Public Relations and Hugh Scott Cameron, 1949

Sometimes you can feel someone’s personality from just a few words. This short note from Rice’s Dean of Student Activities, Hugh Scott Cameron, is, I think, an example. Trying to respond to a request for information that makes absolutely no sense in the context of the Rice Institute in 1949, his openly acknowledged inability to help and the gentleness of his poking just a tiny bit of fun at his own institution makes me like him very much.

This is the only photograph I have of Dean Cameron, and his face too seems immediately likeable:

This 1948 Thresher article paints a picture of a pretty interesting guy, although I can’t help but wonder what his nickname was (and bonus points to the author for the use  of “sacerdotalism”):

Sadly, this kind and thoughtful man died very young. He was only 45 when he passed from a heart attack in the summer of 1950 and the reaction of the student body was telling:

The Hugh Scott Cameron Award is still given every Spring to a graduating senior who has given outstanding service to the student body.

I was a bit surprised to learn that there is a second Hugh Scott Cameron Award that is not specific to Rice. In 1951 the South Texas Section of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers began giving that award to the Mechanical Engineering student from a school in the section who shows the most promise for advanced engineering education.

Bonus: Found on the sidewalk behind Fondren.

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Another One From the Class of 1927’s 50th Reunion

One of the things I get a kick out of is when someone I’ve seen before pops up unexpectedly somewhere else, sometimes decades later. This happened the other day with this guy, R.T. Wilbanks, ’27 who I wrote about eleven years ago, way back in 2012 (when I was still skiing!). He’s shown here in 1938 with his little daughter, Vera, who is charmingly ahold of Dr. Lovett’s finger:

Wilbanks wrote about Lovett’s visit to New Orleans and his meeting with the Rice alumni there in the very first issue of the Rice Historical Society newsletter, The Cornerstone. (Both the Society and the newsletter are now sadly defunct).

If this is too small you can get the whole issue here.

So I was delighted when I came across this announcement of the Wilbanks’ 50th anniversary tucked in among the other papers that came from the organizers of the 1977 reunion:

What survives is just so odd and so unpredictable. Grungy dug this out from deep in the bowels of the stadium and by all rights it should have been thrown out years ago. Why it instead now emerges intact is a question that has no answer. I can tell you, though, that Mr. Wilbanks was also one of the reunion hosts that year. (There are some other interesting names here, including William McVey, the hero of the 1924 Slime-Soph War.)

Bonus: If you thought the only thing George and Esther Cohen gave us was Cohen House, you were mistaken. This is the elevator to the press box in the stadium.

Extra Bonus: We were hiking in New Mexico today and a thunderstorm rolled in. It was awesome.

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A Surprise From the 1917 Football Season

Just before Christmas last year I ran across pictures of the first touchdown Rice ever scored against Texas, back in 1917. The file also held  a whole envelope full of photos taken during various games that season. I scanned most of them, thinking hey, you never know when you might want one of those. Looking through them a few days ago I suddenly felt justified. One of them jumped out at me this time–you almost never either clearly see or completely understand an image the first time you look at it–and sent me off to look for an explanation. It was this one:

Rice is in the lighter, striped jerseys and our opponents in the dark are clearly not white people. My thoughts went first to the fuss raised about playing teams with black players in the 1950s, then turned to a post I wrote all the way back in 2011 about a 1915 baseball game we played against an Asian team purporting to be from the Chinese University of Hawaii. This time, though, the opposing team turned out to be Native Americans from the Haskell Institute in Lawrence, Kansas. (This school still exists, now as Haskell Indian Nations University. They have a fascinating history, preserved at the Haskell Cultural Center and Museum. I highly recommend clicking the link to see more about their story.)

It’s hard to know what to make of this, or even how much to make of it, but my first pass at an opinion is that the fact that these two games were played reinforces the idea that Houston’s racial etiquette in those days was essentially bi-racial, with a near total black-white divide and other racial and ethnic groups occupying a middle ground. I don’t claim to understand how this worked but I don’t see how else to explain it.

We won, by the way, 55-13, although Haskell scored one of their touchdowns on what the Thresher described as “as pretty a forward pass play as has ever been seen in the State.”

Bonus: Sorry for the long, unexplained absence. It didn’t cross my mind that anyone would notice but they sure did. I won’t do that again!

In the meantime, we play Houston this Saturday. The stadium was buzzing with activity this afternoon as upgrades are being finished before the game. Shades of George R. Brown and “Is it a day game or a night game?’

Rice Fight Never Dies–and note the furniture in those boxes!

New conference logos on the field:

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Looking Towards Downtown, 1916, 1957, and 2023

First, taken from the campanile in 1916 by Carl Knapp ’16:

Next, taken from the antenna by Abercrombie in 1957 by David Davidson ’58:

And finally, taken from the fifth floor deck of O’Connor by me ’96 ’00 in 2023:

Houston exploded and so did camera technology.

Bonus: Here’s picture of young Mr. Davidson that appeared in a Houston Chronicle piece about research on campus in 1962, when he would have been a grad student in Engineering. I didn’t realize until now that he also earned a Rice Ph.D. in 1968.

Here’s the caption–“plasmatron” sounds pretty cool:

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Back of Their Heads, no date

Not bragging but I can identify all those guys just by looking at the back of their heads. Left to right are Robert Ray ’25 , Newton Rayzor ’17, George Brown, and Malcolm Lovett Sr. ’21. It’s not dated but I’d put it circa mid to late 1960s, when all of them were serving on the Rice board.

I have absolutely no idea who the woman is.

Bonus: A two part quiz!

First: who knows what this is?

And second: if you do know what it is, what does the C stand for?

I wish I knew myself.

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“From the Swingin’ Twenties to the Sophisticated Seventies,” 1977

In one of the deeply weird developments that I’ve long since come to expect, some of the things that turned up in the box of materials that Grungy dug out of the stadium are papers related to the 50th anniversary reunion of the class of 1927:

The papers are interesting themselves but there’s also something interesting about why they would be discovered in the bowels of the football stadium. It actually makes sense: one of the main organizers of the event was Florence Stancliff ’27, seen here in a publicity shot taken for for the reunion. Florence’s husband Fred ’26 ran the R Association for 63 years, beginning in 1927, and as far as I can tell he never took a step without her. I’ve found papers of his in the stadium before, including a pretty good stash in one of the storage spaces in the R Room.  (There is still stuff squirreled away all over this campus.)

We have that banner in the Woodson, by the way, and without looking I think we also have the letter sweater, which may well have been Fred’s. Florence has appeared here before, here and here. She seems to have been an unusual character. I would have liked to talk to her.

If you’re interested in their courtship while they were at Rice you can read their (very mushy) love letters at a blog put together by their granddaughter some years ago.

Next time I’ll have some things from the reunion itself.

Bonus: This is taken from the 10th green at the course I play on up here. The flag is about 12 feet tall because that’s the only way you can see it from the fairway. It’s steep.



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“The Fabulous Tidelands Motor Inn,” no date

First, let me apologize for the sorry quality of these images, which you can probably tell are just iphone pictures. This was the last thing I did before I left for Washington and I was rushing so fast I just didn’t have time to scan them properly.

I was pretty excited to find this brochure in a box of materials that John “Grungy” Gladu recovered from somewhere deep in the bowels of the stadium. (More odd items from this box next time.) I’ve written about the Tidelands, its various Rice connections, and its later incarnation as Rice’s Graduate Student Housing before. I even found some great black and white images taken in its heyday in the Houston Metropolitan Research Center collection some years ago. But this was the first time I’ve seen the full glory of the thing in color. And it’s amazing.

It’s hard to pick out my favorite thing here but it might be the credit cards accepted, which might actually help nail down a date now that I think about it.

Here you go:

Bonus: A loyal reader sends in this picture of the bent, safely reinstalled.

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O’Connor Time Lapse, 2021-2022

I’m off on my annual trip up to Washington state where I have been playing a lot of golf with very mixed results. Even here, though, Rice is never far away and I was recently sent this neat time lapse video of the rise of the O’Connor building:

It was made by Ivy Gonzalez, who was working at the time in the CAAM Department. I’ll let her describe how she did it: I took this in 2109 Duncan Hall; there were about 2100 total photos. Minus University holidays, I took 9 photos daily — 3 in the morning when I arrived to campus, 3 at lunch, and 3 when I left the office. On days I was away, I asked my coworker Latreece McKinney to help. Not all the photos were viable since there were some days where it rained and there was streaks on the glass. It’s not as complete as I would have liked, since I left the CAAM/CMOR department in late November in 2022. But I’m pretty happy I was able to capture what I did.

I’m pretty happy about it too and I have great admiration for her ingenuity and enthusiasm.

Bonus: Here’s the set up.

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Looking Down at Campus, 2023 and 1957

The instant I first got to the top of O’Connor I knew I was going to post this. You might remember that a while ago I put up a batch of photos taken by David Davidson ’58 from atop a radio antenna located in one of the notches in Abercrombie that existed before the wings were filled in. Davidson stood up there and took pictures pretty much all the way around campus and towards downtown and as I stood on the fifth floor deck I realized that I could do the same. The angle isn’t identical, and some shots are impossible to replicate because there are now other things in the way. For a couple of them I had to get all the way up on the roof to even get close. But even so the transformation of our space, which seems so slow in the day to day, is revealed to be dramatic.

Here are a few comparison shots, with a few more to follow later. First, the engineering quad:



Towards the stadium:


Towards Fondren and the Med Center:

Question: Can anyone tell me what if anything is the purpose of the octagonal structure on top of Mudd Lab (see 2023 image of the engineering quad)?

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“Dedicated to the Engineers of Tomorrow,” 2023

When I was poking around the new O’Connor Building, much to my happiness I discovered the benches I’d been worried about, one in memory of James Waters ’17 and the other dedicated to James Boyvey, placed back in their shady corner:

The friend who got me up to the roof of O’Connor (more on this later) asked me to take a look at something interesting that was sitting between FE&P and the north side of the building. It turned out to be the Tau Beta Pi bent, apparently ready to be returned to the engineering quad:

I believe it’s going to be placed right back where we last saw it:

Bonus: It’s a little surprising to me but I’ve gotten a significant number of new subscribers in the last year. For their sake I will present again the saga of this corner and the bent’s arrival in it: here, here, and here. I still smile when I think about how much time I wasted trying to figure this out.

Extra Bonus: Carnage as preparations for the demolition of Sid are underway. You can’t win them all.

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