Those Branches Are Lower Than You Might Think, 1997

I saw this a couple of weeks ago on the inner loop over between Baker and the Housing and Dining Office:


The juxtaposition of the truck and the trees reminded me of an earlier, less fortunate encounter between the world of nature and the freight industry which took place within a stone’s throw of the same spot. It took me until today to track down what I was remembering:

Semi hits tree c 97


There’s whole roll of film of this mess, including guys with chain saws shimmying up the tree, but the image that touches my heart is this one:

Semi 3

That poor guy! I think that’s a ticket he’s holding in his hand.

Bonus: Rice’s quick thinking General Counsel, Richard Zansitis, brought in a real treasure that he found at an estate sale earlier this summer. It’s the only Rally Club beer mug that we have in the archives. Many thanks, Richard!


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Vladimir Putin Makes A Dramatic Entrance, 2001

Many interesting things are turning up in the Thresher photo files from the ’90s and ’00s. Today it’s Vladimir Putin, on campus in 2001 (that’s thirteen years ago if you’ve lost count) for a talk at the Baker Institute. The Thresher sent a couple of photographers–Konstantin and Renata according to the cursory labels. Most of the pictures from the actual event are competent but not especially interesting. They basically all look something like this, except sometimes Putin’s eyes are closed and sometimes they’re open:


What was eye-catching was Putin’s arrival at Rice, which was just a tad more spectacular than the usual discreet black town car pulling up to the Institute’s front door. Check out these nice images (and please note that I managed to get a horse in two days in a row):

Putin 5





I was frankly less interested in the remarks than in the spectacle, but I offer this without comment:

Putin Thresher article 11 16 01

Bonus: Nothing tightens my stomach like seeing construction equipment in the parking lot but it was just maintenance. These guys were doing the chalking for new stripes and I was quite taken by the bright colors.


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Casual Friday

Lady Godiva appears at matriculation, 1995:

Lady Godiva 1995

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Happy Birthday, Dr. Hyman!

I found out on Facebook that today is Harold Hyman’s 90th birthday. Dr. Hyman came to Rice in the fall of 1968, just in time to experience the Masterson crisis, and he was instrumental in ensuring that the history of that episode was preserved for people like me to use later. He was a prolific writer and editor in the fields of legal and constitutional history as well as the Civil War and Reconstruction and he ran an infamous, never-ending graduate seminar that proved brilliantly effective at getting his students to complete their doctorates in a timely fashion. He was devoted to those students and worked tirelessly on their behalf. He and his beloved wife, Ferne, treated them as family.

Because he was both accomplished and photogenic he got his picture taken a lot–we have dozens of pictures of him. This first one, dated 1972, is very sweet:

Harold Hyman 1972 better

But I can’t resist adding a second, because it made me smile. He could stop you in your tracks with that look:

Thresher files Harold Hyman nd

A Marine in World War II, Dr. Hyman spoke movingly at Rice’s Veteran’s Day celebration in 2012.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Hyman!

And thanks to Rachel Dvoretzky for pointing me to the Facebook post.





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Homecoming, 1950

From a box of old slides, the Rice Homecoming Parade, September 30, 1950. This would have been before the first game (against Santa Clara) in the new stadium. It was a very big production:

Parade Homecoming 1950 1


The Homecoming Queen:

Parade 3

Definitely not the Homecoming Queen:

Parade 4

That’s President Houston in the back seat at right. I don’t know who the others are.

And the Rally Club proposed an alternate Homecoming Queen:

Parade 5

Parade 6


Bonus: A small act of kindness really brightened my day. Phil Brooks in the Chemistry Department brought me a little rolling stool so I wouldn’t have to kneel on the floor to go through several boxes of old papers. I’m so very grateful.


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Boom!: The Coolest Thing I’ve Seen in Quite Some Time

I hd intended to write about something else today but looking through some old Public Affairs files I came across the coolest thing I’ve seen in quite some time.  The first image in the packet was this intriguingly rigged up vehicle:

Mobile recording lab exterior

Hmmm . . . that certainly looks like a lot of fun, doesn’t it? But what is it for? A bit more digging turned up an interior shot of the truck along with—a miracle–an explanatory caption:

Mobile recording lab nd

Wow! It’s an early, less insane version of Storm Chasers. The project belonged to Arthur Few, who started studying thunder as a grad student in the Space Science department, working with my old friend, Alex Dessler. Here’s young Dr. Few explaining the benefits of his research, I would guess for some sort of article (although if there was one I couldn’t find it):

Mobile recording lab research

Oddly enough, given all those nice captions, the only way I could come up with an approximate date for the photos was from a Houston Post piece about the project, which kind of gives you the gist of what he was up to:

Mobile recording lab Post March 23 1969


If you want to know more, just ask. There’s lots more–this folder was full of dry, technical matter that I could not understand. There was even a picture of what I imagine was how the machine read thunder:

Mobile recording lab thunder





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Summertime Blues

It’s really hot. And lonely too. Everybody who could get out of town is now out of town. Walking out to my steaming car this afternoon I gazed longingly at the fancy palm-shaded outdoor pool at the Rec Center:

Palm trees by pool 2014

Happily, it gave me a chance to revisit the berserk charm of the old Grad House on Main and University with it’s earlier incarnation of palm and pool glamour:

Grad House pool c1993

Thresher files, c1993

One more just because I like it:

Grad House back gate c1993

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