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 17, 2001


A patriotic reader has pointed out that the five-pointed red star highlighting my web site is a classic Soviet symbol.

Being called a Communist puts me in the good company of Cardinal Dom Helder Camara and Hubert Humphrey.

Dom Helder said, "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist."

And Hubert Humphrey, in forming the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor party, was accused of being a Communist because he was putting together the Hammer (working men) and Sickle (farmers).

Humphrey did not take kindly to being called a Communist because it was himself who had worked hard to expel whatever Communists there were from the Farmer-Labor Party.

As for me, I am not now nor never have been, a member of the Communist Party. Like Will Rogers, I "belong to no organized political party. I am a Democrat."


In the March 17, 1932 issue of the Waverly Star, there was no mention of St. Patrick's Day except a reminder to "wear your shamrock."

One St. Patrick's Day at the old St. Mary's school, Virginia Berkner not only did not "wear her shamrock," but came dressed in orange in a proud German show of defiance. This was an honest and courageous act on her part because the principal at the time was an Irish nun.

To the credit of the principal, Virginia did not get a scolding, but I did - for trying to pull the orange ribbon from her hair.

On this Saturday, St. Patrick's Day, 2001, the public is invited to the house of Jack McRaith at 11 a.m. for Irish coffee before the early carousers set out to march in the strangest St. Patrick's Day parade on record, the one which staggers its way from Waverly through Rasset to Maple Lake. This has been going on for some time now - and without the church's approval.

Jack lives on the lake side of the school, on the way to St. Mary's cemetery, sort of on the edge of town. If you are near the Waverly water tower, you will hear the noise coming the direction of his house. You do not have to bring a quart of Irish whiskey but it would be nice if you did.


This item appeared recently in the parish bulletin of St. Francis Xavier Church in Buffalo. The pastor, Fr. Charles Froehle, is one of the most respected priests in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis:

"As more and more people call Buffalo home, there are more cars on the streets, more people in the stores, more noise and more hurry wherever we go. The highways in and out of the city are filled with commuter traffic early in the morning and late each afternoon.

"If Buffalo ever was a sleepy little town, it is no longer so. In the midst of our hurried life there stands a wonderful island of tranquility. It looks out on Buffalo Lake while at the same time it offers a warm welcome to anyone who comes through its front doors. Its official name is 'Christ the King Retreat Center' but we usually call it 'King's House.'

"It is indeed a place to retreat from the harried pace of our contemporary life. And judging from what is happening there these days, many more are coming to find the quiet and peace of this extraordinary place.

"What a great blessing is this Retreat Center. To walk into the front door of the new building is to enter a different world. Here is a place that says, 'Come and stay with us and pray with us. Rest from your busy life and allow God to touch your inmost being.' On my frequent visits there, I am caught up in the spirit of this local treasure."

Sounds great, right? But whoa, Nellie! There's more. If making a retreat is all there is to your religion, you are navel-gazing, like a happy Buddha.

In the Bible, James says "THIS is religion pure and undefiled: to care for widows and orphans and comfort the afflicted in their distress."

The God in the Hebrew Scriptures says: "This is all the fasting I require of you: to feed the poor and hungry, to house the needy and visit the heartbroken."

I have made more than my share of retreats but the only times I can remember being close to God were not on retreats but when I spent time being with the homeless at a Catholic Worker house here in Corpus Christi, Texas or the time I spent with the Maryknoll nuns in Oaxaca, Mexico visiting blind, crippled and desperately poor families the nuns had run across in the city of Oaxaca. One of the Maryknoll Sisters said those people were going to sit as our judges on the Last Day and until then they were going to show us God.

Sister Mary Malharek, M.M., is a Minnesotan from Albert Lea whom I met down there as well as Sister Millie Fritz, M.M., who hails from Freeport.

Nobody needs to tell them faith without works is dead but maybe King's House needs a sign on the door.


Sympathy and prayers to the family and friends of Bob Schumacher, formerly of Delano, who died last week in California.

He was one of Stan Kittock's closest friends. Stan, who lives west of Waverly on Hy. 12, grew up near Delano and went to school with Bob Schumacher. May he rest in peace.


Waverly and environs got another six inches of snow, this time wet and heavy, on Monday, March 12. The snow is melting now but rain and more snow are in the St. Patrick's Day weekend forecast. Farmers around Waverly, especially those living on the Crow River, fear there will be harmful spring flooding.


In "The Waverly Star and the Montrose Tribune" of March 17, 1932, eggs were advertised at Mellon's Grocery Store for 9 cents a dozen.

More from the March 17, 1932 Waverly Star:

T.E. Barbeau and Ches Ogle were city callers Thursday.

Mrs. Johnson (nee Kit Dugan) of Minneapolis, visited over the weekend with Miss Mayme Boland.

Bill Henk was a business caller in the cities Friday.

Dr. and Mrs. B.F. Moll and son Jack visited friends in Delano Sunday evening.

Mrs. Charles Cullen and son Jerome were shoppers in Minneapolis on Saturday.


Hollywood Township news from March 17, 1932:

John H. Keating sold and delivered a Maytag washer to Mrs. Paul Mahon Saturday.


News from "The Montrose Tribune" for March 17, 1932:

Mr. Cletis Rassett has 600 young chicks. He is the popular chicken man of Montrose.


News flash from Marysville, March 17, 1932

Dogs Kill Hogs

Last week dogs killed about 40 hogs belonging to Ben Griep, Marysville farmer. The hogs are said to have weighed about 140 pounds a piece.


I heard from Burt Kreitlow who will have some Highland Township memories to share in future issues. Our family remember Happy Kreitlow, who is one of the Montrose Kreitlows, and now lives in Buffalo.

Highland news will be most welcome. I was a friend of Leon Anderson of the Highland Store, who died tragically young of heart trouble. His sister, Gloria Anderson, a beauty queen, was engaged to my brother John at one time (as was Phyllis Padden Main). Gloria still visits family and friends around Highland.

The Kreitlows have their own web site: www.kreitlow.com, and Burt himself would be more than glad to hear from Waverly folks: Dorburt@cs.com

I was very pleased to hear from Amy O'Connell, Dr. Marvin O'Connell's daughter. She is married to Patrick Wheeler and they live in Eagan with their two children, Joseph and Anne. Her e-mail is: patamyjoe@uswest.net

My wife taught Marvin chemistry and he was one of her brighter lights. He also was one of the best athletes ever to come out of Waverly.

I can remember watching "Butch" (now deceased), Germaine, and Marvin all taking their turns at bat while their mother pitched to them in the pocket park across from their house.

Marvin's father, Jim O'Connell, worked for years as an auto mechanic at Johnson's Garage, along with Herman Negus.

His uncle, of course, was Tom O'Connell, one of the most beloved men in Waverly even though he was the village constable along with being the parish maintenance man for the church, the rectory, the school and grounds.

As a sideline Tom kept our skating rink flooded every winter.

Marvin now practices veterinary medicine in Maryland.


(Courtesy of Lori Daigle Jolicoeur who got them from her daughter Colette)

"In politics if you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman." - Margaret Thatcher

"Having a baby is like suddenly acquiring the world's worst roommate." - Rita Rudner

"When women are depressed, they either eat or go shopping. When men are depressed, they invade another country." - Elayne Boosler

"Nagging is the repetition of unpalatable truths." - Baroness Edith Summerskill

"I'm not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know I am not dumb . . . and I also know that I am not blonde." - Dolly Parton


Some thoughts for St. Patrick's Day:

In August of 1998, my wife Jeanne and I went to Ireland with Sister Brigid McDonald CSJ, one of the famous Hollywood McDonalds, the family which produced five (Count 'em - five) nuns and several glorious men including boxers, farmers and politicians. She was accompanied by her friends Paula Cahill Ruddy (a frequent visitor to Waverly and our son Sean's godmother), Mary Ellen Kennedy and Patricia Helin.

My mission for those two weeks was to conduct research into the Irish stereotype. Particularly I wanted to explore and hopefully explode the myth of the friendly Irish. As soon as I deplaned at Shannon Airport, I started my quest for an unfriendly and mean-spirited Irish person. I wanted to destroy the stereotype of which travel agents are so fond. I asked everyone in sight where I could find a mean and crabby Irish person. Everyone had a quick answer:

"Marry one of them."

"Go to Roscommon and find the nearest farmer."

"Ask a Kerryman to buy you a drink."

"I see you haven't walked around Dublin."

"Let a fart in church" and so on, but I never got a straight answer of course.

Finally, leaving Shannon airport to go back to America, I thought I had found my man. He was short and in a tidy uniform of the Republic of Ireland. He was the official who was to check us through. I imagined him to have a Hitler-like short man's complex and after dealing with hundreds of tourists, I would imagine him to be in the foulest of moods.

Jeanne and I stood before him with our carry-ons and he asked us the questions: "Have you left your luggage out of your sight? Has anyone asked you to carry anything?" and so on.

He seemed an officious snot sure enough and then he caught our eyes, twinkled, and said to me, "And now you may kiss the bride." I gave it up.

Richard Sheppard informed me that God invented whiskey so that the Irish would not rule the world, but I think they already do.


May there always be work for your hands to do;

May your purse always hold a coin or two;

May the sun always shine on your windowpane;

May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain;

May the hand of a friend be always near you;

And may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

I want to thank Mrs. Catherine McDonnell Westrup for providing me with the March 17, 1932 issue of "The Waverly Star and Montrose Tribune."

May she be an example to the rest of you. My mother used to call everyone in the Waverly phone book each and every week for news items but I can't do that because all of you are a long-distance nickel and I don't have your phone numbers anyway.

I am at your mercy. I can't do anything to you to make you talk - or send news items fit for a family newspaper. The editor won't let me threaten you in any way, feeling protective of his readers.

He wouldn't even let me print my request for money to build a new warming shack for the skating rink.

See you next week.

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