Youthful High Spirits, circa late 1960s

I got an email last night from reader Bill Peebles ’70. It was short and sweet: I don’t know what we were thinking, but one Sunday morning we drove my ’64 Volkswagen through the quad. 

I can’t say exactly why this is so funny to me but I had a really good laugh over the pictures. I’m not sure you could get away with it today:


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My Visit to the Lone Star Flight Museum

I made the trip down to Ellington Field today to see the recently opened Lone Star Flight Museum, with museum board member and Rice trustee emeritus Charlie Szalkowski ’70 as tour guide. I was absolutely blown away and I think you should all go down there and see it for yourselves. The planes are stunning but the historical exhibits and the educational programs are just as enthralling.

I of course knew what a ball turret was and had read Randall Jarrell’s short poem The Death of the Ball Turrett Gunner, but it wasn’t until I saw one today on the B-17 below that I grasped its emotional reality. It was all I could do to keep my composure. This is a very powerful place and I’m going to urge you again to go.

I had a chance to tell the folks down there about two collections we have at Rice that might be of some use to them, the Ellington Field Collection and the remarkable collection of aeronautical history accumulated by Ben Anderson, the son of Frank Anderson and nephew of M.D. Anderson. This picture was taken in 1986, when Mr. Anderson and his wife, Mary, transferred the collection, one part of which is on the shelves behind them, to the Woodson archivist Nancy Boothe ’52, at left:

After Rice brought in an appraiser to examine all these materials, her report was featured in the Friends of Fondren Flyleaf the next year. Here’s the introduction, which gives some sense of the depth and breadth of this collection. It really is one of the jewels of the Woodson and if you’d like to know more here’s a link to the finding aid.

Bonus: I saw four herons sweep across the quad and light on top of Sewall Hall as I left campus this afternoon.

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“Miss Patti Page, The Sweetheart of the Stadium”, 1950

I recently found this picture in an unexpected place and instantly fell in love with those spectacular hats. (And don’t even get me started on the boots!)


I wondered about two things: the girls in the hats, who don’t appear to be in Rice-related outfits, and the woman in the middle, the only one out of uniform altogether. On closer inspection I concluded that it must be the popular singer Patti Page, who appeared at the first game in the new stadium in the fall of 1950. This Thresher story, I believe, explains what we’re looking at in the photo. Click to zoom in:

Patti Page was performing down the street at the Shamrock Hotel (hence, I suppose, the Shamrock Photographs Services label on the bottom of the photo) and seems to have been an active participant in all the events surrounding the opening of the stadium.  She even gave a pep talk at the rally the night before! (I’d have loved to have heard that.) The girls in the smashing outfits were the Apache Belles from Tyler Junior College who were also in town to lend some glamour to the opening day festivities.

UPDATE: A couple of astute commenters correctly pointed out that there’s some Rice insignia on the uniforms of the majorettes so they aren’t Apache Belles at all but our own coeds. The Rice History Corner regrets, but is not especially surprised by, the error. Thanks guys!

We have another very different but just as fabulous image of her elsewhere in our collection. This was taken at the big parade downtown before the game:



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Friday Follies: Picnic, 1916

Probably on campus. It looks serene . . . and hot. No jackets on the men, rolled up sleeves. Left to right are Radoslav Tsanoff, easily identifiable even with a leaf in front of his face, Julian Huxley, Corinne Tsanoff, and an unidentified lady.

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Dry Cleaner Debacle, 2018

In an unexpected turn, I don’t have a Rice History Corner post tonight. My dry cleaner got busted for tax evasion the other day, which you might think has nothing to do with this blog. But it means that the state came into possession of all my cleaning, which I had to go ransom this afternoon and into the evening. I could go into elaborate detail about this mess but what it all boils down to is that, shockingly, the state is no good at running a dry cleaning business and I’m exhausted and sweaty because of course they weren’t running the air conditioner.

On the positive side, in classic Houston fashion the assembled multitudes organized themselves, helped each other out (exact change was required to get your clothes out of tax jail!), and generally did what they could to make things better. It was an unusual mixture of perspiration, resignation, and a pretty good party.

We’ll try again tomorrow.

Bonus: Hi, y’all!

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Filling Station, 6511 Main Street, 1939

I’m confident that I’m the only one who remembers that I’ve previously used this photo of a track man, probably Richard Stone ’56. It’s notable for the nice view of Main Street establishments it gives us:

When I first used it someone in the comments who is much older than I am informed me that that’s a Gulf filling station on the corner. Although on reflection I probably shouldn’t have been surprised, I was in fact surprised when I discovered that Rice once owned it.


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“We were most happy to cooperate,” Commencement 1953

There’s a crazy amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to make commencement work. As it’s gotten bigger and more complicated the number of people who have tasks to perform before, during, and after the ceremonies has also grown. But even from the beginning there was no way to get around the basic physical cleanup and set up, probably the thing most important and least noticed.

I found myself touched by this exchange between Guy McBride, the marshal in charge of those arrangement in 1953, and Norman Willison, who would have been the boss of the grounds crew at that time. Its so polite, even gentlemanly, a relic of a more formal time:

A culture of generous cooperation (and even–usually–a sense of fun) still exists among the people who do these tasks for Rice commencement today. I’m a sucker for continuity and tradition and this pleases me greatly.

I can’t find a picture of the 1953 ceremony but here’s the procession in 1954. It looks so small!

Bonus: Marshals organizational meeting, 2018. No booze allowed.

Extra bonus: Put it all up, then take it all down.

What the heck, one more:

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