Friday Afternoon Follies: I Didn’t Wear My Slime Cap

What we have here is failure to communicate.

I ran across these rebels while looking for something else in the 1923 Campanile. I can’t tell what their punishment is (aside from the sign, of course) but I feel pretty sure that I would have found myself in similar circumstances.

I didnt wear my slime cap 1923 campanile

I didnt wear my slime cap 2

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An Odd View of the Campanile

I’m having a great time up here in Wyoming. We’ve seen bison, pronghorn, elk, mule deer  and many, many kinds of birds in addition to yesterday’s moose.

I’m a little too tired to write anything but I am capable of posting one of the slides taken by Dr. Davies on campus. It isn’t dated (although I’d guess late ’50s based on nothing much) and I’m not sure where he was standing when he took it:

JI Davies Campanile


Any thoughts?

Bonus: P1010717

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Head For The Hills

Back in the day before widespread air-conditioning, most of the Rice faculty would flee Houston every summer for more temperate climates. From today’s vantage point these long trips, which mixed work and pleasure, look almost impossibly relaxing and pleasant. Here is long serving mathematics professor Hubert Bray, ’16, the first recipient of a Rice Ph.D., with his family at their cabin in Colorado. I think the picture would have been taken in the early to mid-1930s, right around the time Bray became head of the math department:

Bray family Eldora Col c1935

One of those young ladies, I think the one on the far left, married Alan Chapman, who taught Mechanical Engineering here for 62 years. Here they are at their wedding reception at Cohen House.

Bonus: This is all by way of telling you that I’m on vacation myself, although in Wyoming rather than Colorado, and posting may be spotty for a few days. Yesterday we saw a moose and a baby moose.


Baby moose




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The Great Eleanor Roosevelt Mystery: Solved!

Over the years I’ve had several people tell me that they remember hearing Eleanor Roosevelt talk in the library’s Lecture Lounge (later called the Kyle Morrow Room). I always believed these people, of course, but we were never able to find any confirmation that she was on campus. There’s no story in the Thresher and her name doesn’t appear on the list of dignitaries who have visited. (This proves nothing, by the way. Academics don’t always report their activities to the archives or to anyone else for that matter. You might recall we also missed a visit from the King of Belgium.)

About a year ago, though, I ran across a very tantalizing piece of evidence in the oversized photo files. Here is Mrs. Roosevelt with the Rice librarian, Hardin Craig, but they aren’t here–they’re in a studio on the University of Houston campus. It’s unlabeled and undated:



So, close but not quite there yet.

Then yesterday I was looking for pictures of Sammy in the 1955 Campanile (don’t ask) and lo and behold, here she is, inside Fondren Library, again with Dr. Craig:

Eleanor Roosevelt 1955 campanile 1


Eleanor Roosevelt 1955 campanile 2


It’s kind of hard to tell from the fuzzy yearbook photo but this might have been the same day. She’s got the same hat on and probably the same dress. I can’t see if the necklace is there or not.

The lingering mystery to me is what panel discussion would have involved both Eleanor Roosevelt and Hardin Craig. Now that I have an approximate date I can try to figure it out.



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New Images of the R1 Computer



They’re not new of course, just new to me. They were very kindly sent in by reader Bill Harris, ’71, who has this to say about them:

They are scanned from 8x10s, probably taken in the 1969-71 time
frame–most likely in 1970 or ’71.  I picked some, and [the photographer] added a couple
he couldn’t resist . Circuitry1, circuitry2, and circuitry3 are probably images from the arithmetic unit (front rack), the logic unit (second rack), and one other that caught our attention for some reason, but I can no longer recall.




Mr. Harris also noted that, happily, we can credit the photographer: To be fair, you might want to mention that Bob Roosth, WRC ’71, took the pictures–most of what I selected, but, as I recall, as a photographer he couldn’t resist the closeup of the tape.  He was a photographer for the Thresher and Campanile, and I think he was also the photographer for Penelope Johnson’s Campanile photo in the late 1960s.

Some of these pictures make more sense to me than the circuitry images above. I know a tape drive when I see one:



And a printer:


But I have no idea what this is all about:


Once again I find myself in debt to a reader who made the effort to preserve a piece of this university’s history. I’m extremely grateful.

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Friday Afternoon Follies: Historic Spots

Most of the humor in old Campaniles isn’t funny but this from 1923 made me smile. It’s accurate too.

1923 Campanile Historic Spots

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John Laxen, 1957-2014

Big John Laxen passed away this week, much too early. When he came to Rice he was almost still a boy. He worked here for 36 years and became head of the Electrician’s Shop in 2007. He knew this campus like the back of his hand and he was kind, generous and funny. He helped me whenever he could and every single time I saw him I was glad of it.

I have better pictures of him but this one is my favorite. He’s the big guy in white coveralls, the one with his head thrown back in laughter:

John Laxen Electricians

John Laxen, RIP.



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