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.

  Nov. 24, 2003

Thanksgiving Day food (food for thought, that is)

Let's see now. What's the question I had in mind to spoil your Thanksgiving dinner?

Is it that three billion people, nearly half the world's population, struggle to live on less than two dollars a day?

How about the question the Surgeon General has raised, that the biggest health problem in America right now is obesity? Or how about the idea that the United States could solve the world's malnutrition almost overnight if Americans had the will to do it?

How about the idea that the Bible isn't to be taken literally when it comes to the rich, like the story of the rich man and starving Lazarus outside his door eating with the dogs? How about the idea that Americans are only 6 percent of the world's population but gobble up 60 percent of its goods?

And there is a frequently heard pious thought that will be put forth around the table this week: "We are blessed! Let us give thanks!"

Is America blessed because it is rich? Or is our wealth at someone else's expense?

President Kennedy, quoting De Toqueville, said that "America is great because it is good." Are we sure about that? About our being good? About our being generous?

Why are Americans so rich compared to the rest of the world (that is, those of us who are not on welfare or going hungry and homeless)? Did slavery create this country's wealth? Lots of historians say it did.

I have a lot more questions, but that's enough for now. I should warn you not to attend church on Thanksgiving Day. There might be more questions and there will be a final exam on all this. Better to just enjoy your turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Deer hunting here and there, and deer hunting then and now

In the Nov. 3, 2003 issue of the Herald Journal, Chris Schultz had a wonderful column on hunting deer these days. It's much different here in Texas where the deer hunters use blinds with slits for their rifles to shoot at deer lured there by the deer feeders. It's like shooting fish in a barrel.

All over Texas "deer corn" is for sale. In Minnesota, they still have to go out and get their deer by actual good sportsman-like hunting.

And the hunters dress in red in Minnesota so as not to be mistaken for a deer, I guess. A New Yorker was visiting in northern Minnesota during deer season one year and observed, "You Minnesotans have a real good law here. You make all your drunks dress up in red."

Well, now.

Deer hunting is also different from what it was 70 years ago. The Nov. 21, 1933 Waverly Star reported about the opening:

"The big game season opened in Minnesota on Tuesday of this week. Many people from this vicinity put their trusty (not rusty) rifle upon their shoulder and left for northern Minn. in search of the doe and the buck.

"Due to the warm weather and the lack of snow (Ed note: Our Minnesota hunters use snow to track their deer.), it is said that hunting will be tough and the deer will be harder to get.

"Among those that left from the vicinity were: M. J. Gritz, Peter Vealitzek, Tom Vealitzek, Joe Decker, John Doerfler, Jack Pietrek, Joe Hessel, L. J. Akins, D. J. Janson, Walt Volmerding, Ed Gromotka, Herman Kundy, Henry Bremer, Johnnie Powell, Orville Brabec, Henry Brabec, Ben Smith, Martin May, G. A. Berkner, Frank Bronder, Art Beckman, Rudolph Johnson, Magnus Jorgenson, George Strandquist, Peter Jorgenson, George Strandquist, Jim McDonald and Leo Chowen." (I think Marks spelled Kundy wrong. Isn't it Kunde?)

I most recently received this story from Marlowe Kingstedt of the Wright County Kingstedts. I also got it on the Internet from many others who figured I must be Irish because my last name is O'Leary. Glen Keener also sent it on to me.

Since I have gotten it from so many different sources, it must be true. It's about lutefisk, a perfect dish for Thanksgiving.

Glen Keener describes lutefisk as "the jewel of gastronomic delight in the crown of Scandinavian haute cuisine." He says "the fable is intended for use by dwellers in Minnesota but 'foreigners' might understand it as well."

Here's the legend:

"It seems that many centuries ago, Norwegians came to Ireland to escape the bitterness of Norwegian winters. Ireland was having a famine at the time, however, and the immigrants from Norway put increased strain on the food stocks.

"The Norwegians were eating almost all of the fish caught in the sea, leaving nothing but potatoes for the Irish. St. Patrick took matters into his own hands and decided the Norwegians had to go.

"Secretly he organized the IRATRION (Irish Republican Army to Rid Ireland of the Norwegians). Irish members of the IRATRION sabatoged all the power plants in hopes the fish would spoil, forcing the Norwegians to move back to a colder climate, where the fish would keep.

"The fish spoiled all righ,t but Norwegians, as everyone knows, thrive on spoiled fish. Faced with failure, St. Patrick sneaked into the Norwegians' fish storage area hoping to poison the Norwegian intruders by spreading lime over the fish hoards. But the Norwegians thrived on the new concoction and named the new concoction Lutefisk!

"Matters became even worse when the Norwegians began taking over the potato crop and making lefse. Poor old St. Patrick was at his wit's end, and finally on March 17, he told the Norwegians to go to hell, and it worked.

"They all moved to Minnesota."

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