Chapter 03: Working as the First Medical Librarian at MD Anderson

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Chapter 03: Working as the First Medical Librarian at MD Anderson

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Description

Mrs. McGready explains (with the help of daughter Cathy Bacon) how she came to the attention of Dr. Ernst Bertner, who was establishing the new MD Anderson. She shares memories of the young institution and a much smaller Houston, Texas. She explains some of her duties, including compiling the library and collecting duplicate books from the Medical School in Galveston and having them bound for the MD Anderson library. She shares a few memories of working at the Baker Estate.

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 University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center - MD Anderson Past; Joining MD Anderson; MD Anderson History; Personal Background; Portraits

Disciplines

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

Transcript

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

So tell me how -- tell me how MD Anderson came about.

Mary Catherine McGready

Doctor -- now, that’s all in my story.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Yeah, but I want to hear you tell me. (laughs)

Mary Catherine McGready

I’ve got to get it in brief myself.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

No, it’s all right. Just tell it as -- tell it in your natural way.

Mary Catherine McGready

Well, I was working at MD Anderson...

Cathy Bacon:

No. You were working for Miss Runge, and she’s the one who recommended --who called Mrs. Runge. And when you were working for Miss Runge, then -- and you’d worked for her for a while -- someone called her and said they needed a medical librarian, and she recommended you.

Mary Catherine McGready

I’ve forgotten.

Cathy Bacon:

That’s what you’ve always told me. And so who was that? I know you’re tired today.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Can you tell me about Dr. Bertner? I’ve...

Mary Catherine McGready

Oh, he’s a wonderful man. Very handsome. His wife was beautiful. And they had a chauffeur, and that impressed me greatly. I would go to his office. His office was downtown, on Main Street. And we only had one car -- MD Anderson only had one car. It was a Ford station wagon. And I had some papers to go downtown to Dr. Bertner. And they said, “You’ve got a driver’s license, don’t you?” And I said, “Oh, sure. I’ve been driving since I was 14.” Well, in east Texas, you didn’t need one. And so I had to go to take one test, and so I had to drive around the block and parallel park. I knocked down the post in the front, and I backed up and knocked down the post in the back. He said, “Well, let’s circle the block, and let’s try it again.” Same thing happened the second time. And the third, he said, “I pass. You’re fine. (laughs) You can go.”

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

+ [Redacted] So you were telling me about going to Dr. Bertner’s office with those papers.

Mary Catherine McGready

Yes. He had to sign so much stuff. And so no red lights downtown at that time. A policeman in the middle of the street going this way and this way.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Oh, directing traffic, yeah.

Mary Catherine McGready

And he was a boy from Timpson, Texas. And so I would call to him that I was going up to Dr. Bertner’s. It was right on [ ] Main Street. And he was the officer out there. And I’d wave to him, and I said, “I got to go to Dr. Bertner’s.” And he said, “OK, Mary Catherine. Leave it there.” In ’42 you could do that kind of thing.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

So what was your job? What did Dr. Bertner hire you to do?

Mary Catherine McGready

Well, by that time -- help me, Cathy. I’ve gotten into (inaudible).

Cathy Bacon:

You used to tell me that you would come up to Houston, or go down to Galveston, and you would get a lot of books and bring them back. You were compiling a lot of the library. Donated books, and --

Mary Catherine McGready

Oh, why I was --

Cathy Bacon:

-- you would take them on the...

Mary Catherine McGready

-- why I was taking the station wagon back and forth to Galveston?

Cathy Bacon:

You were -- you always said you would go and get books --

Mary Catherine McGready

Duplicates, and have them bound.

Cathy Bacon:

-- duplicate books, and have them bound, and get them starting to compile the books that they wanted to have. And there were duplicates, and it was during the war, and there was a lot of shortages. Was there a trolley or something you sometimes...

Mary Catherine McGready

No.

Cathy Bacon:

That was later.

Mary Catherine McGready

The trolley was in town, but it didn’t go to (inaudible).

Cathy Bacon:

But you would get the duplicates from the medical school down in Galveston...

Mary Catherine McGready

Then I’d have to take a bus back to Houston. And the bus driver hated me because he had to load and unload all those things.

Cathy Bacon:

Yeah. Because you didn’t usually have the car. It was --

Mary Catherine McGready

Oh no.

Cathy Bacon:

-- the bus.

Mary Catherine McGready

I couldn’t get the car every time.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Now did you work at the Baker estate? Was that where you were loca--

Mary Catherine McGready

Yes.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

OK. So tell me about the Baker estate.

Mary Catherine McGready

Well, when it first opened, there were five people there. It was Zuma Krum, was a nurse -- my friend, my good friend...

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

OK. We’re just recording for record. We took a quick break, and it is five minutes of 3:00, and we’ve decided to have another interview session on another day that would be a little bit better. So I’m terminating the interview at five minutes of 3:00.

Chapter 03: Working as the First Medical Librarian at MD Anderson

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