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, 2003

Love, gratitude, and a devotion that shows the meaning of home

Dear Readers,

This is "fess-up" time ­ I don't know what the hell I am doing.

I haven't lived in Waverly for 50 years, even though it's still flesh and blood to me.

My feelings about Waverly, and about Minnesota in general, are based on love, gratitude, and a devotion that says something about the meaning of home.

The truth is, I don't know any more about Waverly than anybody else who grew up there. I certainly don't know as much as the people do who never left.

In a way I never left either, since it's true that home is where the heart is. The people who do live there can't write about it because it takes nerve to go into print in front of your neighbors. The truth is never simple, and you almost always get it wrong.

Look at historians! If you live 2,000 miles away like I do, though, you can afford to be simple, and even wrong. Who is going to make a long distance call just to complain?

The other thing is that I don't know whether I am writing a column, a news story, or a feature story every week. A column is an opinion essay and a feature story is a human interest story. An example is "The Time I Skated to Montrose," a story I can't get anybody to believe.

This space can't be filled with news stories such as "Ye Towne Gossip" because how would I know any current Waverly news?

Even the people who live there tell me there is never any news and if there were any news, they most certainly wouldn't want it in the newspaper, since they are small town people who would never wish to embarrass themselves or their neighbors by seeing their names in print.

This isn't a column either. Columns express opinions and, while I am full of opinions and believe that everybody is entitled to my opinion, I think only experts should force their opinions on other people.

The rest of us who don't buy ink by the barrel shouldn't force our opinions, unless of course one is having morning coffee at Red's in Montrose.

* * *

Dale Kovar and his staff at the Howard Lake-Waverly-Montrose Herald Journal have given me free rein, and I do take advantage of this. Lyndon Johnson said one time that "if you really done it, it ain't braggin'" but it still may seem like boasting if I tell you that my brother, Dr. John O'Leary received an award which took him and Jean to Washington, DC.

He was cited as the outstanding senior worker in Minnesota. Recently he was interviewed on public television, where he said he continued to work because he wanted to give back something of what he had received from Minnesota.

He just had his 81st birthday last week and still works every day at the Veteran's Clinic in Brainerd. John said that without the GI Bill, he never would have gotten his MD degree from the University of Minnesota.

Will Rogers said one time that he never met a man he didn't like. John thinks the same way, especially if that man happens to be a veteran.

Happy Birthday, John.

* * *

Speaking of birthdays, Gerry Smith just told me that the beloved Laura Claessens had a 90th birthday party at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Waverly April 6.

Her children and grandchildren put it on for her and the hall was filled. Jack McHale brought his mother Claire, Mary Ellen Campion brought her mother Catherine, and Judy brought her mother Marie Smith, all old friends.

Paul and Laura Claessens lived next door to my parents for years and they were the best neighbors anybody could have had, especially when my father became ill with Parkinson's Disease.

We drank whiskey together on

V-J Day ­ the O'Learys and the Claessens!

I enjoy seeing Laura's name turn up now and then in the paper as a whist winner.

Laura now lives in an assisted living facility in Cokato, east of the old roller rink, at 600 3rd Street E, Cokato, MN 55321.

* * *

An alert and kindly reader told me this week that I should lay off self-pity when it came to my non-career in baseball. Like in the movie, "A League of Their Own," she told me "there is no crying in baseball."

She then went on to remind me that Babe Ruth hit 659 home runs in his life but also struck out 1,330 times. Well, that's a lot more times than I ever struck out.

* * *

John Althoff wanted to know how Jackie Litfin could have hit all those home runs in 1933 when he would have been eight years old.

I told him you had to know that "Marks" McDonnell got a great kick out of Jackie and put him in "Ye Towne Gossip" every week.

Frank Litfin's barber shop was one of Marks' favorite hangouts. Jackie and his big brother Tom were usually in there sweeping up and listening to all those fishing lies and baseball stories.

I still believe Jackie hit those home runs, but they were the kind of home runs eight-year-olds hit.

You know ­ all you have to do is put the ball in play and then run around the bases. You learn that from watching Little League baseball.

Quote of the week

"So instead of loving what you think is peace, love others and God above all. And instead of hating the people you think are warmongers, hate the appetite and disorder in your own soul, which are the causes of war.

"If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed - But hate these things in yourself, not in another."

­ Thomas Merton

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