Hanszen 229, 1957

After I got over the shock of Kinsey’s sudden appearance yesterday I spent some time studying the interior dorm shots in Mr. Davidson’s slides. I conclude thus: He lived in South Hall when he arrived at Rice and stayed there until the Big Upset that inaugurated the college system in the spring of 1957. (Everyone was assigned a college and they all moved in March. I’m sure you all recall that it rained that week.) At this point he moved to the second floor of Hanszen. I have no idea how he felt about this but the physical facilities in Hanszen appear to have been a bit better.

Most of these slides are neatly labeled (thank you!) and this one says “South Hall 109, Self-Portrait, 1956”:

And these next ones are labeled “Hanszen 229, May 1957.” You can see some of the same stuff in both room–the chair, lamp, reddish little side table, possibly the desk, etc.

It’s still pretty spartan, though, especially the laundry facilities:

I’m uncertain about this scene, which is one of the few unlabeled ones. It seems to be another self-portrait and it looks like the same or a similar room but the layout and furniture are different. Anyone have any thoughts?

Bonus: Semester is over! I wonder if anyone has ever thought about just taking the hedges out altogether. It might liven the place up a little.


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Let Us Raise a Glass Tonight to Jim Kinsey

Every once in a while I see something so unexpected that I lose my breath. This afternoon I was scanning some more of the slides that were given to us by David Davidson ’57 ’58, enjoying his interesting eye and just generally cooking along smoothly. I noticed that there were some images of the inside of dorm rooms, something I’m always looking for, but it was too hard to make out exactly what they were without blowing them up. So I did.

And I suddenly saw–out of the blue–a dear friend, fooling around in the middle of a first floor hallway in South Hall in the autumn of 1954:

I’d love to know who wound up inside the barrels.

If you ever knew him there could be no mistaking that the young man in the glasses is Jim Kinsey ’56 ’59, who later became Rice’s Dean of Natural Sciences. In the fall of 1954 he lived in South Hall 113. David Davidson lived in 109. I wrote about Jim after his death almost exactly four years ago in this post and I still deeply lament his passing. So today, on this day, I am filled with gratitude to have him returned to me if even for a moment.

Bonus: I have several reader who routinely get to campus much earlier than I do. From two of them I received these images of a golden (if a bit damp) Rice morning.

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1967 Revisions–Rice University Student Handbook

We have copies of all the student handbooks in the Woodson but as whoever wrote this list noted, the changes from year to year tend to be quite small. Thus, if you need to know when something changed trying to figure it out can be quite tedious. (Most of these handbooks–there are a couple notable exceptions–are pretty bland.) So I was delighted to come across this document detailing the changes between 1966 and 1967, which was one of the most critical years in the transformation of student culture not only at Rice but across the entire country. Have a look:

We have the disbanding of a literary society and The Bird magazine, a new band director, the institution of a more liberal dress code for women (a precursor to the total abandonment of all restrictions on student dress), stereos in dorm rooms, alcohol in Jones, and the retirement of the great Jess Neely. Note also that Malcolm Lovett replaced George Brown as chairman of the board of trustees, although Brown remained on the board for another year as vice-chairman. Bigger changes were soon to come.

Bonus: Things are definitely winding down on campus this week as Christmas break approaches. The architects already have their stockings hung.

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Friday Follies: “Some Owlfit”

Taken on January 17, 1926. Don’t they look great? And not one but two dogs!

If you zoom in you can see that the writing on the side of the car says “Censored.”

Bonus: This was extremely tempting but I was in a dress so I skipped it this time. Pretty weak, I know.


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Rice Boys at a Rest Stop Somewhere in Texas, 1943

A while back I wrote about the the little notebook filled with carefully kept records of offenses against the Rules for Slimes that was donated to the Woodson by Ed Jennings ’48 ’49 and his family. They have since shared with me more wonderful things including a copy of this picture of six Rice boys who all found themselves in the Army Air Corps meteorology program during World War II:

Left to right they are Ray Young ’48, Ed Stamm, Joe Crosthwait ’44, Bill Kieschnick ’47, Larry Chapman ’48, Ed Jennings ’48 ’49.

I believe that with the death of Larry Chapman ’48 just last week Mr. Jennings is the last survivor of this group. His recollections of the beginnings of his time in the military, including this trip, are captured in an email he sent to his family:

Thanks for this picture. It brings back happy memories of 1943.
In January of 1943, twelve of us were called up by the Army Air Corps after having volunteered in December 1942 to become an Aviation Cadet [$75/month], training in meteorology for nine months, then commissioned as 2nd Lt. on Nov. 29, 1943. All 12 of us were engineers or science majors at Rice and we had completed 2-1/2 years of our 4 year course at Rice. [This was the requirement to volunteer for “meteorology.” Other branches of the Army Air Force only required 2 yrs of college.] We were all told that we could stay at Rice until we graduated UNLESS the Air Force needed us sooner.

All 12 of us left Houston Union station around 9 PM on a non-stop troop train–but not knowing where we were going. We went thru Beaumont so we knew we were heading east. I remember looking out the window once and we were going thru Biloxi, MS. Then the next thing I remember we were told to get up and march where some officer led us. This was about 4 AM and we couldn’t see anything until we marched a while and then we saw a beautiful boulevard lined with tall palm trees and at the end of the Blvd. was a great big hotel-looking bldg. which was the beautiful Boca Raton Club which the Air Force had leased. All–every bit–of the furniture, decorations, etc. had been removed, but the Mess Hall was located in the former dining room that looked out over the water with great big glass windows. We all ate from our mess kits, served food cafeteria style, washed our own mess kits first in boiling soapy water, then in boiling rinse water with slopping out water and soap on the floor just like it was an army camp. Then we were given 4 sets of khaki uniforms,had a close haircut, and then assigned to quarters. About 10 of us were assigned to one servants quarters with bunk beds etc. Then we had 6 weeks of basic training–mostly on the white sands of the nearby beach. Then one day after training was over we were in formation–about 200 or so of us and the CO [commanding officer] announced that the following cadets should take one step forward. Then he read off about 90 names which included all 12 of us from Rice. The others were dismissed. We were told to pack up all our gear in our duffel bag and be ready to leave for the railroad station. Once again we didn’t know where we were going because there was 5 or 6 places were weather officers were trained. Chanute Field in Kansas was the least desirable, but U of Chicago, Cal Tech, UCLA, and some others I can’t remember.

Well, the train pulled out and started North from Boca Raton and then turned west thru New Orleans and on to San Antonio. Then we had a rest stop in the middle of Texas where this picture was taken. Then on to Los Angeles, bused out to Wilshire Blvd and unloaded at three different apartment complexes. From there we marched to a central mess hall for meals and then to UCLA for courses and exercises every day, along with raising the US flag in the morning and taking it down in the evening, all in formation and standing “At Attention”. 

The next nine months were great because Los Angeles was very hospitable to all service personnel. We all were so lucky to have been selected to go to UCLA because every week-end we were free to go to the Hollywood Canteen staffed with many movie stars. or the Paladium which was a gigantic dance hall with famous bands playing–Tommy Dorsey, Peggy Lee, etc. Crosthwait loved to dance, and he always wanted to go to the Paladium. At the Hollywood and Vine intersection was the NBC studios. And I would frequently go there to hear Jack Benny, Phil Harris, etc do their broadcast shows. Earl Carrol”s nightclub was across the street–and that is where Colleen and I went on our honeymoon the night we won the “Turkey Roaster” Colleen was selected to be on the show “Meet the Misses” because she talked the longest of all the contestants without stopping. Then I answered the Prize Question; “how many college graduates were there that year?” Luckily I had heard the number on the radio as we were driving to Los Angels: 315, 000. So I won the turkey roaster. I think we have a record of that radio show somewhere. But I have got to stop because I could never finish this very lucky and happy period of my life.

I’m very grateful to Mr. Jennings and his family for allowing me to see this lovely glimpse into his life.

Bonus: I spent this morning downtown working in the archives at the Julia Ideson Library. By chance I came out just as the motorcade carrying President Bush’s casket came by. It was a powerful moment–there were so many people but no sound at all except the helicopter up above. I won’t forget it. Then as I walked back towards the library parking garage I saw the tree in front of City Hall.

And the menorah on the other side:


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George Bush Takes In A Game at Rice Stadium, no date

Well, I got home tonight and realized I left my laptop in the Woodson. This means a short post because I am far from adept with this newfangled iPad, but frankly my day was a bit of a circus so it’s probably all for the best anyway.

What I do have for you are two delightful pictures of George H.W. Bush at a Rice football game, the first a bold sartorial display with a happy Malcolm Gillis and the second with a bunch of kids outside the stadium.  From everything I’ve seen and heard these are characteristic of the  kindness and sense of fun he consistently brought with him to campus. As always, I’m grateful to Tommy LaVergne, who sent me these photos.

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New Views of Campus, 1953-58

Yesterday one of my beloved colleagues in the Woodson showed me something wonderful–several small boxes of slides taken by an alumnus during his student days in the 1950s. He recently sent them to Alumni Affairs and they in turn sent them on to us. They are beautiful, clever, adventurous images taken by someone who was thinking as he walked the grounds . . . and as he climbed up on top of things as well. His name is David Davidson ’58 and all I know about him so far is that he lives in San Antonio and he was a MechE. I am fixing to sit down and write him an effusive letter of thanks. I am so grateful.

There are a lot of these images and many of them are worthy of discussion here. I’ll start tonight with a few that hint at the delights to come. First the view from the Main Gate–is that asphalt?

The next one had to have been taken from the top of the brand new Biology Building. Note that there seem to be not one but two shacks behind the Physics Building. Note also that wonky lamp post by Anderson Hall, which I talked about way back in 2014.

And finally this beauty:

I nearly swooned when I realized what it is–the shadow of the Chemistry Building tower on the building that housed the Nuclear Research Lab (later called the Bonner Lab). It called to mind the photographs taken by Bud Morehead of shadows on buildings, but those can all still be seen if you happen to find yourself in the right place at the right time. This one is gone for good, except in this picture.

More to come.

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