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, 2003

Summertime in Waverly 70 years ago

The Waverly Star for June 29, 1933, as written and published by Mr. Francis "Marks" McDonnell provided us with a stroll around Waverly back then.

"A most refreshing rain fell late Monday night, which cooled the air after the thermometer had hovered around the 100 mark all day.

"The weather has been extremely hot the past few weeks. June has been a hot month."

How hot was it? (As they used to say on the Johnny Carson show.)

"According to the Howard Lake Herald, the thermometer at the Recreation Parlor went up to 120 degrees. The thermometer broke Sunday, June 18."

"Mr. and Mrs. Peter Wattier and children of Bristol, S.D. arrived here for a visit at the home of Mr. and Mrs. A. Le Duc. Peter reports that the small grains in South Dakota and in the western part of Minnesota are hard hit by the heat and the yield will be small this fall."

Editor's note: Later, the Wattiers moved to Waverly. Their attractive daughter, Iva Wattier, was a close friend to the Copeland girls, and she was much admired by my older brothers.

'Uncle Marks'

As reported by Uncle Marks

"A girl arrived at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Charles McDonnell Friday morning. The young lady weighed 7 pounds, and Charley is going around with a smile on his face a mile-and-a-half long."

Editor's Note: The young lady mentioned in this bulletin from 1933 is Catherine McDonnell Westrup, who now lives in Winsted.

Although she is a very good friend of mine and I had lived across the street from her and her sister Mary for the happiest years of my life, I didn't check with her first as to whether or not I could include this item, which may give a clue as to her age.

Her birthday is June 23, and has been ever since 1933. "Marks" did not mention in this item that he is the young lady's proud uncle and that he planned to employ her, along with her younger sister Mary, at The Waverly Star.

This is indeed what happened. Catherine was a copy reader and typesetter by the time she was 12 years old.

It is to Cathy and Mary that I owe all my thanks for loaning me some back issues of the very good paper called The Waverly Star. So far as I am concerned, there has never been anyone as good as "Marks" McDonnell in the field of journalism.

Although handicapped physically, walking in great pain all his life, he was able to get around Waverly every day, and he found stories everywhere he turned. Just note the following items:

"Mrs. Klich has been having a time of it with the neighborhood robins. They have been devouring all of her strawberries.

"To deal with this, she stitched some sheets together and covered her entire strawberry patch.

"The sneaky robins found their way under the sheets and the massacre continued. She says any suggestions, short of murder, will be so welcome that she will share her strawberries with anyone who can help her save the crop, along with some fresh cucumbers, which she has in abundance."

"While strolling down the street of the Paris Exhibition at the World's Fair one day last week, Miss Leona Graham of this village, spied three other Waverly girls.

"The girls were Florence Demarais, Eleanor McNeeley, and Agnes Doherty. When the girls met, they all exclaimed, 'Isn't this great! Let's not stop now until we have actually seen Paris itself!'"

"Now that the depression has slacked off, Herman Negus, Jack May, and Rupert Jolicoeur, the crew at the Waverly Super Service Garage, are swamped with work.

"They have been putting in from 10 to 20 hours a day of late and they like it. Rupert was so worn out from the lack of sleep that he nodded off watching the baseball game at Howard Lake last Sunday, and was hard to wake up at the end of the game."

"Bob Stuhr, Axel Davo, and Walter Bulkey drove to Chicago last week where they took in the Century of Progress. They returned on this Thursday and reported a very nice time."

The following was his headline for page one that week back in 1933:

Blackbirds eat 'Doc' Moll's goldfish!

"Everyone has heard of ghosts and haunted houses, of great sea serpents that swallowed ships in one gulp, of bearded women, one-armed paper hangers, and so on but here's one for Ripley's 'Believe it or not.'

"Did you ever hear of black birds swooping down and carrying away a helpless goldfish? That is exactly what happened down at 'Doc' Moll's fish pond one day last week.

"'Doc' made the sad mistake of placing a bird bath in the center of his pond. Whether the birds thought 'Doc' was hoarding gold and was bringing the evidence to Washington, no one knows."

Editor's note: In cleaning up the Depression, it was a big crime to hoard gold in 1933.

The story continues:

"Nevertheless, he was brought out of his house on the run to investigate a terrible commotion in the direction of the fish pond. He could hardly believe his eyes when he saw a black bird struggling with one of his precious finned creatures.

"The race was on, 'Doc' running for all he was worth and the black bird pulling for all that was in him.

"The bird won, for just as 'Doc' reached for his fish, Mr. Black Bird made a last desperate lunge with his beak and gave back a mocking call as he flew over the tree tops, leaving the doctor scratching his head as he watched the gold and black colors blending beautifully with the fading sun."

Editor's note on this item: Neither Mr. McDonnell nor Dr. Moll were known as drinkers. I don't know any other explanation for this story's appearance on page one.

It must have been a slow news week, but then every week was a slow news week in Waverly.

So far as the black birds, my wife the birder says they must have been crows. There is nothing newsworthy, she says, about crows raiding goldfish ponds.

I do know of a mare belonging to a relative in Colorado, who regularly eats the goldfish in the water tank, putting her whole head under water to do so.

The goldfish are there to keep the tank clean. Most horses wouldn't do this, but you can't put anything past crows. Goldfish are tough guys, related to the carp in the fish world, but even gold fish can't fight off a horse, or even a crow for that matter.

Dr. Roholt also had a gold fish pond, but no such thing ever happened to him so far as I know.

Advertising section

"C.L. Roholt, BS, MB, and MD, physician, and surgeon. Eyes tested. Glasses fitted. Night calls promptly answered. Phone no. 67."

In a news item in this same issue, "Marks" mentioned that "the day Dr. Roholt returned home from vacation he had 42 patients waiting to see him."

In my day, there was a wag who said that the sign in Dr. Roholt's waiting room that read "Doctor is in. Please be seated" was sometimes misleading. There were times, it was alleged, that Dr. Roholt would post the sign, go out the back door, and walk down to the lake at the bottom of the hill where he might do some fishing before he resumed his practice. People waited patiently and the waiting room conversation, as I remember it, never lagged.

In another ad, Ogle's Cafe was still advertising apple pie for 5 cents a slice, and an all-you-can-eat lunch for 25 cents.

The summer of 1933 was a very good summer in Waverly. There has never been another like it.

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