Special Report: Growing Up Mayo

Posted at: 11/20/2013 6:54 PM
By: Katie Eldred

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- 150 years ago the Mayo Clinic was started by the Mayo family and the history of Rochester was forever changed. The name Mayo is now famous across the globe, but what was it like to grow up a mayo in Rochester.


We sat down for an exclusive interview with the grandchildren of Charlie H. Mayo as they told us about life in the mansion and what they think of the clinic today.

Walking through the large museum like Mayowood Mansion, it's hard to imagine it full of people and life.

"That picture there is as I remembered," said Charlie H. Mayo II.

But for Maria and Charlie Mayo that's the only way they remember it.

"I mean it's home to us, like sitting in this chair and the rug there," said Charlie Mayo.

For them the mansion was the ultimate playground, full of fun and games.

"We had our ponies, I don't know whose idea it was, but they said why don't we just take them in and see how far they get in the house," said Charlie Mayo.

Maria and Charlie and their other siblings and cousins had the run of the mansion. But as the sons and daughters of Charlie W Mayo and the grandchildren of Charlie H Mayo, the founders of Mayo Clinic, there was another place that was very important to the family.

"I mean always, it's always been a presence in our lives," said Maria Mayo.

Back then the clinic was more than just the family business.

"The clinic was like another sibling because it just became kind of an ordinary thing, I remember going down to visit daddy at the Plummer building ," said Maria Mayo.

Maria and Charlie remember their father as a busy man that would sometimes scold them at the Mayowood dining room table.

"We would sit at Sunday dinner and he would bring up all of the trouble we got into, over and over again," said Maria Mayo.

But he also taught them many lessons.

"He gave so much of himself, if there was a blizzard he would make it to the clinic come hell or high water, he would even ride in on the back of a tractor," said Maria Mayo.

They say growing up in a mansion full of famous visitors and important people was a lesson in itself.

"These people that would come to stay, and some of them were great and some of them were stinkers and you quickly learned that they were just people," said Maria Mayo.

While the mansion looks almost exactly the way they remember it.

"I recognize these picture and these books," said Charlie Mayo.

It's a much different story when it comes to Rochester and the clinic.

"It's like being a stranger in your own town," said Charlie Mayo.

The family is no longer tied to the clinic in any way, and it's hard for them to imagine the growth it's about to see.

"Rochester is due for some big changes with Destination Medical Center, but when we were growing up my parents knew every doctor," said Maria.

Charlie did carry on with the family tradition and now lives in Wisconsin where his two sons, Mayo brothers, are also doctors.

"Was there pressure, yes, but I did it," said Charlie Mayo.

While the mansion no longer has the life and company it used to have. It's comforting for the family to know that it's stories and the lessons from their father and grandfather will live on.

"When we lived here it was an unsurpassed childhood I mean we had a wonderful childhood, but the house was in that kind of stage full of children and life and then it changed," said Maria Mayo.

There are still several great grandchildren that work at the Mayo Clinic today. Stay with ABC 6 News as we sit down with them next week and find out what it's like to be a Mayo and work at the Mayo Clinic.