I’ve written before about the cloisters of the Administration Building as a gathering place for students, but until I ran across this charming story in an old scrapbook I had never pondered what went on in the Mech Lab cloisters.
Beginning in 1930 the Owen Wister Literary Society produced and sold the campus phone directory. It was a pretty big undertaking as well as a legitimately important one—this was THE directory for Rice. (I look at them all the time to figure out where people’s offices were, how departments relocated over the years and so forth.) In the late fall of 1931 the girls in charge of marketing the directory hit on a what was clearly a novel idea: they would go over to the Mech Lab cloisters and sell them over there. Apparently this took some daring, as the space seems to have been the domain of the male engineers (or “hairy ears” in the then-current vernacular):
Not all went smoothly, though, as this letter to the Thresher describes a run-in with a “squint-eyed, bespectacled hairy ear”:
Here’s the directory at issue (note that the one we have is Miss Alice Dean’s copy):