“In Memory Of,” 2022

While I was home sick with covid a thought occurred to me and kept rolling around in my mind, causing me a bit of worry. If you’ve stuck around here for a while you may remember I spent too much time trying to understand the history of the Tau Beta Pi bent and of this little spot where Abercrombie and Mech Lab met:

The thing that was bothering me was the two benches that sat there. Both have memorial plaques attached, which I wrote about here and here. Remembering and honoring our dead is the sort of thing I take very seriously and with the demolition of Abercrombie and the ongoing construction of its replacement I worried about what had become of them.

So when I was on campus this week I hurried over to have a look. The general area is, as one would expect, rather a mess, with the landscaping torn up. But the benches are still sitting there behind some construction fencing:

I trust someone is paying attention to this.

Now I’m wondering where the bent is.

Bonus: Abercrombie’s replacement. If it has a name I haven’t heard it.

Extra Bonus: Deep in the Heart!

Oh heck, as long as I’m over by Mech Lab here’s one more. The last functioning original water fountain is still functioning. Careful, though–you can see where the water shoots when you turn it on!

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A&M Train List, 1946

I was looking for something specific in the Woodson yesterday and, as usual, I didn’t locate even a wisp of what I needed. But, again as usual, I found some other interesting and surprising things. I was moderately interested by this sheet I came across in the Dean of Students file. I knew that there had been a pretty long tradition of Rice students going in groups by train to both UT and A&M games but I’d never thought about the logistics of these trips until I saw this:

When I turned the page, though, I found the thing I really love: people! And as I read the names on the list I was surprised and somehow oddly moved to recognize so many of them. A few that immediately jumped out at me were Jerry Dobleman, Hallie Beth Poindexter, Joe Reilly, Ed Jennings, Leonard Attwell, and Marjorie Bray but there are others that I recognize but don’t know well (at least not yet).

David and John Eisenlohr, below, were I believe the sons of Otto Eisenlohr ’21, whose letters from Rice to his girlfriend, later wife, in Dallas are in the Woodson.


We won that game, by the way, in the middle of a fantastic 9-2 season that ended with a victory over SEC co-champion Tennessee in the Orange Bowl. Rice finished that year ranked number ten, although we’d been as high as five earlier in the year.

Bonus: Yet another grandchild arrived this weekend, making five total so far. This is Grace and her mother, who looks too good to have just produced a child. The picture was taken by the anesthesiologist, the tips of whose shoes can be seen at the bottom of the image.

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Your Limits Are Seldom Where You Think They Are

This morning I went back to the gym for the first time since I got covid. The covid wasn’t really bad, just moderate head cold symptoms accompanied by serious fatigue. Still, I’m worn out from it and so I’m particularly glad I didn’t have to work out with any of this  equipment photographed somewhere deep inside the old gym.

First, this contraption was installed sometime in the mid-1960s. The models looks rather sheepish, don’t they, with one in stocking feet and another in dress pants and shoes. I don’t know who any of them are:

But as goofy as that one is, this next one is  . . .  well, I don’t really know where to begin. Speaking of dress pants and shoes (we won’t mention the tie) I’m pretty sure that’s Frank Bearden, then head of the physical education department, and his outfit ever so subtly suggests it was taken during the mid-1970s. I believe he’s demonstrating some type of squat machine:

There are easier ways to do this.

Bonus: A barbell and some plates should do the job.


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Josephine Abercrombie, 1926-2022

Josephine Abercrombie ’46 served Rice for a very long time. Even apart from her family’s gift that made Abercrombie Lab possible she remained throughout her life generous with both money and time. Among many other things she was a member of the search committee that brought George Rupp to Rice. Equally important, she spent many years as a key contributor on the board’s Buildings and Grounds Committee. I found this photo a while back, an 8×10 that must have been used in an article about the opening of Herring Hall. Here she is cutting the ribbon held by then-Dean Doug Tuggle:

But when I went to see if there might be something interesting on the contact sheet I was delighted to find this image,  which filled me with happiness and which, I think, beautifully captures her spirit:

I’ve got a bunch of stories I won’t tell here but I once went to visit her at her horse farm in Kentucky and she made me laugh so hard that at one point I was actually laying on the floor struggling to breathe. She was totally herself. Her life, her story, was a big one and she owned all of it, the bad stuff and the good stuff. She was incredibly fun to be with but you had to move fast to keep up.

Josephine Abercrombie, rest in peace.

Bonus: From the March 1954 issue of Town and Country here she is atop the Shamrock Hotel.


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You Always Hate to See Beer Go to Waste, 1959

This from the packet of photos sent in by Karl Benson ’63. I just had a positive covid test and when I looked at this I instantly identified with the young woman laid out on the bed. If I felt better and the library were open I’d go figure out which was Betty Sue and which was Nancy. Actually I could probably figure it out from things I have in my office at home but frankly I’d rather someone else tell me.

It looks like bottles of Busch, which first hit the market in 1956.

Bonus: See?

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Merry Christmas From the Tsanoff Family, no date

One of the small delights in the Tsanoff family papers was the discovery that at some point during her high school years Katherine began producing the family’s Christmas cards and continued doing so for many years. They’re all woodblock prints and this one, while in no way really traditional, is my favorite. I think it really captures the spirit of the thing.

Merry Christmas everyone!

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“Our world has changed much and yet very little since the angels sang over Bethlehem,” 1961

I’ve mentioned the Rice television show a couple of times before (here and here) and recently I ran across part of the script for the Christmas program in 1961. The only pieces in the folder were the introduction and the conclusion–note that they were to have been used with a teleprompter. I can’t be certain who read these words but it was most likely English professor Thad Marsh, who seems to have been the show’s host during most of the early years. For good or for ill it’s impossible to imagine this happening today:


The ending is equally interesting. I think there’s a file somewhere on that Iranian archaeological excavation somewhere in the Woodson but I’ll have to think on that a bit:

Bonus: The Rice Chorale had a very busy week. After the taping  the television show on Tuesday they performed at the annual Christmas in the Chapel program on Thursday. (I know nothing about the Chorale director, Harmon Ferguson, by the way. If you do, let me know.)


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Peace Through Superior Firepower, no date

This is one of the more interesting Christmas cards I’ve found in the archives– Seasons Greetings From the Lockheed Missiles Division! As far as I know the only Rice tie is that I came across it in the files of Alex Dessler, the founding chairman of the Space Science Department:

Bonus: Kraft Hall.

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Bluebonnet Bowl, 1961

Well, Covid has closed Fondren again, this time at least until January 3rd. What this means is that my Christmas posts will have to come from whatever odds and ends I’ve scanned and saved on my laptop over the years. I’ll do my best.

Update: Check the comments!

Up first, a Christmas tree in Rice Stadium at half time of the Bluebonnet Bowl on December 16, 1961:

There are a couple of interesting things about this game. First, it was the second bowl game Rice played in 1961 after losing in the Sugar Bowl in January to national champions Ole Miss. (We lost the Bluebonnet Bowl too, 33-7.) And second, it was the last bowl game for the Owls until 2006.


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Cocktail Hour, no date

It’s 5:00 and I’m about to have one even though I’ll never be as cool as architecture profs Andy Todd and Will Cannaday.

Bonus: I’ll also never be as cool as my little grandson, who just walked right up and joined the Christmas choir even though he can’t really talk much yet.

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