The [W. D.] McCarty Family
By Hazelle McCarty
Dr. and Mrs. W. D. McCarty moved from Fannin, Miss. to Grapeland, Texas in 1903, and bought the Dr. Merriwether place that stood on the corner of Oak and Chestnut streets. Dr. McCarty added another story to the house and occupied it with his family until his death on January 29, 1925. The McCartys had six living children: Lucile, Walter, Maude, Clarence, Louise and Hazelle.
Miss Sallie, as Mrs. McCarty was called, was a charter member of the Baptist Church, the Order of the Eastern Star No. 120 and the Woodman Circle. In addition, she was a mighty good cook. During summer revivals, she fed peas, cornbread, onions, ham, fried chicken, cake and homemade ice cream to visiting preachers, both Methodist and Baptist, and all the preachers from the local churches. She died on August 25, 1959.
Dr. McCarty received his M. D. Degree from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. He enjoyed telling a tale about his orals. He was asked to name 250 structures of one of the systems of the body. As he didn't know all of the 250 he used a little psychology on the examiner. He rattled off the ones he did know in Walter Winchell fashion. He stopped to get his breath. The psychology worked. The examiner said, "Stop. If you know that many, that well, I'm satisfied."
Dr. McCarty was the official physician for the I. G. N. Railroad company. He owned the first telephone company in Grapeland. He later sold it to Mr. J. H. Crook in Crockett, Texas. He was a 32nd Degree Mason and Shriner. He was a Steward in the Methodist church and sang tenor in the choir.
At one time he owned a fine, but rather wild team of horses. His custom was to make house calls in the country. On such occasions he would take Louise and me along with him. He would fill the buggy bed with gum and striped candy. When we would come to a creek suitable for wading he would allow us to do so while he attended patients. Horses and buggy in time were replaced by a Model T Ford, the first one in Grapeland.
Dr. McCarty's office was on the southeast corner of the yard of his home. The office porch was the scene of daily domino games. In addition to the Doctor, Pappa Sam Goodson and Mr. Sam Bridges were domino players. Dr. McCarty was a checker player also. Many nights his brother, Mike would come up from Crockett on the 7:30 P.M. train and they would play until the southbound train ran at 1 A.M. They had to refrain from talking politics as they disagreed on that subject.
Dr. McCarty was one of the original stockholders of Myrtle Lake and found a great deal of pleasure in fishing there when he could manage to get off. The lake was about one and one-half miles from the office. Anytime he was needed in the office, two long blasts and one short one from the Bridges Gin, which was where the funeral home is now, would bring him from the lake.
On many days before school, either Louise or I would accompany him to the lake and row the boat while he caught enough fish for the family dinner. As time passed custom became tradition. August 8 was spent at the lake with much festivity with friends, relatives, and patients who were able to come. The men went to the lake shortly after daylight to run the trotlines. The children would follow a little later for swimming. The ladies remained at home for baking pies and cakes and frying chicken. The fish were fried at noon on the lake. Cantaloupes and watermelons, plumbs and tomatoes were brought in by the wagonloads. About four gallons of ice cream were made.
A well stocked smokehouse was almost a necessity in that day. Hams were stored in them, backbone, ribs, link and pan sausage... one pan for Miss Sallie and the girls, and one for the Doctor and Clarence. Owens would label them, "Mild" and "Very hot."
The Doctor considered opossum, the way Miss Sallie cooked it, a delicacy. Sure, he fed the opossums for a time before he judged them ready for slaughter. Miss Sallie would swath the meat with Red pepper, and flank with sweet potatoes, many of which were taken on accounts. Uncle Billie Brown never forgot to bring the McCartys gunny sucks of large sun-kissed Elberta peaches... sweet and juicy they were.
The Doctor was somewhat an entertainer and joker. He enjoyed playing his fiddle, but never in contest with Barker Tunstall of Crockett. Once, when Miss Sallie had Mrs. Bob Bridges, Mrs. Joe A. Brown, Mrs. George Dorsey, Mrs. Boyken and others over for a quilting bee the Doctor came in ostensibly to admire the handwork. Instead, he turned a large black cat loose, right in the middle of the quilt.
With no air conditioning the family often sat on the porch after supper with a pitcher of icewater at hand, and listen to tales the Doctor could, and would tell by the hour. When Miss Sallie thought it time to go to bed she knew exactly how to get him stopped. She would simply say, "You've told that one so many times you believe it yourself."
The McCartys loved their church, their family and the city of Grapeland.