The Community House, Part III

In an unusual move, I actually went looking for something specific for this blog today. I’d been mulling over what I knew about the events that were held at the Community House and I was curious enough about it that I just couldn’t stop myself from doing a little bit of digging. (I don’t really have time for this right now! I’m trying to get a presentation put together on the early history of women athletes at Rice and I most definitely should have been spending my time on that.)

Well, there was a lot of interesting material to be found. From the day it opened the Community House was a huge hit with the students–they congregated there during the day, took meals, played cards and just generally fooled around. Almost immediately a series of dances was scheduled and they were extremely popular. Here’s the story about the April, 1920 dance that I found the ticket to in a scrapbook about a month ago:

The Rev. Masterson had in fact declared a moratorium on dancing for the duration of Lent. This was greeted with some dismay at the time, so it’s nice to see the students enjoyed themselves so much after Easter. (I suppose that was his point all along.) Note that Mrs. Eugene Blake served as one of the chaperones. This and other stories in the Thresher help solve what had been a small mystery for me. I have a picture (from somewhat later–I’m guessing the 1930s) of a woman outside Autry House, labeled only “Mrs. Blake.” Here she is:

She seems to have been a sort of House Mother and she may have come with the house, as it sounds like she served a similar role at Camp Logan.

Bonus: I’m sure you all remember that I’ve talked about a men’s fashion fad that swept Houston from about 1918 to roughly 1921 (and President Lovett’s resistance to it)–very high collars and a quite particular style of hat. The Thresher is always full of ads for snappy clothes and I saw quite a few for this kind of hat. The style doesn’t seem to have a specific name, at least not that I’ve come across.


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8 Responses to The Community House, Part III

  1. C Kelly says:

    I’ll bet Ed Nierken’s shop carried those haberdashery items.

  2. Melissa Kean says:

    Tell me more about this Ed Nierken.

  3. Frank Smith says:

    The hat is a fedora. They were still popular in the twenties, and I had at least one that I remember.
    Men all wore hats whenever they were outdoors.

    What relationship was the Rev. to Billy Masterson, whom you told us about recently?

    Frank Smith

  4. Frank Smith says:

    Wikipedia says the hat is also a Homburg, which is a type of fedora – so I was correct, but should have been more specific – Frank

  5. Barney L. McCoy says:

    Ed Nierken owned and operated University Men and Boys clothing store in the Village for a million years. That’s where I bought the first suit that I paid for with my own money. It was a silver grey “sharkskin” suit that was all the rage in the mid 60s. Ed would let Rice students pay 50% down and the balance over a few months (but not past the end of the semester). I continued to shop there until it went the way of so many Village places like Alfred’s, Rodney’s, Orange Julius, etc.

  6. marmer01 says:

    Ed Nirken’s University Men and Boy’s Shop was on the corner of University and Chaucer, I believe. Same shopping center as World Toy and Gift and the Village Theater, I think. It lasted until about 1985 or so. I went in there near the end, it looked like mostly polyester-y “old guy” casual wear, not upscale like Harold’s or Norton Ditto. I’m not sure I agree with Frank about the hats Melissa is describing. Yes, the hat pictured in the ad above is a traditional fedora or homburg, as any old MOBster knows, but the hats in the old pictures with President Lovett have much wider brims and taller crowns. They look like smaller cowboy hats, and not like the hats we see men wearing in old movies.

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