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.

  April 7, 2003

'Minnesota nice' was coined for all of us

In talking about Minnesota, I was always quick to say "small towns are us" but Minneapolis and St. Paul, our fair cities, are also typical Minnesota.

People there speak with a Minnesota accent just like the rest of us, and they have the same reputation for "Minnesota nice" as we small towners.

The Twin Cities are well loved by travel writers for their quality of life. Sports writers enjoy the uniqueness of the Twins, Vikings, Wild, and the Timberwolves.

There are no other teams like them and no other teams have fans quite like the Minnesota fans, who are knowledgeable but not crazy about building new stadiums.

Novelists such as John Sandford and Tim O'Brien like the setting of the Twin Cities for the diversity of characters and habitat they offer.

The Twin Cities are as different as day and night from each other, so it's no wonder there has been rivalry from the very beginning.

In the awful doggerel song, "I'm a Swede from Minnesota," there is this line (after he had "worked on a farm for about six year" and "yumped me on a Yim Hill Vagon yust to see the Big State Fair"): "I walked me around St. Paul all morning; not a Swede man do I see. Then I go to South Minneapolis; bet yer boots I find some dere."

And so he did.

St. Paul was noted for being an Irish and German city; Minneapolis for being Scandinavian. St. Paul was old. Minneapolis was young. St. Paul was Catholic; Minneapolis was Protestant.

Jokes both ways abounded:

Why is Minnehaha Falls, which lies between the two cities, called Minnehaha?

­ 'Minne' for Minneapolis and 'Ha ha' for St. Paul.

Why did the Norwegian cop move the dead horse from Marquette to First Avenue?

­ Because he couldn't spell Marquette.

St. Paul has its splendid winter carnival. That's when St. Paul shows the whole world that they can put up a huge building all made of ice, its ice palace, and live to tell about it.

It's an in-your-face celebration of Minnesota's famous frigid winters. Girls in short skirts and bare legs throw batons in the air at 10 below zero.

In contrast, Minneapolis has its magnificent Aquatennial in the middle of summer. It's a city-wide celebration with its own marvelous parades.

St. Paul has the fairgrounds and hosts the best state fair in all the land. None of the 49 other states can even come close to its wonders.

If you have lived in Minnesota even for a short time, you are bound to run into people you know.

In Waverly, I am remembered bitterly by my fellow altar boys for getting lost. Father Morgan brought a bunch of us to the state fair. Shortly after our arrival there, they lost me. They spent the rest of the day looking for me and had no chance to do or see anything.

I had a wonderful time. I had no idea I was lost. Bernie Althoff is still bitter about this.

There is so much more to the Twin Cities.

I don't know of any place that offers so much in the way of culture, entertainment, and recreation for everyone all year round. Even though Garrison Keillor says Minnesota has three seasons - "almost winter, winter, and just past winter." In winter, people put their fish houses on the Minneapolis lakes, just like they were upnorth.

There are many beautiful lakes inside the city limits where people can fish, sail, and swim. The Twin Cities have hundreds of miles of biking and walking trails.

The cities even have good public transportation, and now it will get even better when the light rail is finished. Other cities are still just talking about it and here we are.

Have you ever met anyone who didn't like living in the Twin Cities?

Well, yes. They seem to be moving out to Montrose.

"But Minneapolis and St. Paul are powerful magnets, luring fresh-faced kids off the farms, out of the dying mining towns and mill towns of the upper midwest into colleges, art galleries, and concert halls, into glittering shopping centers (Southdale, designed in 1956, was the nation's first enclosed suburban mall and now, of course, we have the Mall of the America)."

The rivalry of the Twin Cities, even the goodnatured kind, seems to be all but gone these days.

Old time baseball fans surely miss the rivalry between the Minneapolis Millers and the St. Paul Saints.

The Millers played in Nicollet Park on East 31st Street. The Saints occupied a succession of Lexington Parks just off University Avenue between Lexington and Dunlap.

In the 1920s, split doubleheaders were a big attraction on holidays. There would be a morning game in one city and an afternoon contest in another.

On the morning of July 4, 1929, an intercity riot broke out at a packed Lexington Park when a St. Paul pitcher was spiked by a Millers base runner.

"Both benches emptied," sportscaster Halsey Hall remembered, "and it took 20 minutes to clear the field . . . But like so many of these affairs, the afternoon game was peaceful."

I think most of us in Waverly preferred Minneapolis if we had to compare the two cities. We knew Minneapolis because we were familiar with it.

After all, Hennepin Avenue was Highway 12 as far as we were concerned.

It was easy to hitchhike to Minneapolis, both coming and going. It didn't even take long coming home if you stood by Dunwoody and stuck out your thumb.

It wouldn't be long before somebody from Waverly came along.

More than one hitchhiking Waverlyite got picked up by Hubert Humphrey.

One time he stopped his motorcade to offer to help my brother Myles change a tire on the side of Highway 12.

St. Paul was practically in Wisconsin as far as we were concerned, so we loved Minneapolis better but we never dreamed we would become a suburb.

I have an article from the Minneapolis Star Tribune on the real differences between the two cities nowadays and I will try to get permission to reproduce it for The Waverly Star in forthcoming issues.


Speaking of getting permission, I wish I knew where I got this lovely tribute to friendship. Wouldn't it be ironic if a good friend sent it and I forgot to thank him?

Good friends are hard to find, harder to leave, and impossible to forget.

Everyone hears what you say, friends listen to what you say and best friends listen to what you don't say.

Best friends are the siblings God forgot to give us.

Good friends are like stars . . . you don't always see them, but you know they are always there.

Most people walk in and out of your life, but only friends leave footprints in your heart.

Did you know

· that the Amazon Rain Forest, which is being destroyed at a rapid rate, provides about 40 percent of the world's oxygen?

· that Lake Superior is about twice the size of Switzerland?

· that a pack of playing cards has 52 cards to symbolize the number of weeks in a year?

· that the face of the Queen on a pack of playing cards was based on that of Elizabeth of York, wife of Henry VII, who was queen of England when playing cards became popular?

· that "an anatomical juxtaposition of two orbicularis orbis muscles in a state of contraction" is called . . . a kiss. (Or, according to the killjoy Mr. Webster, "an osculation.").

· that only hardboiled eggs can be made to spin?

· that zoologists estimate that between 12 and 16 times more animal species have gone extinct during the last 400 years than would have done so if modern man had never lived?

Have I cheered you up enough for this week?

Quotes for the week

"True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else."

"A young man who cannot cry is a savage. An old man who cannot laugh is a fool."

Father Richard Rohr, OFM

Until next week: VAYA CON DIOS.

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