Back to Abercrombie

The harder I tried to figure out what happened with that Tau Beta Pi bent in front of Abercrombie the more confused I got, so I went all the way back to the beginning and took things one step at a time. Today, we have Step One.

In the beginning, the earth was without form, and void. No, just kidding, I won’t go back quite that far. But I will go back to when there was nothing was in that corner. This picture was taken in late 1955:

Abercrombie corner 1955

Someone in the comments sent me off in  a very fruitful direction with the suggestion that the original monument was put up by an engineering society that was NOT Tau Beta Pi–this suggestion was correct. I found an article in the November 1956 issue of the Rice Engineer that explains it was a project of Sigma Tau, an engineering honor society that began at the University of Nebraska in 1904. I’m not completely sure why Rice would have had chapters of both societies, but we did. The chapter of Tau Beta Pi was formed at the Institute in 1940 and Sigma Tau began in 1953. (They merged nationally in 1974, by the way.) The article also helpfully shows us exactly how the guys built the original pool:

Sigma Tau monument 1956

Sigma Tau monument 2Sigma Tau monument 3

Ok, so far, so good. But things now start to get a little fuzzy. Looking for a photo of the completed monument, I (completely by luck) came across this very nice shot. If you zoom in you can even see that it says “1956”,which is frankly a bit of a relief:

Tau Beta Pi undated came Feb94

Unfortunately, it’s not dated. The only information I have is that it was sent over in a batch of files from Public Affairs in February 1994, so it can’t have been taken after then. Just a quick glance suggests late ’70s or ’80s to me, but I really can’t tell. The kid on the bench just looks like an engineer–that is to say, nearly timeless.

More later.


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11 Responses to Back to Abercrombie

  1. I agree about pre-1980. We see no mountain bikes, which first started to become mass-produced in the early 80’s.

  2. I’d say early 70’s. Striped shirt, longer hair, and the bikes — racing saddles, center pull brakes, clearly before the late-70’s bike great re-awakening.

    • Deborah Gronke Bennett (BSEE Hanszen '82) says:

      I don’t know about that date. I looked at the back pocket of the jeans (swooshy embroidery) and the shoes, and I think it might be later than early 70’s.

  3. I can live with that. The bikes do look very 70s-ish.

  4. loki_the_bubba says:

    The bike with the racing bar turned up for comfort just screams mid-70s to me. I did that, too. lol

    • marmer01 says:

      Yes. Highly discouraged for its effect on braking performance, but still quite common back then. This is why comfort bikes, cruisers, and mountain bikes became so popular a few years later. Pretty much all lightweights were racing-style bikes at that time.

  5. loki_the_bubba says:

    So what happened to the original pyramid with the rail through it? Have you found it in you files yet?

  6. Chip says:

    One other clue in the picture – it looks like the front bike has a U-lock on it. Kryptonite was really the first mass manufacturer of them for bikes, in the 70s. However, their rubber coated locks apparently didn’t come out until the late 70s.

    I’m actually going to say it’s more likely that picture is from the 80s, probably very early. By the mid-80s, his hair would have been parted down the middle.

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