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.

Aug. 2, 2004

When our hearts were young

Mrs. Stanley (Lorraine Fitzpatrick) Kittock took the time to send me some old copies of the Waverly Star, and so did Ms. Berni Reardon.

I am most grateful to the two of them. They know a hundred times more about Waverly than I do, but Lorraine has all she can do to keep up with the farm, her thousands of friends and hundreds of grandchildren, and her patient, affable husband Stan, one of the Delano Kittocks, so she just doesn't have time to write a column.

Berni is also busy worrying about her large Reardon clan, as well as working full time for the State of Minnesota.

Lorraine sent me some copies she made of Waverly Stars from 1926, which she and Stan found when they were tearing out their old kitchen.

There, between the flooring, were some old Waverly Stars. Lorraine is still in the old homestead of her Aunt Katie Fitzpatrick, which she and Stan remodeled.

Berni Reardon sent me a box full of Waverly memorabilia, including lots of columns by John Yo-Houti.

Berni's mother, Mrs. Charlie Reardon (Adelaide) clipped things out of the paper faithfully, things which struck her at the time, including some columns by Cedric Adams from the Minneapolis Star called "In This Corner."

We all read that faithfully, every day, especially Cedric's "Thoughts While Shaving." I was surprised, in re-reading those old columns, at how corny they were and how much better fare we have these days from the Star Tribune columnists like Klobuchar, Coleman and Soucheray.

I especially enjoyed Jack McHale's account of his trip through Europe by motorbike with his first cousin Dan Vaughan, published in a Waverly Star of 1958.

Carolyn (Vaughan) Custer, Dan's sister, remembered the trip well because she was watching the photograph slides of the journey while she was in labor. The slides helped take her mind off the pain.

Dan recalled this incredible journey for me when I asked him about it by e-mail.

The two of them lived off the land and made the entire European tour for the price of a room for the night at a luxury resort nowadays.

They stayed in youth hostels for 30 cents a night and got back and forth across the ocean working on freighters. They also were taken in by friendly families in Belgium, Ireland, and other countries.

They traveled on an old motorcycle, which they bought as soon as they landed in Ireland. Their budget was $2 a day.

After three weeks "with the very hospitable Irish people," they spent time in Holland, Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Italy.

I wonder if there are any young people around today who have the courage they had back in 1958.

Jack summarized the journey with these words: "It wasn't the famous monuments, magnificent buildings, or the scenic landscapes that made each country so wonderful for us, but rather, the people within each country, people who are like you and me, who work and play and laugh and cry and hope to be friends so they can live in peaceful co-existence with other countries.

"Jack and Dan made lots of friends on their trip, and with their kindhearted personalities, they have been doing so ever since, as they moved on to marriage and careers in another kind of journey.

"Jack and Dan, of course, were both Waverly boys. Jack is the son of Pat and Claire McHale and Dan is the son of Ray and Agnes Vaughan. Their mothers were two of the Janson sisters, daughters of the Dan Janson's, along with my neighbor, Laura Claessens, whom we lost this year. Carolyn reminded me that Paul Claessens, Laura's husband, was a brother to Adelaide Reardon, "so the Reardons are like family to me.

"I asked Dan to recall their trip for me: "We left Waverly in early June, drove to Milwaukee to leave off Pat McHale's car so Joan could bring her stuff home from Marquette where she was working on her Ph.D.

"Then we hitchhiked to New York. When we got there the Longshoremen's union wouldn't let us get anywhere near the ships to see if we could work our way over to Europe.

"We made a phone call to a shipping line called ‘The Ulster Line.' They had a freighter going to Belfast in about a week departing from Norfolk, VA. It had room for three extra passengers, besides the crew. We had a room immediately below the captain's quarters. The other passenger was an "old lady" (55) whom we saw only once during the 13-day trip to Ireland.

"She was the only woman on the ship. The crew had received their allotment of beer and whisky the day we came aboard, so they threw a party for us the first night we were on the ship, much to the chagrin of the captain who, in his night cap and gown, came down and broke up our party around midnight. The Irish singing got to be too much for him I guess . . .

"Now, almost 50 years later, I can say, in retrospect, that our trip made all world events ever since much more interesting because I could picture in my mind the places where news events were happening. I have been back to Ireland recently and have looked up, again, some of the people we met in Ballyvaughan on Galway Bay, including a distant cousin.

"Jack McHale still looks the same except that he grew through the hair on the top of his head and it is now down the sides. He says I never would have found a wife if he hadn't introduced me to his wife's sister.

"He could be right!! Jack and Pat have been married for 44 years and Bobbi and I will be celebrating our 43rd this year. Jack and Pat have six kids and 16 grandchildren. We have four children and 12 grandchildren. Both of us are retired and play a lousy game of golf.

"I would like to see Jack's article again. I have great memories of that trip." - Dan Vaughan


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