-owner and publisher of this newspaper, whose nightmares are people who cannot learn the rules governing apostrophes.

He has been known to put his staff on bread and water for such lapses.

Although it is difficult to straighten out something, which by definition is crooked, there are rules in civilized society to which we must all agree at the risk of chaos.

Rule 1: Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding 's. Follow this rule whatever the final consonant. Thus write, Charles's friend, Burns's poem, the witch's malice.

The pronominal possessives "hers, its, theirs, yours, and ours" have no apostrophe. Indefinite pronouns, however, use the apostrophe to show possession, such as in one's rights and somebody else's umbrella.

So, truly, it's a wise dog that scratches its own fleas.

Is apostrophe trouble caused by ignorance or apathy? I don't know and I don't care.

But even so, educated people should know that hens lay; and even dogs with fleas just lie around. And that's no lie.

A sign on a semaphore crossing here in Corpus Christi, Texas at the intersection of Doddridge Street and Ocean Drive:

"To cross Ocean, press button."

"I like you very much" is an Englishman's way of expressing uncontrollable lust.

Here is a poem I like:


Sometimes things don't go, after all, from bad to worse: some years muscadel faces down frost: green thrives; the crops don't fail; sometimes a man aims high and all goes well.

A people sometimes will step back from war; elect an honest man; decide they care enough that they can't leave some stranger poor.

Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best efforts do not go amiss; sometimes we do as we were meant to.

The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow that seemed hard frozen: may it happen for you.

­ Sheenagh Pugh

Sign in a Corpus Christi clothing store: "Unattended children will be captured and sold as slaves."

When you're down and out, lift up your head and shout . . .

"Sweet are the uses of adversity, which like the toad, ugly and venomous, wears yet a precious jewel in his head;

And this our life exempt from public haunt, finds tongue in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in every thing.

I would not change it."

­ William Shakespeare

As You Like It

Act II, Sc. i

Will power. Will Shakespeare's, that is

"T'is in ourselves that we are thus or thus. Our bodies are our gardens, to the which our wills are gardeners: so that if we will plant nettles, or sow lettuce, set hyssop and weed up thyme, supply it with one gender of herbs, or distract it with many, either to have it sterile with idleness, or manured with industry, why, the power and incorrigible authority of this lies in our wills."

­ William Shakespeare


Act I, Sc. iii

Another poem I like:

By Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Earth's crammed with Heaven, And every common bush afire with God,

But only he who sees takes off his shoes . . .

The rest sit around and pick blackberries.

Glen Keener says the way to inner peace is to finish what you started. So, I finished a chocolate pie, three bags of potato chips, a tuna salad sandwich, and a bowl of ice cream before retiring for the night. Finding inner peace, I slept like a dog and snored like a hog.

Is there a reason why we call butterflies, butterflies instead of flutterbys? A stranger I was standing next to at a bar just down the street the other day brought up this interesting question. It took us a while to come up with an answer.

Since we didn't come up with one, we agreed to another meeting in the near future to work some more on the problem.

I just came in off a trip in which I drove 3,280 miles, mostly surrounded by semis whose drivers can't see you if you can't see their mirrors. Fortunately, they are very good drivers and I think I probably scared them more than they scared me.

Ever since my hitch-hiking days up and down Highway 12, drivers of the big rigs, the 18-wheelers, have been my heroes. I don't think the insurance companies will allow them to pick up hitch hikers any more, though.

Did you ever think that they are our adventurous sailors of the 21st century, and that the interstates are our rivers? And did you know, all you little kids out there, that if you make a pumping motion with your right arm, they will sound their air horn for you?

Ten-four, good buddy. Over and out.

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