All Traditions Are Invented

Traditions come and go, sometimes slowly and sometimes all at once. The abrupt beginning of the college system in 1957 uprooted decades of traditions that were based on class rivalries–the sophomores versus the freshmen in particular. Other traditions quickly sprang up in the wake of the change, but there’s one  tradition that seems to have appeared only relatively recently. I hear campus tour guides earnestly explaining that ancient Rice tradition has it that freshmen enter Rice through the sallyport and then may not go through it again until graduation at the risk of flunking out. Trying to pin down the origins of this has proven difficult.

It’s hard to see how it could have existed in early days. For many decades what is now Founder’s Court was one of the main student parking lots so they were coming in and out through the sallyport all the time. The sallyport was, in fact, a preferred and often crowded hangout, a hub for student government electioneering, the exchange of gossip, flirting, gambling, and other assorted tomfoolery. This activity was actually called “sallyporting.” There was no notion at all that if you walked out to your car your graduation was in danger.

I think it must date from after commencement moved from the front side of Lovett Hall to the back side in 1986, else wise it makes little sense.I can’t really figure it out, though, without help. Could I ask you please to chime in on when you were here and whether this was a tradition then? I’d really appreciate it!

Bonus: We really like to jump the gun around here. High spirits, I suppose.


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Technology, Obsolete and Not Obsolete

I ran across these two images last week. They were in the same envelope and I’m thinking it’s the same kid. They’re not dated but mid-1980s is my wild guess.

I’m not at all sure what was being demonstrated but what I learned is that some things change quickly and other things are more difficult to improve upon.

Bonus: This made me smile on my walk in this morning.

Who got married? Joe and Marla!

A bit further along, up turns this in the Ray Courtyard. Mazel tov!

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Friday Follies: Cheers!

From the groundbreaking for the new Wiess College: Dr. Bill Wilson, Wiess Masters John and Paula Hutchison.

We got an email yesterday informing us that Hutch is stepping down as Dean of Undergraduates this summer after seven (7!) years of service. A brave fellow, he did well in a very difficult job and deserves another drink.

Bonus: Party poopers.

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Rice v. A&M, November 16, 1957

Over the last week or so several people have pointed out to me that today is the 60th anniversary of one of Rice’s greatest football victories, the 1957 win over Texas A&M. I first wrote about this game way back in 2012 when I chronicled the entire 1957 season. (That post includes, by the way, a link to a wonderful firsthand account of the game and the experience written by Jim Greenwood ’58. Go take a look.)

I wasn’t sure there was more to be said about this but then I went and looked through the old newspaper accounts. A piece published the day before the game makes clear how important it was for both schools:


What really astonished me, though, was one of the stories from the day after the game. The mind reels:

Bonus: Does anyone know what these little pins were for? There are several, all with the initials TPC.

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Aerial with Med Center, no date

Look at this beauty that I recently came across. So many places to park!

It’s undated but a quick look suggests early 1970s–any thoughts? I’m also curious about what’s going on to the west of old Weiss–surely those straight lines can’t be hedges?

And just for fun here’s a similar angle taken sometime during the 1930s:

Bonus: I was startled by this when I ventured out of the library this afternoon. I believe it’s art.

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ktru dj manual, 1979

If you’ve been keeping up you know that my awesome colleague Norie Guthrie recently digitized several boxes worth of old ktru tapes, which can now be listened to here.

A couple of weeks ago I finally had a chance to look at the other boxes in that collection, the ones full of papers. There is, to be honest, some crazy stuff in there.

My favorite file is one a colleague labeled “Internal Staff Banter,” none of which is suitable for a family-oriented history blog. What I can show you, though, is this, which also manages to convey quite clearly something of the culture of the station in that era:

There’s a lot in these files to suggest that ktru and its staff were a bit of a thorn in the side of the administration, perhaps accounting for a certain sense of happy embattlement:

I have rarely enjoyed a collection more or laughed so often while going through one.

Bonus: Excuse me, what month are we in again?? (Thanks to two loyal readers!)

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“Marriage, that dream within a dream,” 1932

I happened upon an unusual document this afternoon while I was unsuccessfully trying to figure out how to locate something else. It arrived on campus in 1988, in the provost’s office oddly enough. (That would have been Neal Lane.) It’s signed “Bill,” which I left off the scan in my hurry. I also apologize for the crooked pages. It was a rough afternoon. The typos are all Bill’s fault, though.

 It doesn’t take any special skill to identify the love struck author–it was William Grosvenor Pollard ’34, ’35, who went on to found the Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies, an organization that would be important in the history of our own Physics Department, and to be ordained an Episcopal priest. There’s a fascinating short biography of him at the Oak Ridge website. And here’s a picture of him receiving his medal from President Pitzer at the Rice semi-centennial:

(That’s Bill Akers holding the medal and the guy peeking out from behind Pitzer’s robe is unmistakably Ron Sass.)

Bonus: Here’s a very surprised John “Grungy” Gladu, MOB veteran of roughly 45 years, learning that 200 of his closest friends had raised enough money to name the new band hall in his honor. Without question this was the most joyous event I’ve ever been involved in during all my years at Rice. It was that rarest and most precious thing–a win for the good guys.

Extra Bonus: Meanwhile, they decided to tear down what’s left of Gate 3. A colleague sends this picture as I didn’t have the heart to go over there myself.


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