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.

  March 1, 2004

Maybe those were the good old days after all

A most welcome letter arrived from Waverly this month:

"Dear Jim,

"Two things we remember about Humphrey.

"His Secret Service used to park in our driveway when Hubert was out enjoying driving his Model 'A' Ford.

"Our son Mike rode his bike down and invited them up to our farm. When Hubert was here, he gave each of us a gift. My husband and the boys got cigarette lighters, and the girls and I got bracelets with his picture on them.

"One time when he was visiting with us, he walked into the barn while the cows were being milked. The cows always knew when a stranger came in, and one cow kicked.

"Hubert asked my husband why the cow kicked and my husband said the cow was a Republican. Hubert got a good laugh over that. Muriel was with him and she wanted to take one of our barn kittens home. Hubert didn't think much of the idea.

"Two weeks before his death, a group of Waverly folks were out Christmas caroling. My husband was driving his tractor and hay rack with the carolers on board and when we stopped at his home and sang some carols, he was too sick to come to the door as he always had when we went to his home caroling in other years.

"Later, he called Jim Ogle and thanked us for stopping. He was a gracious man and loved being with his Waverly friends. As I remember, Dan Herbst and other family members were in the group. Dan may remember more.

"We also voted with Hubert in our little Marysville Town Hall. We remember the big buses that came from Washington, D.C. so he could vote, since he was registered here. We took our kids out of school for such an occasion.

"Jim, your mother used to ride with my mother-in-law to work at the Green Giant Canning Company, and, of course, I remember your dad at the lumber yard. We knew all of your brothers.

"We're still on the farm. My husband has lived here his entire lifetime of 82 years. We love living in the country, and you can't beat the friendly atmosphere in our little town of Waverly.

"Greetings from all of us."

After this wonderful letter, I called her to thank her and she gave me permission to run her letter but didn't want me to use her name.

Grand opening

Seventy years ago, in 1934, Mr. Tony Smith was courageous enough to open a new business. On the front page of the Waverly Star, this item appeared:

Smith opens new store.

Mr. Tony Smith will open his new hardware store on Saturday. He is a busy man unpacking and stocking his shelves with all new merchandise. On page five of this week's Star and Tribune he is offering very special bargains for his opening sale. He extends a cordial invitation to visit his store."

I remember this store well. It kept going right into the 1950s and served as a gathering place for many old men to come and warm themselves in the back of the store around a cheery pot-bellied stove. They sat around on wooden chairs and exchanged stories and laughter just about every morning.

I remember nail holes in the wooden floor caused by Mr. Lou Schweizer, with his hearty laugh, banging his cane on the floor to punctuate his applause, sometimes at his own jokes. He had a nail in the bottom of his cane in order to see himself safely over the ice.

Tony bought a full page ad on page five. Flashlights were on sale for 29 cents, as well as house brooms for 23 cents, "one to a customer." A "deep forge hammer" cost 29 cents. Fly swatters went for two for 9 cents. Clothes pins were 40 for a dime. A seven piece set of green water glasses were 39 cents.

Spur razor blades were 8 cents for a pack of five. Enamel paint sold at a dime a pint can. Ten rolls of toilet paper and a market basket were combined as one item for 49 cents.

I don't know what the full page ad cost. I know the big city papers charge thousands of dollars now.

Waverly businessmen were all honest men, no matter what the farmers might have said about them. None of them became millionaires, that's for sure.

Here is a list of businesses which contributed to the purchase of new baseball uniforms for the town team back in 1934:

Citizens State Bank, White Eagle Oil Co., Hahn's Cash Store (Mr. Hahn was killed two years later in an auto accident on Hwy. 12, on the curve outside Montrose where the road ran under the Great Northern underpass on the way to Delano).

Waverly Flour Mills, White Super-Service Garage, Charles W. Cullen, Anderson Lumber Company, Ed Hoover Oil Station, Janson Hardware, Comfort Garage, August Martinson, Ogle's Restaurant, Waverly Star and Tribune.

Mellon's Community Store, Standard Oil Company, Waverly Pavilion, Bednorz Fuel, Implement and Feed Store, Litfin Barber Shop, Murray Meat Market and Gromotka Oil Station and Tony Smith's Hardware.

All of these people contributed $5 each, a lot of money when you look at Tony Smith's prices. Tickets to the Waverly Pavilion that year to attend a Saturday night dance were 35 cents for gentlemen and 25 cents for ladies.

Maybe those were the good old days after all.

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