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 30, 2001

Although I am still looking for Ian Iverson, Jackie Lyrenmann, and Wilton Anderson, I found the champ of all missing persons when Barbara Jerome turned up.

She is now Barbara Jerome Hurd of Jasper, Ark., an accomplished horsewoman, grandmother, and the beautiful lady I remember from her Waverly days. I have Gen Stotko Henk to thank for this.

Barbara writes:

"Dear Jim O'Leary,

"Maybe it was just my age at that time (16 and boy crazy) that made me wild to go to Waverly, supposedly to visit my grandparents, the Schweitzers.

"Grandma Schweitzer was a Franey, and was raised on a farm near Waverly. They were living for the summer of '38 in the Kelly girls' house. Later, they rented the duplex apartment above the one you and your folks lived in, and where I last saw your mom and dad in 1960.

"Anyway, I went to Waverly as often as my parents would let me in the summer and then, every weekend I could get them to drive from St. Louis Park after school started.

"Even back then, I knew that town and those people were different and special. Maybe I thought it was the glamour of country versus city, and the fact that they took this new-girl-in-town right into the crowd immediately.

"And to me, amazingly, the crowd was every kid around, from 13-year-old Lois Martinson to 22-year-old Tommy Jolicouer. There were no cliques! The other amazing thing to me was that they were way ahead of any crowd I'd ever known, in cooking up imaginative ways to spend time.

"Of course, the first thing they did with me was take me on a snipe hunt, courtesy mostly of your brother, John. I could write a book about my life and times in Waverly, short as they were.

"But you remember, too, the wiener roasts on the dam. They must have been about the same time your brother, John, checked out a book on astronomy from the St. Mary's School library.

"On the basis of his fascinating tales of the constellations as we viewed them at the dam, I could hardly wait to sign up for such a course when I got to the U of M.

"Big mistake. What I got was a lot of math and no myths or legends and I barely passed.

"And there were dances at the lake in the old pavilion, and wild rides to Howard Lake or Delano, and parties at the lumber yard (Your father always chuckled whenever I called it the lumber barn). You, of course, were just a little kid."

"I loved your father and mother. I still have this picture in my mind of his story of the romance with your mother; of a South Dakota cowboy courting an Arizona school teacher. He always had a delightful smile but seemed shy and quiet.

"The last time I saw him he couldn't speak. He was in a wheelchair from Parkinson's disease, but he sparkled just the same.

"I got to know your mother better at that time. She was full of enthusiasm about this book on Indians she was writing.

"I don't know why Waverly was so different. Maybe it was the friendliness of the place. I will never forget my very first night in Waverly, when Betty Lou Flannigan, a Flynn grandchild, came over to take me up to Henk's Drug Store.

"A lot of people in that town were really exceptional people. The Stotkos were an exceptional family. One of my best friends is Gen Henk, who was a Stotko. She still lives kitty-corner from St. Mary's and is tough-minded as ever.

"She misses the same beautiful statues that I loved dearly. I get back to see her as often as I can, and she and Randy have been to Arkansas to visit me. A lot of good genes floating in that town.

"Then add those great sisters of Saint Joseph and the fine educational opportunities they gave the kids. No wonder you've produced judges and bankers and lawyers and doctors and nuns.

"The truth is, those Waverly kids were simply better, "gooder" than other kids I knew. And this is still true to this very day.


Barbara Jerome Hurd"

The old pavilion

Barbara mentioned the Waverly Pavilion, which those of us on Medicare can all remember.

Larry Antil says it was moved across Quinn's Bay in the dead of winter by teams of horses not long before he was born. It had been located next to the ice house on the way to Foxy Hill.

Larry said it was the Wright County "hot spot" when he was younger.

In my day it was owned and operated by Ray Daigle, and drew large crowds of people. It featured good bands from all over the upper midwest week after week.

Its quonset construction served its purposes well, but its days were numbered after the new Waverly Village Hall was constructed.

Fire had taken down the old "town hall," and this new all-concrete building became the next Wright County "hot spot," where even the Six Fat Dutchmen came and went.

I think that's why the pavilion went out of business and was torn down.

Blub blub from Texas

This just in from Trish Franklin:

"We were deluged last Thursday. I stepped out the door at 6:30 a.m. to leave for work and into six inches of water.

"As the morning wore on and we kept watch, my street was knee deep, and on the corner (I'm middle of the block), it was waist deep in the street. The backyard was full and came within 1/8 inch of coming in the back door and one inch from coming in the front.

"I was worried, because I don't have flood insurance. I was told it never floods on this end of town, so I never bothered getting any.

"The children and I were on our knees praying. It reminded me of the children of Fatima.

"Twenty minutes later, it slowed down and came no higher.

Although I really believe in the power of prayer, my co-workers just laughed at me, so then I said a prayer for them. But I am the only house on the street that does not have all of my carpeting on the curb. So, I'm very lucky.

"On Friday, I did my stint at the city garage, bagging sandbags for the morning, and shoring up my foundation with some, but it never got that high again.

"My prayers are with Houston and the ones here and there who had it so much worse than I did."

This was from Mrs. Patricia Baldwin Franklin, Beaumont, Texas:

"Poor Houston. There are still over 10,000 vehicles missing (missing!) from the flood. There were many more thousands which were buried under water.

"Beware of the next used car you buy. Soakers, they call them, the ones that came through the flood without a scratch, but spent a day or so under water."

Three great families - the Henrys, Neatons, and Althoffs

Pam Henry-Neaton, who is a member of the Waverly Council, always buys her paper at Pete's Grocery in Waverly. She saw my column and wrote me this just now:

"Hi Mr. O'Leary.

"My father's name was John Henry, and I have lived in Waverly all my life. I am married to Brian Neaton, who is one of Ann Althoff Neaton's sons.

"Waverly was a great town to grow up in, and is a great town to live in.

"Our uncle Bernie Althoff visited us not long ago and I was just amazed at how he remembered where everybody had lived.

"Right now, I live in 'the Copeland house.' My mom and dad purchased it from Mark Graham, so Brian and I now live in my 'home place.' Bernie remembered that Mary McDonnell lived next door, and that the O'Learys lived kitty-corner from us.

"My parents were John and Hildegard Henry. Mom just passed away April 15 of this year, and was buried from St. Mary's parish. My brothers are Bob, Roy, Gene, Dale, and Jerry and my sister is Judy.

"Bob died seven years ago from cancer.

"Brian and I were married in 1989. Brian still farms the Neaton land, along with his brother, Jim, and he is putting in some long days right now, including doing some grain hauling.

"Jim lives on the Cebulla place and my father-in-law and mother-in-law still live on the home place where all the Neatons grew up.

"Keep up the good work. I like your columns.


As a side note, we O'Learys were very lucky in our neighbors. The Henrys were wonderfully good people when we were their neighbors. I will never forget Ann Althoff Neaton's funeral, and all of her blue-eyed tykes in the front pew with their father, Joe Neaton.

Their farm in Hollywood Township was always my favorite stop on my way back to the cities after a visit to my parents.

Tourist destination: the O'Leary house

Roy and Mary Hudson from Washburn, Wis. are related to the John and Jean O'Learys of Brainerd by marriage.

Not long ago, they were visiting with the Joe O'Connells, very close friends to the Hudsons, and as they drove by that duplex across from the Mary McDonnell home mentioned above, Joe O'Connell remarked "And that's the old O'Leary house."

The Hudsons were flabbergasted. They said, "Not the John O'Learys from Brainerd!"

And Joe said, "The very same." The Hudsons did not know the famous O'Learys claimed Waverly as their headquarters. They stopped and took a picture.

Back to Waverly Star menu

Howard Lake-Waverly Herald & Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal
Stories | Columns | Obituaries
Community Guides | Special Topics | Cool Stuff | Search | Home Page