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, 2003

Nobody in Germany knew Hitler would shoot his way to power

The Waverly Star and Montrose Tribune issue of March 23, 1933 reported on the suppression of the Supreme Court in Germany under the Hitler Regime.

Hitler and his regime had been consolidating its power after the Nazi portrayal of their National Socialist Party as "all things to all men" luring, by its lies, indifferent voters.

Nobody in Germany knew at the time that Hitler was going to shoot his way to power.

A friend of my father's in South Dakota was an immigrant from Germany and he told my father, after a visit home to Germany, how saddened he was at the state of things there. He said he would never go back as long as Hitler was there.

Thanks to the sudden popularity and affordability of the radio, and thanks to The Waverly Star, our parents and grandparents stayed pretty well-informed.

In the same issue of The Waverly Star, there was a long and charming account of the inauguration of President Roosevelt by Cecile McHale, which she had attended in Washington, DC.

She was especially impressed by the sight of Al Smith, walking all by himself in the parade, and doffing his top hat to the president as he passed the reviewing stand.

While Hitler was able to shoot any opposition he had to get the Supreme Court he wanted into Germany, Roosevelt wasn't so lucky. He wanted to pack the Supreme Court with six of his own appointees so he could pass his agenda through Congress.

"Franklin Roosevelt, who by his political genius and his popularity, had stripped the Senate of its power, now had, by his arrogance and miscalculation, handed that power back, uniting the opposition senators against him.

"Uneasy though they were over the New Deal's steady spending, its support of labor and blacks, its whole liberal agenda of social reform, conservative Democratic senators, particularly from southern and border states, had been cowed by FDR's seemingly invulnerable popularity. They were cowed no longer."

­ From Robert A. Caro's book, "The Master of the Senate."

Roosevelt had tried to draft a plan to add six new members to the Supreme Court who would not find some of his New Deal legislation unconstitutional.

Out of 10 million radios in America came the warm, rich voice of the president, simply asking his followers to trust him:

"You who know me can have no fear that I would tolerate this destruction by any branch of the government of any part of our heritage of freedom . . . "

But he lost. The Senate wouldn't allow him to mess with the Supreme Court, and they rejected his bill by an overwhelming majority. Unlike Hitler, he couldn't shoot dissenters.

Meanwhile, back in Waverly and Montrose, life went on as normal as things ever got in Wright County, while everybody was just trying to get through the Depression the best way they knew how. The Depression still had a long way to go in 1933.

It's fun to see the same names from 70 years ago pop up today, some of the same people even.

School notes in The Montrose Tribune reported that the first graders took a field trip at recess to see a new litter of puppies at a house near the school where Mrs. Marketon lived.

­ From grades one and two, we had the good news that John Drotz, Eleanor Secora, and Marilyn Swaggart all had perfect spelling scores for the week.

­ In grades three to five, the champion spellers were Clinton Duske, Marcella Compton, John Prestidge, Harold Lentz, Orland Kreitlow, Lois Kasek, Alfred Mohring, and Leo Wright.

­ From the high school, David Douglas wrote an account for The Montrose Tribune of the school assembly talk given by county attorney Tom Welch, who described the duties of his office of county attorney.

He described the law, according to David, as "the rule of society," which protects people from birth to death. The students also asked him questions about a trial they had attended in Buffalo as part of a field trip.

In other Montrose news, Dr. Roholt was scheduled to give a health talk at the Methodist Sunday school at 11 o'clock.

Three miles to the west, in Waverly, George Berkner walked away with all the honors from the Superior Gun Club. He hit 41 out 50 in the singles, and broke 22 of 24 in the doubles. Joe Decker came in second and John Main came in third.

Further west, we find that a Holstein cow had given birth to triplets in a farm near Willmar. The three calves totaled 195 pounds in weight and all were born healthy.

A hundred years ago

The year was 1903. The average life expectancy in the US was 47 years.

Now it is 77 years.

Only 14 percent of the homes in the US had a bathtub. (In 1936, I remember bathing in a wash tub. Does that count?)

Only eight percent of the homes had a telephone.

A three minute call from Denver to New York City cost $11.

There were only 8,000 cars in the US and only 144 miles of paved roads (This must have been before MacAdam came over from Scotland.)

The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.

Alabama, Mississippi, Iowa, and Tennessee were each more heavily populated than California. There were 1.4 million residents in California and it was then only the 21st most populous state in the Union.

The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower.

The average wage in the US was 22 cents an hour.

The average US worker made between $200 and $400 per year.

An accountant could expect to earn $2,000 per year, a dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.

More than 95 percent of all births took place at home.

Ninety percent of all US physicians had no college education. Instead they attended medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press and in the government as "substandard."

Sugar cost four cents a pound. Eggs were 14 cents a dozen. Coffee cost 15 cents a pound.

Most women washed their hair once a month, and used borax or egg yolks for shampoo.

The five leading causes of death in the US were:

1. Pneumonia and influenza.

2. Tuberculosis (a.k.a.


3. Diarrhea

4. Heart disease

5. Stroke

The population of Las Vegas, Nev. was 30.

Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and iced tea hadn't been invented.

One in 10 US adults couldn't read or write.

Only six percent of all Americans had graduated high school.

Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at corner drugstores. According to one pharmacist: "Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and the bowels and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health."

Eighteen percent of households in the US had at least one full-time servant or domestic.

There were only 230 reported murders in the entire US.

(I want to thank Commissioner Richard Mattson for sending me this.)

But sometimes the good old days weren't so good, were they?

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