Mary Emeny and Keralee Clay

Recorded October 29, 2020 Archived October 29, 2020 34:55 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: mby020153


Keralee Clay (50) interviews her friend and mentor Mary Emeny (77) about Mary's family and their influence on agribusiness and culture in the Amarillo, Texas community.

Subject Log / Time Code

ME describes her upbringing in Ohio and how she got to Texas.
KC recalls being shocked by an electric fence in connection to ME's sharing about her family's involvement with the fencing business.
ME recalls how her family helped establish hospitals in Amarillo, Texas.
KC asks ME- "what are you most proud of?"


  • Mary Emeny
  • Keralee Clay

Recording Location

Virtual Recording


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00:00 So you can go ahead and start with your intro Mary. Okay, my name is Mary and my relationship to my partners were.

00:16 Bello hopefully makers are good trouble.

00:21 My name is keralee Clay. I am 50 dates Thursday, October 29th 2020 and we are in Amarillo, Texas. And yes, we are makers are good trouble. But I also consider Mary a mentor.

00:38 So marry, so you're not originally from Amarillo. So I'd like to know more about where you're where you were born where you were raised and what brought your family to the Texas Panhandle. So I actually grew up in Cleveland, Ohio where my father was from Shaker Heights, Ohio and at but my mother's father was born in 1880 in a little village in Upstate New York called Martinsburg and little tiny village about anybody who knows the area is about 60 miles north of Utica as a teenager. He tried to run away to be the drummer boy in the Civil War and some call him and set him home. But he was taken to Chicago's a late teenager for 1819 and he ended up working for this wholesale hat and glove company as kind of an errand boy I think but he was living in a boarding house a few blocks from the office from

01:38 Are the fire broke out?

01:40 And he had a key to the office in the presence of mind to run and get the strongbox and The Ledger and and follow everybody else the Chicago River where they they swam the Chicago River on the other side of it the next day. He was made it to your partner at as a junior partner. He was set around 2 little towns outside of Chicago and one of the town's he was sent to is called is DeKalb, Illinois.

02:14 And his contact there was a man named Joseph Glidden. Joseph Glidden had two things of interest water and unmarried daughter and secondly at the patent on barbed wire. Mr. Clinton had Jesus Patton 19th, 1872 production the selling and Indiana, Illinois and Iowa for 16 years over time. My grandfather started to work for mr. Glidden and ended up marrying his daughter.

02:49 And 18 AD 79 or 80 decided that he would like to try out his invention on boat while Texas Longhorns DeKalb, Illinois Got a New York Times off the railroad saw a ranch for sale in Texas and felt too too old and his late forties to make the trip until he said his young son in law my grandfather for Days by train from Chicago to Dodge City and then Wagon Train to what we call Old tascosa to hear to be picked up by the Cowboys and taken to check out and see if there's Ranch was suitable for fencing if so, and he oversaw the fencing he would get a half interest in the ranch.

03:37 What you did and overtime in a few years later. He married my grandmother and that's why we're here. So we've had this Ranch in our family really since 1880 Jaguar was 10. I was just it takes this I was about 10. I knew this is where I was going to go. I was going to end up just took me till I was 35 to get here.

04:36 Yeah, so so that's why we're so that's why we're here.

04:43 Sharp wire is live here, which is kind of interesting for me. It's been kind of my life store. Isn't this been you do if you have a better feel for your life barbwires kind of it for me because because since I was a child, I kind of recognized that both it was essential to to rapping as we know it but also seem to have this awareness that it really messed up the ecology and the economy and certainly certainly the sociology of the West and and took me really until about 10 years ago that I have come to peace with that with that back and to see how how to see it as a tool that has an all tools have both benefits and consequences and I said, so that's a diversion.

05:43 What did that look like what I realized was that it was one chapter in an in an ongoing unfolding story and that you know, the people who had it had it for or what they thought was very good reasons and are now interested. And so now the last year we established a system on a piece of property working at even now what's amazing is the first I think that first folks again.

06:25 Australia would be wonderful. We're not there yet. But but it's moving in that direction and certainly the invention of high-tensile electric 5 wire is a big step in that direction are farmers and ranchers down south of here in Parmer County near Farwell bovina Friona, but I was raised more in Amarillo. So I was the city kid and we would go down in the Summers and we were trying to drive cattle.

07:25 Are ATVs driving and I lost control of it and drove into the electrified fence and grab the metal railing on the back pull it off. Threw me across the road and I kept thinking those poor cows. Is that what it does to me. Yeah. Yeah. I know but your family also your family did a lot of great things for our region and I'd like to really memorialize that a recording of some of the things that that your family has done for our community and for our region and as a hole, so my grandfather never never really lived here, but after my mom was born he built a house here that that was a summer house for them and he would usually make two or three Trips Trips a year.

08:25 Basically in on the ground floor building Chicago and he so he he helped with a layout of that rillo the way the street from Washington to two tickets. What's the farthest east one has the same patterns. They are as the streets are in in Chicago and its eight blocks to a mile in the box and 16 to the short box and that this system was laid out his mom was told he was here one time and cowboy gored by a bull and nobody knew how to stop stop the bleed bleeding. So he went to San Antonio and

09:24 Told the sisters of Incarnate Word that he would provide at the house instead. So that was his main contribution.

09:41 My mom and so some of the things the main thing that she did early. She also see what a mighty architecture school for two years and then had to drop out because your father died and was The Depression had gone go to work so she never finished it, but she had a real around the house.

10:39 But she's called back then Northwest hospital and they were going to the Methodist. They were going to build a hospital and they were out past the VA in this open field and the bee what she called but it's basically a retirement home for Indigent folks and

11:14 She saw them the plans for it and it was basically right down at the bottom of the hill with a straight with a straight shot interested in from Amarillo Boulevard, and she said this is not and so she hired a landscape architect.

11:40 Can you call a hospital and at that point the hospital board later became the Amarillo area foundation Port but the house was all men or lady named Louise Evans who is mythical around here. She was amazing, but mostly so she could find out what was going on. So through Louise mom got an appointment to the board and she showed up and she said thank you gentlemen so much for inviting me and I would like to introduce my license on what you're doing, but I would like to point out if you think I'm located.

12:38 Second one second leg

12:43 We never have a straight a straight shot into a hospital straight Drive Entrance into a hospital because everybody coming out of a hospital either for Joy or sorrow is his some level of State of Shock.

12:57 Therefore we make getting in and out of Hospital parking lot complicated. So they have to make two terms before they get on Amazing Street, LOL and our family owns the section that was just west of that which we call section 43 and go back and explain all that stuff. But so this is Ebony and her brother-in-law my aunt a diaper that time her brother-in-law would like to offer you this area right on the top of the hill where you and Northwest because they were beginning to think about moving Northwest started back up a little bit operators at that time.

13:57 Texas when Texas created

14:09 Add numbers in the state of Texas have ownership every even-numbered section.

14:16 Start the start schools to pay for schools and have land to give away to railroads fence around what you were graduating but you owe to the state for half of it. So for those of you in this area was in the play Texas nurses that big thing about about going to Austin and infighting the school section. The school section went right? That's what that was about. That was about Cowboys year they would they would take it to a jury and they would have all the Cowboys on the jury, right? So time people were able to block up and in our Ranch call. The frying pan is blocked is west of Western Amarillo. But a lot of the old sections are now in what it is now in the city

15:16 Original Ranch Road all the way to Western street to the hospital District to be able to build us to West so that's so cool that he so he started Little School House that was right, right and I40 and they used to have for many many years. It's been just destroying now, but for many years even after we moved here the school was there and then the two rooms were there in the black ones are still working or anybody who's going through with stop and leave notes for other people and it was just in one of those Motel right behind the corner.

16:15 Amarillo Boulevard, right behind you have 12 students before the statement said the teacher and the teacher would go so so they would if he was looking for, you know, if there he would he would try to find a lot of this land is Farmland. Are you try to find Catholic farmers in German?

16:53 The teacher the teacher would the teacher would travel from family to family or whatever it was and that's how they were the original so so so let's do schools were we first moved up here in 78 it went it went that. We live right on the corner of the ranch, but my grandmother didn't didn't like the name Bush River called the bush station because the one of the state had to create the to create the railroad but to get the railroad, but they

17:44 How do you say went through your land? They had to provide a stop on the way which is how a lot of the names of the railroads. We've got their name. So that was the bush stop. I think Adrian was. So she went to the stationmaster said well, we just said we just finished our timetables. We won't get another one for 10 years and my grandmother said I had a bit of an artist. Do you mind if I do you want something done? You got to do you have to take the effort to do it seems like I see where you get that now.

18:44 I can't wait to get the recording of the older history and then more recently more recently, you know, we were able to give a beautiful section called section 57 in our language that that would have been right in the growth pattern of Amarillo and is too beautiful to get card up into 5 acres. And so so that's how the Nature Center Wildcat Bluff came to be and then of course my mom.

19:28 Donated Dental Eve gift for the Performing Arts Center when she move down here. She never lived here until the last five years of your life is when she came down here. She was asking the maze what's the hospitality which we all know that but also the quality of the music. She said the symphony at that point everything was happening to the Civic Center and Cleveland, you know going to Severance Hall the big concert facility there places to cruise to be correct and so developed into the Performing Arts Center beside that glass thing that she did consciously with this sign and justice for all that was not her handwriting of Silence the incorporation papers for 6.

20:28 For that as someone who has performed in the old Civic Center space. We're very grateful for it was really not a friendly place did perform or see the shows Jim Carrey as the Nature Center spend a lot of time out there especially during these times will we all have to keep our distance? So there's lots of distance out there. It's lovely. What would you say? You're most proud of

20:59 Oh my goodness.

21:03 I'm proud of my kids. I really proud of my kids there in terms of

21:13 Proud is not the right word, you know is that there's

21:20 Georgia O'Keeffe, there's that famous, Georgia O'Keeffe as what I've done before. I've been that ought to be of interest and for me the better thing it's what I've learned from where I've been.

21:31 It's there's nothing to be proud of their just think that I'm delighted that we were able to help do to help facilitate several things happening here, but that's not a matter of being proud because

21:50 As we all know.

21:53 Do you know what I think the code is Tardis, you know, who are the who are the indispensable who are the indispensable workers have the money and that's so that's so the thing. I think the thing that I'm most proud of actually are most delighted by is that your we're going down this rabbit hole for a minute. That's that's beautiful the way the way we function the that's been really enjoy tremendous pleasure, which would not have been possible that each one of us.

22:53 A little bit but my gosh the work that you do that. We're lucky to have each other during all of this exact.

23:15 Yeah, it's really gratefulness for opportunities. And I guess if I have any is like how do I help provide opportunities for others than one of the ways I try to think of it as some I want to acknowledge my privilege and how can I best use that privileged to help others aren't familiar with it's really hard to explain it. I mean first of all, I don't know if you saw the article that we're the fourth most generous city in the country. Amarillo is get back up again. It's on my Facebook page, but another moderately-sized town. So I think that doesn't surprise me as someone who's worked the Amber Alert.

24:15 Patient for a few years of and just seeing how tremendously generous people are particularly after covid-19.

24:25 How we could help the nonprofit's the next thing, you know, you know, we have given out almost a million dollars worth of help and that came from donor saying, how can I how can I best help my community? But what would what would you say our biggest challenges are here in this in our region are going forward to go back to the barbed wire an LG because it's just wonderful. We all know the story of giving him for a day teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime. Is somebody pointed out to me.

25:05 Even that's sending poor people know how to fish. The problem is the barbed wire around the lake or the poison in the water. And so I'm always interested in seeing what the barbed wires and I think that that we're really good. We are really good really good at helping people.

25:28 Giving people fish and I'm good at helping at end good at

25:35 Teaching people to fish in that context but to shift the system so that it makes it so that everybody has Equity an opportunity beyond that is where we need to work. And that's what that's what I'm most interested in which has to do a lot with with welts individual community in our generation to generation. I grew up in a more so we have to find different ways for people to be able to build wealth and not just got to pay check and see if your home has

26:35 Place that you work in and and trying to ship those things which is what I'm in and then locally were sending out or getting from outside of you could be doing here is basically Revenue lawsuit City. So anything that we can do locally which is at 12 and so we're developing a workaround to bring all that laundry back to Amarillo save save the good jobs will be at work around Coop. So the build build wealth for the for the workers were her owners and and be my friend lyrics

27:35 Can I talk a little bit more about the linen service about how that came here a minute. It's called in North Heights linen service is being built right now. I think they've gotten the they're still working on the concrete slab and the prefab is coming but I think for people who are just reading at the newspaper and such it sounds like that. We just all of a sudden got this idea and it's happening pretty quickly, but we all know that there's years and years of

28:02 Of work that was behind that so so tell me a little bit more about how the linen service came about that. We were we were reading it and saw a saw.

28:20 Thing about about that's what they call the Evergreen laundry and I still go to prison once in awhile by the time the next time I was in Cleveland I called there.

28:38 The Cleveland Foundation which was where this thing was being facilitated from and asked if I could be somebody who was involved with it and I went out in the met the director the guy who's got an hour and I spent the day at the laundry in there that I wrote an op-ed which the just describing it and wish the paper published and then I'm not sure if it was United Way or the area foundation somebody picked it up and said, okay, we got to get this guy here and that was

29:22 Was that 2012 he came three times to to check out if it would be possible and then it got waylaid for a while. Then three years ago your boss keralee clay play sure thing called me and said how do we get the laundry back on track? And so that's how that all started and it's been a wonderful by bypass nyikos has been to

30:10 Define other ways to have work on business. This is exciting for me to thank you. Happy Mary. Do you want to do any of hunters poetry up to you, but it would make me happy to have it in the library. Okay.

30:49 So so my husband my husband died in in 2008 East Hunter Hunter English was his name. He was kind of the 10th or the spokesperson for the local artists in Amarillo for many years and then but he was also a poet that was his first love that he would get up at 4 in the morning. But some of us has one called there's one called. Holy hell are you and I'll see if I can send the sun functions to the sky. What's the purpose of a porpoise or the meaning of them are sunsets have a function in the cell phone City Square. What's the object of a project? That would be great or Dew Dairy Maids make milk. Stop.

31:48 Princess take up sports bra steam irons are bed bugs easy score to buy could it be the pick up progress without an age where or when waiting for whisper whisper tune to take them out to Rolla rating be over. There is an ecstasy and Eagles in a problem going born on I will send the some compunctions to Scott.

32:26 Oh, I love it.

32:30 This is fun, Mary.

32:35 This is the one that the that the Cowboys just love to see if I can find it here. I can't can't recite that one straight have for lunch today. So okay. This is called birth britches and this happened we were in towels one time and and camping and raining and the tent got wet and Hunter got up early and went out into town looking for a cup of coffee in a place to sit and spin it came up with you always burn your Bridges behind you. Yes, you leave burn Bridges behind the smoke in the fire of the wild desire of the stuff on you cannot find your cotton cotton tear in Mendham patch those denims wore out seeing but you'll never Strike the perfect match with someone through things. You always burn your Bridges behind you moderations. Nothing you learn you strike up a spark.

33:35 And then by Moose singing burn baby burn, will you play the game of mild playing with each department? You meet the game stays the same in the same deep in the pain of one more rep richest Poor Richard's there's bastards in bitches remind me precisely of you and your name is in scroll on the firehouse wall you damn pyromaniac back you maybe breeches seem like riches to some of the charcoal crotch won't stay very much to a church for New Frontiers all your trousers last but he sees you hot peppers for breakfast and for dinner Char-Broil, you're at Pat's house. Thank you Mary. Thank you. Carol E. I would love to hear your story too. But I guess that's not going to happen on this round. My story is still unfolding.

34:35 I just love getting that history physically with them with our work together. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Courtney. Thank you Courtney.

34:50 All right.