Secretarial Assistance

Someone mentioned in the comments to the last Obsolete Technology post that Norman Hackerman wouldn’t have needed a word processor because he had a secretary to take care of his correspondence. That is absolutely true. He certainly did have an assistant and she was a doozy. Jackie Bourne retired just a few years ago after many years of service to Rice. She was always a pleasure to be around, smart and fun loving and helpful to me in many ways. Not the least of it was that she could (more or less) read Hackerman’s handwriting, which anyone who’s ever seen it will testify is very, very close to completely illegible. I wish I had a sample with me to show you. It’s astonishing and I don’t believe for one minute that he could read it himself.

Just last week I was grinding my way through some contact sheets and much to my delight I found a whole roll of images of the two of them together. Posing for the photographer, they look quite serious:

NH and JB

But by the last few shots things had reverted to normal:

NH and Jackie Bourne nd

There’s no identification but I’d guess very late ’70s or early ’80s.

Bonus: Here’s another pretty bookplate from Fondren.

Bookplate Pallas Athene

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6 Responses to Secretarial Assistance

  1. mjthannisch says:

    I used to have a sample of president Hackerman’s writing, but it faded right off the diploma.

    • James Medford says:

      I got my diploma framed at the old Wellhausen’s Frame Gallery in the Village, and Hackerman’s signature hasn’t faded after all these years. But it’s definitely indecipherable.

  2. Jeff Ross says:

    My diploma is from 1975, and his signature is not decipherable. But at least it looks like letters unlike many signatures you see today because people do not perfect cursive writing when they use keyboards most of the time. Also, if anyone had to sign their name about 1,000 times on diplomas in a short period, their signature would likely become undecipherable.

    • Deborah Gronke Bennett (BSEE Hanszen 1982) says:

      Hackerman told the story once that he would sign the diplomas when he was doing other things, most often when he was on the telephone. I think he had a bout two weeks to sign them all.

  3. Richard A. Schafer says:

    M. Stuart Lynn, who was the head of ICSA in the early 1970s, had a signature that was quite legible, except that it read as “Charly,” which bore no relationship to what he was actually writing.

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