Transportation Czar

We’re still in the process of moving things around in the Woodson and it’s getting to be a little disconcerting–I keep walking to the shelf where something ought to be, but it isn’t there anymore. This is startling, but it’s also a tremendous goad to learning. It means that I’m forced to see things I don’t ordinarily see.

Today one of those things was the collection from the office of Hugh Scott Cameron, a faculty member in Mechanical Engineering and in the late 1940s Dean of Students. One of the files immediately caught my eye: “Houston Inauguration, 1947.” There’s no way of telling what such a file might hold, but I certainly was not expecting what I found.

Here’s the first thing, a simple and straightforward information sheet for the delegates who would be coming to Rice for the inaugural ceremonies:

Note this, though–at the bottom it says “Delegates will be met at the train and taken to accommodations reserved for them.” There’s a whole world in that short sentence. It was Cameron who was responsible for getting about 80 out-of-town visitors from the train station to their hotels, and a tangled mess it was. First Cameron had to secure enough cars. These were rounded up on loan from Houston businesses. Some of the cars came with chauffeurs; others seem to have been driven by graduate students. And then there were the visitors, more than one prima donna among them, all with complicated travel schedules and special needs. Here’s one version of the schedule just for picking up the cars from their owners–not the last but close to it:

In the end it all seems to have gone off without a hitch. There’s no record of any complaint and President Houston sent a gracious note of appreciation:

Otherwise this all went completely unnoticed, just as it should have. I only wonder who was left in charge of getting the hotel rooms.

I looked for a photo of Dean Cameron and could not find one anywhere. I find this quite sad. Here’s the best one I could come up with from the Campanile:

Bonus: Here’s a map he drew of the route from the Rice Hotel to the Rice campus. Notice the “sunken garden”!

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Transportation Czar

  1. C Kelly says:



  2. I can think of several places around campus that would have qualified as a “sunken garden”. Maybe even a “submerged garden”.

  3. Leoguy says:

    I like the hand-drawn map. Very architectural in line and lettering. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Barney L. McCoy says:

    The more things change, the more they stay the same. In 1968 I worked on the staff of the Humphrey-Muskie campaign, in a group loosely called “logistics”. About a week before election day, we bussed in people for a rally that filled the Astrodome.One of the local advance men had the task of lining up limousines with chaffeurs for the celibrities( Sen. and Muriel Humphrey, Sen. and Mrs. Muskie, Gov. Connally and Nellie, Sen and Mrs. Yarborough, Frank Sinatra , Nancy Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr and many others) Guess who supplied many of them. Virtually the same entities a generation removed (no corporate cars, but the limos of the high and powerful were OK). Some of his instructions were interesting. Connally and Yarborough could not be in the same vehicle. Yarborough would not ride in a limo or a red car.Sinatra,s limo had to have a bar. Barney L. McCoy Hanszen

  5. Frank Smith says:


    I was one of the “graduate students” who drove a car. My father was one of the delegates.
    I have a copy of the 107-page book, in case you don’t. It includes speeches by people you have often mentioned, such as Carl Knapp and Jesse Jones.

    The Sunken Garden is now the site of the Mecom Fountain.

    Happy Valentine’s Day, and keep in touch.

    Frank Smith

  6. One wonders about the unfortunately named “Miss Daft” in the car pickup list. Whether her position was that of secretary, administrative assistant, or even merely traveling companion, her name would seem to be a handicap… 😉

    • Mike Ross says:

      The 1950 U.S. Census includes a Houston resident, Mary L. Daft, who was a 40-year-old widow and a secretary in the pipeline industry.

  7. Pingback: Bonfire, Part I | Rice History Corner

Leave a Reply