I had a nice laugh yesterday afternoon while I was cleaning up my office at home. I’ve got a lot of research materials that I walked away from a couple years ago when I began working almost full time on Centennial stuff and it’s time to get back to it. So I was digging in one of those boxes and came upon a pile of CDs. One was labeled “Digital Photos Abercrombie.” I couldn’t recall exactly what these were so I stuck them in my laptop and had a look. Obviously I was expecting pictures of a building so I was quite surprised to find pictures of people. I was so surprised that it took a couple minutes to really register that it was actually the Abercrombies. Here’s Jim (on the left):
And here’s his wife, Lillie, posing with the same guy who’s in the picture with Jim:
The other guy, of course, is Herb Allen ’29, who spent over 55 years at Cameron Iron Works, the company Abercrombie founded. Allen retired from Cameron as President and Chairman of the Board. I’ve talked about him before here and here. I can’t say for sure but I’m fairly certain that these images came from his papers.
The story behind the family who made Abercrombie Lab possible is one of those almost mythic Texas rags-to-riches sagas. Here is the entry for James Smither Abercrombie in the Handbook of Texas Online and it’s well worth a look. You’ll note that there isn’t any mention in the article of a connection with the Rice Institute. There was one, though, and it came through the Abercrombie’s daughter, Josephine, who was a member of the class of 1946. Josephine served for many years as a member of Rice’s board, which is probably one of the least interesting things about her. Here’s just a small taste of her story, an interview done for the Kentucky Oral History Project. Trust me, there’s a lot more.
Bonus: Here’s another reader snapshot. We can all relax. They straightened it up.
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Here’s a current link to the interview & transcript of Josephine Abercrombie’s Kentucky Oral History interview: https://kentuckyoralhistory.org/ark:/16417/xt7ftt4fnp3q