Grand Central Station, 1941

Not Rice at all, but this is how people got here for a long time. From Neil Brennan’s scrapbook, this is the old Southern Pacific station, in the northeast part of downtown where the now empty Barbara Jordan post office sits:

New Houston station 2 Neil Brennan 1941070

And here’s what you saw when you stepped out the door:

New Houston station 1 Neil Brennan 1941069



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Friday Follies: Noon

I love this picture taken by Neil Brennan. I also love that he labeled it simply “Noon.”

New Noon admin parking lot Neil Brennan 1941

What I don’t know is how he took it.

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The Masterson Tapes, 1969

Something happened this morning that made the hair stand up on my arms.

I got to listen in on the student meeting that was held in February 1969 in the Physics Amphitheater after William H. Masterson was announced as Rice’s new president.

It was breathtaking. I understood it. You can pick out Warren Skaaren instantly–he had a Minnesota accent! Bari Kaplan was astonishingly articulate. In fact, the strong first impression I took from the whole thing was just how articulate all of the undergraduate speakers were. They spoke in paragraphs and sounded like adults.

I’ve known for twenty years that there was a tape called “Masterson–Mass Student Meeting” deep in the ktru collection but I never had any way to listen to it. Then this summer the station’s general manager, Will Robedee, gave the Woodson an old piece of equipment, a reel-to-reel tape player. We sent it out for a bit of refurbishment and with the attention of several Fondren staff members it was set up in our Digital Curation Lab down in the basement. (I won’t pretend to understand how this was done.) Today we put on the tape and turned everything on.

What a strange feeling–a mix of elation and unease.



It’s going to take quite some time to really work through it all. I can’t wait to get started.

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The Eagle Avenue Trolley Stop, Then and Now

Due to a multi-generational family housing situation of nearly baroque complexity, Mr. Rice History Corner and I are temporarily living in an apartment downtown. It’s definitely a mixed bag but one of the nice things about it is that my commute to work is much easier: Fannin straight down to Rice’s main entrance.

After the first couple of trips I started eyeing a building on the north side of the street where it intersects with Eagle. I’ve known for a long time that the place where Rice students got the trolley to campus was around there somewhere, roughly where the Sears building sits today. But as I looked at this other building I started to wonder if it might in fact be the exact location.

So let’s compare and contrast. Here’s what I see today:


And here’s a picture from the scrapbook of Adele Waggaman, ’16, labeled “Eagle Ave. Take Car Here for Rice”:

Eagle Ave take car here for Rice c1916 Waggaman

Same building? I think so.

Bonus: I saw this on a door in the Shepherd School. I have mixed feelings.


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Neil Brennan Looks At The Chemistry Building, 1942

As I mentioned before, the reason I got so interested in Neill Brennan in the first place was the quality of the pictures he took. It’s not so much that they’re great images as images, but rather that they show glimpses of an interesting sensibility. Here’s an example of what I mean, a startling shot taken out of a lab window:

New view from chem 220 lab Neil Brennan 1941054

Looking dead straight on the cloister, there’s only one place this could have been taken from–the first floor lab on the left:

New WWW Chemistry first floor plan

While the unexpected yucca plants certainly grab your attention, that’s not what I’m interested in. What I care about is the ivy that’s visible on the side of the Chem Lecture Hall through the arch on the left. In this second photo that Brennan took from . . . where? would you say the top of the Administration Building? . . . you can clearly see that half of Lecture Hall is covered with the vines:

New Chem with ivy Neil Brennan 1941050

I first noticed those vines when I wrote this post about the Lecture Hall door over a year ago and I have been squirreling away pictures that demonstrate their history ever since, just waiting for an excuse to drag you through the whole thing. This I shall do directly.



Extra Bonus:


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Here We Go Again

The start of fall semester is always a shock. You can see the end of the year coming from a long ways off, but the beginning just suddenly falls out of the sky. Last week was O Week, and though I’ve complained about it in the past this year’s version was really unobtrusive. Today everyone was back, many of the freshmen still looking a bit like this in spite of their lengthy orientation:

New Newcomers 1965052

Just for fun I scanned a couple of almost random pages. Don’t they feel like they’re being beamed to us from another universe?

New Newcomers 1965 girls053

New Newcomers 1965 boys 054

Bonus: This looks to be a fairly clever marketing stunt and I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a parachute in the quad before. And yes, it was full of cans of Red Bull.


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Friday Follies: Is there shrimp?

Just for your information, if I felt like it I could post pictures of Rice alumni crowding buffet tables every day for a solid year. Maybe more. Maybe two.

Homecoming, 1968:

New Homecoming 1968 buffet table

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