Chapter 01: A Medical Family

Title

Chapter 01: A Medical Family

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Description

In this chapter, Mrs. McGready sketches her family background and the tradition in her family of working in the medical profession. Her father was a pharmacist and three of her four brothers became physicians. Mrs. McGready shares memories of working in her father’s pharmacy, of segregation in Texas in the early part of the 20th century, and her father’s commitment to racial equality.

Publication Date

10-7-2016

Publisher

The Historical Resources Center, The Research Medical Library, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

City

Houston, Texas

Topics Covered

The Interview Subject's Story - Personal Background; Character, Values, Beliefs, Talents; Personal Background; Inspirations to Practice Science/Medicine; Influences from People and Life Experiences; Experiences re: Gender, Race, Ethnicity

Disciplines

History of Science, Technology, and Medicine | Oncology | Oral History

Transcript

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Well, I wanted to start and ask you to tell me where you were born and when and tell me a little about your family.

Mary Catherine McGready

I was born in Timpson, T-I-M-P-S-O-N, Texas, which is in east Texas. And I was born on February the 7th, 1921, to Maude and Frank Bussey, B-U-S-S-E-Y. I had four brothers, three of whom became medical doctors. The other brother was a career officer and one of the first field artillery to arrive in Europe -- in Germany. He was one of the first ones into Berlin. His platoon was one of the first in Berlin.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

And let me also just say for the record, I neglected to say this at the beginning, that also present at this interview today is

Cathy Bacon:

, one of

Mary Catherine McGready

’s daughters. OK. So you were telling me about your brothers. And also, now, what did your father do for a living?

Mary Catherine McGready

He was a pharmacist.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

OK. And was he also an MD?

Mary Catherine McGready

No.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

OK.

Cathy Bacon:

His father was.

Mary Catherine McGready

Not -- my father was not a doctor.

Cathy Bacon:

His father.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Your grandfather was an MD?

Mary Catherine McGready

Oh yes. My grandfather was.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

So, you know, part of what I’m seeing is that you actually grew up in a medical family.

Mary Catherine McGready

Yes, I did.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Yes. Now tell me about that. Did that inspire you?

Mary Catherine McGready

Well, I knew my grandfather very well, because he died when he was 95, and I was 11 at that time. And my cousin [ ] John Bussey Byrn -- B-Y-R-N -- and I played marbles in his bedroom because the carpet had a circular flower pattern. No one ever told us to be careful with the marbles, but we spent hours -- and I regret that we didn’t have enough sense to talk to him more then, but we just did...

Cathy Bacon:

Because he had been a doctor and a surgeon at Manassas, in the Civil War.

Mary Catherine McGready

Yes. [When?] he was in the Civil War.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

And what was your grandfather’s name?

Cathy Bacon:

Pappy. (laughter)

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Pappy. (laughter)

Mary Catherine McGready

Oh my gosh.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

John Burgamy Bussey?

Mary Catherine McGready

Thank you! (laughter) I -- couldn’t you just put Pappy? You know, I had no idea. I thought Pappy -- that we had the only Pappy in the world. I had no idea that it was a common name for grandfathers.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

So I read in that family history that you and all of your brothers also worked in the pharmacy. Is that true?

Mary Catherine McGready

As we grew up, yes, we did.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

What did you do?

Mary Catherine McGready

Well, I worked in the soda fountain. In fact, they all started in the soda fountain. And before I was working in the soda fountain, in the summer I could work at the ice cream counter, because I could dip ice cream cones. And at that time, segregation -- none of the -- how do you refer to blacks now? African Americans, to be politically correct? -- only came as far as the back door where you could see them. And my daddy...

Cathy Bacon:

To get their medicine and anything else they wanted.

Mary Catherine McGready

But Daddy’s -- I can hear him now, saying to me, “Always watch the back door, sister. Watch the back door, and serve them in their turn.” And I did that one day, and a woman just got irate. “Well, well, we’re waiting right here!” I said, “Yes, but they were waiting first. And Daddy said to serve them first.” She says, “Oh. OK.” And I never had any trouble after that.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Wow.

Cathy Bacon:

Well, your father was very respected. And people followed his lead.

Mary Catherine McGready

Well, Daddy and -- was on the school board, which covered both schools, the black and white, African American and white. And he and Mother were the first ones that had ever gone to graduation services and things over there. And Mother said it was almost embarrassing because they were so thrilled to have them both. They were so appreciative. It impressed me because when she told me about how wonderful it was.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

So how did that attitude in your family affect you later?

Mary Catherine McGready

Oh, always. I’ve had friends in strange places, and interesting people that I would never have known if I hadn't conversed with them and gotten to know them.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

So it was a real sense of openness to people that you got?

Mary Catherine McGready

And that was unusual, back in the...

Cathy Bacon:

It was in east Texas.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Yeah. That’s because...

Mary Catherine McGready

In east Texas, in the 19 and...

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Nineteen thirties.

Cathy Bacon:

Twenties and ’30s.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Twenties and ’30s. Yeah, absolutely. Wow. Well, kudos to your parents for having that openness.

Mary Catherine McGready

Oh, very much.

Chapter 01: A Medical Family

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