This room I call “The Office”. The Grantham family started the funeral home in Ryan. The plaque out front says 1923, but it actual was founded in 1921 by the Grantham brothers. Both had a family and they found out it would not make a living for all. So one of the brothers moved to Duncan about thirty miles away and opened another funeral home. It is still there and is still called the Grantham funeral home, although it is owned by other people now. Mr. Grantham put that plaque on it with his and his wife’s names on it in 1923.
Originally, the building had only one floor and was a furniture and hardware store. When the brothers bought it they decided to add a second floor. They built the staircase over the furniture store’s safe which could not be moved.
One night shortly after we bought the building my daughter and I were in here snooping around.
She said: “I’ll crawl behind that safe and see if there’s anything back there.” In the large space below the steps where a lot of rolled up old maps of the town of Ryan and there was an old shoe. She tossed it in the trash.
I asked: “What was that, Lana?”
She said: “Just an old shoe.”
I immediately got it out of the bin and said: “This might be Mr. Grantham’s shoe.”
It had a hole in the bottom and was quite worn out. That night when I got home I googled “old shoe left in a building”. I found out, that there was a tradition back in the old days of people leaving behind shoes–usually baby shoes–, when they left a home. It was to leave good vibes and good experiences for the next people to live in that house.
The next day Larry Grantham, the son of Mr. Grantham, came by. I showed him the shoe and he looked at the size, turned it over and said: “I know it, that’s my dad’s shoe. Where did you get it?”
I have the birth and death records from 1918 until the eighties in these drawers. They were just tossed in a box, kind of harum-scarum. Loretta and I organized and numbered them. A lot of people appreciated the help it gave them in the search for their family members.
It is so interesting to read the history of the people out of these books. You read when they were born, when they died, what they died from, the illness. I was really shocked at some of the things I read, especially from back in the early days. There is one book with death records of children. A family west of town lost six babies. They never lived to longer, never got older than one year. They probably did not have the nourishment the babies needed or the mother did not have the nourishment she needed. It was starvation. Very poor people.
Chuck Norris was born in the Ryan hospital in 1940, his name actually is Carlos Ray Norris. I have the birth certificate here. His parents were travelling trough Ryan as itinerant workers, the man looking for a job. His truck broke down. My husbands granddad saw he was having trouble, so he helped him. They could not get a spare part until the next day. The Norris family went home with him and stayed in his house, the woman was pregnant. They worked several years for him. Carlos Ray started school here. He was made fun of there. One friend he had, Donnie, felt sorry for him and protected him on the school bus they both took to town from the west. Donnie’s sister is a good friend of mine and told me the story. Maybe that made Chuck Norris the man who he is, having decided to better get tough at a young age …
When I was young, I didn’t know much about Ryan. We lived at the Red River and came every Saturday to buy groceries. I did not consider myself living in Ryan until my freshman year in highschool. That was the time my mother started a nursing home here.
Go on to the Elliot Room, which is the first of the Display spaces of The Parlor.