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. 19, 2002

"In September of 1986, I visited the North Dakota farm that I've called home since early childhood.

"When I took my customary walks up and down our east/west roads, the country seemed unusually quiet. In former years, a herd of holsteins in a pasture bordering the road stopped grazing and lifted up their stylish black and white heads to watch me with what I interpreted as solemn interest.

"Those 40 or so cows were my brother's herd, an attractive and productive part of the farm economy between 1960 and 1985 when his children were growing up. The sale of their abundant milk to a cheese factory nearby helped to put my brother's six children through college.

"During those years when I made my visits to the farm, it had been my pleasure to stop to talk to the holsteins. They were good listeners.

"They made a charming scene against the pasture grasses and the vast stretches of North Dakota sky. In the autumn of 1986 they were gone.

"Without them, the prairie grasses and the wild pasture flowers grew uncropped. The cost of feeding and vetting the Holsteins, the cost of replacing milking machines and the purifying and storage equipment had increased far beyond the price the milk could bring in . . .

"For more than 100 years of quiet, natural, revitalizing changes, it continued to be the well-cultivated, stable, and productive farming community that my grandparents Lawrence and Ellen Murphy helped to settle and build.

"It was so while the children of the pioneers were growing up, attending country schools, traveling to and from the consolidated high schools in the small towns, going off to college. Many of these children of the pioneers would return to the farm to help their parents, or to go into farming on their own.

"The farms remained in the family. There were good years and bad years. Drought and grasshoppers and rust came and went. Always nature healed the land and the fruitful years returned . . .

"The cost of putting in the crop increases every year with the rising prices of fertilizers and insecticides, machinery, oil, and gasoline. The family farm depends solely on the weather and the market prices, over which the farmer has no control.

"When I write of my home, this particular community of Bachelors Grove, I wish to pay tribute to farmers in all the rural communities throughout the world.

"I wish to pay tribute to the settlers who were, for the most part, immigrants from Norway, Denmark, Germany, the Ukraine, Scotland, Poland, Bohemia, Ireland, and Canada . . .

"I want to preserve in writing the family farms of the prairies, memories of the green fields, the fields covered with snow, the vastness of the flat landscapes, the 'spacious skies' and the 'amber waves of grain' that we sang of in our country schools...

"Dumb North Dakota farmers? I know how they feel. In my presence someone ­ not knowing my background ­ said of the shabbily dressed daughter of a wealthy member of Chicago's high society, 'You'd think she was the daughter of a North Dakota farmer!'

"Very rarely do I hear praise of North Dakota. So, I write my praises."

From "A Family Tree in Bachelors Grove" by Sister Ellen Murphy, CSJ.

Sister Ellen now lives at Bethany with Waverly's own Sister Margaret Galvin, CSJ, another farm girl and a long time friend of Sister Ellen's.

I am using this with permission. The Sisters live at Bethany Convent, 1870 Randolph Avenue, St. Paul, Minn. 55105.

Yes sir!

A US Air Force C-141 was scheduled to leave Thule Air Base, Greenland at midnight.

During the pilot's preflight check, he discovered that the latrine holding tank was still full from the last flight, so a message was sent to the base, and an airman who was off duty was called out to take care of it.

He finally got to the air base only to find that the latrine pump had been left outdoors and was frozen solid, so he had to find another one in the hangar, which took him even more time.

He finally arrived at the aircraft and was less than enthusiastic about what he had to do. Nevertheless, he went about the pumping job deliberately and carefully (and slowly), so as to not risk criticism later.

As he was leaving the plane, the pilot, an Air Force Major, stopped him and said,

"Son, your attitude and performance has caused this flight to be late, and I'm going to personally see to it that you are not just reprimanded, but punished."

The poor guy said, "Sir, with all due respect, I'm not your son. I'm am an enlisted airman in the United States Air Force. I've been in Thule, Greenland for 11 months without a furlough, and reindeer are beginning to look pretty good to me.

"I have one stripe, it's 2:30 a.m. in the morning, it's 20 degrees below zero, and my specialty here is to pump shit from an aircraft. Now just what form of punishment did you have in mind?"

Ralph Hunt sent me that one. He is my friend and a WWII veteran.

The two entries above are evidence that the success of this column depends upon you, the readers.

There is a saying in Spanish, "En cada cabeza, un mundo." That means that in each person's mind there is an entire universe of stories and memories.

This means you. Please share with the readers of the Waverly Star your own precious memories and stories.

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

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