Friday Follies: Let It Snow

I’m up in the Pacific Northwest right now visiting my beloved son-in-law’s family. We are dangerously close to the home of the my favorite hockey team, the Trail Smoke Eaters of the British Columbia Hockey League, and if it were summer I I would have made them drive me up there. Right now everything is snow covered and spectacularly beautiful:


It made me think of my very favorite snow scene at Rice, one that more accurately captures the experience than the photos we have of significant snowfalls. I don’t know who they are or what date is but I strongly suspect it was 1994:


We take what we can get.

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The Birds, circa late ’70s

Although sometimes I never get back to things I say I’m going to get back to, there is almost always a good reason for this. Usually the reason is that I can’t find anything else that sheds light on the matter. But I never forget the loose ends and try to wait patiently for answers to bubble up on their own.

Tuesday afternoon I accidentally found something that I’ve been hoping for for years:  original images of the bird invasion of the ’70s to early ’80s. They are negatives (hard to see without a light box!) and naturally they were in an unexpected but still logical place: a photo file filled with pictures of trees. Indeed, much of what you can see on the strips with a quick squint looks like this:


One evening around dusk someone went over to the space in front of Hamman Hall and took shots of the grackles moving in from what seems to be the northwest:






These are the first pictures of this we’ve ever found. It’s strange to me that something as big as the grackle infestation has left behind so little evidence but there you have it. Grackles are predictable, humans less so.




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The Boss

Every once in a while I come across a photograph that stands on its own. Here’s one I found yesterday while a patron was using the Oveta Culp Hobby Papers:


It’s hard to add anything except context. This was taken in April of 1953 at her first press conference as President Eisenhower’s new Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare.

Mrs. Hobby was a Rice trustee from 1967 to 1975. Here’s a link to the guide to her collection at the Woodson. Have a look at the biographical section. It’s pretty much what you would expect from someone who could project command like that.



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Martin Graham Shows Off the R1

I was looking in a photo folder this afternoon that was labeled “Summer School, 1964-68.” I’d never bothered with it before–it’s crammed full of contact sheets and negatives so it’s hard to work up the will to deal with it. But I had a moment and I was already poking around in the general vicinity so I just started idly flipping through a few of the sheets. As I did, something caught my eye: it was unmistakably the panels of the R1. Off I headed to the scanner and, thrillingly, this is what emerged:


There are several pictures on the sheet of Marty Graham showing a group of high school students around the computer room. We don’t have very many pictures of the R1 so this is just delightful. But what I’m curious about is that in most of the images the students aren’t looking at Graham:




So what are they looking at? Anybody? Also is there anything here to date the photos more specifically?

Bonus: I smell a trap.


Note: I’ll be traveling the rest of the week. I plan on posting as usual but circumstances may well veer out of my control. We’ll see.

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Music and Gall Wasps Under the Trees

I love this image of the Rice band rehearsing under the trees in 1938. I’m not certain about exactly where on campus they are (I suspect the photographer is pointed towards Main Street) but I’m confident that’s Kit Reid leading them:


See how this works? Two weeks ago I’d never heard of Kit Reid, then I talked with a gentleman in the eyeglass shop, and now I can recognize Kit Reid when I see him in an 80-year-old photograph. If I can keep this up for a while longer eventually I’ll get somewhere.

As I was walking on campus this morning I came upon an arresting sight–a small band of people under a different group of trees. They were wandering around among the oaks along the back of Herring Hall, all focused intently on something up in the trees:


They turn out to be biologist Scott Egan and his crew studying speciation in gall wasps and this is what they were looking for:


Bonus: The cold snap got a bunch of stuff in the garden by the South Servery but there are now heads on these plants, which I think are called romanesco or something like that. Weird, psychedelic spirals within spirals:



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Friday Follies: Fringe Movement

Absolutely gorgeous.


I was so interested in the fringe it took me a long time to notice the motorcycle.

It’s undated, by the way, so help you can.

Bonus: I have several loyal readers who get to campus much earlier than I do. This came from one of them. (Many thanks!) It’s the crane they’re using to build the new parking garage behind Allen Center.


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The Oil Bowl, 1946-47 plus I Get Stuck

I found this the other day and my first reaction was that it was taken in Austin. Then I understood what it was: a very rare shot taken looking west inside the old Rice stadium after it had been expanded in the late ’30s. I can’t remember ever seeing one before. The houses off to the right are Southgate:


For comparison here’s a 1949 aerial that I found in Herbert Allen’s papers. That’s clearly the same place.


Note the work had begun on filling in Harris Gully but the little footbridge is still there. That’s how I know it’s 1949.

The picture was labeled semi-helpfully: “Oil Bowl circa 1947.” Rice hosted this bowl game twice. In 1946, Georgia beat Tulsa 20-6 and in 1947 Georgia Tech defeated St. Mary’s 41-19. Click here for an interesting article about defunct bowl games that includes a discussion of the short-lived Oil Bowl.

Correction: An alert reader points out regarding yesterday’s Swivel Hip Six that there was no Baker College in 1952. He is obviously correct. The Rice History Corner regrets, but is not particularly surprised by, the error.

Bonus: I had a very busy day today and covered a lot of ground. The highlight was a detour over at Abercrombie where I found myself trapped in a place I’d never been before. Here’s the door that sucked me in, an innocent looking door that I hadn’t realized existed until this afternoon:


Of course (of course!) when I went to go back in it wouldn’t open. And you see that fence? It goes all the way around. Naturally there’s a gate on the other side:


My companion, who is blameless in this episode, got us out by banging on a window:


I have rarely experienced such delight. I still can’t quite wipe the smile off my face.

A fresh angle:


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