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.

Oct. 6, 2001

In 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt became president.

In his inaugural address March 4, he announced his "new deal" to cure the depression.

He also said he had looked out over a nation in which one-third of us were ill-housed, ill-clothed, and ill-fed, and then added we had nothing to fear but fear itself.

People in Waverly were plenty scared though, not only of the bad times, but of the increasing crime rate and despair. (Wait until you read about the hold-up of the Hoover Standard Oil Station next week.)

Even ending prohibition that year didn't do much to cheer up the locals.

Here is an item from a January Waverly Star:

"Howard Lake woman expecting jail set free. Sobs when she lacks fare home."

"Expecting a jail sentence, Mrs. Anna Lampher of Howard Lake, a woman defendant in a liquor case before Federal Judge Joseph Molyneaux Monday didn't bring bus fare to get her home.

"Judge Molyneaux, after hearing her plea of guilty at a special term of federal district court, imposed a sentence of three months in the Ramsey County jail and a fine of $1, then placed her on probation.

"Mrs. Lampher, a middle-aged farm woman, began to sob. She hadn't the money to pay the fine, she told James Kruemark, assistant US district attorney.

"Judge Molyneaux revoked the fine. But the woman still sobbed.

"How was she going to get home? She was without funds. The bus fare to her home in Howard Lake was $1.25.

"His sympathy aroused, Judge Molyneaux said, 'I'll take care of this myself.'

"She had been brought in Monday morning in a prohibition agent's automobile."

Prohibition was ended by the 20th amendment in 1933, but came too late in the year for her. She was lucky to find a compassionate judge with common sense.

Wouldn't you like to know what became of Judge Molyneaux?

How do you think a court would handle such a case today?

It was a very bad year

The great depression was into its third year and getting worse.

In 1933 there were a record number of hurricanes, with 22 of them battering US coastal cities.

Adolph Hitler became chancellor of Germany in 1933, and in that same year, open persecution of the Jews began in Germany.

Wiley Post flew around the world in the first solo flight ­ seven days, 18 hours, and 49 minutes. There was not much else to cheer us up.

Later, on Aug. 15, 1935, Wiley Post would die in a plane crash in Alaska, along with the one and only Will Rogers, whom he was flying around Alaska to check out the scenery.

Our own Charles Lindberg from Little Falls had beaten Wiley Post to the draw by being the first to fly across the Atlantic in 1927. By 1933, the newspapers, including the Waverly Star, were all obsessed by the kidnapping of the Lindberg baby in 1932.

Farmers got nothing for their food and fiber, cattle, and pigs. Banks foreclosed on farms right and left.

Many farmers had to move off the land with their families to seek work anywhere it could be found. Banks suffered as well.

Roosevelt, by declaring a national bank holiday, suspended the activity of the Federal Reserve System and of all banks.

Public confidence in the currency and in the banks was restored, but not in time to prevent other disasters.

Because of the depression, now in its third year, 2,000 rural schools didn't open for the fall semester, 200,000 teachers were out of work, and about 2.3 million children under the age of 12 were not in school. In addition, a number of colleges and universities were forced to close.

Meanwhile, back in Waverly, farmers and townspeople stuck together.

Neighbors and cousins doubled up when they had to. Hungry strangers in town were fed.

Since Waverly was on the main line of the Great Northern Railway, there were plenty of men passing through on the freight trains during the thirties hoping to find work. Many of them stopped off in Waverly.

We O'Learys were vastly entertained whenever one of them would grace our dinner table with tales of the great world out there.

Just about every family in Waverly can tell you similar stories of feeding the "hobos," as we called them.

All they had to do was to knock on the door, just like in Homer's Odyssey, in which the sacred custom of "Xenia" presided over by Zeus, was honored everywhere throughout the Mediterranean world.

Since there were no inns in that world, if a traveler sought food and shelter, any house had to grant it without even asking for a name.

Today, hobos are called homeless. Even though the homeless today are no different from the men and women back then, our hobos in 1933 were treated much better than they are now.

Trust me. Or, if you don't trust me, trust Trish Baldwin Franklin, who runs a homeless shelter for the city of Beaumont, Texas.

Or, trust "Shoe Bob" Fisher, formerly of Montrose and, like Trish, a St. Mary's graduate. Bob sleeps outside in a tent every winter to dramatize the plight of the homeless.

Bob is a good friend of Dan Vaughan, another Waverlyite, and they live close enough to each other in Wayzata that they can have coffee together once a week.

Here is what Bob wrote me the other day:

"Dear Jim, I have been really busy with work and my sleepout thing. I officially start sleeping in my tent on Nov. 17. My goal was to raise $250,000 again this year, but I got a challenge grant of $50,000 already.

"The challenge is for me to go out and raise another $100,000 in new money this year, so that brings my goal up to $400,000.

"The really exciting part for me is that it will force me to make even more people aware of the affordable housing situation.

"That is my number one goal anyway. The money is just a tool to raise the awareness. It helps a lot of people, the money does, but without awareness, these homeless people could be starving, or maybe even dying.

"Did you know that upwards of 60 percent of the people who need to be helped are working people with children? Also, 40 percent of the people who are forced to go to the homeless shelters are working people. And the fastest growing sector of the homeless population is children.

"It is incredible, don't you think?"

Yours truly,

Bob Fisher ("Shoe Bob")

I am sending money to:

Attention: Bob's Sleepout Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners, 110 Grand Ave., Wayzata, MN 55391.

Loaves and fishes

As I write this, I have just come from helping to serve up a noon meal at our local soup kitchen called Loaves and Fishes.

Parishes take turns and today is the day assigned to my parish, Holy Cross.

There were over 200 men and women who came in for a free lunch today of chili beans, mashed potatoes, broccoli, bread, and iced tea. Many of them are either working or looking for work.

Just as I said, they are no different from the men we saw in the Great Northern boxcars during the great depression, and, listen to this, no different from you and me.

What has changed is our society. If one of these men knocked on our front doors or back doors these days, we would likely call the police instead of inviting them in to dine with us.

I was struck by watching the men at Loaves and Fishes as they turned in their plates and forks. They had eaten all their food.

My most recent experience with cafeterias had been in school s where, as you know, more food gets thrown away than eaten, and it's usually better food than what our guests today received here in Corpus Christi.

Ye olde town gossip

From the Jan. 13, 1933 Waverly Star:

"Charles and Allan Ogle, Jerome Cullen, Walter Desmarais, and Lawrence Strub returned to their studies at the University Sunday.

"Henry Herbst returned to St. John's College at Collegeville Tuesday after spending the holidays at his home in Middleville.

"Jim O'Brien caught the bus to Minneapolis Saturday.

"Miss Dulcina Fitzpatrick and Mr. Julius Herbst drove to the cities Saturday."

The following item, also about "Dulie," is from the April 6, 1933 Waverly Star:

"Local girl opens cafe in Winsted"

"Miss Dulcina Fitzpatrick and Miss Frances Krekelberg of Winsted have leased rooms in the Fred Lhotka building at Winsted and opened a restaurant in that village on April 1.

"Miss Fitzpatrick is an industrious young lady, and the Star wishes her and her partner much success in their new enterprise."


The word "hobo" most likely comes from "hoe boys," meaning men who hire out to farmers for temporary work hoeing whatever needs hoeing.

"Xenia," the custom of caring for strangers comes from xenos, the Greek word meaning stranger, back in Homer's times, as well as in our own.

The word xenophobia, meaning hatred of strangers, is a derivative. Xenia has no English equivalent because the guest-host relationship was unique to Greek society. Dire consequences followed if you did not follow the rules for hospitality.

It is somewhat like Christ's teaching on sharing your table with everyone, rich or poor, sinner or saint, Jew or Gentile, in other words, the whole world.

The difference was that Xenia applied only to fellow Greeks. It is unlikely that a trojan would have made the cut. Christ's teaching was to welcome everybody. Everybody.

Waverly families had some great hospitality genes and still do. Maybe it's in the water. Everybody says Waverly's water is the best in the world.

I am still reading the 1933 edition of The Waverly Star to share in this column. I can hardly wait until next week when I get to tell about what Jerry Hoover, my old playmate, said to his father while they were lying on the floor during the armed robbery of Hoover's Standard Station with guns pointed at their heads.

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