There were several other interesting photos in the packet that Mike Loeb (’63) brought in to the Woodson last week. (Again, click on them to enlarge, then again to zoom in.) They aren’t what you’d call spectacular, but they do show some things that you don’t normally see in professional pictures of the Kennedy speech. The one below might be my favorite. In it, you can see a whole section of the stadium filled up with bands. The Rice band is clearly visible front and center, but the others are high school bands. I hadn’t realized that most of the crowd that day was made up of schoolchildren from HISD schools–well over a hundred busloads of them. It’s not completely clear from the records we have, but again, this idea seems to have originated from the White House. I think every band got to play something. It must have been a zoo!
And then there’s this picture of the empty podium. It’s probably not possible to get an answer, but I can’t help but wonder where this came from and who built it. I bet it was the Rice carpenters.
Finally, today’s Bonus Picture. This is the “thank-you note” JFK wrote to Pitzer after the event. Apparently, the day of the speech was a bit warm.
I believe that same podium went on to serve for years as the default piece for both university and rental events in Hamman Hall; Rice Players members knew about the history, though I’m sure most visiting groups did not!
If it’s the same piece, I believe Rice finally loaned it on a long-term basis for exhibit at the Houston Space Center, sometime in the mid-nineties or so.