The spirit of pride and ownership engendered in those early Rice classes was something that stayed with them for the rest of their lives. Their sense of themselves as pioneers grew rather than faded after their graduation and their loyalty to the Institute and to each other was fierce. In later life they became the founders and backbone of the Alumni Association, they raised funds, and they turned out for every event held on campus. There are pictures of the same faces, year after year, growing older, everywhere in the archives.
The first five graduating classes called themselves “The Frontier Five” and they met at every Homecoming until they were gone. Here’s one of my favorite images, part of the class of 1916 at their 40th reunion:
I’ve written about so many of them. That’s Norman Hurd Ricker at left, next to him is Carl Knapp. The big guy is Tiny Kalb and on the right is William Nathan. I’m not sure but I think the tall woman at right is Miss Red.
As the 50th anniversary of the first graduation approached, Harry Bulbrook ’16 went about designing a special badge for those first five classes to wear at Rice events. I’ve never found one but you can pick them out in Homecoming pictures for a very long time. Here’s bunch of the at a buffet table in 1969:
I can’t tell you how much I admire them and how much I admire the Institute that helped produce them.