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