This morning I was looking through some pictures of the statue of William Marsh Rice—we have many of these, taken from all angles, in all lighting conditions, all alone or with gatherings of students around him. These two I found particularly intriguing:
What caught my eye first was the unobstructed view across the south side of the quad towards the Med Center. There’s no Rayzor Hall yet to block the lines and you can see how the area is growing. But then I noticed what’s going on in the foreground, which I suspect was the actual subject of the photographs. Zoom in and look closely and I think what we’re looking at is the installation of the pea gravel sidewalks that replaced the gravel paths. This must have taken place sometime between about 1946 and 1949. That gravel, of course, was responsible for the wear on the stairs inside Lovett Hall and I remain in awe of generations of Rice women students who endured those paths in high heels.
Bonus: Willie came along with me this afternoon to the Parking Registration Office. The old rascal was delighted to discover that I had to buy a permit to park on campus.
Do they still call the Campus Police the Campos?
Ah, those pea-gravel sidewalks. During my time at Rice (1976-1982) there were no new buildings built on campus. But there was still construction – on those sidewalks. The got built, would sink at the edges, heave up due to trees or moving ground, and get replaced. All the time. They really seemed pretty fragile for something built of concrete.
In the photo files somewhere, you should find at least one shot of Big Willie crowned with a toilet. I have a shot of this in my files (probably) somewhere. It had to have been around 1977, I would guess. I am not sure of why he had a toilet crown. I was just wandering through the campus, probably back to Sid in the early evening and there he was in his regal splendor, and either had my camera, or went back to the room to get it. Anyway, it remains one of my favorite images of him. Ah, the grave respect the students always show towards the founder…..
I appear in a shot with Willy around Christmas of 1976 or 1977. The sign says “Willy Claus, here today!” He is wearing a Santa Claus hat and I am sitting in his lap. It was in the yearbook.