I Didn’t Think I Could Be Surprised Anymore

but I was wrong about that.

This turned up in a recently received box from the General Counsel’s office:

I like to think about someone in the office filling out the paperwork for this. We kept the brand for a long time and it didn’t change when our name changed from Institute to University. It’s not clear, though, that we ever actually owned any cattle. Still, good to be prepared I guess.


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Turkey Day, 1927: Rice v. Baylor

I’ve mentioned before that for many years beginning in 1919 Rice held its homecoming celebration on Thanksgiving day. I’ve written about some of these events using odds and ends and partial football programs that I came across in the ordinary course of business but earlier this year loyal reader Robert Taylor ’74 donated an absolutely splendid complete program from the 1927 game against what was then our traditional Thanksgiving opponent, Baylor. Here is the entire thing–every page is a magical wonderland–read it all, including the ads, for a delightful immersion into that vanished Rice. (This is a pdf so put your cursor over it and you can scroll through from the bottom.) This is a real gem. I learned a lot from it.

This was a real bad season, by the way, the last under John Heisman. We went 2-6-1 but managed to pull this one out, beating Baylor 19-12.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


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Exit, 2023

The renovation of the academic quad has begun and the statue of Mr. Rice has been removed and put in storage until it is placed near the corner of Lovett and Sewall when the installation of the new landscaping is complete:

It’s easy to forget that it wasn’t always there.



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“Ida’s One Heck of a Librarian,” 1964

In the comments to the last post someone asked about the boxes on the desk just to the left of the librarian. As I was careening through my laptop Saturday morning I came across this article, which I believe explains them:

The scanner I use in the Woodson was malfunctioning when I found this a while ago but I didn’t want to lose to the information so I just took a picture. Click on it twice and you should have no trouble reading it.

Bonus: The trees near Lovett Lot, looking towards Main Street.

Extra Bonus:


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Friday Follies: I Hope That’s Not Overdue, circa late ’60s

Because the late fees on those things are enormous!

The Woodson recently received a fabulous collection of negatives and contact sheets from 1968 to 1972, over 1200 images from the sublime to the ridiculous. I am deeply grateful to the donor and have plans to thoroughly enjoy this material. Miraculously, the sleeves of negatives are numbered, as are the contact sheets, and the numbers actually match. The images don’t seem to be in chronological order, though, at least not entirely, so that will be fun to figure out.

Bonus: Hi, guys!


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“Campos urge bike security,” 1981

The rash of bicycle thefts on campus in the late ’70s and early ’80s wasn’t funny at all but President Hackerman’s story is definitely entertaining. This article appeared in an issue of On Campus, a charming internal publication, from the spring of 1981. Note that even while Norman complied with the use of the new bike lock, he complained that it was “a real pain.” I can almost hear his voice.

This photo was taken in 1982 so the bike must be the shiny, three-speed Schwinn that Lillie recovered after the theft. I love the suit coat stuffed into the basket. I bet he was on his way to the squash courts.

Bonus: As the size of the student body continues to grow, traffic on the inner loop and the sidewalks has gotten pretty wild. It’s not so much the bikes (although they are an issue) but the scooters and–heaven help us–the skateboards that sow the most chaos. Growing pains!

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“Science and Engineering in Houston,” 1969

I spent a wonderful morning this week with Dieter Heymann, who taught in Rice’s Geology Department for many years. Oddly enough, he wasn’t a geologist but was recruited here by Alex Dessler, then chairman of the Space Science Department, to work on lunar samples. I’ll have more on all this later but first I want to let everyone see this fascinating newsletter that I found when I went to look at his file in the Woodson. It’s mind blowing. First, who even knew that the Chamber of Commerce had a Science Committee? But more importantly, you can clearly see here what a heady time this era was for Houston and for Rice specifically. The critical research that was going on here and the amount of money flowing in was unlike anything we’d ever experienced before.

Someone went through this issue and circled every mention of a Rice faculty member or student and there’s a circle on every page but one–or would be if they’d remembered to draw one around Bill Akers on the back page.

Here’s the whole thing:


Bonus: Cannady Hall going up. It’s hard to get a good look at it.

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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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