Rice Stadium Vendors

The latest strangeness: three times in the last two weeks questions have arisen about the  vendors who worked football games in the stadium. Apparently this was a job sometimes (often?) held by boys and young men who in later years recall it fondly. I have no explanation for this. In any event, our collection of  historical materials from the Athletic Department is extensive but I haven’t been able to find anything.

Then last night a friend who I’ll only call Citizen 635 sent me a photo that I could not identify. What might this mean and what is the Rice Athletic Association? It turns out that as a lad he sold Cokes at the games. This was his vendor badge:

Rice Institute Vendor Badge - Copy


I still don’t understand what the “Rice Institute Athletic Association” was but what the heck. If you do, please let me know.





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I’ve written once before about the timber lands in Louisiana that came to the Institute as part of William Marsh Rice’s estate. This has proven to be an important part of Mr. Rice’s legacy: harvesting this timber provided the funds for the construction of our first buildings and the land has been carefully husbanded ever since.

I recently came across some nice images of the property, something I’d never seen before. Even better, they give us a look at the reforestation of part of this land that took place in the late 1940s and early 1950s. This first one is the boss, the manager and forester, Walter Barnes (and Mr. Barnes’s dog at right)

Reforestation Rice hQ Merryville LA Barnes

Another photo, taken in 1949, shows something of how the new trees were planted. It’s  labeled “tree planters, six feet apart, seedlings every eight feet” and it looks fairly bleak:

Reforestation 1949 tree planters 6 ft apart seedlings every 8 ft

Predictably, by 1955 things look better:

Reforestation 1955

I like these a lot. I’m a big fan of good stewardship.

Bonus: Looks like Willy had a big weekend.


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Friday Follies: “This Close”

Here’s Bill Masterson with Houston Chronicle writer Morris Frank, who must have visited campus for a column. There’s no date but it looks like late ’50s. If Mr. Frank had turned just a wee bit I could tell by his beanie. I love the looks on both their faces:


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Bonfire, Part I

I looked up one day and realized that I had collected a pretty fair amount of material on the Rice bonfire. I’ve never had either the time or a reason to piece the story together but I do have the beginnings–really the middle–of a narrative. I don’t know when it started or when it ended but I can tell that it existed intermittently from as early as 1929. Sometimes it was a homecoming event; sometimes it was held before the football game with A&M.

Here’s the first image I have, from the fall of 1929:

Glass bonfire c1930

This piece from the fall of 1944 indicates that World War II brought a temporary end to the practice, although I must say that I’m with the Dean on this and would have shut it down forever had I the power to do so. (I believe, by the way, that this Dean was Hugh Scott Cameron.) I was especially charmed by the first sentence. The students’ notion of “always” tends to mean “as far back as the current seniors’ freshman year.”

Bonfire editorial fall 1944

I can pick it up again in 1954, with this photo from the scrapbook of cheerleader Carolyn Dearmond. Note it’s moved to a very different location:

Bonfire fall 1954 Dearmond

More to come next week–I don’t really know how many posts this will take. As always, your input is most welcome.

Bonus: Here we go.


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Building Signage, 1968

Add to the “never seen this before” pile:

Pitzer with Lovett Hall signage 1968

It’s also interesting that the screen doors are still there so late.

Bonus: I’m traveling the next few day. Please lower your expectations even more!


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Phi Beta Kappa, 1929 and Radoslav Tsanoff

Sometimes something turns up that is interesting enough to keep even though I don’t have any clear idea of what I’m going to do with it. These pictures from the installation of Rice as the Texas Beta Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa in 1929 are an example. I found them several years ago and liked them enough to sit down and scan them, but then I just let them sit on my hard drive while I waited for . . . something.

Here are the installers, a frightening looking bunch. From left to right they are the historian Henry Osborn Taylor, who gave the address, Oscar Voorhees, the General Secretary of Phi Beta Kappa, and Dr. William J. Battie from the Texas Alpha Chapter at the University of Texas:

PBK Installers 1929

And here’s the entire gathering:

PBK Installation of Beta Chapter of Texas 1929

What brings this to mind today is Box 1 of the PBK collection, which I noticed on a shelf this afternoon while I was looking for something else. The first folders hold the correspondence surrounding the decision to grant Rice a chapter, which was not without controversy. The first issue that arose was whether a technical institute had enough focus on the liberal arts. The organization was quite doubtful about this, citing their earlier denial of a chapter to MIT, but Radoslav Tsanoff, who led the effort, fairly easily convinced them that Rice’s offerings in the humanities were adequate.

Once this first objection was met, a surprising second question was carefully raised: why so many women?

New Phi Beta Kappa question 1927

Tsanoff’s reply is a straightforward and simple statement of fact. It is also a lovely commentary about what ought to lie at the heart of the house of intellect.

(Don’t worry about the overtyping at the top–the important part begins after.)

New Phi Beta Kappa explanation 1927

Bonus: Speaking of the Texas Alpha Chapter, I saw a decidedly strange sight this afternoon out on the loading dock behind the Mechanical Engineering Building. These are three volumes of the University of Texas yearbook, the Cactus, with assorted trash:

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Introduction to Higher Geometry by William C. Graustein, Ph.D.

I was going through a stack of math books in Curt Michel’s office today when I came across an old one (published in 1930) that brought me up short:


I couldn’t place it right away but I knew it meant something.

After thinking about this all morning I headed over to the Woodson after lunch to see if I could figure it out. For once, this proved to be fairly easy, requiring only a peek into the info files to get started. William C. Graustein was one of the earliest faculty members at Rice, arriving to teach math in 1914 after earning his doctorate at the University of Bonn. (He was recruited, by the way, by his friend Griffith Evans.)

New Graustein photp

Graustein left Rice in 1918 to enter military service in World War I and never returned. He spent the rest of his career at Harvard, his alma mater, but died relatively young in an auto accident in 1941. He seemed to have been genuinely popular with the students while he was here as these two short pieces in the Thresher attest:

New Graustein story 1918

A very nice memorial piece about Graustein’s life and work, including his time at Rice, is here.

The unanswerable question I have is whether Curt knew about this connection or if he just had the book because at some point he’d needed it. Both options, it seems to me, are happy ones.

Bonus: I know this looks bad but we’re actually well on the road to recovery.

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