Friday Follies: Going My Way?, 1940s

I think they were V-12 guys.

I’d pick them up.




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Camille Waggaman Brown ’17: A Flair for the Dramatic

Adele and Camille Waggaman were among the earliest women students at Rice. Adele graduated in the first class in 1916 and Camille followed a year later. There are pictures of both girls all over the scrapbooks of that era. Spirited young women, they were very active socially and we have glimpses of them playing tennis, going on trips to Sylvan Beach and, of course, at those strange “Kid Parties.” (There’s not a shred of evidence of them studying but they must have or they’d never have managed to graduate.) Here’s Adele at the far right:

kid party

As I looked through another student’s scrapbook I was captivated by this image of Camille. She definitely had a flair for the dramatic:


That door, by the way, comes out of the north end of the second floor of what was then the Administration Building. At the time this was set up as the girl’s lounge. Also, just to be clear, she’s buried in the Hollywood Cemetery up in the Heights not in Hollywood, California.

We have the Camille Waggaman/Waggaman Family papers in the Woodson, which include quite bit about her radio program, which was called “Around the Town with Camille Brown.” The show ran for 31 years in Montgomery, Alabama. Her whole story is fun and wildly improbable and the family records are frankly some of the most interesting I’ve encountered. The collection description from the Woodson suggests something of how colorful the family was:

Camille Waggaman was born in Houston, Texas in 1895 and was the youngest of five children. Along with her sister, Adele, she attended and was one of the first graduates of Rice Institute (est. 1912) in 1917. Two years after completing her education, she married Major Roy Stuart Brown of the U.S. Army Air Force who immediately took her off to the Phillippines where he had been posted on a two-year tour of duty. Camille was content to follow the major on his military wanderings until his retirement at the height of the depression (1932) forced her to seek additional income in the work-a-day world.

She reported the news for the Alabama Journal for a brief time until she successfully competed for a job as the hostess of a local radio talk show. “Around the Town with Camille Brown” became the longest running sponsored program of its day lasting exactly thirty-one years. By virtue of her radio popularity and active social life, she was regarded as among the most respected citizens of Montgomery.

That same respect was accorded her in Houston, where her family had been long time residents. Originating in Louisiana of French-Canadian and Spanish stock, the Waggamans were wealthy plantation owners. The family home, Avondale, was built in 1840, thirty years after Camille’s great great-grandfather had arrived in New Orleans. Her great-grandfather came to Texas with the army. He was decorated for gallantry and meritorious conduct at the battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma in 1846 and retired from active service in 1861. Camille Brown died in 1974.


The Camille Waggaman/Waggaman Family Collection consists largely of photographs and newspaper articles but also includes some personal correspondence and memorabilia. The bulk of the material regards Camille Waggaman and focuses upon her radio career (1932-1963) and upon the years after her retirement.

The collection also includes a number of family photographs and portrait reproductions dating from the seventeenth century. Regional or local historians may find these of interest since the Waggamans were among the most prominent plantation families of Louisiana.

One of the photographs in this collection I’ve kept on my laptop where I can peek at it whenever I need a boost. This is Camille sometime later—I wouldn’t dare hazard a guess at her age—and all I can say is that in my dreams this is what I’ll look like when I grow up:




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In Uniform, 1952

I found these two images in Dean Hill’s scrapbook, both taken at parades in downtown Houston by someone who liked to station themselves in front of Foley’s:



I am forced to admit here that I don’t understand the uniforms–why one and not the other? I’m too embarrassed to guess that they’re warm and cold season. Don’t laugh–I’m trying to educate myself here! Any assistance is appreciated.




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Isaac Dvoretzky, ’48, ’50, ’52


I am the Centennial Historian of Rice University. This means, among other things, that every day when I go to work I am surrounded by people who are smarter than I am. Isaac Dvoretzky was also smarter than I am, in fact dramatically so, but his intelligence was of an unusual kind. He was a brilliant student, an accomplished chemist and so on, but the combination of his lived experience and his lifelong intimacy with the Torah gave him something beyond the grasp of most of us. His intelligence was sharp indeed but it was tempered by a deep warmth of human understanding and a generosity of spirit that made every hour spent with him a gift. He was a teacher and a learner, honest in his inquiry into the past and always hopeful for better things to come.


Isaac Dvoretzky was incandescent. He gave off light. What a privilege to have known him.

Bonus: Here is a link to a lovely obituary. And wanting to hear his voice again I went and found his remarks on the occasion of his acceptance of the ARA Meritorious Service Award in 2003:



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“Here’s to the college whose colors we wear,” circa 1916

There’s been a lot of thrashing around over the years about Rice songs, both the fight song and the alma mater. The search for the perfect thing hasn’t been constant but it certainly has been recurrent.

Yesterday I ran across this early attempt in the scrapbook that was kept by Albert Tomfohrde ’17. I suspect he didn’t write it–he was more of a football player than a musician–but he carefully tucked it away for me to find:


I kind of like the lyrics, which are pretty standard for the era, and I’m especially interested that whoever wrote them put gray before blue, an inversion of how we usually say it now.

I had time to do a little bit of digging and discovered this Thresher article from the same time period bemoaning the lack of a signature song and proposing a couple of choices.

Is it too late to switch to “We Stole A Goat”?? Because we absolutely should do that. (I can’t be sure but the tune was probably “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.”)


Bonus: It was dreary today, grey and wet, and I had a funeral for a friend. But I couldn’t help smiling at the throngs of bright umbrellas headed every which way between classes. It would have looked cool from above.


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Friday Follies: Xerox

Came through my procedure just fine but the anesthesia left me feeling like a fuzzy copy for a while:


Bonus: It’s been a tough year for kites on campus.


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Disorientation, circa 1950

Sometimes just for sport I’ll tag along behind one of the groups being led around campus by our charming student tour guides. I have heard some pretty dubious assertions during these jaunts but never anything as wild or as funny as some of this material from a circa 1950 tour script:




One hardly knows where to begin–the thing really is a hot mess–but I can’t decide which is funnier, Max Autry (made up from whole cloth!) or death by bananas.

Note: I’m having some minor surgery tomorrow so I’ll be out at least one day, maybe two.

Bonus: Gate 2, closed for business.


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