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 23, 2003

Living in the past lane of life

Local news from the Waverly Star for June 15, 1933:

Adolph Kinkor caught an 8 pound pike in Waverly Lake last evening.

Mr. and Mrs. Joe Dignan and daughter, and Mr. Joseph Althoff and children visited Mrs. Joe Althoff at St. Mary's Hospital Sunday. Mrs. Althoff is recovering from an operation.

All public and parochial school children in Wright County will be admitted free this year to the Wright County fair. (Another sign the Depression was on.)

Phillip Zeller took a load of stock to the South St. Paul stockyards Friday.

Henry Cullen caught an 8.5 pound pike in Waverly Lake last Friday.

Ed Giblin went to Wayzata Friday where he called on the Joe Jolicouer family.

Little Paul and Junior Stark of Excelsior are spending the week at the Martinson home.

Mr. and Mrs. Mellon and Miss Gladys Wright attended a meeting of the Food Guild organization in Minneapolis Tuesday.

Doctor Roholt left Monday for Randolph, Minn. for a week's rest. The doctor has been on the go night and day, and expects to take things easy this week.

Messers (sic) Harold Clements, Ed Stotko, Charley Pususta, Edmond Chevalier, Lawrence Kugler, Pat Meehan, Ray Le Page and W. Erickson, local boys at Fort Snelling, were here over the weekend visiting their respective homes.

* * *

Charlie Ogle was a student at the University of Minnesota in 1933 and he wrote a column for Marks McDonnell every week called "Waverlyites in the Big City."

His column for June 8, 1933, was his very last column.

Charlie said, "There are about 2,000 seniors at the University of Minnesota.

"Most of them, when asked 'Are you going to graduate this spring?' have changed their answer for the old question from 'I hope so' to 'I'm afraid so.' There aren't many jobs waiting for them out there right now."

It wasn't called "The Great Depression" for nothing.

Poetry for Father's Day

(I am late for Father's Day every year.)


My father worked with a horse-plough, His shoulders globed like a full sail strung between the shafts and the furrow.

The horses strained at his clicking tongue.

An expert. He would set the wing and fit the bright steel-pointed sock.

The sod rolled over without breaking.

At the headrig, with a single pluck of reins, the sweating team turned round and back into the land.

His eye narrowed and angled at the ground, mapping the furrow exactly.

I stumbled in his hobnailed wake, fell sometimes on the polished sod;

Sometimes he rode me on his back dipping and rising to his plod.

I wanted to grow up and plough, to close one eye, stiffen my arm.

All I ever did was follow in his broad shadow round the farm.

I was a nuisance, tripping, falling, yapping always.

But today it is my father who keeps stumbling behind me, and will not go away.

(Reprinted with permission of the author, Seamus Heaney, the Irish writer who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995)

Another poem for fathers

Certain People

My father lives by the ocean and drinks his morning coffee in the full sun on his deck, talking to anyone who walks by on the beach.

And in the afternoons he works part-time at the golf course ­ sailing the fairways like sea captain in a white golf cart.

My father must talk to a hundred people a day, yet we haven't spoken in weeks.

As I get older, we hardly speak at all.

It's as if I were a stranger and we had never met.

I wonder, if I were a tourist on the beach or a golfer lost in woods and met him now for the very first time, what we'd say to each other, how his hand would feel in mine as we introduced ourselves, and if, as is the case with certain people, I'd feel when I looked him in the eye, I'd known him all my life.

­ By Richard Jones, reprinted with permission.

* * *

My own father grew up on a homestead and he knew how to plow behind a team of horses, but he never in his life held a golf club in his hands nor drove a golf cart.

What's a homestead? The Homestead Act was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862. The Homestead Act granted 160 acres of land to anyone who was the head of a household and at least 21 years old.

In return, the homesteader agreed to live on the land for five years. It was a milestone in the settling of the American West (In this case, South Dakota). Most homesteaders were seasoned farmers from the crowded east or Europe.

By 1900, over 600,000 claims had been made for 80 million acres of land. My father grew up on 160 of those acres in South Dakota. He ran a steam threshing machine in partnership with one of his brothers.

He also broke horses for a living by riding them into a river where they swam until they grew so tired they couldn't buck him off.

He never laid eyes on an automobile until he was 19 years old.

* * *

Here's another poem for my father.

Stable Hands

The South Dakota prairies are closer to me since Ma died.

They have stretched into my living room where I can see the jack rabbits bolting between the plowed furrows and the white-tail deer standing by the windbreaking trees.

Everything has been tamed into the pace of the cows that graze the pastures.

I can blink my eyes and see these same fields with a carpet of wheat and corn fields ready for harvest.

As I listen to this land of stables, I can hear the fiddle in the barn and folks dancing to a simple way of life.

I can hear the silent nights capturing the dreams that became flesh in my mother's arms.

She held us as gifts to a God among us.

(That's my grandmother Mary Bridget Creegan O'Leary just as sure as I'm sitting here wishing I had known her. She had 16 children, so a lot of her dreams became flesh.)

* * *

All of Waverly lost a friend a few months back when Phyllis Zeller died Jan. 28. She was a good writer and one of her poems was printed on the program for her Mass of Christian Burial at St. Mary's church in Waverly.

The Quiet Gardener

For He is with us all through the snow white winter.

His purity of design has become envisionable for the closer one drifts towards Perfect Design, the more we give with still spring-like abandon to Him whose glorious design will soon be known to all who trust His quiet gardening of souls.

Written by Phyllis Zeller.

Phyllis was also a gardener and this little verse from Workman Publishing would be something she would have liked:

My love is like a cabbage,

Often cut in two.

The leaves I give to others,

The heart I give to you.

Thought for the day

"On the street, I saw a naked child, hungry and shivering in the cold. I became angry and said to God, 'Why do you permit this? Why don't you do something?'

"For a while God said nothing. That night God replied quite suddenly, 'I certainly did do something. I made you.'" ­ Anonymous

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