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 28, 2001

THE OTHER IDEAS BEHIND CREATING 'THE WAVERLY STAR'

This week, Dale Kovar, the general manager of the Howard Lake-Waverly Herald and Winsted/Lester Prairie Journal, sensed I needed some encouragement, so he told me that my web site for "The Waverly Star" had 1,209 "hits" so far in the month of April.

His attempt at cheering me up only made me sadder. I knew something he didn't know ­ that 1,200 of those "hits" were my own.

Every time I get up to go to the bathroom or pass by the computer to turn the radio on or off, I always check the web site to see if The Waverly Star is still there.

The bad news is, then, that I have actually lost a reader, since I had 10 readers in the month of March and now I am down to nine. Arithmetic never lies.

A lady at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, to whom I turned for help, had suggested I write some editorials. That way, she said, I am likely to annoy people and when they call or write to tell me so, I can say, "Thank you very much. May I print that in the next issue? Oh, and do you have any news?"

Besides that, my friend told me, I will have their e-mail addresses or whatever, so I can contact them every week and ask for news ". . . just like your mother did. Very effective!"

The trouble with that advice is that Waverly folks are already annoyed enough over the manure spill. It would be impossible to top that one. Besides, my mother always told me never to discuss religion or politics.

The lady at the Star Tribune thought I should maybe sell some things to "The Reader's Digest" like she does.

I didn't tell her that I use things from "The Reader's Digest" to put into my column. I don't send things to "The Reader's Digest." I take things from there.

Dale has zero tolerance for plagiarism among his staff, but I still manage to slip things past him every week. The poor man is too busy checking my spelling to think of much else.

Beyond that, my journalist friend thought maybe an advice column could be a hit. I told her we Waverly folks kept our love lives (if we had any) pretty much to ourselves.

Then I hit upon the idea of an "Outdoors Column," only to be reminded that my colleague, Chris Schultz, is already delivering Pulitzer-level copy every week on that very subject.

I read over his old columns again, though, just to be sure, and one column, "Safety, ethics come first in hunting," from Oct. 2, 2000, jumped out at me and gave me the idea that our readers are being deprived of another point of view, and that is:

WHEN IT COMES TO SQUIRRELS, SAFETY AND ETHICS DO NOT COUNT

Dear Mr. O'Leary,

You may not remember me, but we used to hunt squirrels together on Foxy Hill and in St. Mary's Cemetery, where we also plinked gophers.

Bremer's Woods and Graham's Woods had plenty of squirrels, as well. You were a lousy shot, but I do remember you had a passionate hatred for squirrels, so much so that perhaps you can help me now that spring is here.

I am stove up and the squirrels have taken over everything. I have to sit on the front porch and watch them. They have destroyed my bird feeders. They even took down my Purple Martin house, a scale model of St. Mary's Church with its two uneven steeples, just like the one Marvin Decker made that sits on the gable of his garage.

Even though you didn't get any better when we graduated to .22s, you were smart enough to go around and around the tree until the squirrel plumb wore out. Boy, you hated them things. You've been to college. Maybe you learned something.

Signed,

Going Nuts in Waverly

******

Dear Nuts,

I am going to lock and load and head north towards home on I-35. I should arrive there in a day or two since it's only 1,500 miles from Corpus Christi to Waverly (shorter by crow, but I'm not going by crow).

Meanwhile, keep calm. You might call Jimmy Claessens or Bobby Decker for help until I get there because I hunted squirrels with both of them and they are crack shots. I saw both of them in August, at the reunion, and they are just as nice as ever.

Expect me to stay for awhile, because it will require blasting to death every squirrel in Minnesota.

In studying their filthy rodent behavior, I have found that as soon as a territory is vacated, bushy-tailed cousins will move in to fill the vacuum (which nature abhors, as you know).

I will tell you this at the outset, sir. The only way to go is with a shotgun. It will require my sitting on your front porch during all the daylight hours, blowing away one squirrel after another.

You may not like it that my weapon of choice is the shotgun, since it doesn't leave much of the squirrel available for dining, taxidermy or recovering fur for the Daniel Boone hats in favor down here.

I will grant that the .22 of my childhood is a more sporting weapon but you have to be a very good shot, which I will not be, after drinking the beer I will be drinking on your front porch.

Poison can work but it has its drawbacks, such as eliminating all other small animals in the surrounding area. I remember that I had neighbors in Waverly who seemed unreasonably fond of their pets.

Trapping them for sterilization can be expensive because squirrels are dandy biters, which causes veterinarians to up their rates.

We have a veterinarian in Corpus Christi who flung a cat against the wall when the cat nipped him in the midst of a neutering. The cat is now loathe to visit her doctor. I know this because it is our cat we are discussing. A level of trust was lost here. She hasn't been the same since.

I know "catch and release" doesn't work either, because my old neighbor, who is retired and has too much time on his hands, tried that one.

He caught squirrels in a possum trap, painted their tails green, and drove them to the outskirts with the idea that if they came back, they were fair game. All he did was create a new species of "genus sciuridae" (I did go to college) and now you see their green-tailed offspring all over town.

I probably can't convince you to just go out and buy a canary and forget about your bird feeders. My wife, Jeanne, is a birder (I will bet you thought that was only a sport for eccentric British people), and she uses a water rifle on them, one of those new-fangled high-powered things. The squirrels seem to enjoy this.

So, I will be there soon. Meanwhile, I hope my information has been helpful. Remember that squirrels are really just rats with an attitude.

And so are prairie dogs. If Lewis and Clark had dubbed them prairie rats and painted their tails green, we wouldn't be having the problems we're having now when nobody lets us kill them, any more than they let us kill "Bambi."

But that's a subject for another column. Yours, etc.

Jim O'Leary


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