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This story first appeared on the Mayo Clinic History and Heritage site.
Like many families, the Mayos kept in touch during the holidays with relatives who lived in different places. After the death of her husband, William Mayo, M.D., Hattie Mayo spent winters in Tucson, Arizona — enjoying the sunshine, but missing her loved ones.
In 1947 — when long-distance phone calls were a luxury and text messages were sent by Western Union telegrams — Mrs. Mayo used the technology of her day to stay connected. She made a phonograph recording and signed off “with love to all from Mother Mayo.”
Recently, Bob Walters, Provider Relations, came upon the record that his great-grandmother, Hattie Mayo, sent to her daughter, Phoebe Mayo Walters. The record was in excellent condition. Its paper sleeve included a 1947 Christmas seal.
“I wanted to play it, but no one I knew had a phonograph that could use the old 78 records,” says Walters. He contacted the Heritage Days Committee, whose members have experience digitizing vintage home movies, scanning rare documents and photos — and giving voice to fragile antique recordings.
As part of the award-winning Heritage Film Series, Mrs. Mayo’s words were embedded with a film segment that evokes a holiday gathering of the period. For extra authenticity, Chuck Potter, Foundation House, welcomed the film crew and actors to the Walters House. The Colonial-style residence is on the same block as Mayo Foundation House. Bob’s grandparents, Dr. Waltman and Phoebe Walters, lived there for more than 60 years and donated it to Mayo Clinic in their will. Today, it’s used for institutional meetings and other events.
The brief film lets you hear Hattie Mayo’s greeting and visit the house where her daughter’s family first played her recorded message 68 years ago.
“Hattie Mayo loved her family, and she loved the clinic,” says Walters. “I’m glad we can share her words with colleagues today.”
A re-enactment filmed on location at the historic Walters House in Rochester includes photographs and home movie segments.