Chapter 05: One of Five Employees at the New MD Anderson

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Chapter 05: One of Five Employees at the New MD Anderson

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Mrs. McGready notes that she was one of the first five employees at MD Anderson, and she shares memories of the others: Dr. Coogle, John Musgrove, Zuma Krum, and Florence Hanselman. She recounts that the MD Anderson library was housed in the dining room of the Baker Estate. She talks about the first set of books acquired, a series of medical texts by Rudolf Virchow, the basis of medicine. Mrs. McGready tells several stories that illustrate the social environment among the first employees of MD Anderson. She tells the story of getting her driver’s license so she could drive the MD Anderson Ford station wagon to downtown Houston so Dr. Bertner could sign papers.

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 PastPersonal Background; MD Anderson History; Funny Stories

Disciplines

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

Transcript

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

So when did you start at MD Anderson?

Mary Catherine McGready

In 1940 -- when it started. I was one of the first five employees. And it was in the old Baker estate. And over there, they left two people. They left a -- well, he was not a -- two men, a gardener and a houseboy.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Who were the other employees who were hired with you at the time?

Mary Catherine McGready

Dr. Coogle was a research doctor. John Musgrove was the business manager. His secretary was Zuma Krum. Then [Florence] Hanselman was a nurse. I think that’s the staff.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

What can you tell me about those people? You must have gotten to know them pretty well.

Mary Catherine McGready

Oh, it was wonderful fun. Yes. We had no place to eat. About two blocks away there was a greasy spoon, and sometimes we’d go down there. But most of the time everybody brought their peanut-butter sandwiches, and we ate there.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

So you ate in the Baker estate?

Mary Catherine McGready

Yes. We -- and the library was in what would have been their old dining room, paneled room.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

You know, I actually interviewed James Baker, and he has -- he tells about playing in that dining room when he was a little boy.

Mary Catherine McGready

Is that right?

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Yeah.

Mary Catherine McGready

Is he living?

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

He’s still living, yeah. Yeah, I have an audio clip of him talking about, I guess, the grandf-- his grandfather -- his grandfather would get all the grandchildren together, and he would say whoever could be brave enough to go in the library when it was all dark, he’d give him a nickel.

Mary Catherine McGready

Well, there was nothing in it. It was just a paneled room.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Sure. So what was Dr. Coogle like? What did he do?

Mary Catherine McGready

He was research doctor, and I have no idea. I know that he got a lot of fertile eggs from out on Harrisburg Boulevard. And that’s when they said that we had one station wagon.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

So you never knew what Dr. Coogle did? Did you ever help him out at all?

Mary Catherine McGready

No. And I don’t think he did much. (laughs) He’s not in history.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

So you never got him books or articles or anything like that?

Mary Catherine McGready

No. If a doctor came in and wanted something, we used interlibrary loans.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Oh, OK.

Mary Catherine McGready

And then I became acquainted with the librarian from Baylor. And Baylor was just then combining with University of Texas. They were two separate libraries, but they merged them.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

So what did you do? I mean, you were -- there’s you and this big empty room. What was your job?

Mary Catherine McGready

Well, the first set of books that I had to put in were priceless ones in the glass case with air conditioning. Virchow. It’s the basis of medicine. And that was the first set that entered into the books.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

So where did you get those? Where did MD Anderson get those?

Mary Catherine McGready

They bought them from New York. Dr. Bertner was acquainted with a very well-known New York medical. And so he knew what to order.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

What other -- what were your other roles?

Mary Catherine McGready

Well, at that time, we didn’t have enough of a library. We used a lot of interlibrary loan. A young man would come in mornings (inaudible). I could get it through interlibrary loan.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

OK.

Mary Catherine McGready

But we built our library. And as I said, the Virchows, they’re the one that’s in the glass cases and the air conditioning. But that was the first thing that was [ ] entered into the books.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

That’s pretty neat. So tell me about John Musgrove. What did he do?

Mary Catherine McGready

He was delightful. He was the business manager. John was very efficient, very good.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

So what sort of things was he doing at the time?

Mary Catherine McGready

Well, he was the business manager. And he had a secretary named Zuma Krum. And then Dr. Hanselman was the first research. And then the first nurse (inaudible).

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Oh, was it -- Hanselman was the nurse?

Mary Catherine McGready

[Florence] Hanselman.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Right. And what was -- what was the nurse like? It was a she, I assume, at that time.

Mary Catherine McGready

Well, she was a very delicate little woman, very precise. One story I like to tell on Florence [Hanselman]. There was another friend I had there that worked for Baylor too, named Lydia Wheeler. Well, her nickname was Pink. Lydia was her real name.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

What was her nickname?

Mary Catherine McGready

Pink.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Pink.

Mary Catherine McGready

So at lunch one day -- everybody just brought their own sandwiches, and we were eating lunch together. And [Forence Hanselman] said, “This gives me a slight rhinitis.” Pink (inaudible) says, “Really, Florence? It makes my nose drip.” (laughter) That was -- I loved that. [Redacted]

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

That’s really funny.

Mary Catherine McGready

If we ever did go out to lunch, it was to a greasy spoon just a short distance away. And we didn’t do that often, because I brought my lunch -- I think it was probably peanut butter, because I was living in a one-bedroom boarding house. But no bills at that place.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Wow.

Mary Catherine McGready

There was a place that I could get bills, which I eventually joined.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

Tell me about Zuma, Zuma Krum. What was she -- I hear her name all the time, and I’ve never heard -- met anybody who knew her.

Mary Catherine McGready

[Redacted] She was [ ]his secretary. That’s all -- I had no dealings with her.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

You had no dealings with her. OK. So what are your favorite stories to tell about that early MD Anderson, when there were only a few people employed there?

Mary Catherine McGready

Well, I can tell you about the beginning of the library. I had spent some -- a summer in Galveston when my brother was in medical school, at an unpaid internship. And I knew then that I wanted to be a medical librarian. Elizabeth Runge was a librarian. You know, this is difficult to bring it back up -- well, I can tell you about having to go down to Dr. Bertner’s office to get [ ] things signed. And we only had one Ford station wagon. And they said, “Let me have your driver’s license.” I said, “My what?” I said, “I’ve been driving since I was 14.” “Do you have a driver’s license?” “No, didn’t need one in Timpson, Texas.” “OK. You got to get a driver’s license.” So I went down to get the driver’s license. And I tried to park, parallel parking, and I knocked down the post in the front, and I backed up and knocked it down in back. He said, “OK, just go around the block, we’ll get it the next time.” So the second time I did the same thing, knocked it down in the front, knocked it down in the back. And he said, “Should we go for a third time?” I said, “Well, it’s like this: where I came from in east Texas, we just need one post to hitch to.” He says, “You pass.” (laughter) So he didn’t make me go through it again.

T. A. Rosolowski, PhD:

He didn’t make you do it again. Boy, things are sure different now. (laughter)

Mary Catherine McGready

Oh, yeah! (laughter)

Chapter 05: One of Five Employees at the New MD Anderson

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