The Opening Procession, Part III: the guy on the manhole cover

Remember in the first picture I put up there was a guy standing alone, directly athwart a manhole cover:

He looks kind of serene, doesn't he, even amid all the hubub?

His name was Thomas Frank Gailor, and he was quite an interesting fellow. In 1912 he was both the Episcopal Bishop of Tennessee and the Chancellor of the University of the South in Sewanee, positions he held until his death in 1935. Here’s a brief bio that only hints at the deeply interesting life he must have led. I was especially intrigued that a Mississippi boy would have attended Racine College in Wisconsin in the 1870s. It was, of course, an Episcopalian school–here’s a fascinating short history, written by one of its early faculty members. Have a look at the course listings. On the one hand, the classical curriculum is exactly what an educated man would have been expected to know in this era, but the existence of a separate science curriculum alongside it is unusual at this early date. I have no idea how Lovett knew Gailor, but I will find out.

His talk at the Opening was on the topic of “The Church and Education,” and it was published as part of the first volume of the Rice Institute Pamphlet. (Link was broken before–it’s fixed now.It’s well worth a read and it’s a good place to start thinking about what it actually meant in 1912 to say that the Rice Institute was secular. It sure didn’t mean then what it does now.

Bonus: Campus manhole construction in the spring of 1912!

And just for fun, think about going over and checking out my friend Patrick Kurp’s blog, Anecdotal Evidence.  I can’t recommend it enough–it’s the first place I go every morning and it’s where I have finally begun to learn the things about books that I was too callow to grasp when I was in school. Here’s a nice post  (I’m in it!) with a lovely poem about manhole covers.

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6 Responses to The Opening Procession, Part III: the guy on the manhole cover

  1. Jerry Outlaw says:

    Just what does it mean to say now that Rice is “secular”? With a very large religion dept., lots of support for every kind of religious group, and no noticeable recognition of non-religious students, just what is going on? Am I missing something about the function of religion in primarily science oriented institution? As far as I am concerned, anyone who graduates from Rice and has not learned enough to have become an atheist, if they weren’t already, has been failed by the university. Feel free to “enlighten” me as you wish.

    Jerry Outlaw, ’68

  2. Melissa Kean says:

    I’m just trying to point out that the way the institution has talked about religion has changed over time and has been much more complicated than we might think based on the simple charter requirement that it be “secular.” I haven’t taken any position at all on what the relationship ought to be in the present. I’m frankly more interested in the past.

  3. Wendy Kilpatrick Laubach ('78) says:

    Somehow I got an email invitation to come to this site. If it was some kind of automated mail-out to all alumni who’ve registered their email addresses, I’m very grateful! I enjoyed reading this tremendously and will forward the link to my sister and my alumni friends.

    • Melissa Kean says:

      I have no idea what that email was. This isn’t actually a “Rice” blog–it’s my own personal WordPress blog. I’m glad the Rice people like it enough to recommend it, though.

      And thanks for your comments–I love them.

  4. Francis Eugene "Gene" PRATT says:

    It looks to me like that manhole cover was NOT yet flush with the ground.
    He may have been standing on it in order to prevent people from tripping on it.

  5. Pingback: A Very Strange Picture of the Quad, 1921 | Rice History Corner

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