In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

August 7, 2014

Dressing Up Lessons From Our Past

By In the Loop

PlummerFilm760From the outside, things were very 2014. Cars, trucks and SUVs rolled down Second Street. Pedestrians made their way around downtown Rochester smartphones in hand. But on Sunday, Aug. 3, the lobby of the Plummer Building in Rochester was seriously 1937, as a film crew led by Mark Flaherty and Tom Williams shot a scene for the upcoming Heritage Days film: "Our Father Taught Us -- A Journey Toward Teamwork."

The film, made possible by the support of Mayo benefactors, is essentially a story within a story. "Dr. Will, in 1937, is consulting with Sister Joseph about a new surgeon who doesn't quite understand the Mayo value of teamwork," Williams tells us. "And rather than giving him a lecture, Dr. Will chooses to tell him a story that happened to him when he was just a boy in 1875." The film then flashes back to when the young Mayo brothers were on a call with their father and performed a surgery in a farmhouse kitchen. "We won't give away the plot, but this was the day when Dr. Will says he really learned the value of teamwork," Williams tells us.

The flashback sets the stage for the scene in Plummer. A Cadillac pulls up to the Plummer Building's bronze doors, which our friend Matt Dacy, Mayo Clinic Heritage Hall, reminds us in those days opened to the street. Joseph Fritsch, known as "Joe Clinic," Mayo's official doorman, escorts an "elegantly dressed patient" into the Plummer Building while the carillon plays. An actress playing Sister Joseph Dempsey, superintendent of Saint Marys Hospital, enters wearing "the full Franciscan habit of the Pre-Vatican II era." She makes her way through a lobby full of actors and actresses dressed in 1930s attire, portraying, as Dacy tells us, "nurses in cap and uniform, physicians and staff, and patients from all walks of life." An elevator operator leads Sister Joseph to the third floor boardroom, where she meets with Dr. Will Mayo.

Filming a scene like this while staying true to the time period is no small feat, and takes a lot of what the film is meant to represent: Teamwork. "Kelly Mucha from Facilities was a tremendous help in restoring the Plummer Lobby to the way it looked in 1937," Williams says. "The blue signs had to come down or be covered up. All the water fountains had to be covered up. It was very impressive how she and the rest of the Facilities team made that happen."

Dacy tells many others helped bring the story to life. "Dr. Robert Stanhope advised us about historical aspects of surgery," he says. "Dr. Anthony Windebank educated actors on the proper British accent for Dr. William Worrall Mayo. Drs. Michael Brennan and Victor Trastek shared insights on professionalism and mentoring. Dr. Bruce Fye helped us understand important themes in medical history. The Sisters of St. Francis educated us about the key role of Sisters in the early days of the Mayo practice. Renee Ziemer and colleagues allowed us to film in the Historical Unit and Board of Governors Room and shared authentic artifacts." There are many others, he says, but he didn't want to give away too much.

You can see the plot unwind for yourself when the film makes it premier during Heritage Days, Oct. 6-10. Give us your critical reviews by sharing your comments below, where you'll find tools to share this story with others.

Tags: Community, Dr. Anthony Windebank, Dr. Bruce Fye, Dr. Michael Brennan, Dr. Robert Stanhope, Dr. Victor Trastek, Heritage Days, Matt Dacy, Renee Ziemer, Sisters of St. Francis

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