I had my mind straight up blown today. Looking for something misplaced, I discovered a manuscript collection I didn’t know about that came from  member of Rice’s first graduating class. The student’s name was Norman Hurd Ricker, and he was the first student to earn both his bachelor’s degree and his Ph.D. from Rice. I was intrigued enough that I went so far as to order a couple of boxes from this collection from the Library Service Center. There were some remarkable and fantastic things in these boxes and I’ll have much to say about Ricker in the coming days. (This is a lot like my discovery of George Wheeler’s biology materials.)

For right now, though, I’d just like to share one thing. A picture like this is always going to grab my attention. I don’t immediately know who it is, but he doesn’t look like a student, so I’m thinking it might be one of the early teachers who I don’t have a photo of. Happily, Ricker was a very orderly guy and he labeled most of the pictures. I had to squint hard and take some time, but when I realized what it said my heart leapt in my chest: “Vander Henst.”

That screen door was on the west side of the physics building, behind the amphitheater. It’s circa 1920.

I’ve actually written about him before and told every single thing I knew about him in this post on the Bonner Lab. (If you’d like to know why this makes me so happy, go look at that post. It will only take a minute.) If you don’t have the time, here’s a key photo. Squint again and you can believe it’s the same guy four decades later. I live for this kind of thing.

Bonus: You see all kinds of crazy things when you lurk around in Abercrombie. I don’t know what these are, but I liked the way they look.

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4 Responses to Longevity

  1. Bailey (Baker 2010) says:

    Those are empty boxes that Michael Dye gives to the EE undergraduate students to keep all their equipment (breadboard, wires, resistors, etc.) together. The box makes it easy to transport all the pieces from their lockers below to their lab benches. That room (and the one next to it) is full of all sorts of things that makes EEs drool (or wince – depends on how ELEC 241/242 went). Of course, his organizational methods, as evidenced by the picture, are by far the most celebrated aspect of the lab.

  2. Melissa Kean says:

    Thank you, Bailey! I hope you’re doing well–Nora says hey.

  3. Keith Cooper says:

    The notion of a screen door on a Rice building hearkens back to a different era in building design, as you see in Lovett, Herzstein (nee Physics), and Mech Lab, with their high ceilings, tall windows, and deep arcades. The demands of survival before widespread architecture seem to have had a deep impact on what we consider today to be “Rice” architecture.

  4. Pingback: Physics Stairs Through the Ages | Rice History Corner

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