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. 20, 2003
The good old days: everybody was part of the community
The best movie I saw all summer was not "Finding Nemo," but adocumentary called "Four Sisters for Peace" about the four McDonald sisters from Watertown, Hollywood Township.
The best parts of it were the home movies and still photos taken by their brother, K. J. McDonald, who is a professional photographer.
Sisters Rita, Jane, Kathleen and Brigid McDonald are all Sisters of St. Joseph. There were pictures of them on the tractor at the McDonald farm, doing the polka with their aunts, playing with their nieces and nephews, and picketing for peace.
There were pictures of their arrests for trespassing on the property of arms manufacturers.
All of them are still working as nuns, mostly teaching the disadvantaged.
The video can be ordered for $25 from Eliza Goodwin, Executive Director of Southside Family School, 2123 Clinton Ave. So, Minneapolis, MN 55404. This includes shipping and handling.
Or you can order it online at: email@example.com. The telephone number is (612) 872-8322. You won't regret it.
This summer Sister Brigid herself recited for me this puzzler:
"I am lost. I went to look for myself. If I should return before I get back, tell me to wait."
It reminded me of a poem I found on the office wall of a very good friend, an attorney:
Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here.
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made the place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven,
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
-By David Wagoner
The good old days?
I am always getting nostalgic messages on the Internet lamenting the loss of the good old days when children could play outside until mom called them in for supper.
Nobody is more nostalgic than I am for the "good old days," but I don't share the rose colored glasses through which some view "the good old days." Were those days good for the blacks in America? Were they good for the poor?
I think Roosevelt changed things for the better with the New Deal. What were things like for old people before Social Security came along?
Lyndon Johnson said he wanted to be known as the greatest president ever with his Great Society programs and his War on Poverty, but he added, "I can never be as great as Franklin Roosevelt no matter what I do."
He was talking about the Social Security Act of 1935. If it had been left up to the "you know whos" we would still be waiting.
There are those who say that Roosevelt didn't end the Depression but that World War II did, and that Roosevelt was "just lucky." I never heard anyone who had lived through the Great Depression say this.
FDR was called "a traitor to his class" because he stood up to big business, and his priorities were always for the poor working class and the poor farmers. The famous "first 100 days" of his administration changed America forever and made it better for all social classes.
But back to Waverly. The good old days were the days when everybody knew everybody and everybody was a part of the community.
Not long ago a friend of mine who still lives around Waverly said he could go into town nowadays and not see one person he knew.
Nobody seems to talk to anybody any more, not even to say hello on the street. I know that nostalgia is a melancholy sentiment, but it is my addiction after all.
We didn't move to Waverly until 1936, but when I read The Waverly Stars from 1933, it's like reading about people I know.
A critic of The Waverly Star said the other day, "If you're retired, why don't you get a hobby?" I told him "The Waverly Star is my hobby." He said, "Well, then, get a life." I told him, "That's a trite thing to say, sir: 'Get a life.' Teenagers are forever saying it, along with 'whatever.' Besides, The Waverly Star is my life."
The reasons for this are too complex to explain, but I will begin with the fact that Waverly, the whole town, gave me a happy childhood.
Waverly sent me off into the world looking for people I liked as much as I liked the people in Waverly, but I have never found them. Sorry.
I feel pretty much the same homesickness for all of Minnesota. I read a book on baseball this summer called "Moneyball," a classic on baseball by Michael Lewis, which makes the Minnesota Twins look great.
Do you know that "A-Rod" (Alex Rodriguez, the shortstop for the Texas Rangers) gets paid more than the entire payroll of the Minnesota Twins, and that the Yankees payroll at the beginning of the 2002 season was over $120 million, while the Minnesota payroll was the lowest in baseball at less than $40 million?
The Minnesota Twins are an example of what's right about Minnesota, where the voters are smart and stubborn enough not to play "moneyball."
When people ask me why I don't move back if I like Minnesota so well, I tell them, "Well, when I win the Texas Lottery, I can afford to move back." So I buy my lottery ticket every week. I feel like a foreigner down here in Texas, and probably always will.
Speaking of Minnesota, I got this one from Glen Keener of Minnetonka.
At da lake fichen
(If you can read this you're a true Minnesotan.)
And my regular contributor, Marlowe Kingstedt, up dere on Kimball Lake, sent me this wheezer:
"My cousin raised Hereford cattle and had them in a special fenced pen beside a cornfield. He let his son raise popcorn beside the fence so he could make some money.
"The kid planted about an acre of popcorn and, being lazy, failed to pick it in the late fall. It got really warm for a few days and the corn started popping right in the field.
"A windstorm came up and blew in large piles into the Hereford pen. The cattle thought it was a blizzard and froze to death."
Marlowe signed off by telling me he was on his way to the Lutheran Church in Pine River where he planned to pig out on lutefisk, meatballs, rutabagas, lefse, lingonberry sauce and coffee. Unfortunately, he said, there would be no Irish stew for anyone.
I don't care, Marlowe. Besides being highly overrated, like the Notre Dame football team, Irish stew has no place in a Lutheran church in the first place.
I myself would prefer the lutefisk, which I hear the Irish exported to Norway as some kind of joke.
They did the same thing when they sent the bagpipe over to Scotland. The Scots took it seriously, of course, not seeing the joke. No surprise there, is there?
Marlowe is facing some very tough surgery soon, but there isn't a whimper out of him. Keep him in your prayers. He would enjoy hearing from you. His email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org and his mailing address is: 34493 County Rd. 39, Pequot Lakes, MN 56472, telephone (218) 543-6164.
P.S. I am raising money. If you don't want your name in The Waverly Star, send me a dollar. It's my version of the "don't call" list.
Speaking of which, please be nice to telephone solicitors. I tried that one time, making cold calls from the San Antonio phone book when I was in graduate school. I was calling to solicit subscriptions to the San Antonio Light, a daily paper at the time (We called it The San Antonio Blight.) I lasted one hour before I went up to the man in charge and handed him back the phone book.
He asked me how much he owed me and I said "Nothing. Just let me the hell out of here." I was receiving death threats. I have never been called so many bad names in my life, not even when I made phone calls for McGovern when he ran against Nixon in 1972.
Now I'm the one who is calling people bad names. It's a welcome change for me.
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