“Flabbergasted,” 1949

Lear retirement party 2

Floyd Lear and Katherine Fischer Drew on the occasion of Dr. Lear’s retirement, 1975

Another day, another small miracle.

I walked in today and found that a kind donor had brought us a box of letters. I’m sure you all recall the saga of the Floyd Lear correspondence from last spring, which began with a carton of papers next to a dumpster in a California senior living complex and ended with our visit with Queenie.

Almost unbelievably, this new box of papers turned out to be a second cache of Floyd Lear’s correspondence. This batch has a more coherent history. They are all letters from Katherine Fischer (later Drew) to Dr. and Mrs. Lear, the bulk of them written from 1948 to 1950 while she was at Cornell studying for her doctorate. They passed from the Lears to Mrs. Drew, and from her to one of her graduate students, Joan Ferry, who worked in the Woodson for many years. Joan and her husband brought them to us.

These letters are a delight, witty and intelligent, as well as a treasury of bits and pieces of Rice history that would otherwise vanish. I’m not finished with them yet but my favorite so far is this snippet from a letter written on April 17, 1949, wherein Fischer is thanking Lear for sending her a supply of recent Threshers and Rice Institute magazines:

Drew to Lear April 17 1949 048

You know, I wasn’t familiar with the RI Magazine but if anything would make me get up and look for it, this was it. (I couldn’t find it by myself, incidentally. Many thanks to my colleague Amanda Focke for her help.) Here’s the article in question, which frankly left me flabbergasted too:

Drew RI article 1949

Bonus: RI Magazine existed for about six years during the late 1940s and early 1950s. I had never seen it before. It’s good!




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6 Responses to “Flabbergasted,” 1949

  1. marmer01 says:

    RI article: Huh? That’s just weird.

  2. Barney L. McCoy says:

    He looks younger in that picture than I remember him from Ancient History in 63-64. Maybe having a pretty woman on your arm makes you look 20 years younger. He taught more than history, he also, like Tsanoff, taught a love for learning.
    Barney L. McCoy, Hanszen 67

  3. Barney L. McCoy says:

    Correction. That should be “64-65”
    Barney L. McCoy, Hanszen 67

  4. Sigsby Rusk says:

    I remember Dr. Drew well from my junior year in 1951. All my science/engineer friends
    took American History that year but I had a schedule conflict so I took Dr. Lear’s Ancient
    History. It turned out to be very interesting, and he was a good lecturer, but I didn’t have time to put in the work required and barely squeaked through. I think Dr Drew gave a few of the lectures also.
    Looking back I think that was one of the most important classes I took. I have become more of a history buff in the last 20 years since retirement has provided the time.

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