Special Feature, Hood County News, April 11, 1998
What’s Going On?
Martha Scogin, Ph.D.
Mary Kate Durham recalls growing up during the Depression. People were out of work, hungry and depressed. Yet, against all odds, her family did well through hard work and diversification. Both. parents were college educated, they were smart and also had common sense.
Mary Kate’s mother Minnie Grissom Randle had been a school teacher before her marriage. She lived in Waples, and one of the schools she taught at was Rocky Point — seven or eight miles away. A buggy was her means of transportation, pulled by a feisty little mare who waited for a chance to run off with the buggy.
Her father Keith Randle attended Granbury College then went on to Add-Ran. With a sense of humor he would laugh and say, “Wherever I went to school they closed it down. I wonder if I should take it personally?” A stock man by trade, he took inventory of the Depression situation, Came to the conclusion you should not put all your eggs in one basket. He decided if he would work hard and diversify then he could make a good living for his family.
When Mary Kate was 3 years old they moved into a house built by Martha “Miss Minnie” Nun. This was a fine house with hardwood floors, hot and cold running water, a cistern inn the back yard. The only complaint her mother had was there was no way to get the house warm. …it was time for Mary Kate’s education. At this early age she was enrolled in expression classes.
her father talked to the county Extension agent about raising plants, trees and animals. He started with a dairy, simultaneous with a vegetable garden and fruit orchard. They had plenty to eat and enough to sell. The philosophy was to make a little bit of money off of everything you do.
Jacks were kept for a fee, one such animal named Marsha was owned by the state of Texas. They raised goats and collie dogs to sell. Advertising through magazines, they sold them all over the United States. One such advertisement in the Farm and Ranch Magazine shows a picture of Mary Kate and two little goats. The caption reads, “My three kids.”
“My Three Kids”
Her father did not believe in keeping anything around that did not pay its own way. The exception was “Dimples,” Mary Kate’s pony. Dad would tell her, “I think I will put Dimples behind the plow and make her earn her keep.”-She wasn’t worried. She knew him and could see the twinkle in his eyes.
Money was not spent foolishly but Mary Kate got a custom-made saddle for Dimples. She and her mother would go to the movies on Sunday afternoon and Wednesday evenings, sometimes more. Her mother would say, “This is the only place I can get two hours of rest.” The same thought held true for the beauty shop. She went each week to have her hair done. Getting her head and neck massaged when she got her hair fixed made her feel better, and was a lot cheaper than going to the
… Her mother also took painting lessons, the sole purpose was to paint pictures for her walls. Many of these now hang on family walls. A theory of her father’s, she still lives by, “Use your head to save your feet. If you go into another room don’t come back empty handed.”
Their home was not furnished in a grand style. Money was spent to make money. Buying barbed wire and fence post had priority. By the time Mary Kate was 6 years old, she had chores after school. She would deliver milk, feed the dogs, check on the puppies and gather the eggs.
One time she went to school wearing a pair of green bloomers her mother made for her. They had a little pocket sewn on the front of the leg for her handkerchief. The only complaint was, “The elastic was so tight I thought my legs would fall off.”
Her father insisted on educational tours. It was not until years later she realized he wanted to see these things himself.
They toured the tower to the courthouse. They got as far as the clock, when she saw the way up— two ladders laced together. This ended the tour.
They toured the ice plant. The floor was so cold, barefoot Mary Kate would stand on her daddy’s toes to keep from freezing. They watched the 300-lb. blocks of ice cut into smaller blocks.
He took her to the gin. The workings fascinated her, especially the large vacuum that sucked the cotton out of the wagons.
As she got older she frequented Mr. Summers’ little restaurant. This was located across the street east of the Decker Gym.
She says, “You could get a Depression hamburger for a dime with a meat patty the size of a quarter.”
When the old Add Ran College was torn down in 1928 to 1930 her father came home with many trailer loads of lathing from the old building. He gave Mary Kate a little claw hammer and told her she could be a real carpenter. She was to pull all the nails out, straighten them, then sort them in piles according to their size. He would use the lathing and nails to build crates for shipping the goats and collies they raised. She remembers thinking, “A little bit of old Add-Ran is all over the States.”
Her memories are many but her grandfather J. R. Randle died before she was born, and she regrets having only second-hand memories of him. They told her he had an incredible sense of humor. He wrote a column for the newspaper under the name of Uncle Joe and was able to use his wit. Many of these clippings she has tucked in her scrapbooks.
Her great-grandfather A. E. Keith came to this area in 1859 bringing his slaves or blacks as they were called at-the time. They carried the Keith name. There was a community of these blacks, later a street was ; named after them, Keith Street.
Mary Kate graduated from North Texas State Teachers College in Denton sad returned to Granbury.
She and .RE. Durham were married in 1945. They left immediately for New Orleans. R. E. handed her a map-with a line drawn across it from here to there as the crow flies. Somewhere along the back roads they managed to run over a wild pig and make a few wrong turns.
After a few days they took off for Pensacola, Fla. On the way back they went by way of Houston. The car radio-blared, “throw those green gas stamps away. The war is·over.” There was no place to eat or stay. Houston had closed down to celebrate.
They settled down in Granbury. Two children were born, Randy and Kay. Randy was killed in a car wreck when he was 20. Key Lee still lives in Granbury.
Mary Kate and R.E. started their own private museum on Granbury history. He passed away in 1974. She later donated their museum pieces to the Hood County Museum.
She and Mary Lou Watkins started the first tours in Granbury. Mary Lou started the walking tour. She would take visitors from the Nutt House to see her home. Mary Kate would get on the visitors bus and take them on a tour of the square and surrounding area. Mary Kate and Mary Lou were instrumental in Granbury becoming the tourist attraction it is today.
She is a member of the First United Methodist Church, the Historical Preservation Committee, City Cemetery Board and Museum Board.
She’s also an Area Ambassador for the Lake Granbury Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, a member of Daughters of The Confederacy And she’s currently going into the Colonial Dames. .
Mary Kate Durham, collector of history, maker of history.