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.

July 1, 2002

The latest research shows that hearty laughter is good for, well, the heart.

I would recommend, then, that you begin your day with breakfast somewhere along Highway 12, beginning around 6 a.m. when the eating establishments start filling up with retired farmers.

You must be ready to subject yourself to ruthless banter and politically incorrect jokes. That's what I did Monday morning after my Sunday on the lake at the Don and Gerry Smith place.

At Red's Cafe in Montrose, I got to see Jim Lammers, Harold and Berni Reardon, Cal Rolfzen, Jack Reinert, and some folks who more or less remembered me.

Now I know where Garrison Keillor and Jay Leno get their material, not all of it fit for a family newspaper. There was only one Catholic joke (Thank God!) and that was introduced with the disclaimer that it was first told by "a high up fourth degree Knight of Columbus." That to me was like saying "Well, he was a fellow Mason so I thought I could trust him."

Red's Cafe was called Red's Bus in my time - it was a bus with the wheels off. It was called "Red's" because it was Mr. Redmond who was the owner and proprietor.

Three miles away, in Waverly, there is Bill's Grill on Highway 12 and the next good place on Highway 12 is Milo's in Dassel, formerly the Red Rooster.

Going east on Highway 12 was Andy's, which sported a huge bilIboard that said "Andy ain't mad at nobody." Andy was a large man who loved to cook, and who loved to eat. I wonder what became of him.

Montrose urban sprawl

Cruising around Montrose to see what I could remember, I located the home where Bob, Tom, Dick, and Jimmy Stevens grew up, and where I used to very much enjoy visiting, staying overnight, and dining an the outstanding cooking of Mrs. Stevens. Mrs. Stevens had been a Horsch from Delano and used to write pretty good poetry for publication in The Waverly Star and The Montrose Tribune.

Then I crossed the Great Northern Railway tracks and was shocked by what I saw.

The pristine farmland I remembered from childhood now sprouted a hundred or so monster houses, single family dwellings, complete with two car garages and below ground exits. I found at least one ally, but I didn't get to meet him.

He had been there before the developers came, and put up a very well-made tableau with the theme "Eve of Destruction Graveyard."

In the tableau there is a coffin containing the remains at Minnesota farmland and a stork bringing a baby with a sign proclaiming "The Birth of a Ghetto."

Go see for yourself. And take a picture if you can. I didn't get a chance to ask his permission because he wasn't home.


I next called on Pat and Harold Reardon at their place on Waverly Lake.

They had just returned from Oklahoma where they had visited Pat's relatives, and were glad to be back into reasonable temperatures here in the land of cool and green.

I had a chance to meet Jake, a golden retriever who is madly in love with a softball. He will gladly brave the lake all day long just to retrieve it for his god Harold or anyone else who will play catch with him.

Harold is only sorry that he isn't able to give Jake the hunting he deserves, although it seems to me nobody could tire him out. Some residents of New Beginnings were hiking by on the road around the lake, and waved to us and got to watch Jake the Circus Dog.

White squirrel day

I visited my old home, the red brick house where Don and Mary Klingelhoets now live. I saw that they had splendidly remodeled it and on the outside could win the Waverly Beautification Award for yard of the month.

I was surprised to see, romping about in the old Waverly trees, some gorgeous albino squirrels.

There is a town in Tennessee, Kenton (Pop. 1366), in the northwest corner of the state, near Davy Crockett's cabin, which has an annual "White Squirrel Festival" on the Fourth of July.

I couldn't tell just passing through, whether they serve free squirrel, like Cokato serves free sweet corn, or if they just honor the squirrels that day. Waverly does need something to attract more tourists, but I would hate to see those albinos gunned down.

The musical cycling Munsons

At Dennis and Rosie Reardon's house, I hit the jackpot. Everyone remembers that Howard Lake's own Bill Munson, a classical pianist, almost won the Prairie Home Companion competition, only to lose out to a yodeler from the Iron Range.

There at the Reardon house was his mother, Patricia, and his sister Jessica, who is also a professional musician. She had just graduated from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, well known for its music program.

Ray and Patty had just completed a fund raising bicycle ride for MS by pedaling all the way from Duluth to Anoka. I got them to sit down 1ong enough for a picture. You have not heard the last of the Munsons.

Some very sad news

A Mass of the Angels was celebrated for little William R. Gagnon, son of Mike and Pamela Gagnon, and grandson of John A. and Marion Gagnon.

He was buried from St. Raphael's in Crystal Monday, June 24. William was only four years old and had been ill only a short while.

At the time of his death, he was awaiting a heart transplant. The Gagnons have had more than their share of grief.

John and Marion had lost a little boy in England when they were stationed there in the Air Force during the Korean War. Most recently another of their grandchildren had been stricken with cancer, and Pamela's own little brother had been killed in an auto accident. John told me they now have plenty of angels "up there."

The Gagnons can now be reached at 3100 85th Ave. N., #133, Brooklyn Park, MN 55443-1978. (763) 424-0558.

I want to thank Lorraine Fitzpatrick Kittock for letting me know about this.

John ("Chuck") Gagnon and I graduated from St. Mary's High School together in 1949, and Chuck has done a wonderful job of staying in touch with all of his classmates and old friends ever since.

John Althoff nicknamed him "Chuck," but I don't remember why he named him that. I think it was because Chuck, an enthusiastic baseball player, was always saying "Chuck it to me."

I have long ago forgiven him for burying my little red wagon when I first moved to Waverly. Although it was lost to me forever, he was only four years old at the time and had not yet reached the age of reason.

Out of sync, out of mind

I haven't been able to send e-mail for a month now because my computer has been kaput. My friends tell me that's what I get for not paying my bills.

I will be back online any day now. Please e-mail or write me. My favorite thing in all the world is to hear from a reader, although it is not true that I will pay $20 to anyone who reads my column.

Jim O'Leary
461 Claremore
Corpus Christi, TX 78412
(361) 992-2618

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