1930s to 1940s: The Mayo Family as Snowbirds in Arizona #ThrowbackThursday

The Mayo brothers were world travelers, but one of their favorite destinations was the American West — particularly Arizona.

By railroad and an early form of motorhome, William J. Mayo, M.D., Charles Mayo, M.D., and their wives headed to Tucson, Arizona, when the Minnesota winter set in. The brothers acquired homes near one another in a residential neighborhood. After Dr. William J. Mayo's death, Hattie Mayo purchased a ranch in the rolling countryside. (These houses are now privately owned.) Consistent with their open-door philosophy, the Mayos welcomed relatives and friends in large numbers.

Dr. Charles Mayo had a sign in his office that proclaimed "There's no fun like work," and both brothers enjoyed visiting Arizona medical facilities during their vacations. The superintendent of one hospital was visibly flustered when she came into the employee kitchen and found Dr. William J. Mayo casually chatting with the staff.

Fred Dahle, Dr. William J. Mayo's driver, had one of the first home movie cameras and used color film — a rarity at the time — to record the Mayo family's journeys. Excursions in the desert were formal affairs, with men in suits and ties, and ladies in hats and gloves.

Like many families separated across the miles, the Mayos used the best technology of the day to keep in touch with loved ones. For Christmas 1947, Hattie Mayo made a phonograph recording for her relatives in Minnesota.

Watch this seven-minute Heritage Film, "Call of the West: The Mayo Family in Arizona," to see Dahle's home movies and a re-enactment of the snowbound Mayo family in Rochester enjoying Hattie Mayo's warm greetings from Arizona:

Brent Westra

Brent Westra is a Marketing Segment Manager at Mayo Clinic Laboratories. He leads marketing strategies for product management and specialty testing along with new media innovations. Brent has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2011.