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 24, 2002

When I pulled into the circular driveway bordered by daisies at the Lakeshore Motel on Waverly Lake, the lady in charge was watering plants and not overly enthused to see me since customers there are a dime a dozen during the summer.

I said "I have a reservation here and my name is Jim O'Leary." She said "I know very well who you are and I don't want you putting my name in your paper."

I will respect her request even though she was working on the Sabbath, digging in her gardens. When I pointed this out to her, she did not suggest I mind my own business, but told me gardening was her avocation and she found it to be very restful.

After 30 years in the business, I thought she deserved some rest. She did not seem overly stressed, despite the notoriety of the recent drug bust which occurred on her premises.

Without mentioning her name, then, I do want to use this space to thank her.

On a side note ­ the paper usually charges for thank you notices, although some readers try to sneak them into the paper via a letter to the editor (for which the paper is desperate, by the way.)

I want to thank her for calling Don and Gerry Smith after I had checked out to tell them I had left my pants and toothbrush behind, so that I was able to retrieve them. I also want to thank her for a good night's sleep, for the sunrise over Waverly Lake, and for the comfortable chair on the fishing dock, as good a place as any church to say your morning prayers.

I can't find the words to thank Don and Gerry Smith for hosting a reception for me at their beautiful place on the north shore of Waverly Lake, with a postcard view of Waverly itself, the city on a hill and the joy of my youth.

Up until that reception, I was pretty sure I had made a mess of my life. Since Dan and I both turn 71 in August, most of the people there were around our age, but the first person I saw was Dr. Jim Smith, who drove down from St. Cloud to visit his mother in Howard Lake, who lives at the Good Samaritan Care Center. Don is Jim Smith's godfather.

I got to see Cathy Westrup, Cyril and Mary Ann Dressen, Lorraine Rittock, John and Marion Gagnon, Bob and Phyllis Zeller, Val ("Pooch") and Jo Ann LePage, Jeanne Courteau, Alice McPherson, Bob Padden, Mary R. Johnson, Jerry and Anne May, Mary McDonnell Anderson, Gerald and Theresa Borrell, Harold Reardon, Jeanne Painschab and Ryan Painschab (her grandson).

Gerald and Theresa Borrell treated us all to a pontoon boat ride around the three-mile perimeter of Waverly Lake, now surrounded by what seemed like mansions to me compared to the good old days.

I could have spent the rest of my life talking with all of them. Each one of these friends had stories to tell, including where they had been all my life, which was the main theme I wanted to hear but was not able to. Maybe that's what heaven's for.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch

All of this is sounding somewhat disloyal to the state that has allowed me to earn a living.

Texas has some nice places also. There is Big Bend National Park, which itself is larger than most of our states, but without the advantage of traffic, population, mosquitoes, or rainfall. If you want to see the stars at night, that's the place to go.

Corpus Christi, where I live, is different from that because it is right on the Gulf of Mexico and is the place where the mosquitoes of Minnesota go to spend the winter.

The main tourist attraction in Texas lies just north of us, in San Antonio.

The Alamo is now a completely empty building but at the time of the massacre, it was a Franciscan Mission.

There are over three million visitors a year, and the admission is free. One of the docents there told me his most frequently asked question was, of course, "Where's the restroom?"

Just north of there is the latest tourist attraction, Crawford, Texas.

What's in a name? Not much, usually

There's a town in Texas with its own zip code called Ding Dong, Texas. The city fathers and mothers named it that because it is located in Bell County.

Just east of there a few miles lies Waco, Texas, which sits on IH 35. We midwesterners often pronounce the city of Waco, "Wacko."

Placed right between Wacko and Ding Dongs is the town of Crawford. I would love to make something of this, but the management of this paper is afraid to lose any more subscribers because of me.

I also suspect some of them have Republican tendencies, although in this day and age of the ridiculous secret ballot, I will never know.

Other names

I was startled driving through Hart, Texas, to see a large banner over the highway proclaiming "Go Lady Steers!"

Now I ain't no cowboy, but I am pretty danged sure steers ain't no ladies. Upon investigation, it turned out that the local high school girls' softball team was headed for the last roundup, the state championship.

Historically, that is before women were allowed to play sports, the teams were called "Steers,'' and the alumni (not alumnae) couldn't bear to see a name change.

I won't tell you where or who, but I did see a commercially produced granite tombstone for the family pet. It said "Pooper, we will always miss you."

I don't know about you, but I am not sure how much I would miss a dog named Pooper.

It reminds me of a neighbor's dog named Fluffer. Yes, Fluffer. Not Fluffy. It also reminds me of Evelyn Waughts novel "The Loved One," which was a British spoof on Forest Lawn Cemetery where many Hollywood stars are now at rest.

A woman had her dog buried there and the cemetery people thoughtfully sent her a card every year on the anniversary of his death: "Bon Bon is in heaven and when he thinks of you, he wags his tail.''

Quote for the week (or if you prefer, for the "weak")

"No white American, including those who insist that opportunities exist for persons of every race, would change places with even the most successful black American."

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