I’ve had quite a long day. I’m exhausted so I’ll explain it all later but there is one thing that can’t wait. I flatter myself that I’ve seen so much I can’t be surprised anymore but it isn’t true at all. Less than twenty-four hours after I wrote that I’d only ever seen one Semicentennial medal I have another one in my hand. This surprised me, greatly:
Lots more to come.
The Woodson recently received a wonderful gift from Professor Ben Thomson of Edinburgh. It came in this little box embossed with the name of his grandfather, who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1937:
Inside was something I’d never seen before, a Rice Semicentennial Medal of Honor. It was awarded in an evening ceremony in October, 1962 and it’s a real beauty:
I’m reasonably sure that Professor Thomson is second from the right (next to Riki Kobayashi ’44) in this photograph of the ceremony where the medals were presented. Someone carefully coded each picture of this event–this one is 15-4–but the key was lost long ago. That’s life in the archives.
Professor Thomson also delivered a short address during the week of festivities entitled “Fifty Years of Physics and Their Consequences.” I read it this afternoon and can attest that it is worth your time. Here’s a link to a pdf of that talk: Thomson talk
Bonus: The always helpful Tommy Lavergne cleaned up the picture of RMC construction from last Thursday. It’s a major improvement.
That’s all it says on the back of this one:
Possible material for the “I Go to Rice, I Must Be Smart” file.
I spent my whole day today working through several boxes of photographs from the Harper Leiper Collection at the HMRC. Harper Leiper was a prolific commercial photographer, active in Houston from the 1950s through the 1970s. They were hired by Rice frequently so I’ve been trying to stay alert for images of campus. I found some nifty ones this afternoon of an early phase of construction of the RMC, something we don’t really have much of in the Woodson.
This one was taken from the top of the not-yet-completed Anderson Biology. Look at all that mud!
And here’s how I can be so confident that Anderson Biology wasn’t yet finished. This was taken from what’s now the middle quad, just southwest of the Brochstein Pavilion:
This last one is my favorite–we have a clear view across campus and also a glimpse of the photographer:
These can all be found at MSS 0287 9148. Interestingly Harper Leiper wasn’t working for Rice on this job, but instead for Fischer Construction.
Bonus: I recently noticed that they’ve got cherubs down at the HMRC. I’m now suffering from cherub envy.
The RMC chapel was dedicated in 1959 and immediately began hosting all kinds of events, from religious services to art exhibits, lectures, and concerts. I recently came across this little program for something else–a faculty performance of John Milton’s Samson Agonistes–that brought home forcefully how much we have changed as a culture in a relatively short time. You can read Milton’s poem here if your attention span hasn’t been totally rotted away by the internet.
There’s actually a lot about Jones that’s mysterious from an historical perspective. We have very few materials from their early years so when something turns up it often needs explanation. Here’s one of those things, the inside cover of the undated (thanks a lot!) Jones College Handbook:
So what the heck is that thing in the foreground next to the sidewalk? Is it some kind of sculpture? Any information would be helpful. And if you have any Jones College stuff in your closet let me know.
Bonus: There’s much of interest in this handbook and I’ll get to that directly. But just for fun here’s a little snippet of life on campus before everything turned upside down.
Extra Bonus: I always seem to find myself in New York the weekend of the Puerto Rican Day Parade. The only thing more awe inspiring than the trash left behind was the spectacular cleanup effort by the sanitation crews.
I watched for a long time. My favorite thing was the NYPD Band, playing the heck out of Oye Como Va.
This picture is labeled “Sammy 1950” and it looks to me like that bird with those talons is inside someone’s dorm room. The mind reels.
Bonus: This is more my speed. I’ve noticed several of these guys around recently.
Also I’m going to be in New York for a few days and I need to not think about Rice while I’m there. I’ll be back here on Tuesday.