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.

 March 10, 2003

The year was 1933; the time was now

This is why I like my job:

This week I received a letter from one of Doc Roholt's nephews:

"I've been to Waverly many times since a young child, visiting my uncle Christ and aunt Marie, cousins Hartvig (Ding) and Elaine (Becky).

"Learned to ride a bicycle in Waverly in 1932 when I was six. It was always a fun trip for my dad who was one of the seven brothers and one sister. They all came from Norway in the early 1900s, became citizens, and raised families.

"I hope to fish with Hartvig this summer in Bemidji.

"Stay warm and continue to be kind to all."

Denny M. Roholt

Denny's uncle, Christian M. Roholt, MD, was the only doctor Waverly had for over 30 years. The Roholts were immensely well-liked in Waverly.

Dr. Roholt was the unanimous choice to serve as grand marshall for the Waverly Centennial in 1969. The Roholts all came back to town for the occasion.

May their memories live forever!


Seventy years ago

(About the time Denny Roholt learned to ride his bicycle)

These are some gleanings from The Waverly Star and Montrose Tribune from March, 1933.

Ye towne gossip

From Montrose came this item:

A merry time was spent at the Methodist parsonage Monday afternoon when a large number of Mrs. Allen's friends gathered to surprise her on her birthday. (Mrs. Allen, of course, was the pastor's wife.)

With work and play, chatter, and laughter followed by a delicious luncheon, the time passed all too quickly. Mrs. Allen was the recipient of a cash gift.


William Donney was hired as creamery operator. He was chosen from among 16 applicants and hired by the Waverly Creamery Board.

* * *

Ed Murray drove to Avon, Minn. and spent the day with his folks on Sunday.

* * *

Rev. Charles Morgan and Chester Ogle drove to St. Paul Thursday afternoon.

* * *

A woodcutting bee was put on by Tony Smith last Friday and Saturday at the Borrell farm in Marysville.

* * *

Francis Litfin and family spent Sunday with relatives in St. Paul.

* * *

Misses Ethel and Alice McHale of Minneapolis were weekend visitors at the home of their parents, Mr. and Mrs. John McHale.

* * *

Earl Malone, Paul Martinson, and Chester Ogle drove to Minneapolis Sunday night. Messrs. Jerome Cullen, Sheldon Kingstedt, and Miss Adeline Martinson accompanied them to the city.

* * *

William Henk was in Delano Tuesday.

* * *

Friends and neighbors came on Thursday to surprise Mr. and Mrs. Adrian Perra, residing near Deer Lake. Their house was filled to overflowing by the friendly intruders.

The occasion was in the nature of a farewell, since the Perras are soon moving away from the area and will be sorely missed.

The evening was spent socially and at a late hour, refreshments were served. Everyone joins in wishing the Perras health and happiness in the days to come.

* * *

President Roosevelt assured the people of the nation Sunday night in a radio "fireside chat" that the banks, in reopening this week, will take care of all their needs, in spite of the fact that some bankers had been dishonest and some had been incompetent.

* * *

Roosevelt knew the power of radio and used it to its fullest advantage to keep us calm and certain, that whether in depression or in war, there was "nothing to fear but fear itself."

* * *

Seventy years later, in this year of 2003, the radio is not giving me much comfort, not like the days when my father made us be quiet so he could hear not only Roosevelt, but most of all, Cedric Adams.

In our house, we listened to Cedric Adams every day, at noon and at 10 p.m., over WCCO. (We also read his column "In this Corner," in the Minneapolis Star.)

During World War II, the families of servicemen were glued to the radio, especially when Cedric Adams was on. We had pins on the map following our troops and it was Cedric who told us where to put the pins.

Cedric Adams was so enormously popular in his day that airline pilots claimed they could tell when it was 10:15 p.m. because the lights all over rural Minnesota went out at the end of Adam's 10 o'clock newscast.

* * *

Seventy years ago, in 1933, Minnesota was already a great place to live. We had the richest farmland in America and, I think, the greatest people.

We weren't perfect. Everyone who has studied criminal history knows about the pact with the devil that the St. Paul chief of police had made.

The police chief, John J. O'Connor, had devised a system for keeping his city free of serious crime by guaranteeing safe haven for criminals from other cities as long as they committed their crimes elsewhere.

Such public enemies as Baby Face Nelson, John Dillinger, Alvin Karpis, and Ma and Fred Barker were in and out of the city and accounts of bank robberies around the state and region too often concluded "The robbers' car was seen fleeing towards St. Paul."

This covenant fell apart in 1933 with the kidnapping of William Hamm, heir to a brewing and banking fortune, which was closely followed in 1934 by the kidnapping of Edward Bremer, another banking family heir, for even a larger ransom.

Minneapolis had its own scandal that year, in the form of the brutal repression by the Minneapolis police of the Teamsters Strike.

Minneapolis overall had a much higher crime rate than St. Paul.

But, as former mayor, Marion Berry of Washington DC famously said one time, "If it wasn't for all the killings, our crime rate wouldn't be so bad at all."

Waverly's pride and joy as a crime fighter was Tom Graham, who had a long and distinguished career with the FBI, putting many of the really bad guys away.

Tom is from the famous Graham family and his brother Dan still makes his home in Waverly along with his wife Artie.

And then we always had the world's champion rifle shots in Dave Flannigan and George Berkner.

Crack shots

"When David Flannigan was just a small boy, he displayed exceptional ability as a 'fancy shot.' As soon as the first warm days of spring arrived, he would head for the lake with a rifle on his shoulder.

"Any time you heard the crack of a rifle when you were down around the baseball grounds, you could be sure it was Dave getting his practice.

"He would shoot a stick of chalk out of the mouth of one of his playmates at a distance of 50 yards. He could easily hit a one cent piece thrown into the air.

"Another trick of his was to place two pop bottles about 30 feet apart with a coin standing upright in the mouth of each. Then he would stand centered between them and with a target pistol in each hand get both at the same time without breaking the bottle.

"He could make all these impossible things look easy.

"He became World's Champion Rifle shot and broke many records before 1931.

"George Berkner started hunting at an early age . . . He took part in trap shooting and live bird competitions in the United States and Europe.

"His greatest victory was in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1964 when he represented the United States in the world championship matches. The United States won the match!

"George thinks that much of his success is due to the chance he had to copy the speed and the style of the late Dave Flannigan, plus his early hunting experience with the late Kenny McDonald.

Kenny, being of Scottish descent, insisted on 100 percent marksmanship so as not to waste any bullets. More than once he threatened to hit George with an oar when they were duck hunting if George shot at a bird out of range or missed one within range."

­ From the Waverly Centennial book


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