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. 13, 2001

More from the Waverly Star, 1933:

Hoover Oil Station robber killed - local men ordered to lie on floor by bandits

This sensational story as reported in The Waverly Star began Sunday evening, Feb. 26, 1933, in south Minneapolis.

At 8 p.m. Attorney and Mrs. Clay Johnson drove up and parked by a drug store so Mrs. Johnson could go inside to buy some ice cream for their supper.

While she was inside, three men approached Mr. Johnson while he waited in the car, put a pistol to his head, and ordered him to drive them to a location near Fort Snelling.

When Mrs. Johnson came out of the drug store, she was puzzled as to where Mr. Johnson had gone.

The robbers then picked up four other people, laid Mr. Johnson down on the floor in the back seat, and headed west on Highway 12.

The first gas station they robbed was in Delano, where they got only $6.

The next place they robbed was Hoover Standard Oil in Waverly.

Ed Hoover came out to wait on them with his usual friendly smile. Three men came out of the car, one with a pistol, ordered him back inside the office, where Ed's little son, Jerry, age three, was playing on the floor, and where Jim McNeely, a customer, had just been chatting with Ed.

They took all the cash they could find in the cash drawer, and pushed and hit Mr. Hoover and Mr. McNeely. They made them lie on the floor face down.

When little Jerry tried to go to his father, one of the robbers brutally kicked him and sent him sprawling into a corner. Jerry didn't cry but crawled over to his father and said, "Are they hurting you, Daddy?"

They then robbed an all-night station in Cokato, and another one in Litchfield. They were seen going at a "tremendous rate of speed, about 60 miles per hour," through Grove City after robbing a station there.

They then robbed a station in Willmar, after filling their car with gas.

After they left, the station operator in Willmar called ahead to Benson to warn them of the robbers. Ed Hoover had done the same thing, calling up the line, but the car blew past the towns without being identified.

When the police chief in Benson, Oscar Johnson, got the message, he hid behind the only all-night gas station in Benson. When the robbers pulled up to the pump and emerged from the car, chief Johnson came from behind the building and shot one of the robbers point blank with his .38 pistol.

The rest of them pulled away, but not before the chief wounded a man named Walter Christiansen in the leg.

In hot pursuit, a Swift County sheriff's deputy shot out a rear tire, sending the car into the ditch along Highway 12.

The robbers tried to run away in the dark, but were soon rounded up, two of them at a nearby farmhouse, where they had knocked on the door and told the farmer and his wife that they had a car breakdown.

Mrs. Johnson was greatly relieved when her husband was able to call from the Benson police chief's office.

The perpetrators, besides the man Chief Johnson shot, Noble Bonrud, were Noble's wife, Blanche; Cleon Bonrud and his wife, Mary; Mr. and Mrs. Pearly Oliva, and the wounded Walter Christiansen.

Jerry Hoover was my age. He was an only child and lived right next to the gas station his father ran. Since he was an only child, he was fun to play with because he had all kinds of toys and was generous in sharing them.

He was a very nice kid. Ed Hoover was a man of small stature but with a huge reservoir of friendliness and humor.

The robbery never changed either Ed or Jerry. When I knew them, I could never tell they had ever been robbed and terrorized.

In all, the bandits had covered about 200 miles, and robbed seven gas stations. They only netted about $100 total. This was right in the middle of the worst of the bad times, the "dirty '30s."

Jerry Hoover spent a lifetime working for the Morrell Company in Sioux Falls after he moved from Waverly with his family in 1947. The Hoovers have two daughters and are enjoying retirement now in Sioux Falls.

Jerry told me he wouldn't mind at all if I published his address:

Jerry and Vi Hoover, 502 S. Euclid, Sioux Falls, SD 57104. (605) 332-5287.

I have Joan Ollig Rasmusson to thank for putting me back in touch with Jerry. She and Jerry were the only two graduates from the Waverly Public School in 1944.

That little school did a very good job.

Hard times

This story in a July, 1933 Waverly Star came from Willmar.

A well-known farmer residing not far from Willmar brought a case of eggs into town. He took the case of eggs to two different stores.

At each place he was told that seven cents a dozen was all they could give him. Not being satisfied, he went into a barbershop and asked if anyone there could use that many eggs.

When nobody offered to buy any, he took the case of eggs out the door, slammed it down on the sidewalk and stomped up and down "viciously" (the paper said), jumping on them with both feet.

As you know, a case of eggs is 30 dozen. It doesn't seem right that $2.10 was all he could get for his eggs, but those were the times.

When I worked, briefly as it turned out, for Jim Hughes in his grocery store, Frank Kelly, his partner, was there one Saturday when I dropped an entire case of eggs that a farmer had just brought in to trade for groceries.

I was carrying them to the back room in order to "candle" them. When I dropped the case, I managed to break the entire 30 dozen.

Frank was obviously saddened by this but told me he would just chalk it up to "profit and loss." To this day I don't know what that means.

Another time when I was shelving some precious and priceless Hills Brothers Coffee in the gallon glass jars, I dropped one of the jars and it shattered all over the floor. This was during the war when coffee was not only expensive, but rationed. Frank again told me he would just charge it to "profit and loss," and not to worry about it.

What a marvelously kind man he was. He and his wife moved to Montrose and opened a store there. They raised two wonderful boys, Patrick and David.

I heard that Patrick became an attorney and now lives in Minneapolis.

Speaking of Montrose, here is a note from The Montrose Tribune, a small sample of the bulletins sent in from school for Marks McDonnell to run every week.

Montrose School notes - Jan. 19, 1933

David Douglas donated a cat to the biology class for experimental purposes. They traced the respiratory tract and the digestive system.

Father Richard Wirth: once a Waverlyite, always a Waverlyite

Father Wirth had cancer surgery last week, and parishioners of Saint Mary's are keeping him in their prayers.

He is one of the most popular priests ever to have served at St. Mary's. He was there from 1970 to 1975 during the difficult period after Vatican II when it was his fate to implement many of the reforms from Vatican II, some of them unpopular.

Father Wirth is retired now, and as a retired priest, helps out on weekends around the area. He came back for all the weekend Masses in Waverly when Father Wiley was away during part of July.

Father Wirth wrote the following reflection for his 45th anniversary as a priest.

When I saw it in print, I asked him if I could put it in The Waverly Star, and the modest Father Wirth reluctantly agreed, even though he said that his time in Waverly, thanks to the people of Waverly, were his happiest years in the priesthood.

He told me there was something really special about Waverly. "That place gets to you," he said.

Most priests and sisters who served in Waverly would agree with him, I think.

Here is his memoir, unedited:

"The Wirth saga is not one filled with majestic mountains or deep valleys. Rather, it was a journey entered into with enthusiasm and sustained for the past 45 years by the support and encouragement of a loving family, loyal friends, and wonderful parishioners. During these years, I have served the people of five very different parishes.

"After ordination in 1956, I was sent to Assumption Parish in downtown St. Paul under the dictatorship of Father John Stelmes. Thank God for Father Jim Remes, who softened him up the year before I arrived. But that assignment was a marvelous lesson in the real work of the church, so different from the protected Seminary life.

"Lessons in life continued at Annunciation Parish in south Minneapolis: deep faith, strong families, a great parish school.

"Then it was on to St. Mary's Parish in Waverly and more lessons: becoming a pastor, the values and joys of rural life. There was no guile in that community.

"Next, I moved to St. Edward's Parish, a large suburban parish in Bloomington with post Vatican II people and philosophy, and a very progressive staff.

"After 12 more years as pastor of Annunciation Parish, I moved back to St. Paul's east side to St. Thomas the Apostle for my last nine years of active ministry, with wonderful, loving, supportive people and staff. I retired from St. Thomas on June 30, 2000.

"I have always felt that my biggest accomplishments came in building community in the parishes I served. Sunday eucharist has always been the highpoint of my ministry, praying with people of faith and celebrating with them before and after mass.

"I was not a 'brick and mortar' priest, but I am proud of the new facilities we built at St. Thomas the Apostle. They are awesome, and a grand tribute to the faith, enthusiasm, and support of great parishioners.

"Take a trip to the East side of St. Paul some time and tour the new facilities at St. Thomas. It will be well worth your time."

Rev. Richard P. Wirth

Berni Reardon writes about the Joe Kugler windmill

I had asked Berni what she knew about this windmill when someone mentioned it in connection with Waverly's Railroad Park. Here's what she wrote:

"Harold told me that the project started during the depression of the '30s. Joe Kugler's blacksmithing work dwindled as people tightened their belts and made do. Since his work load had eased he had time to tinker.

"He built a working windmill of stone and metal on the railroad property across from his blacksmith shop. (Later the Herda family would buy this property.)

"Joe had a charcoal forge and hammered out all the fittings for the mill portion of the windmill. He built the base of stone. I had thought he had built it in the '40s, but apparently what I witnessed was Joe fine tuning the project.

"The vanes, or blades, of the mill still turned. The weather vane on top worked.

"Now that the blades are gone, I think of it as a lighthouse, since it has that shape. Surrounding the structure is a fence that was made piece by piece by Joe.

"Today one has to go to Fort Snelling or the Renaissance Festival where blacksmithing demonstrations take place, to get an idea of what creating that fence entailed.

"Those sections were formed and combined at his forge. (Yes, kids, people could weld before the era of welders as we know them today.)

"The metal top of the mill was made at Joe's forge, too. In this age of machine-made everything, it's nice to be able to look at something and see that it has this human and personal connection. This is better than some of the stuff I see at the Walker Art Center.

"I have good memories of Joe Kugler, and I am sure lots of Waverly people have better stories than I have.

"I'm hoping people can tell us more about Joe's work . . . not just the structure in the park, but about other things he repaired and created.

"He wasn't the only blacksmith in town, but he's the one I remember, because my grandparents, Peter and Anna Claessens, lived their retired years next door to the Kuglers.

"Keith Klingelhoets now lives where my grandparents once lived, and the Macombers own the Kugler (Herda) place."

Quotes for the week

"The man I ignored yesterday, died today, and left me alone."

­ John Shea, "On the Secret Solidarity of the Human Race."

Three rules for a good listener:

1. Stop talking.

2. Stop talking.

3. Stop talking.

­ Anonymous

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