Some Random Updates, Inspired by the Comments Section

I really appreciate all the ideas and questions in the comments this week. Some puzzling things have certainly cropped up these past few days.

I’ll start with the football tucked under the fellow’s arm in this picture from Monday. A couple of people noted how odd it looks and wondered if it were used in some other game entirely. The answer is no, that’s what footballs looked like back then. Both the equipment and the game itself were evolving at a rapid rate in those days. Here you can get a good look at one of those balls in the team picture from 1916. (Try to ignore the horrifying owl and just look up at the guy holding the trophy. The ball is tucked between his legs.)

Next, on to the planter that’s visible in the photo of the procession from the 1920 commencement. That most definitely is a planter rather than leftover masonry, and a carefully chosen one at that. Rice actually bought two kinds of planters to add some interest to the early landscaping. You can see both if you zoom in on this picture of the first commencement ceremony in 1916. There are two plain square ones, the first near the Physics side of the Administration Building and the second towards the west end of Physics. Look closely through the cloisters and you can see a couple of the fancier ones on the east side of Physics by the auditorium.

They later acquired more of these planters and put them in the academic quad. This photo from commencement in 1921 gives a fabulous look at them:

And here’s a charming picture of some of Mrs. Lovett’s young Kentucky relatives posing next to one on the other side of the quad in 1919:

Finally, I really like the suggestion that the “civilians” marching without robes in the 1920 procession might be staff. They can’t be trustees, as there were only seven, including Lovett. If I get a minute I’ll see if I can find anything that might otherwise explain it.

Oh, someone asked for a photo of the 1919 commencement procession. Here you go:

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11 Responses to Some Random Updates, Inspired by the Comments Section

  1. David M. Bynog says:

    Bring back the fancy planters!

  2. effegee says:

    THANK YOU! My wife’s grandmother graduated in 1919. We think we have found her in the procession. Of course, the faces in the back of the line where most of the women seem to be don’t have a great deal of resolution!

  3. Melissa Kean says:

    What’s her name?? I might be able to find something more.

    • effegee says:

      Ruby South. I recall her telling of catching specimens for Huxley’s lab in the gully, although I know from your previous posts that she had to be doing so for Huxley’s assistant rather than Huxley. She subsequently went to med school at UTMB, became an obstetrician, and delivered literally thousands of babies in Laredo and Nuevo Laredo during her career.

      Ruby’s father (Horace Walter South) taught math at A&M and was also co-coach of the football team there. But he sent his children to Rice. Ruby had four siblings who attended Rice: Ira, Joe, Helen, and Ida. We know Helen and Ida graduated (’21 and ’31, respectively, we think). We believe that Ira did not graduate because he enlisted and died in 1918; we’re not sure whether Joe graduated or not.

      • effegee says:

        Sitting here talking to Ruby’s oldest son, Bill. It turns out that Joe South went to A&M, not Rice. Joe gave Bill his Aggie Corps campaign hat.

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

    Regarding the Football Shape:
    The shape of the ball apparently began its dramatic change after the “forward pass” had been popularized by Knute Rockne, although he was NOT the first to use it.
    Be certain to look at the shape of the football in the Rockne statue depicted in Voss, Norway.

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

      There seems to be few badly misshapen noses, considering that there were NO face masks then. (I suspect that many broken noses were immediately re-aligned by a trainer on the sideline.)
      However, one man seems to have 2 resolving black eyes.

  5. amandafocke says:

    I couldn’t help but notice some Italian Cypress tress planted in those planters….

  6. wunderwood says:

    So is that a Rice flag flying from Sewell Hall? Neat! It looks like a Rice crest with a laurel surround and maybe some other stuff.

    So I search the web for “Rice flag” and what do I find? This blog! With details. Duh.

    If you are curious, gold fringe is a common “honor” for the colors (flag) of an organization. Not surprising that someone added it to the Rice colors.

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