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.

June 2, 2001

In its "Points to Ponder" section, "Reader's Digest" carried this moving story by Cy Fey.

An elderly gentleman was weeping noticeably while standing alone at Washington's Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Moved by the sight, a young man walked over to the old man, put his hand on his shoulder, and said, "One of yours, sir?"

The old man said softly, "Not one of them, son. All of them."


HANGING UP THE VETERANS

Otherwise known as the American Legion Photo Project.

"We are in the process of collecting funds to professionally restore the veterans' picture collection, which is displayed in the city offices. Your contribution will help defray the $2,000 cost of this project.

"If you have a picture (three by five inches or smaller) of any local veteran, which you would like displayed in our collection, mail it to the following address. Our hope is to have this restoration completed by Memorial Day next year.

For more information call (763) 658-4294. Donations should be made payable to, and will be accepted at: Veterans' Photo Restoration Fund, 1903 North Shore Drive, Waverly, MN 55390."

Ray Daigle started this when the boys came home from World War II. Everybody who came in to Ray's Inn ("where hamburger is king") was asked for his picture. Lori Daigle Jolicoeur and Jack Daigle, himself a veteran of Vietnam, remember their parents tacking the pictures up on the walls of the place until they had them completely covered.

Twenty years later, the photos were moved to the fire hall, and then to the city offices. Gerry Smith, noted for her activism to the point where people avoid her for fear of being named to a committee, is spearheading this worthy cause. She has not, as of yet, impersonated the mayor of Howard Lake with the same name, but I would imagine she must find this tempting at times when she wants to get things done.

As a side note, we had our own lady mayor long before lady mayors became politically correct, and a good mayor she was, Alice Smith. She is related by marriage to Gerry (no, not the mayor - but to our own Gerry Smith, that is Geraldine Meehan Smith. Former Mayor Alice Smith's son is a physician, Dr. Jim Smith, M.D., who practices in St. Cloud.)

I have the same problem Gerry has. Waverlyites avoid me, too. When I call people from Waverly, they are afraid to talk with me because they don't want their names in the paper.

My mother never had that problem when she called people for news. I think the reason they hang up on me is they think I won't get anything straight. They trusted my mother. I am in serious need of a fact-checker.


GERRY SMITH'S ACCOUNT OF MEMORIAL DAY IN WAVERLY, MAY 28, 2001

"The Mass at the cemetery with Father Robert Wiley of Saint Mary's Parish, Waverly, started off the day at 9:00, with the sun shining and no clouds. It was in the low 70s, with only a soft breeze from the lake, so the sounds carried perfectly, the silence broken only by the birds, the prayers, and the music from St. Mary's choir. There was a very good crowd in attendance, larger even than last year.

"Then came the parade through downtown Waverly, with two blocks of Main Street packed with people.

"It was heartening to see all of the young people, swarms of them, turn out this year. I asked Don where all the old people were and he said, 'They're all dead!'

"The kids still dived for the cartridges after the rifle squad fired. And this year, there was not one train to interrupt us!

"Commander Dave Remer and wife, Nancy (Painschab), couldn't attend because they were in Washington, D.C. at the National Memorial for the Vietnam Veterans.

"The new crosses added this year were for Le Roy "Bud" Claessens, Don Olson (whose wife, Caroline Decker, preceded him in death), Leo Bronder, and Daniel Sexton.

"Lynda Jensen was there from the paper and took pictures, so you will get all the dope from her."


LIVE (BARELY) FROM TEXAS

For those of you who plan to move to Texas, my advice is: don't.

There are Texas readers who have been offended by what they call my "ungrateful and constant attacks on the Lone Star state." ("Effen, you don't like it here, feller, you know what you kin do. Don't mess with Texas.")

Last week, someone didn't like my wisecrack, which seemed to question the veracity of President Lyndon Johnson. I should have remembered that he had been given the key to the city one time when he visited Waverly, in the company of Hubert Humphrey, so he is really a Waverlyite, if only an adopted one.

The First Lady (with the redundant name of First Lady Lady Bird) had a better handle on Waverly, since she had been there more than once, to hang out with Muriel. In fact, she had given a National Beautification Award to Ann Happe and Pauline Claessens for their years of diligence in tending the plots on city property, which produced an abundance of petunias and daisies (I think). Glads for sure.

If my mother had been alive to cover it for "The Waverly Star," she would have known the names of their plants. She also would have pronounced their award the equivalent of The Congressional Medal of Honor.

My mother, even as a reporter, tended to exaggerate, a trait often associated with the Irish. For example, if anyone asked her about one of her sons, whether it was Henry, Myles, John, or Paul, she would not always remember the name of the company they worked for at the time, but she would always end by saying, "Well, you know. He's the head of it."

Well, go ahead and move to Texas if you want, even if it's to a town called Uncertain, Texas, which is between Texarkana and Marshall. Living there can get you into a game of "Who's on first?" Just listen to this:

"Where are you from?"

"Uncertain."

"No, I mean, where are you from?"

Cut and Shoot, Texas (pop. 903) is just north of Houston on Highway 105, but it is not a popular retirement community since it has been known to live up to its name. At least in Cut and Shoot, they know how to pronounce the name of their town. This can be a challenge in Texas.


WHO PAYS THE PIPERS?

Richard Sheppard, our contributor from Great Britain, chimed in to take exception to my insulting his bag piping friends. Next thing you know, he will be telling us that Haggis is good for you.

He says, "Re: Towns called Waverly. What about the main station in Edinburgh? The rail station in the middle of town, and down in the valley below Holyrood Castle is called Waverly Station.

"The finest bagpipers in the world are there to greet you. I've been to Scotland five times in the past 15 years, and going by train, I end up in Waverly Station.

"Edinburgh, with its bagpipes, has gotten to be my favorite European city, with Heidelberg, Germany being a close second.

"One time, I went to Edinburg with my brother, Derek, in 1995. By the time we reached Waverly Station, we had used up most of our vacation money, so we ended up sleeping under the stars in Holyrood Park."

I don't know why this is, but the tourist boards of the British Isles seem to think we like the god-awful noise. They have even posted a piper outside Shannon Airport to welcome you to Ireland and to hasten your departure. In case you hate to leave Ireland, it makes you glad to board the plane.

There are pipers with cans in front of them here and there throughout the British Isles, and even in civilized places like Ottawa, the capital of Canada. Good luck to all of them, but please don't encourage them by tossing money their way or the plague will spread.

On my side in the bagpipe controversy is Glen Keener, who recently compared the voice of Bob Dylan to bagpipe music. "He is the only singer I can think of who can hit all the notes correctly, but make it sound like a drone . . . you know, as in bagpipes."

Glen had noted that Bob Dylan had just turned 60. This was stunning news to me, a person who still thinks of him as an ugly, guttural-sounding, long-haired lad with a badly-tuned 12-string guitar.

I had seen him perform in a bar on the West Bank of the U of M. I remember saying to myself, "This kid can't sing! He should have stayed on the Iron Range."

I am the same dude who thought Elvis would never last, and that the Beatles were just foreign punks with an attitude.


MISSING PERSON FOUND

I found "the missing person," Alvin Broll. It was so dumb of me not to be able to locate him on my own.

Alvin's brother had attended the St. Mary's reunion August 26 and seven other Brolls had sent in their money with the intention to attend.

I had just asked the wrong people, "Whatever became of Alvin?"

And the Waverly telephone directory lists five Brolls. I am not a great investigative reporter, as the Herald staff already knows.

As it was, I got an e-mail from Alvin, and had an enjoyable visit with him on the telephone. Yes, he did remember how I used to go out to his farm after school and on Saturdays and jump around in the hay mow. I wasn't any help otherwise, but Alvin didn't mention that. He always was a really nice guy.

This is what he said in his e-mail: "Arlene Stack(hart)-Tompkins sent me the Howard Lake paper and that's how I knew you were looking for me. I didn't know about the reunion.

"Nobody knows we live in the sticks. I'm still kicking, but not too high. I had a back operation and a fused neck last year.

"I live about 45 miles from Brainerd. I retired about eight years ago and went up north. I've been here ever since. We're on a small lake. I am 70 years old."

Alvin spent long, hard years as a truck driver, most of the time with La Harve Transfer. He hauled pianos for over 27 years, and it's my guess that didn't do his back any good.

He always was a hard worker. I am really glad he is enjoying life now. He said he liked truck-driving because he couldn't stand staying in one place (such as a school desk) for too long a time.

You can reach them at Alvin and Linda Broll, 1192 W. Stoneback Lane NW, Backus, MN 56435, phone (218) 947-3797, e-mail broll@uslink.net.


A PRONOUNCING GAZETTEER

As a service to readers, below is a guide to the pronunciation of the names of some Texas towns which are likely retirement destinations for cold-weary refugees from Minnesota.

A pretty town near Uncertain is called "Palestine" (Pop. 18,042). In East Texas it is pronounced "Pal-Ah-Steen." (As in the joke about the Sunday School class which was asked to identify where Jesus was born. When the preacher couldn't get any of them to come up with an answer, he said, "Hit was Palesteen!" One of the lads in the class said, "Shoot, I knew hit had to be some place in East Texas.")

Mexia, Texas (pop. 6,833) is pronounced "May-Hee-Ah."

They seem to have trouble with X's in Texas. Bexar County (where San Antonio, is located) is often called "Becks-Air" by outlanders, but it is, of course, pronounced "Bear."

Bedias, Texas, which was settled by former slaves, is pronounced "Bead-Eyes."

Nacogdoches, Texas, a city of 30,872, where Stephen F. Austin University is located, is pronounced "Narco-Doses." It was pronounced that way even before the college kids came to town.

Refugio, Texas (pop. 3,148), Nolan Ryan's home town just north of Corpus Christi, can really get you into trouble. The Anglo radio announcers, and the Anglo half of the population, call it "Re-Fur-Ee-Oh" but the Mexican-Americans pronounce it "Re-Foo-Kee-Oh." How you pronounce that name could well determine your future in that city. It's one of those towns which lives up to the term "the wrong side of the tracks," because the Anglos live on one side of the tracks and the Mexicans on the other.

And they can't even agree on the name of their town.

DOT warning: Wait until the road is fixed before you move there. You will be reminded of Highway 12 if you don't.

Runge (Should rhyme with "grunge" shouldn't it?) (pop. 1,139) is pronounced "Run-Kee."

When it comes to Waxahachie, Texas (pop. 18,168) (Gesundheit!) you are on your own.

The State's very name, Texas, is still pronounced "Tay-Haas" by people who believe we stole it - along with a whole sub-continent, from Mexico ("May-Hee-Coh").

I haven't yet exhausted the subject but I am sure I have exhausted all of my readers by now.


THE WINDY CITY

Right now, here in Corpus Christi, they are holding the United States Windsurfing Association National Championships. Why Corpus Christi? Because we have the wind and we have Corpus Christi Bay.

They call Chicago "the windy city." When I lived there, I thought it was because of the gales that came across Lake Michigan and took my hat away, but it was really because of the windbags who ran for office there. A political writer dubbed Chicago "the windy city" because of them.

Here, in Corpus Christi, we hold the real title. The wind that keeps you leaning forward all the time is God's gift to us, because without it we would bake to death.

You may have seen windsurfing and didn't even know it. On Waverly Lake, in the winter, you have seen sails on ice skates with some brave fool attached to a bicycle seat whipping along at speeds up to 50 miles an hour, with his hinder barely inches above the sharp ice. Not so here.

The windsurfers come from all over the world with their thousands of dollars worth of equipment.

While an ordinary surfboard starts at around $500 for the cheapest, sailboarding gets you into the thousands. Then, add the price of a rubber suit for the sissies, and the vehicles to haul it all, and you have a bundle of money.

The cars of the surfers and their followers fill up the church parking lots along Ocean Drive here. There are so many SUVs, the church lots look like they are hosting a Republican fundraiser. The windsurfers and their money are all most welcome. Thank God for the wind.

Yesterday, it blew so strong that a neighbor kid, who plays in his high school band, got screwed right into the ground while he was practicing on the tuba in his backyard.


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