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 24, 2001


I am still whining for attention. The only feedback I got this week was
from a nephew who said that forcing him to read this was like forcing
him to eat a horse blanket.

I did hear from a classmate from the Class of 1949, but that was just to
remind me that I was not the valedictorian.


The St. Mary's High School graduating class of 1949 were the nicest
people I have ever known: Bernard Althoff, Marion Borrell, Margaret
Decker, John Alden Gagnon, Margaret Galvin, Rose Mary Galvin, Annella
Negus, Edward Paul, Joan Quast, Agnes Reardon, Margaret Rogers, and
Donald Smith.

We had grown up together through World War II. Some of us even went to
school together every day for twelve years. By the time we graduated in
June of 1949 we were like brothers and sisters.

Harry Truman was just beginning his second term. All of our parents were
still smarting from the Great Depression and voted for him like the good
Democrats they were at the time.

"Hamlet," with Laurence Olivier, won the academy award for best picture
that year. Our entire senior class went into "the cities" to see it.

The top song in 1949 was "Now is the Hour" as recorded by Bing Crosby and
artfully rendered by Bernie Althoff who thought he crooned like Bing
himself. The classic "Stardust" by Hoagy Carmichael was also up there on
the charts.

St. Mary's High School had a sensational baseball team that spring. We
never lost a game.

Jack McHale, down in the seventh grade, had beat me out for shortstop so
I became the scorekeeper and thus began my career with "The Waverly
Star." I turned in the box scores to "Marks" McDonnell after every game
so he could run them in "The Waverly Star."

I should quit complaining. Now that I think about it. I have memories
enough to fill several issues.

And I do hear from Jimmy Kemp every week.


Jim Kemp lost his mother when he was seven. Jim has never stopped
missing her, of course, just as he has never stopped missing Waverly.

I remember lots of great things about Jim. Here is one act of kindness I
never forgot, although there were many more I could add:

To play baseball in the old triangle by the railroad tracks across from
the Kommers and Mumford homes, we used to choose up sides. I was never
picked for either team, but one time it bothered me more than usual.

I started walking down the railroad tracks towards home. I had my head
down, crying. I didn't think anyone noticed.

Jim Kemp, older and taller than me, came running down the tracks after
me. He put his arm around my shoulder and said,

"Come on back, Jimmy O'Leary.You can play on my team." So I did.

Everybody liked Jim Kemp. I remember sometimes when my father would
pack me off to a Friday night movie with a dime for the show and a
nickel for the popcorn, he would give me another 15 cents and say,

"Why don't you go get Jimmy Kemp along."

Here's Jim Kemp's recollection of Waverly he sent me this week:

"I can remember a summer Sunday in 1935 walking down the hill northeast
of town where I lived. I was on my way to Mass with my mother. The first
thing I saw was the clear blue water of Waverly Lake. Then I saw the
steeples of St. Mary's and once inside I thought I was in heaven.

The following spring my mother was called to the real heaven. Her final
wish was that my brother Terry and I would go to a good school like St.
Mary's. A good education was very important to her since she was a
college graduate and a teacher. There were lots of construction jobs
around at the time so my dad thought he could fulfill her wish and stay
in Waverly.

We moved to a second storey apartment on Main Street across from Ogle's
Hotel and Cafe. To a little country boy like me, it was like moving to
Times Square. Main Street was always busy but on Saturday nights
everyone seemed to come to town to shop and socialize. Waverly was at
its pinnacle but we just didn't realize it at the time.

There were three grocery stores; two hardware stores; two barber shops;
four taverns; one liquor store; 4 or 5 gas stations which also did
mechanical work; a creamery; a grain elevator; a flour and feed mill; a
hospital above Doctor Roholt's office; two blacksmith shops; a train
depot for the Great Northern Railway; two dray lines; an ice house and
our very own dentist, Doctor Moll.

On the lake were bathing shacks, where we could change into swimsuits; a
dance pavilion and a baseball park. Waverly always had the best team in
their division of the Minnesota League. A new palace of a village hall
was under construction to replace the old one which had burned to the
ground in a sensational fire.

New sidewalks were being built, great for wagons, bikes and roller
skates. We were just getting a new bowling alley and a new movie
theater. We had a skating rink in the winter and a long steep hill on
which to slide.

What a great place to live for a little boy in 1937!

I would get to know and build friendships with all the merchants,
business owners and townsfolk of that magical town, friendships which
have lasted all of my life."


Here is an item which caught my eye from the March 24th issue of the Waverly Star of 1932:

"HARTVIG IS IMPROVING: Little Hartvig Roholt who was operated on for
appendicitis the first of the week at the Eitel Hospital in Minneapolis
is reported much improved and will return to his home the last of the week."

I remember the very first time I saw "Little Hartvig." By 1936, he
was driving a 1932 Buick convertible and came to visit the new family in
town, the O'Learys. We were renting the old redbricked Graham house.
(Now Don and Mary Reardon Klingelhoets live in that house, after
remodeling it beautifully top to bottom).

There was a pine tree in front of the house and Hartvig smacked right
into it, hard enough to leave a scar on the bark of the tree, which is
probably still there. He didn't have any brakes on the car, he
explained, so he had to hit the tree to stop the car.

He hopped right out of the driver's seat onto the lawn without bothering
to open the door, and started shaking hands all around, very cheerful and

Hartvig grew up to be a physician like his father before him, but before
that, he was often the talk of the town.

One time Ray Daigle was on the rooftop of his dance pavilion nailing on
shingles when "little Hartvig" climbed the ladder and plinked him in the
hinder with his BB gun. Later on, when Hartvig practiced medicine in
Waverly, Ray was one of his more reluctant patients.

Hartvig had one sister, Elaine, beautiful and smart. My brother John was
her first date. Her best friend was an Ollig daughter whose father (the
phone man) had nicknamed her "Bum." (She had a sister named "Wart." They
were both wonderful girls and their father's sense of humor never seemed
to affect their self-esteem at all. There was a Texas billionaire named
Hogg who named his daughters Ima and Ura. They also grew up to be
outstanding ladies, who funded many important mental health agencies in

My brother, John, who wasn't always witty, used to ask Elaine which old
bum she was hanging out with now.

As teenagers, John and Elaine often played catch with a baseball, but on
their first date, they went to a show in Delano. When they missed
Elaine's curfew hour, Doctor Roholt came to our house and woke us all up
demanding to know what we had done with his daughter. It alarmed my
mother enough that she got out the holy water.

When the doctor had pounded on the door, saying "This is Doctor Roholt!"
my mother was sure he was there to report a horrible accident. When we
told him John and Elaine had gone to Delano, he took off on foot
pounding eastward down Highway 12 towards Delano. When John came home a little
while later, he wanted to know what we were all doing up so late and my
brother Paul said, "Oh, we were just playing cards."

Doctor Roholt, the only physician in town, and Doctor Moll, the only
dentist, were both Protestants in a predominantly Catholic town. Both of
these wonderful gentlemen always treated the nuns without charge and
were probably the most respected men in the community. They were
generous to a fault and seemed forever content in Waverly even though
they could have made much more money just about anywhere else.

Doctor Roholt was an immigrant from Norway. He circumcised me when I was
in the first grade, took out my tonsils when I was in the third grade
and took me fishing when I was in the sixth grade. He lived well into
his '90's and served as the Grand Marshall for the big Waverly
Centennial parade in 1969.

Mrs. Roholt was a refined, gracious and friendly lady who taught piano
lessons to many Waverly children. More often than not, she didn't charge
anything. She sponsored many well-attended piano recitals for her
pupils. I remember Helen Paul Engel and Catherine McDonnell Westrup
among the performers.

Every Christmas, the Roholt house was our favorite stop on our
caroling rounds from St. Mary's. Mrs. Roholt always had a box of
chocolates for us and Doctor Roholt would take our photo with a big
flash camera. One of these photos graces the pages of the book
Bernadette Reardon wrote for St. Mary's parish at the time of its Centennial.


Blessed is she who suffers with
the very young,
the very old, and the very lonely
for she has compassion.

Blessed is she who greets the
world with joy,
and anticipation,
for she has courage.

Blessed is she who listens and hears
and extends her hands as a friend,
for she has understanding.

Blessed is she who gives simply,
loves deeply,
and walks joyfully in life,
for she has sincerity.

Blessed is she who lives intensely
and sing's lifes alleluias,
for she has awareness.

Blessed is she who has
compassion and courage,
freedom and dignity,
understanding, sincerity,
and awareness,
for she is a woman, a gift, a blessing.

- Newark Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women


Patricia Baldwin Franklin, daughter of Gordy and Lorraine Baldwin and
granddaughter of Pat Kelly, all former Waverly residents, now lives in
Beaumont, Texas and was recently featured in "The Beaumont Enterprise"
in a story on the homeless shelter she runs there as director.

The homeless go to her shelter to take showers, do laundry, store their
possessions, get free bus tokens to look for work and just hang out in a
safe place. "Trish," as the homeless call her, was in the last graduating
class from St. Mary's High School in 1969.

The story in the "Enterprise" is too long to run here but you can look
it up on the Internet since the Beaumont Enterprise, like the Howard
Lake-Waverly Herald, has a web site (but of course not as grand as our
web site).You can either just look for: Beaumont.Enterprise or www.SoutheastTexasLive.com

Trish also has her own e-mail address where she would be glad to hear
from old friends: Winnsmommy@aol.com

Jeanne and I hope to go see her in Beaumont and visit her homeless
shelter to get tips for the one I work at here in Corpus Christi, a
Catholic Worker enterprise.

So long as we're at it, we might just as well cross the border into
Louisiana and win some money at Blackjack, all for a good cause of course.


I asked Tim Lammers, well known to Herald readers and people in Waverly,
for his website. He gave me two of them, both in Texas:

click2houston.com and clickonsa.com

His picture appears on both websites along with his world-class movie
reviews. I would recommend you check him out before "Oscar Night,"
Sunday, March 25th so you will be well-informed. See if you agree
with his picks.

Tim's e-mail is: tim@ibsys.com

I was a classmate of his late mother, who died Dec. 31, 1996. I am still
a good friend of his father, Jim Lammers. The Lammers family are another
pioneer family famous in Waverly history. Tim's great-grandfather, Henry
Lammers, was born in Westphalia, Prussia, in 1827 and came to Marysville
in 1859.

Tim married a "neighbor girl," Patty Peterson, the daughter of Wally and
Arleen Peterson and they live just down the road from the farm. Their
address is 2992 Dempsey Av.S.W. - Waverly, Minnesota 55390.

I was just kidding about his being my Texas neighbor. I called him that
because he is featured on at least two websites here in Texas, one in
Houston and one in San Antonio.

Tim says it's wonderful to be able to explore the world and never leave home.

I myself wonder how someone can get paid for going to movies.


This from the Waverly Star:

"Pallbearers for the funeral of Mrs. E.H. Learned held at the Waverly
Presbyterian Church were Conrad Smith, John Dignan, Joe Lauzer, Adam
Berkner, A.S. Mellon and L.W. Bremer."

How's that for some pioneer names?


The headline for this story was "Winsted Dog Tried in Justice Court"
from the 1932 Star.

"Strongheart, a police dog belonging to J.W. Thomes, was tried before
Judge Weinbeck on a charge of being a nuisance. Complaints had been made
to the village council about dogs running at large and snapping at
children. Their owners were given orders to dispose of those animals.
Mr. Thomes protested that the charges were ill-founded in regard to his
dog Strongheart. The decision has not as yet been rendered at the time
of this writing - says the Lester Prairie News."

My nephew Mike O'Leary sent me this:

The teacher was reading "The Three Little Pigs" to her First Grade class
and asked the class what the wolf said after the first little pig said,

"Not by the hair of your chinny-chin chin."

A hand shot up and a little girl said,

"Holy Smoke! A talking pig!"

O PIONEERS! (No, not Willa Cather's but Berni Reardon's)

Berni Reardon wrote this thoughtful tribute to our pioneers for the
Waverly Centennial Book which she was commissioned to write in 1969:

"The Waverly pioneers...These people came away from lives that had towns
and homes, friends and relatives, ideals and idioms well established.
Perhaps the conditions they left behind were undesirable for one reason
or another, but they had no guarantee that the conditions in the new land
would be better.

In fact they had no assurance that they would be
livable or tolerable. Yet they came to a wilderness that demanded
health, strength, patience, hope, a will to work, a will to live and a
full quota of luck. The hardships were plentiful, the sufferings great,
and without a doubt there was a good deal of misery of one form or

We know of a massacre by the Indians, and deaths from typhoid,
scarlet fever, pneumonia and tuberculosis. However, where life and death
are suspended in a balance such as this, the rewards of survival and
achievement are truly appreciated.

New life, friendships, love of family,
pride and laughter had their places. Strangers were not ignored, fair
weather was a blessing and a good meal was not taken for granted. Life
was loved and valued.

In short, we are proud to call these men and women our ancestors and we
pray that the qualities that enabled them to realize their successes
will be found active in their descendants."

- Bernadette Reardon.

I know it's officially Spring but both Upper Waverly Lake and Big
Waverly Lake are still frozen over and there is still snow to be
shovelled. Good luck with that.

It is also Spring here in Texas.We have a few thousand Spring Breakers
from Minnesota down here on Padre Island just outside Corpus Christi and
you can have them back any time you want.

Jim O'Leary
461 Claremore
Corpus Christi, Texas 78412

Back to Waverly Star menu
Howard Lake-Waverly Herald & Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal
Stories | Columns | Obituaries
Community Guides | Special Topics | Cool Stuff | Search | Home Page