Queenie, Part 2

Queenie 1941

As soon as I read that wedding announcement I knew that I knew her. In real life, not just the archives.

Several years ago EE professor Don Johnson went out of his way to introduce me to a very interesting Rice alumnus who was visiting from California, John Treichler ’73. Don assured me that this guy had a story I wanted to hear and so I went over to Duncan Hall to meet him. The tale was indeed spectacular and had all the elements you look for in a good story: irrational adolescent behavior, scientific curiosity, AT&T, the Rice registrar’s office, and the United States Navy. (If you want to read it–and you should after that build up–go here.) Also great was the fact that he had his mother, another Rice alum, with him. Like him she was full of stories, although none of hers involved potential jail time. I was pretty sure she was Queenie. A couple of phone calls and a quick check of the alumni directory and it was confirmed. Queenie turned out to be alive and well and living in Lake Jackson.

And in another odd turn, even though he lives in California I’d seen John Treichler just the day before having lunch in Cohen House. It turns out that he and his wife, Sally Wood, are visiting faculty in Rice’s DSP group this spring. We quickly arranged to get copies of Queenie’s letters to Dr. Lear down to her and for John to bring her to campus for lunch and a visit to the Woodson.

It was one of my favorite days at work ever. Queenie is really, really smart and funny as hell. We went though Campaniles and scrapbooks and she explained what was going on in a lot of photos, clearing up a couple of mysteries. A good time was had by all and the frontiers of ignorance receded a bit. I took her picture of course and when I downloaded it I was struck by how profoundly she still resembles the young woman (she was only sixteen at the time) in the photo above, which I found appended to her 1941 Rice application.


I am extremely grateful to everyone who helped make this adventure possible, including the woman who rescued the box of letters from the dumpster.

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10 Responses to Queenie, Part 2

  1. Richard Schafer (Lovett '73) says:

    What a wonderful story!

  2. BJ says:

    Great story—and a fine candidate for its own chapter when these blog entries are compiled into a book

  3. Gloria Tarpley '81 says:

    Lovely story — I’m tickled that it was John Treichler’s mother! And I love the earlier post about getting your entries into a book, Melissa — I hope you’ll consider it!

  4. marmer01 says:

    Wait, what? How did I not know any of this, and I fancy myself a historian of Lake Jackson? And Rice. I’m virtually certain that we must have dozens of mutual friends and acquaintances. Perhaps I should contact her.

  5. marmer01 says:

    Actually, a little newspaper searching shows that she and her husband Bob, also a Rice alum, moved to Michigan in 1963 (common for Dow engineers) and later Williamsburg, VA. It doesn’t look like she ever came back until retirement, so I wouldn’t have known her although my mother might have (probably did.) One of her other sons and his family lives in LJ. She was a serious bridge player and leader in the League of Women Voters, and Citizen of the Year in LJ in, I think 1962. One of John Treichler’s early projects as a young teenager was written up in the newspaper — an attempt to create a voice-dial system for the phone because his mom, Anne, had broken both forearms in a Cub Scout den mother footrace. Interestingly enough, although the Treichlers were mentioned in the news a fair amount (Bob progressed through the ranks at Dow and Dow Badische and wound up a VP at Badische) the name “Queenie” never appears.

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