Benches, Part I: Abercrombie

Yes, we’re about to do a series on benches. But not all at once, don’t worry–I’ll spread it out so we don’t get overwhelmed with excitement.

Kid on bench 2

I got quite a few comments and even more emails after I wrote this post about the nice (and vanished) bench between Anderson Hall and the Physics Building, so I began paying closer attention to benches, both past and current. The other day I happened upon these undated images of some benches over by the corner of Abercrombie where it meets the Mech Lab:Kid on bench 3

Kid on bench 1

Oddly enough I had no memory of ever having seen this spot so I wandered over when I had a few minutes and I noticed several interesting things. First, what looks to me like water around the marker (am I wrong about that?) is now gone, replaced by some plants. Second, people have apparently decided that the benches need some supplementing and have dragged a few of those lightweight metal table and chairs over to this spot, which is really nice and shady:Benches1

Finally, the benches still seem to be the same ones and they have markers on them. Here’s the one on the right, in honor of James Waters, who I’ve written about here and here:Bench2

The one on the left, though, is much sadder:


I had a hard time finding out much about Jim Boyvey. He graduated from Ray High School in Corpus Christi in 1960 and came to Rice to study engineering. The only mention of him in the Thresher came in May of 1965 when he was singled out in a review of engineering courses as a good lab instructor. He was killed in a car accident that same summer. I did manage to find these wistful reminiscences from classmates at both Ray and Rice on a Ray High School Class of 1960 website and it just feels right to post them here:

Larry Russell

James and I were in college together for 4 years and lived in the same dorm. I really didn’t know him well until we went off to college, but he would come by my room from time to time for a visit. I found out that he was pretty interesting to talk to; he really knew his engineering, and we’d talk about that and other things some. I gradually got to know him and appreciate his intelligence a lot. He sailed right on through Rice without any trouble, and not many did (me included). He was ready to go out and do great things as an electrical engineer, and he would have been a good one. One thing in particular that I remember is that he was always positive and laughed a lot with an interesting kind of chuckle.

Unfortunately, just a couple of days after our first graduation (after 4 years one got a BA in engineering…you had to go on for an extra year to get a BS), James died in a car accident. It was a real shame to lose him so soon.


07/06/10 11:05 PM #2    
Tom Bray

My memories of James date back to junior high where his mother was the librarian.  James was extremely intelligent, and entered the science fair in the 9th grade.  He should have won it with what he made, but it was so complex that the judges didn’t understand it.

Perhaps my best memories of James are at Monterey Tech in the summer of 1959 where we roomed together while taking 3rd year Spanish.   At one point he had us fill over 20 sinks in the dorm restroom with solutions at just the right temperature to develop Kodacolor pictures that we had taken.   On one of our Saturday excursions we all went to the Carta Blanca brewery where they served us complementary beer.  Many of us got very drunk!

When I heard he had died in an auto accident, I couldn’t accept that the world was going to miss out on what he could have achieved during his life.


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14 Responses to Benches, Part I: Abercrombie

  1. Sandy Havens says:

    One of the interesting transitions at Rice is the absence to present availability of
    “benches” or other sitting spaces. In the early days there were almost none. Today there are many–frequently in spaces including public art and fountains or flowing pools. Nice.

  2. In the days when Sandy Havens ruled Hamman Hall and the Shepherd School roamed between Hamman, Herman Brown, Sewall Hall, and the Bonner Lab, I used to walk past “The Bent” all the time. Yes, it was a quiet little pond (not a fountain.) Probably got taken out in the 90’s, blamed for breeding mosquitoes or something.

    • "Gene" Pratt, Rice Institute '56 says:

      In my day Sandy Havens only sat outside, during French class, in the Spring.

      Mostly, he sat on the third floor of Fondren, with his harem.
      I implored him to loan me one of his “walking around for show” ladies, but he only reponded, “All the worlds’ a stage … ” and “Exit right, pursued by a bear:”

      We never talked much after that.

  3. Lilypons says:

    Perhaps the water “element” was removed since there didn’t seem to be any movement to the water…perhaps it became a little mosquito breeder.

  4. Richard A. Schafer says:

    I’m surprised you didn’t comment on the obvious differences in the pictures: the pyramid has changed considerably, there’s no I-beam running through the current concrete base, and there’s no Tau Beta Pi Bent in the older pictures. Any idea when that change occurred? Or are these not really from the same location.

    • Melissa Kean says:

      Yeah, they’re the same location but I was interested enough in the pyramid that I think I’ll do some more research on it for another post.

      • Richard Schafer says:

        As I think about it, my memory is that the bent used to be over by the front door of Abercrombie, on the right going in, not there in the corner.

    • Keith Cooper says:

      The bent was moved from the area in front of the Abercrombie entrance over to the corner as, I recall, part of the general cleanup for the installation of 45, 90, 180.
      at the same time, the ugly vent hood for the steam tunnel was removed and the lighting improved.

      • Doug Williams says:

        Yes, the Tau Beta Pi bent was in front of Abercrombie until about the time of the art installation. Around 1984 (before it was moved) the bent was vandalized. Someone apparently tied a rope or chain from the bent to the bumper of their car/truck. All they drove away with was the loop at the top of the bent. A replacement top was cast on campus. Dr. Parsons provided the forge and expertise, and Dr. Bill provided the bronze in the form of old Abercrombie keys.

        The pyramid with the I-beam was for a different honor society. I want to say it was a civil engineering society, but I could easily be wrong.

  5. marmer01 says:

    It’s sad when fountains and ponds turn into planters. Let’s start a movement to turn it back into a pond, either with a little pump or with insecticide to keep the mosquitoes from hatching.

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