A Peek Through the Trees at Main Street, Early 1950s

We’ve recently had some lads in the Woodson digging around in old track photographs. This has, of course, given me an opportunity to do the same thing. It’s been something of a revelation as I’ve been able to get a better look at the old field house that faced out on Main Street until 1950. Today’s picture, though, is interesting precisely because the field house is gone and we can get a smidgen of a peek out onto the street:

Runner with Ye Old College Inn mid 50s016

I do not know who the runner is.

The first thing to catch my eye was Ye Old College Inn, visible through the trees and the chain link fence (!). That temporary looking fence has me wondering a bit, as does the clear outline of the old building, whether this was taken relatively soon after demolition. The other thing I notice is the scaffolding on the corner of Methodist Hospital. If I recall correctly, that building opened sometime in 1951. Also of interest is the smaller building at right, which seems to be roughly where the BRC is today. To me it has the general feel of a filling station but I really have no knowledge about this at all. As always, any thoughts are welcome.

Bonus: These guys were all taking turns posing with the bull and bear statues in front of the Jones School yesterday. It was a charming sight.


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Org Chart

There aren’t very many organizational charts floating around the archives. For decades the place was so small no one could have possibly needed one, then after it started to get complicated I guess no one wanted to write anything down. So I was instantly alert when I saw one in an old “Policies” folder. There’s a date on it but I would have known when it was made even if there weren’t:

1969 Org chart August 007

This was clearly made in the aftermath of the Masterson Crisis, when things were in a general state of confusion. It’s a clear statement by the Board of who is in charge of campus: Acting President historian Frank Vandiver and Chancellor Carey Croneis, the former Provost and founder of the Geology Department. What they replaced was very interesting. After President Pitzer resigned in the summer of 1968, Rice was managed by a committee of three faculty members. The head of this committee was Bill Gordon, then the Dean of Science and Engineering, and the others were Bill Topazio, Dean of Humanities, and Croneis. Gordon played a prominent role in the faculty rebellion against Masterson and so would not be allowed to continue. Cronies was a Masterson loyalist, as was Vandiver. I suspect Topazio just wanted out. And I don’t blame him.



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Pep, 1930’s Style

This is one of those nights when I have a lot I want to talk about but lack the energy to do it. Maybe we’ll have better luck tomorrow!

In the meantime, to keep us all in the right frame of mind I offer the 1929-30 yell leaders, whose names I do not know and can not find out, as all my Campaniles are in packing boxes. I love these guys! Just looking at them makes me feel that I’ll have things under control any day now:

pep 1930 glass 2   049

pep 1930 glass 1   048

Bonus: Also a sign of great things to come, I got business cards today!


Extra Bonus:


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Friday Follies: Side Show

I’ve had a long, hard week. How about a picture of some hairy guys wearing feed sacks to cheer us all up?!

SLLS sideshow nd   048

It’s not dated but it must be from a time when feed sacks were still readily obtainable in Houston.

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My Lunch with Bonnie Hellums

I had a great time at lunch today with Bonnie Hellums, who from 1969 until 1984 served Rice as Director of Student Activities, Head of Counseling, and Foreign Student Advisor–an awfully interesting portfolio:

Bonnie Hellums Wiess nd

I learned at least four highly relevant things over the course of a single lunch and I still have a lot of questions for her. I look forward to asking them, but she was able to answer my first one immediately. I’d been puzzling over whatever that is she’s got in her hand in this picture. Is it some kind of Aladdin lamp? A toy dragon? It turns out to be a coffee cup in the shape of a kangaroo. I don’t know how I could have missed it.

I also learned that she recently had a pocket park in Spring Branch named in her honor. Here’s the story, complete with a photo of her and Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle, ’83:

Hellums Park


Bonus: The sky opened up after lunch and I found shelter in the dark and quiet chapel, with this lovely view of the rain in the courtyard:


So do you think I stayed in that peaceful place and waited it out? Ha. No, I did not. Too antsy to sit still, I wound up out in the stadium lot with a half inch of water in my shoes and my handbag in a puddle, where I dropped it while fishing for my keys. The only thing lacking was an audience, as everyone else was inside. I’m still smiling.


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Katherine Tsanoff Brown, 1919-2016

I was very saddened to learn of the death last week of Katherine Tsanoff Brown. The daughter of Rice’s first philosophy professor, Radoslav Tsanoff, and his formidable wife Corrinne, Katherine was raised at the young Institute with the other faculty children almost as family. These were in many cases bonds that would last a lifetime. Here she is at Christmas time in 1930, posing with her sister and the daughters of Rice Dean Robert Caldwell at Grenoble:

Katherine Tsanoff 1930 Grenoble 001

She entered Rice as a student in the fall of 1934, only fifteen years old. She had a stellar career academically–she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in the fall of 1937–as well as socially as a member of the Elizabeth Baldwin Literary Society.

Katherine Brown Campanile photo 1938 006

She went on to earn an MFA from Cornell and returned to teach in the architecture school at Rice in 1963, later becoming the first art historian appointed to the new department of Art and Art History. Like her father she was an excellent teacher, honored with awards and with the gratitude of generations of students. Most touching to me are the records of her decade as Dean of Undergraduates, meticulously organized and deeply revealing about the state of student life in the difficult years of the 1970s. Brown was temperamentally almost perfectly suited for this role, calm and gentle but with exacting standards and respect for both the intellect and the emotions of the students. I’m not sure but this may have been her finest role here.

Katherine Brown was quiet and strong and almost impossibly elegant. She was a mediator. She was a scholar who remained committed to the primacy of undergraduate education. We were lucky to have her.

Bonus: She was a talented artist too. Here’s a little place card she made for her friend Ray Watkin, the daughter of architecture professor William Ward Watkin, for a luncheon on the occasion of Ray’s graduation from Rice in 1938. She’s gently teasing Ray here for her early ambition to join the diplomatic service.

Katherine Tsanoff place card for Ray graduation 1938 003

Extra Bonus: Here are Katherine and Ray at the President’s House for a dinner in November, 1999.

Katherine Brown Ray Strange February 200 dinner at Pres House for Dean of architecture Endowment 005

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Student Handbook, Fall 1958

This could hardly be more interesting:

Student Handbook fall 1958 1 049

Here’s what the campus looked like when the students arrived that fall:

Student Handbook fall 1958 45 053

Quite different from today, obviously, but what really struck me was something else. Here are the rules of student conduct:

Student Handbook fall 1958 4 052

And here’s the description of the Administration:

Student Handbook fall 1958 3051

In many ways this was an institution closer to the Rice of 1918 than that of today.




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