A Minor Mix-up and the Start of a Long Story, 1930

A little while ago I was looking for something in in one of the Watkin family collections–it might have been when we were talking about the NROTC building–and I came across this photo:Ray Watkin photo commencement 30s

There was a note with it from a friend of Ray Watkin Hoagland Strange asking if the man standing at the far left was her father, William Ward Watkin. Well, it’s not of course, although I can see how you might make that mistake. It’s actually Griffith Evans, the great mathematician, but both men were tall and lanky.

What we’re looking at here is the 1930 commencement ceremony and a couple of things jump right out at me. First, I’m pretty sure that the young man receiving his diploma is H. Fletcher Brown, who married Dr. Tsanoff’s daughter, Katherine (later a Rice faculty member herself as well as Dean of Students). Second, and the beginning of my long story, is the appearance of a microphone and loudspeaker. This commencement was the first to have artificial amplification.

And the first commencement speaker who didn’t have to shout was none other than Ralph Adams Cram, the architect of our first buildings.  Here he is at the podium, or as they said back in those days, “at the desk.” You get a great look at the equipment here:

1930 Commencement Cram at podium

And here’s Cram again, next to Captain Baker and right in the center of the group photograph taken on this occasion, looking, if I may, like a total badass:

1930 commencement cram

Bonus: Getting ready for baseball yesterday morning.


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9 Responses to A Minor Mix-up and the Start of a Long Story, 1930

  1. Don Johnson says:

    Wait a minute!! What is in the Sallyport in the first and second pictures? Was a background put in place for graduation?

  2. Melissa Kean says:

    You made me laugh–I had the exact same experience you just had. Check this out: http://ricehistorycorner.com/2011/02/09/another-thing-i-noticed-that-i-should-have-noticed-a-long-time-ago/

  3. Keith Cooper says:

    A couple of other things: note the potted plants, presumably from Teas Nursery. Note also the spectators in the second floor doors of Lovett Hall and up on top of the arcade to Physics.

  4. Susan Bonner Weir says:

    H.Fletcher Brown was married to Katherine Tsanoff Brown and I don’t think he would have graduated in 1930 but rather a few years later.

  5. And once again, we see the awesome arts and crafts style frieze for the Sallyport.

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