Boondoggle with Dow Chemical, 1956

Not long ago something came into my hands that made me nearly giddy with delight. It’s a photo album that contains the record of a two-day fishing trip that took place in the summer of 1956. Dow Chemical seems to have kept a fishing boat down in Freeport and in classic fashion used it both for fun and for relationship cultivation. Here’s the boat, nestled in among the beautiful storage tanks:

Why do I care about this? I care about it because of the characters they were cultivating. Here’s the group photo:

There are lots of Dow people, but the sharp-eyed among you will be able to pick out several Rice faculty members if you zoom in on it. The tall bald man standing next to the pole at the right is the Dean, Holmes Richter from the Chemistry Department. Second from the left, wearing sunglasses, is Chemical Engineer Bill Akers. Harder to recognize is Franz Brotzen from Materials Science in the back middle with sunglasses and his cap pulled low. I’m sure it’s him, though, because of this:

“Well,” I can hear you objecting, “this is all very nice but hardly worth getting giddy about, Melissa.” And you’re right. Here is the picture that is so perfect it made me laugh out loud:

Not all of the academics on this trip were from Rice. In addition to a couple of engineering deans from the University of Oklahoma and Lamar, there was the chairman of the Chemistry Department at the University of Texas. I’ll bet he was a decent poker player. And it seems to have been Franz Brotzen who brought Norman Hackerman’s name forward when Rice was searching for a president in the aftermath of the Masterson Crisis. Brotzen was a pretty fair card player too.

Bonus: This windswept beauty looks like Nancy Akers.

Extra Bonus:

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4 Responses to Boondoggle with Dow Chemical, 1956

  1. The one on the left is the coolest, but the one on the right is the BEST. Love the Dow boat picture. I grew up down there in the 60’s and spent a lot of time around fishing boats. The Mary Gene II might well have been a fishing charter boat. My dad almost certainly would have known some of the crew. He actually drove a boat similar to that before I was born.

  2. marmer01 says:

    Actually, I’m 80% certain the Mary Gene II is a Muchowich company fishing charter boat. Capt. Carl Muchowich had an oil services and marine salvage company in Freeport and in 1953 he opened Party Boats Inc. for fishing charters. Note the “PB” on the smokestack. The Muchowich company later sold off the fishing charter business to focus on oil services. If ever you’re in the Surfside area and you see one of those offshore oil company boats heading out, stop and watch and listen. Once they get clear of the jetties, the Captain puts the hammer down on those four mighty marine diesels and a 150+ foot aluminum cabin cruiser gets up on the plane like a ski boat at 20 knots plus. It’s one of the most thrilling sounds in all boating, provided you aren’t in a smaller boat in their wake.

  3. jcarr0728 says:

    I work in Lovett Hall where most of the doors have the doorknobs with the peacocks. I’ve often wondered the significance of the peacocks instead of owls.

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