As was customary in the early 1900s, many buildings had caretakers who lived on site and watched over the premises. Mr. Frank Cramer worked as a caretaker of Houston’s original Carnegie library and lived on site for a few years. He moved on to other jobs including a seafood company and a bank building. But in 1926, Mr. Cramer returned as caretaker to the new Central Library building, living down in the basement apartment. He spent the last 10 years of his life here at the Julia Ideson Building as general handyman, gardener, and security guard.
Mr. Cramer had a German Shepard dog named Petey that walked with him on his rounds, following him down the halls of the library.. After Mr. Cramer finished his nightly rounds, he would climb the stairs with Petey at his side, until they reached the third floor gallery at the top of the building, where you are standing now. Resting his violin on his shoulder, Mr. Cramer would serenade the building with his beloved Strauss waltzes while the city slept. He died suddenly on November 22, 1936 down in his basement apartment at the age of 79.
Over the decades people have reported hearing the click, click of Petey’s nails on the tile floor as if he is still following his master on his rounds. Or late in the evening the sound of a waltz played on a violin could be heard softly carrying down the halls of the library. Occasionally, books and sheet music would be found misplaced, appearing where they didn’t originally belong.
Are Mr. Cramer and Petey still watching over us? If you listen quietly, perhaps you’ll hear the strains of a Strauss waltz being played by a violin or the sounds of the faithful Petey accompanying Mr. Cramer on his nightly rounds of the library.