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. 25, 2001

Dear Readers,

Those of you who have not yet cancelled your subscription will be alarmed to note that THE WAVERLY STAR has now expanded to include a movie section and a book review section.


The U.S. Catholic Conference has anticipated this year's Academy Awards and has selected the year's top ten films. While the Catholic bishops annually select the top ten films, this is the first year they have ranked them.

1. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is their number one choice.

2. Traffic

3. Chicken Run

4. Butterfly

5. Billy Elliot

6. Best in Show

7. Remember the Titans

8. Cast Away

9. The Color of Paradise

10. East-West

Those of us who remember the Legion of Decency can only sigh and say to the bishops, "You've come a long way, Baby." The above list is the honest-to-God truth. Lucky for them Catholics don't go to Confession anymore.

In another instance of "hometown boy makes good" I am pleased to report that Tim Lammers, son of Jim and the late Annella Negus Lammers, reviews movies for Minneapolis stations. You can reach him through a link in the HLW Herald's web site. He is well worth your while.


"Outside a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside a dog, it's too dark to read." (Groucho Marx)

Before I get into recommending books for you to read, I should warn you about the dangers of book addiction as passed on to me by my literary mentor, Dr. James W. Presley, a well-known author who has been a friend of mine ever since we lived in Texarkana. He recently forwarded to me via the Internet this advice from an outfit called The American Literature Abuse Society:

"The social costs of literary abuse can be very high. If you catch your children reading too much, then get them a television set for their room.

There is no worse term than 'nerd,' so don't risk condemning them to a lifetime of being some kind of intellectual who can answer the questions on 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire.' You run this risk if you allow them to read or if you leave books lying about the house. You wouldn't leave a loaded pistol lying around would you?

If your daughter shows signs of bookishness (e.g. bad posture from reading in awkward positions or carrying heavy book bags - or admiring an English teacher), then send her to a Florida college or pay for a cheerleading or baton-twirling course. Otherwise, worst fate of all, she may end up as a cranky reference librarian in a small town. You have all heard of Marian the Librarian?

(Aside here: Who played Marian in the most successful production ever done in Waverly, "The Music Man?" Tom Pususta was the mayor. Help me with this.)

Now that you have been warned about overuse or abuse here are some really good books:

FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS by James Bradley.

I am a picky reader but I couldn't put this one down. It describes the battle for Iwo Jima in unforgettable prose which leaves you in awe over the heroism of our Marines and the horrors of war.

My brother Paul had to make emergency landings on Iwo Jima when B-29's were making round-trip non-stop bombing runs from Tinian in the Mariana Islands. If those thousands of Marines had not died on Iwo Jima to take that airstrip in the mid-Pacific, he and countless others would have crashed into the sea.


I had read the other Carter books out of the loyalty of an old Democrat but this one I read for sheer joy. His description of his boyhood in Plains, Georgia comes in so much rich detail that I wish I could remember my boyhood in Waverly with the same accuracy.

He grew up as a farmer in the midst of the Great Depression in Georgia at the same time Minnesota farmers were suffering through it, but it was like we were on different planets, so different were our customs and life-styles.

It took World War II to bring us at least partially together, north and south. I like the fact that Jimmy Carter was great friends with both Hubert Humphrey and George McGovern.

And George McGovern has a good new book out on World Hunger, which is the project he is now working on at the Rome Headquarters. We have the means to prevent world hunger but we aren't doing it - or didn't you know?

Minnesota is different from Texas - and from other places. Did you hear about the judge in Willmar, Minnesota who sentenced a young man to COLLEGE!

The county would pay his tuition and the young man would have to have passing grades or he would go to jail. Okay, calm down now. This makes sense. College tuition even at an Ivy League school is much cheaper than a jail cell.

Minnesota is the only state in the union that seems to have it even halfway right. It is stunning that we have almost two million of our young men in prisons, a higher rate of incarceration than any other nation in the world.

We have over 200,000 Texans in our prisons and the prison-building industry is a good investment right now - more all the time. There are more young black men in prison than there are in college. In Texas the same young man would probably have gotten a 25 year sentence and the taxpayers would have supported him for years to come - in a jail cell.


I got this on the Internet:

1. I came. I thawed. I transferred.

2. Survive Minnesota. The rest of the world is easy.

3. If you love Minnesota, raise your right ski.

4. Minnesota - where visitors turn blue with envy.

5. Minnesota - come fall in love with a loon.

6. Land of many cultures - mostly throat.

7. Where the elite meet the sleet.

8. Minnesota: Have you jump-started your kid today?

9. Land of 10,000 Petersons.

10. Why Minnesota? To protect Ontario from Iowa.

Speaking of north and south, I had not even heard of Dale Earnhardt before this week. I thought stock-car racing was strictly a southern phenomenon until I realized it's as popular on national television as the WWF (which furnishes us with the frightening fact that it is the most popular show by far for white teenaged boys).

Glen Keener sent me material this week with a bit of background on stock car racing and its fans. It all started out with souped-up cars used by southern bootleggers or moonshiners to outrun the feds and later on, they took to racing each other for sport.

It became a Sunday afternoon pastime in small southern towns. The drivers had to have the courage to drive at top speeds on country roads at night with the headlights off.

Like country music, professional entertainers took over and turned it into an industry with high paying audiences (Remember how Colonel Parker ruined Elvis Presley?)

At the Catholic Worker homeless shelter here on Monday morning, the opening prayers, among others, were for the repose of the soul of Dale Earnhardt. All the homeless men were fans of his.

I neglected to mention that Richard Mattson's son is on the city council in Montrose now, carrying on a good tradition of public service. I hope he knows how much his grandfather was loved and respected all over Wright County.

I am still wondering how those heartless four-year-olds, Don Smith and John Alden Gagnon, could have gone and dug a hole and buried my red wagon forever.

Although 65 years have gone by and the wagon has now returnethed to dust, I am still smarting over it. I asked a priest about this, Fr. Schoenberger in fact, known to some Waverlyites, and he told me since Don and "Chuck" had not yet reached the age of reason they could not be held accountable (although the criminal justice system is now trying such children as adults).

He did say I could file for civil damages against their parents but Mr. and Mrs. Gagnon and Conrad and Minnie Smith have now been in heaven a long time and out of the reach of the Law and the statute of limitations makes it all moot. But I am not mooted.

I have an Internet friend in England now who sends me the most wonderful stuff. I would love to cajole him into writing a "Letter from England" for future Waverly Stars.

His name is ichard Sheppard. You will see him in the "Pen Pal" section of the Howard Lake Herald on the website. He lives in Sudbury, Suffolk, UK and wrote in the website: "I lived in Waverly in the early '70's. I left when I was 11 or so, but I still have fond memories."

He says Garrison Keillor is indeed a national treasure and is a big hit in England where "the Brits are keen on parody and his parody can stand up to any British standard, which I consider world class.

And I think the best parody and comedy can only come from a good understanding and love of the society that's being parodied. Whenever I listen to Prairie Home Companion, it makes me homesick, no matter how silly it gets."

Richard was the only reader kind enough to offer me food and drink while my wife Jeanne is in Florida this week and next. He said it may, however, be illegal to accept food and drink imports from outside the U.S. without a license.

I told him to go ahead anyway so I am going to print his contribution: A case of Abbott Ale, brewed by the Greene King Brewery in Bury St. Edmunds. (The bottles are labeled: BRAIN DAMAGING and that's fine with me also. Thank you, Richard. And Slainte!)

Tom Painschab sends this:

"For The STAR. Our daughter Alexis has just returned from a one-week vacation to Waverly. She stayed with Grandma (Mrs. Jeanne Reardon) at her house overlooking Waverly Lake.

She visited with her many uncles and aunts, spent a day snowmobiling with Ted Painschab's daughter Alisha, and went on several shopping trips to "the cities." Shopping is a talent inherited from her mother. She spent time with Aunt Rita at her quilt shop in Howard Lake and brought home a couple of projects for her and Cheryl to work on.

Highlights of the trip: playing in the snow and cold, visiting her relatives - and the biggest enjoyment of all, spending time with Grandma and putting puzzles together, something they both enjoy doing."

Tom says he remembers reading THE WAVERLY STAR back in the '50s and what today is a routine thing, like a trip to "the cities" was a news item back then and written up as an occasion of interest.

Bern Althoff recalls Don Smith and himself, at age 14, firing their rifles into the air upon hearing the Waverly fire siren anounce the celebration of V-J Day - and later, when he was in the Air Force, "flying from Guam to Japan, and having the pilot bank the plane and solemnly announce that the tiny island below was Iwo Jima.

And later, in 1955, on Guam, two Japanese soldiers coming out of the jungle, finally aware that the ball game was over." He says "Flags of Our Fathers" reminded him of all this. If Bernie likes a book, go out and buy it.

Margaret Kutz has a new e-mail address: MKUTZ658@aol.com

She reports "having a little too much of old man winter. Snowmobilers are having a field day with their machines! Also the kids have been doing a lot of sliding and snowman building and since we have lots of boys, we have lots of snowball throwing.

They can't figure out why grandma is such a spoilsport. Harvey and I went to the casino but Lady Luck evaded us so it will be a spell before we try that again."

Robert Fisher writes:

"I lived in Montrose and went to school in Waverly for only a little more than 3 years. My dad was the rural mail carrier out of Montrose. I had a great time there. I enjoyed everything about the area.

I have so many good memories I wouldn't even know where to start. We had come from another community before which was very cold and unaccepting and very cliquish. Being allowed the privilege of spending the last three years of high school at St. Mary's was the greatest time of my life.

I thank the entire class of '66 for the great memories, and the nuns and priests that helped me focus on the future and mature as a young adult while still allowing me to experience life and be a typical teenager.

I try to stay in touch with the class. I am closest to Steve Gagnon. As a class we have a reunion every five years. That's not bad for 35 years. I have three children: Jeremy 27, Jenny 25 and Jessica 21. I have two grandchildren: Avery 4 and Elijah 4. They aren't twins however.

I have a passion for helping the homeless which you all know about but I have a greater passion and calling to get as many people as I can involved in making their world a better place. I think we have spiritual gifts and natural talents to put to use in the service of God by serving others to the best of our ability."

I need much more material like that from Richard Sheppard, Bob Fisher, Margaret Kutz, Bern Althoff, and Tom Painschab. I need more e-mail addresses. I want to make this enjoyable for as many Waverlyites as I can.

Like Bob Fisher, I am on a mission but mine is just to connect as many Waverly, Minnesota people and people who like people from Waverly, Minnesota as I possibly can - via the miracle of the Internet. Give me some names. Give me some stuff for Waverly folks.

One of my nephews, who didn't grow up in Waverly, said reading this was like reading the drawer liner in a small-town Minnesota bed and breakfast when you are snowed in for the day and have nothing else to read. I do need help. Please?

That's all for now.

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