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 16, 2001

I hit the jackpot when I received a letter from Janet (Borrell) Sherman this week:

"Dear Jim,

"I am of the Fritz Borrell family, and I just wanted to drop you a line to tell you some of us do read your 'Waverly Star,' including my mom who reads it in the Howard Lake-Waverly paper.

"I have lived in Michigan since 1975. My son, Andy, is married and lives in Benton, Ky. He and his wife, Kim, have blessed me with two granddaughters, Chaney and Kinzie. Andy also has two wonderful step-sons, Brandon and Jordon.

"My daughter, Laurie, married Todd Childers, and they live nearby in Howell, Mich. They have two little boys, Hunter and Colby.

"Laurie had started the Fritz Borrell Informational Newsletter (FBIN) for our family. She has it on hold for now, but I am really looking forward to her getting the news going again. She has a degree in journalism from Central Michigan University and really enjoys writing.

"I just returned from a 'Mother-Sisters Week' in Beaver Creek, Col. My mother, Dorothy, is doing just great. She is always so full of love and energy, and is her same, positive self. My sister, Rose Marie, her husband, Mike, and their granddaughter, Elyssa, live in Evergreen, Colo. My youngest sister, Ginny, and her husband and family live in Kirbyville, Texas. Do you know where that is?"

(I sure do. It's just north of Beaumont, but a whole lot nicer than Trish Franklin's town. Right now, though, Kirbyville, population 1,871, is under water, along with 28 other Texas counties which had the misfortune to be located close enough to Houston to catch all of Houston's drainage.

Houston is so paved over that the water can't soak into the ground and has nowhere to go except to places like Kirbyville.

Houston streets flood every time there is a drizzle, but this flooding is catastrophic, with over 25 inches of rain from the Gulf of Mexico in some places. Some over-the-road truckers had to abandon their rigs right on the freeways and swim for their lives.

If Janet ever comes to visit Ginny in Kirbyville, I'll go over to see her, but I'll wear a life jacket.)

"Janet is an LPN, CGN and works at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak. She works in the endoscopy unit, 10 hour days with weekends off - the ideal nursing job, she says."

Janet inherited her mother's good looks and wonderful disposition. I really regret that I didn't get to visit with her at the all class reunion. She misses Waverly as much as I do.

When I called her, she couldn't talk very long because she was taking a meal that she had prepared over to a friends house. The friend had just had cancer surgery. I told you she was like her mother.

The third generation

Some other news from Borrellville is that Ben Borrell, the oldest of Dick Borrell's five, just graduated from Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, with degrees in economics and business.

Dick's other four are Tom, Kelly, Beth, and Barb. There is also a two-year-old grandson, Dylan, of whom Dick is, they say, inordinately proud.

Congratulations to Ben Borrell! Let's hope you settle in Waverly. When it comes to Borrells in Wright County, remember, there is always room for one more.

That was Fritz and Dorothy's motto.

In fact, Fritz and Dorothy's sons, David, Ken, Pat, Dick, Charlie, Mike, Gene, Jerry, and their families have all stayed in the Waverly area.

The Funkley follies

Speaking of Borrells, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune Sept. 4, 1997 edition, reported that Pat Borrell, as a member of the Waverly Lions Club, headed up a rescue operation for the city of Funkley, Minn. (pop. 13). That town was on the verge of extinction until Pat came along.

The only connection that he had with the town was that he had driven through it on his way up north hunting.

With the urging of Pat, the Waverly Lions Club, 160 miles from Funkley, took Funkley on as a project and raised enough money to keep the town from disappearing into the woods of Beltrami County.

The town's only revenue had come from the town's only business (a bar, of course), and when the business closed, the city was broke and without a tax base.

That's when the Waverly Lions came to the rescue with a fund-raiser to save the town, which they did. Eventually, the bar was reopened by a man from Blackduck, so Funkley thrives again, with tax revenue from the bar.

"That Pat, he's really something," said Millie McLain, the city clerk of Funkley.

I think they should rename the town Borrellville, even though we already have a Borrellville just outside Waverly. It's just never been incorporated.

Pat asked not a thing for himself out of this, but I think the least Funkley could do is to change the name of their town and rename it Borrellville.

There was a town in Montana which was also disappearing. In order to develop a tourist industry to save it, the city fathers (and mothers) asked Joe Montana, who was then the quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs, if they could rename their town "Joe."

Joe, Montana, get it? He said it was okay by him even though it's a place Mr. Montana himself has yet to visit.

But I would drive miles out of my way to see Borrellville, Minn.

Another success story

Since my dream is to re-connect Waverlyites, I had the great pleasure of hearing from a Mr. Herb White that, through the Waverly Star, he had made contact with Burt Kreitlow, a college classmate from the U of M, and an old friend. They are now exchanging e-mail.

Mr. White tells me he had done some milk testing in Wright County in 1941 and met "some great dairymen," including the Grahams, Tom Devaney, Melvin Diers, W. C. Douglas, and W. H. Eddy, and J. Carl Shear of Howard Lake.

Mr. White married a Waverly girl ­ Bill and Bernadette Speckel's daughter. The Speckels had moved to Watkins in the 1920s, but moved back to Waverly when they retired.

Bill and Bernadette died on the same day in 1967. Bill had done a bit of boxing when he was young, and had some matches in the Graham Arena, the very same arena where the Grahams showed their prize milking shorthorn cattle.

Bernadette was the oldest of the LePage family. There were also Allerine (Kuka), Don, Val, Jerry, Roy, Myron, Maurice (Carrots), Clinton (Sonny), John (Johnup), Viola, and Lorraine.

Nine of these children served in the US Military, including Allerine. Their mother, Mary Doerfler

LePage, had a record number of "Stars" in the banner flag in her front window during World War II, but, thank God, no Gold ones.

Herb was one of the pallbearers at her funeral.

I am looking forward to meeting Herb. He sounds like a fascinating guy with a great memory. He even remembers the name of the top show cow owned by the Grahams. Her name was Red Oaks Olivia.

She was the cover girl for the Milking Shorthorn Journal, a national publication. Herb said that was a great feat for the times, but not nearly so wonderful, he thinks, as the apple pies Mrs. Graham would bake and serve whenever he stayed for dinner.

I asked Herb if I could publish his address and he said, "Sure, but cut out the blarney." Sounds like he's one to talk.

Herbert C. White
62952 250th St.
Litchfield, MN 55355
E-mail: haphomey@webtv.net

The long ride home

One day after school, I followed Gerald, Clayton, and Marion down the Great Northern Railway tracks as they walked home from school out to Borrellville. I, thus, ended up at their dinner table.

I had never seen such a meal ­ beef roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn on the cob, and fresh baked bread with plenty of butter on the table. And apple pie. Better than Ogle's Cafe!

I had told Mrs. Borrell, of course, that my parents knew I would be her dinner guest that evening.

Before we sat down to dinner, I got to watch Joe Borrell's boys at their chores. I climbed up the windmill. I played in the barn. I threw corncobs at the chickens. I would have given anything to live on that farm.

Mrs. Borrell had put on table linen, silver and crystal for her "guest."

We had just said "From Thy bounty through Christ our Lord" when the telephone rang, and I knew the jig was up.

The Borrells let me continue to eat my last meal, until my brothers, Myles, John, and Paul, pulled up in the farmyard in our J. F. Anderson Lumber Company Model A Ford. I was loaded into the car, one brother on each ear, and driven away in disgrace.

It was a long time before Gerald, Clayton, and Marion, for all their kindness, would ever trust me again no matter how much I begged to go home with them.

The family have recently sold the Joe Borrell farm. Emily (Mrs. Joe Borrell) now lives in a nursing home in Delano. Gerald married Theresa Ditty from Delano, and her brother, Paul, was in the seminary with me.

Those Sears Roebuck houses

After I appealed for help in locating Sears and Roebuck houses in Wright County so I could identify them as tourist attractions, I was embarrassed to discover that I had lived in one myself and didn't even know it.

Berni Reardon told me this week that her mother, the marvelous Adelaide Reardon (who died Dec. 19, 1994), once told her all about the Sears and Roebuck houses. Berni knows of at least six right within the city limits of Waverly.

There are three on Highway 12 (I lived in the middle one), and were built by the great Wright County entrepreneur, W. H. King, so the three houses on Highway 12 were called "the three kings."

Mrs. Reardon recalled that the houses were not pre-fabricated, but they were pre-cut and then built on the site. The units would come to Waverly by train on flatcars, which were shunted off to the siding where they could be unloaded as the houses were built. The flatcars were then dead-headed back to Minneapolis.

When I lived in one of the Sears and Roebuck houses on Highway 12, Paul and Laura Claessens lived in the one on our right and Mr. and Mrs. Charles Cullen lived on our left, right across from the Waverly Grain Elevator which was owned by Mr. Cullen.

Later, the Frank and Florence (Fitzpatrick) Padden family (Jim, Bob, and Virginia) grew up in the same house.

Nobody ever had better neighbors than Paul and Laura Claessens and their three children, Jimmy, Margie (Millerbernd), and Eddie. Paul and Laura were just wonderful to me and my parents during the time Myles, John, and Paul were away at the War.

On VJ Day, Paul and Laura came over with some bourbon, and I had my first taste of whiskey at age 13. Laura was the only lady I ever knew who took sugar in her whiskey, but never mind that.

When the Minneapolis Star route supervisor came to the house with a hundred papers for me to sell, I told him to go to hell, so he headed out the door for Howard Lake.

It wasn't just the whiskey talking. I wasn't going to let him interrupt the celebration of a lifetime when the fire siren and the church bells were going off all day (and all night) long.

Laura now lives in the retirement community in Howard Lake at 800 6th Ave. (320) 543-1036. Paul worked for many years for Minnetonka Boat Works and Laura retired from being Waverly Post mistress. I wonder what she will say when I tell her she was living in a Sears and Roebuck house. YIKES!

"What did the cannibals say when they ate the clowns?"

"They thought they tasted funny."

"How do cannibals order their pizza?"

"They order one with everybody on it."

"What do undertakers do with the ashes from cremation?"

"They sell them to cannibals so they can make instant people."

(Don't blame me. Blame the Internet.)

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