Next Week in Rice History, 1952

I have a class tonight so I’m rushing a bit here. Sorry! I meant to put up a post entitled “This Week in Rice History, 1952” but if I may be frank for a moment the week closest to this one in 1952 was pretty dull so I just moved on to the next. Luckily, it was much better. Click it to enlarge, click twice if you have bad eyes:

I was charmed by the idea that the new gymnasium was reserved for faculty and their wives from 7:00 to 9:00 on Monday evening. This was on the schedule every week for the entire 1951-52 school year. I guess it was something like Adult Swim. The events include two other things of note: the annual Archi-arts pageant and a rehearsal for the faculty’s Gilbert and Sullivan show, if you can imagine. This would have been either the first or the second year they put one together. These were pretty elaborate affairs and we have some wonderful archival materials on them. I’ll write a post about this soon. In the meantime, because I couldn’t find anything in the files, here’s the 1952 yearbook page on Archi-arts. The quality of the image is bad, but it’s weirdness makes up for it, I think:

Bonus: As I was looking through the 1952 Campanile I noticed a photograph of that year’s Thresher staff. One of these crack reporters is taking my Glasscock School class.

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17 Responses to Next Week in Rice History, 1952

  1. Francis Eugene "Gene" PRATT, Institute Class of '56 says:

    The tall fellow standing was J. Fred Duckett, the voice of many sports teams in Houston.
    I think he did the Rice basketball games as a student, and possibly some or all of the Houston Oilers, The Houston Astros, and the Houston Rockets, in post graduation years.

    Ask John Wolda, he’ll remember which ones he did.

    • Grungy says:

      It was always a “beautiful day for outdoor football” for J. Fred.

      My curiosity is piqued – where did the Thresher staff work before there was an RMC?

      • Francis Eugene "Gene" PRATT, Institute Class of '56 says:

        The basement of Fondren Library had a grill, “The Roost”, as I recall, seating perhaps 20 people. It was in the corner towards town and main street
        And there was a larger open room (the “Lounge” perhaps) with tables and chairs — continual bridge games for in between classes. A few sofas for sacking out; woe to the good looking girl who fell asleep thereon as her picture might become campus grafitti.

        I think there may have been a TV there, for I seem to remember the Joe McCarthy Senate hearings being avidly watched there.

        The favorite entrance to the basement was from an outside stairway, which is STILL outside on the side nearest the men’s dorms. At the far end of the “Lounge” was a stairway up to the first floor of Fondren and the elevator also, I think.
        Off of that far end of the room (toward the front of Fondren), were the offices of the “Thresher”, as I recall, and crowded they were, with about 2-3 rooms in “shotgun” architectural design.
        [All from Pratt memory, which is suspect, and that’s putting it mildlly.]

      • Grungy says:

        Gene – there’s no place to reply below your reply, so I’ll write here.
        A “grill”?
        At first, I envisioned an expanded metal grate, but there’s a possibility that you mean a place where food was prepared.
        Would you elaborate, please?

    • John Wolda '56 says:

      J. Fred was the announcer for the Astros where he coined “Jose CRuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuz” and for the Owls ” Jose Cruuuuuuuuuuuuuuz Jr.” He was a discus thrower and was an excellent writer for The Thresher.

  2. The Skating party at Gateway Roller Rink caught my eye. The Gateway Roller Rink was gone by the early 60’s, replaced by Gateway Indoor Pool, where swim lessons were given, and where Phil Hansel’s Swimming Academy gave lessons. (That is where I learned to swim, we occasionally practised at the Shamrock HIlton as well.) The indoor pool was Olympic size, and apparently the outside pool (Crystal Pool) was bigger. The outdoor pool was built after the skating rink, and was closed either because the owner refused to integrate, or because of a crack in the pool. For those of you my age or older, it was behind Bert Wheeler’s liquor store on Main, just north of OST. Such memories you have brought back. After the Gateway Roller Rink shut down, it seems most people started going to the Bellair Roller Rink.

  3. Francis Eugene "Gene" PRATT, Institute Class of '56 says:

    OST & Main.
    Dateline: 1952 – 1956
    Stuart’s & Prince’s Drive Ins — which ones were on the roller skates?
    Bert Wheeler’s Boozery, Lott’s Grill, Gateway Rink, Pony Rides close-by.
    The best seafood restaurant in Houston for too brief a time, because of the bad location for a restaurant.
    (But I can’t remember what happened yesterday!)

    • Pony rides are still there. Prince’s Drive In I remember, seems like they were on skates. Which are you calling the best sea food restaurant in Houston?

      Down the road was really the worst place for restaurants. In between Main and Fannin, it has been Jaime’s, Scotsman Bujrger, Marini’s House of Empanados, (?) Dos Gringos and many others.

      • Francis Eugene "Gene" PRATT, Institute Class of '56 says:

        Also, the “Red Lion”, perhaps Houston’s first “British” pub, run by George (I forget) who was the father in law of Rusty (I forget), the present proprietor of “McGonigal’s Mucky Duck”.
        Also the “Stables”. And “Jaime’s” (?), the high class hamburger restaurant.
        And the restaurant of MY Favorite Bartender of ALL TIME, George Randolph, of the Class of 1956-57. Ol’ George was part of the spirit of Kay’s Lounge during my day. That’s where I learned to eat enchiladas; I already knew how to drink cerveza.

      • Francis Eugene "Gene" PRATT, Institute Class of '56 says:

        Sorry, I’ve forgotten the name of that seafood restaurant.
        It may have lasted about a year. I’d ask my wife, but she’s asleep — can’t understand these people that sleep before midnight!
        I may have thought it to be “the best” because my wife and I found it, then it disappeared like “Brigadoon”, and we never knew anyone else who ate there.

        The “Roost” grill was a partitioned off room, the dividing wall half glass, with one entrance as I remember. There was a curvi-linear counter, with an open end for the ‘waiter’ to pass through. Seating was at the counter and at several booths. I only remember one ‘waiter’ in my 4 years at Rice; he was Negro and his name may have been Marvin.
        I can’t recall how the food was prepared, or anything about the menu. I don’t remember how we paid.

        • Sandy Havens says:

          I remember three waiters. Marvin and twin brothers whose names I don’t remember. There must have been a grill cook.

  4. Barney L. McCoy says:

    J. Fred, as he was affectionately known to the track team in the mid 60s, also announced football and track at Rice. Barney L. McCoy, Hanszen 67

  5. Daniel Mittleman says:

    I notice that the physics colloquium for that week was given by C. G. Shull from Oak Ridge. You might be interested to learn that he went on to win the Nobel Prize in physics (in 1994) for the work that was the subject of his talk.

  6. Francis Eugene "Gene" PRATT, Institute Class of '56 says:

    The following is a discussion of the Roost – Lounge of 1952-56, as held on THE RICE INSTITUTE CLASS of 1956 webpage.

    PRATT in [Brackets]

    Between the Roost and the Thresher space was the co- operative store, where we bought books and slide rules and such.

    [I had totally forgotten about the co-op and still am hazy on it.=gp]

    There was indeed a console B&W TV in the back corner, outside the Roost – I recall watching Don Larson’s perfect game during the 1956 World Serious

    [That must have been your 5th year, as I watched that game in the Physiology Department at Baylor Col. of Medicine, my first year there.]

    and following the news concerning the Suez Crisis later that year. I have no earlier memories of it – perhaps that TV wasn’t there until our senior year?

    [When were the Joe McCarthy hearings? That’s when I remember it, with the large crowd of students sitting around watching.

    I believe the Roost is visible through the half-glass walls, pictured on p. 10 of the 1956 Campanile. That may be the TV in the shadows off to the right.]

    Wasn’t there also a juke box against the wall opposite the Roost?

    [I vaguely remember it.
    But Mel O’Briend ’56 drew it in his rendition of the lounge on p.70 of the 1956 Campanile.]

    The Lounge bridge games were, by decree, innocent, but we often kept score with matches, which we exchanged for currency later.

    My sense of the orientation is that the Roost was in the back, on the left, relative to one entering from the library. That would put it in the corner nearest North Hall, rather than toward town.

    [I think the “Roost” was in the farthest corner away from the Chemistry building and under the front of Fondren Library. Across from and facing the Roost were 2 doors leading into a large room where Blue Book tests were sometimes conducted.
    Also where rehearsals for the “1956 Rice Follies” were held. I remember how you guys used to come in and lustily watch Sue Brugier practice her modern dance number. (Crutchfield and I seldom watched as we were busy with technical matters.)]

    • Francis Eugene "Gene" PRATT, Institute Class of '56 says:

      Mel O’Brien ’56-57, architect and bon vivant.
      Illustrator of the 1956 Rice Campanile.
      A highschool classmate of mine from Memphis, Tennessee, where the cotton bloomed and blowed.

  7. Steve Lukingbeal, Hanszen 76 says:

    Are you sure the tall fellow in a suit with glasses in the Thresher staff photo is J. Fred? Looks too young. I believe he’s Clark Kent, mild mannered reporter for a large metropolitan daily newspaper……J. Fred also did basketball games.

    • Sandy Havens says:

      J. Fred also used to delight in publishing digs at Rice Players whom he referred to as “half-aesthetes.”

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