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, 2003

Remembering the past: looking back 70 years

Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Raitor celebrated their 52nd wedding anniversary Sunday, Oct. 1.

Dinner and supper were served to relatives and neighbors. Those present were: Philip Raitor from Wahpeton, N.D.; Mary Raitor from St. Paul, Mary Powell, Mr. and Mrs. Jack Raitor and children, Ray, Harold, Russell, Walter, Clarence and Clariece, Mr. and Mrs. Bob Smith from St. Paul. Mr. and Mrs. Walter Sholes and children Walter and Rose Mary, Mr. and Mrs. Arvo Davo and son, Arvo, Jr. of Minneapolis, Mr. and Mrs. Willard Ruckle, Mr. and Mrs. Art Fautch and daughter Laura of Montrose. Tofel Raitor and son, Allan, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Sullivan and daughter, Jene of Mora, Mr. and Mrs. Ed Kuka and son Wayland. Jack Powell, Mr. and Mrs. Drewlow and daughter, Jim Clements and daughter, Rose Anna, Mrs. Kate Volmerding and daughters Ellen and Mable, Mr. and Mrs. Dennis Fitzpatrick and sons Jim and Jack, Mrs. Val Ozemik and daughter Refena.

Mrs. Raitor was sick in bed, but very much pleased to see all her children and friends come to congratulate her on her 52nd anniversary.

Sadly, the following week The Waverly Star reported that Mrs. Raitor had passed away a few days after her anniversary.

She was buried at St. Mary's Church with Father Morgan presiding.

The pallbearers were John Gromotka, John Dignan, Jim Clements, Pete Vealitzek, Wendel Brabec, Frank Warzeha. and Pauline Holuptzoh.

Raitor had been born in Sczedryik, Germany in 1856, emigrated to Montrose in 1879, married Mr. Raitor in 1881 and farmed in the Bohemian settlement south of Waverly. She left behind a wonderful family and husband to mourn her passing.

That same week the Waverly Council of the Knights of Columbus installed their new officers: Fr. Wey of Winsted as chaplain, Tom P. Welch as grand knight, and J.L. Rhody as past grand knight.

Francis P. O'Connell as financial secretary, Anthony Smith as warden, Gene Shermer as treasurer, and C.P. Maloney of Maple Lake and Wilfred Beauchamp as trustees.

Eugene Le Page and Henry Hollerback were outside guards. To install the officers Edward O'Brien and F.J. Moon came out from Minneapolis.

When my own father, Ed O'Leary, was grand knight, Pat Burns from Hollywood Township set my dad up one meeting. He proposed for inclusion into the Knights a well-known baseball player from Delano for membership.

This baseball star was black and from Georgia. In the Knights of Columbus Council chambers above Jimmy Hughes' grocery store, a vicious argument ensued despite my father's efforts to gavel it down.

Finally, my father said that if they would not accept a black in the Knights of Columbus then he was resigning then and there. With that Pat Burns broke into laughter and so did the rest of the Knights. They had set my father up.

Pat said, "Calm down, Ed, he's a Baptist and wouldn't join us for anything."

I well remember my own initiation into the Knights of Columbus in the Waverly Village Hall, which had been rented for the night.

To this day I won't tell you what went on, even though it's now 55 years ago. My brothers Myles, John, and Paul, all Knights themselves, were there along with my father to watch the initiation.

We got home around midnight and were laughing and drinking whiskey in the kitchen when my mother came out from her bedroom in her nightgown, with her teeth out and her hair down.

She wanted to join the fun but she hit the ceiling when she saw they had fed me whiskey. We all fell silent. How could we possibly betray the secret initiation to this woman we called our mother by telling her how I had "rode the goat?"

We all went quietly to bed, my mother in some kind of sorrow. Years later, I deeply regretted this. It must have been awful for my mother to have all boys and no daughter to shop with or share stories.

I wish she had lived to see the feminist revolution. Her biggest heroes were all women: Eleanor Roosevelt, Dorothy Day and the women saints whose holy cards were in her prayer book right up until her death April 15, 1963.

Here is a great poem by Linda Hasselstrom called Coffee Cup Café. I dedicate it to all Minnesota small town restaurants, the kind which my brother Dr. John O'Leary and Garrison Keillor both enjoy so much.

Coffee Cup Café

Soon as the morning chores are done, cows milked, pigs fed, kids packed off to school, it's down to the café for more coffee and some soothing conversation.

"If it don't rain pretty soon, I'm just gonna dry up and blow away."

"Dry? This ain't dry. You don't know how bad it can get. Why, in the Thirties it didn't rain any more than this for (breathless pause) six years."

"I heard Johnson's lost 90 head of calves in that spring snowstorm. They were calving and heading for home at the same time and they just walked away from them."

"Yeah and when the cows got home, half of them died of pneumonia."

"I ain't had any hay on me since that hail last summer, wiped out my hay crop, all my winter pasture, and then the drout this spring. Don't know what I'll do."

"Yeah, but this is nothing yet.

Why in the Thirties the grasshoppers came like hail and left nothing green on the ground.

They ate fence posts, even. And the dust, why it was deep as last winter's snow drifts, piled against the houses. It ain't bad here yet, and when it does come, there won't be so many of us having coffee."

So for an hour they cheer each other, each story worse than the last, each face longer. You'd think they'd throw themselves under their tractors when they leave, but they're as bouncy as a new calf, caps tilted fiercely into the sun.

They feel better, now they know somebody's having a harder time and that men like them can take it.

(Printed with permission)

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