“Closed,” 1948

The weather has been really lousy around here ever since Christmas–cold, wet and gray. It made me think about some photographs that J.I. Davies took on campus one Christmas break many years ago. In this first one I saw the cars even before I noticed the snow:

JI Davies Christmas 1948 w cars

And here’s how we can be sure they were taken over the holiday. Click in and you can see the “Closed” sign right next to the main gate:

JI Davies Christmas 1948 gate

Uncharacteristically, Davies’s labels on these images are ambiguous. Both say “Christmas, 1948.” I know that it didn’t snow on Christmas Day in 1948 but I don’t know whether this was the break that included December 1947 and January 1948 or if it’s December 1948 to January 1949. In all honesty, I just can’t imagine myself looking through that much weather data today. It’s break, after all.

Bonus: Spring is coming and it looks like it will be a good one for bluebonnets.

L1000946

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8 Responses to “Closed,” 1948

  1. Richard Schafer says:

    Almost certainly January 30. 1949. Houston had 2.6 inches of snow that day.

  2. Melissa Kean says:

    Thanks! How did you find that so fast?

  3. Richard Schafer says:

    Googling “snow Houston 1949” took me to http://www.wxresearch.com/snowhou.htm, which lists all snow events back to the amazing 20″ of 1895. I already knew that it had snowed in 1949, because of some family pictures I’d recently scanned.

  4. Francis Eugene "Gene" PRATT, Institute Class of '56 says:

    Happy New Year, Melissa, and All.
    May God bless us all, everyone.

  5. Wish I could read the sign. I’m reasonably willing to believe the car on the far left is a 1948 Oldsmobile. Are they westbound on Lab Road passing the Chemistry building? But if this is January 30, 1949, then that’s not holiday break. Which makes sense given all that traffic on campus. Maybe the sign is mentioning certain campus offices that are closed. Or maybe there was a smaller snowfall in late December that is not in the records.

  6. almadenmike says:

    The Jan 29, 1949, snowfall came during the Jan. 24 – Feb. 4 break for “February Examinations”, according to the 1948-49 Academic Calendar (http://scholarship.rice.edu/bitstream/handle/1911/62651/article_RIP351_announce.pdf?sequence=1). Consecutive Thresher issues straddling that break were published on Saturday, Jan. 22 (Vol. 36, #31) and Wednesday, Feb. 9 (Vol. 36, #32).

    The latter issue had a front-page story mentioning the snow:

    Headline: Snapshots of Snow Sought by Campanile

    “The Campanile staff is looking for snapshots taken by those Riceites who shot a few scenes last Sunday and Monday. The staff is particularly interested in getting a picture of the Snow Owl which was leaning against a stack of bricks in the academic court.”

    If any photos of that snow owl were taken (and published in the 1949 Campanile), it would be interesting to compare them with those showing the 1973 Snow Owl (https://ricehistorycorner.com/2014/12/08/a-snow-owl-and-a-scrapbook/).)

    Also, that “CLOSED” sigh looks more professionally prepared than I’d expect for an unanticipated snowfall. Since the snowfall occurred on a Saturday, and it appears that the photo shows what might be snow atop the sign and its vertical post/support (meaning that the sign was in place when it snowed), I wonder if the sign was one that was periodically placed at the gate to alert visitors that certain parts of the campus were closed at that time, such as on weekends. Since the main gate is shown in the photo as being open, I’m guessing that this snowfall did not result in the closure of the entire campus.

    • Melissa Kean says:

      So this leaves us with a different question: Why the label “Christmas 1948”? I would speculate that Davies, going through boxes of slides and making his best guesses, added the label at a much later date.

  7. Those are slides, right? The cardboard should be stamped with the date they were processed.

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