I know I must have seen this photo before, but when I picked it up yesterday it struck me as surprising. We have many images of early campus construction in the files but very few of them show this kind of wide view.
As someone who was reduced to a jibbering mess by a house renovation job a few years ago, this picture is mind boggling. That’s just too much construction all at once–and bear in mind that the photographer seems to have been standing on the foundation of yet another building (South Hall). I would have been quivering in a corner.
Special Treat: Here’s the back side of the photograph.
A later archivist adds her own label to the original label: “Miss Dean‘s handwriting.” Then she adds another label to a second label, the one that notes “Mr. Watkin, Mr. Waldo”: “Pender Turnbull‘s.” So who’s the third archivist who thought to tell me who labeled the photo in the first place? Pretty sure it was Ola Moore, who came to work in Fondren in 1962 and stayed until her retirement. (I don’t know when that was.) Just to complete our tour of beloved Rice librarians, here’s Mrs. Moore’s reminiscence (from a 1984 Flyleaf) of Sarah Lane:
MISS LANE: A PERSONAL REMEMBRANCE Ola Zachry Moore Few people are as beloved as Miss Sarah Louise Lane; still fewer have her reputation for service to Rice. Thoughts of a very special friend conjure up particular mental images of that person. So it is with Miss Lane. Two qualities leap to mind immediately when her name is mentioned; one is her enthusiasm, the other is her helpfulness. In her years at Rice, first as a Rice Institute student and graduate of the class of 1919, later as advisor to women and finally as head of the circulation department in the library and skillful restorer of books, she never volunteered advice but was always available for counsel and willing to help with a problem when asked. No one can remember ever seeing her lose her temper or act in an unbecoming manner. Yet Miss Lane was never "stuffy". Her position as head of the circulation department was certainly one of the most difficult in the library and yet she managed it with poise and without ever being discourteous to an irate patron. Firm she could be but never impolite nor rude. Her student assistants and members of her staff were expected to do their jobs pleasantly and efficiently without shirking their duties but in turn, they were treated fairly and with con- sideration. Miss Lane ran a tight ship but a fair one. Her tall graceful figure behind the circulation desk was a familiar sight to students, faculty and staff for many years as was the ever-present bouquet of fresh flowers or a pot plant on her desk. Flowers and plants came under her spell too but it was only after her retirement from her full-time position as head of circulation that she had time to join a garden club and take up flower arranging. Here, as in all other matters, she entered into this new endeavor with characteristic enthusiasm and became in a very short time a much-loved member of another organi- zation; this time the Southhamptom Garden Club. Miss Sarah Lane took early retirement from the Fondren in 1962 shortly after I began working in the library. Her retirement party was held at Cohen House in a private dining room filled to overflowing with library friends. There were speeches, and gifts and finally a scroll with an overly-elaborate (and totally unplanned) curlicue attached to one of the capital letters caused by a wayward drop of gold ink! (This was my first scroll!) Our friendship began then and grew and flourished when she returned to the Fondren to start an in-house project to mend some of our ailing books. In this new capacity of bookbinder, restorer and mender of books, Miss Lane continued her long- established tradition of service to the Rice University. Miss Lane's new domain for repairing books was a special area on the fifth floor of the library where she had a spectacular view of the campus on three sides and, with a few steps to the front of the building, could see Lovett Hall on the fourth side. Here she lovingly worked her magic on countless distressed books in all stages of disrepair, spending as much time as was needed to return each one to usefulness. She had originally accepted this new challenge with the understanding that she receive the current student hourly wage for her work so she would not feel guilty spending extra time repairing books that needed more than the usual care to return them to circulation. This arrangement also meant that her work schedule could be flexible — she could travel when the opportunity presented itself or schedule her work early in the morning on those days she expected guests for lunch! While Miss Lane was "in residence" on the fifth floor of the library, she had the charming habit of inviting several library staff members to join her for luncheon from time to time. The group was always varied and guests were often of different ages and backgrounds, male and female. Such an invitation to lunch in her cozy little brick house on Wroxton was a coveted one. It was an experience to be savoured and remembered with pleasure long after the fact. Not only was the food always superb (Miss Lane was a marvel in the kitchen) but conversation was spirited and fun. It was impossible for a shy guest to remain so for long. The hostess was so vibrant and interested in everyone that she made each person feel at ease and made them enjoy being part of the group. After the meal, if there were time before guests had to return to work. Miss Lane could sometimes be persuaded to "show" and talk about some of the "treasures" she had brought back from her most recent trip. These journeys often included visits to Rice friends all over the world since her gypsy feet took her to many out-of-the-way places. Her mementos of these travels provided the visual images for many of her interesting stories about her trips. Because of her friendliness, her warmth and her interest in people, interesting things seemed to happen to Miss Lane. She was often able to bridge and to overcome the dual barriers of a foreign language and unfamiliar customs in countries often difficult for strangers, particularly Western ones. She took no pre- conceived prejudices into the countries she visited nor did she impose her own set of values on the culture of a host country. Instead, her genuine interest in the world around her made it easy for her to enjoy the culture of whichever country she was visiting. It is easy to see how Miss Lane has endeared herself to Rice. She attracted friends like a magnet and they were of all kinds and ages because she is ageless. A "doer" at Rice, she was always involved in some interesting activity that she was willing to share with friends. This might have been a drive down south of Houston for several pounds of pecans or it could have included a trip to a local flower show or even a visit to the yearly Customs Auction. But whatever the activity, just being with Miss Lane was sure to be fun!