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.

May 5, 2001


I just now got this message by e-mail from Richard Mattson, our Wright County commissioner:

"Dear Jim,

"Water is high and rising. All phone lines are under water and this is the first time I have been able to get on-line for a few days. Some of the neighbors have no phone service at all. That's why I haven't responded.

"I live on the north fork of the Crow River and right now, it's close to the level of 1965.

"Last fall, I was able to drive through the channel between Deer Lake and the Crow River. I have a picture of my pickup driving through it, even though nobody could ever remember anyone walking there. Now, the river would completely cover up my pickup in the same location I drove it through.

"The big marsh is all one lake now as you look out at it. Last year, I cut hay and baled over 1,000 bales out of my portion of the marsh and now, look at it.

"I think it's close to cresting, but it will take a long time to go down since the Crow is full of trees and trash - not like the old days when we could slash and burn."

I am no expert on the Crow River, but it is one of my favorite rivers on earth. I lost a bet to Eddie Paul one time when I told him it flowed south through Delano, a bet we settled by tossing a stick into the water at the Delano bridge on Highway 12 and watching it flow north.

Dick Mattson tells me the Crow River watershed goes all the way to Polk County, up by Crookston and that is north of here. Even I know that. But it still looks like it goes south through Delano.


Barbara Tuckenhagen Reeves can remember bolting down her supper, getting out of doing the dishes, and then, running as fast as she could, even though it was "all the way across town" (all of six blocks) to get to the rink. She was seeking the fun and freedom known only to Minnesota kids on cold winter nights.

Thanks to Tom O'Connell, who kept the rink flooded, we always had the best ice possible, slick and pure, and an endless supply of firewood.

But no lights. No lights except the moon.

When there was no moon, then there was starshine, the sight of Orion marching across our winter sky above the steeples, and the Milky Way in the clear air, and on some nights, the sensational northern lights themselves.

And we heard the voices of all the different ages of us in the clean, cold air, carrying all the way to downtown, playing "crack the whip" until we had chilblains.

Trish Franklin (remembered in Waverly as Pat Baldwin) now lives down here in Beaumont, Texas, and she is as bad as I am. She says,

"I read your Waverly Star and it makes me homesick. The smell of the old warming house at the skating rink stays with me, the scent of wet mittens drooling on the stove; that's the kind of thing that pulls on my mind.

"Skating with Sister Alice Catherine and going back to the convent and having cookies and cocoa in the dining room with her. Those nuns were such cooks!

"I have traveled to 40 countries in my life, so far, and I still think Waverly is the prettiest, best place in the world. My children are not fortunate enough to grow up in such a place.

"We had all four seasons and did everything you could think of outdoors, all in one little town in the Upper Midwest.

"My kids have never gone sledding or seen a salamander or caught turtles in the channel. Money can't buy things like that."

You may remember that Trish (aka "Trish the Dish") runs a homeless shelter for the city of Beaumont, Texas. Her e-mail address is: Winnsmommy@aol.com.


This came in from David Herda, who graduated from St. Mary's High School in 1966:

"Dear Jim,

"My brother, Joe, told me about the opportunity he had to visit with you and your wife and Tom and Tim Painschab down there in Corpus Christi a couple of years ago.

"Joyce and I, and our three children have been living in Waco since 1988. I'm a 'quality assurance representative' with oversight responsibility for a contract that involves an airborne observatory called SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory of Infrared Astronomy). You can look it up on the Web at: http://sofia.arc.nasa.gov. (I did look it up and I highly recommend this Website. It's fascinating.)

"Joyce and I have been married for 30 years, and we have two sons and a daughter, 16, who is a junior in high school.

"Our sons are 26 and 24, and we are fortunate to have them living nearby.

"SOFIA will take me to retirement, by which time I hope to be an independent designated Airworthiness Representative through the FAA.

"We haven't been to Minnesota since 1996. The folks have moved to southern Alabama. Joe is in Tennessee and my sister, Mary, who married Steve Mattson from Cokato, now lives in southern Minnesota. We hear most often from Mary.

"I hated to miss the class reunions but I will make the next one for sure.

"Be sure to say hi to Tim and Tom Painschab for me.

"God bless.

Dave Herda"


My wife Jeanne's favorite birding spot is Berni Reardon's place, near Little Waverly Lake.

Berni reports right now that she is seeing tree swallows by the score, ospreys over the lake, bluebirds scrapping for attention, white pelicans soaring along the shore, trumpeter swans making a bee-line for Delano, and many more, too numerous to mention.

She says there is definitely a bald eagle nesting on the Crow River not far from her house, but she doesn't know about the one on Decker's Point.


(From the Waverly Star, July 3, 1952. Ye towne gossip is what Frank "Marks" McDonald called my mother's column.)

Sizzling steaks

Kenneth McDonald, Hollywood farmer, lost three cows that were killed by lightning last week. They were standing near a wire fence during a thunderstorm.

Parks entertain new pastor and family

Rev. and Mrs. Marshall Olson, formerly doing church extension work in Chicago, now pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Waverly, were supper guests of the Delbert Parks family Tuesday.

Home on Furlough

O-C John L. Daigle is home on a 13-day furlough from Fort Knox, Ky. After his visit, he will return to attend Officer Candidate School at Fort Knox.

Local GI injures leg in camp

Pvt. Marion Borrell, son of Mr. and Mrs. Joe Borrell, who is at Camp Chaffee, Ark., injured one of his legs in line of duty recently. Reports are that he is now out of the hospital and is recovering from the injury. His Waverly friends hope for a quick recovery.

The generic American farm house

Many of us were born in a house ordered through a Sears Roebuck catalog. It was a two-story house.

The house plans were made according to the standard mill sizes, available in lumber yards. The house cost $725.

One could also buy a hot air furnace for $53.94. Of course, it didn't have indoor plumbing, water or electricity. The house came as a prefab, and locals would assemble it. It was ready for occupancy upon assembly.

Many of these houses are still standing. The two pitched roofs, one covering the entire house and the other, smaller one, covering the porch, gave it a distinctive look.

One can see this house advertised in Sears catalogs for the first decade of the 1900s. One can buy a replica of the catalogue for $12, and it's well worth the price ­ lots of wonderful turn-of-the-century clothes, horse carts, guns, hats, tools and medicine. A good dress went for $2.

Where are the extant Sears and Roebuck houses around Wright County? Now, people seek them out. Who ever dreamed these simple homesteads would become tourist attractions?

(As a side note: I have Glen Keener to thank for reminding me of this.)

My apologies to those of you who have sent me things for the Waverly Star which I haven't used as yet. I throw nothing away. Whatever you send will remain in the pipeline, so keep checking the web site every week.

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