A week or so ago someone needed a photograph of John J.W. Rogers, a geologist who taught at Rice from 1954 until 1974 then went on to spend another twenty years at the University of North Carolina. This was easy enough–there were several nice ones in the old Public Affairs collection–but while I was looking my eye was caught by a negative in a glassine envelope. I took it out and squinted at it and quite unexpectedly it kind of looked like a man driving a team of oxen. Nothing to do but go scan it and get a better look. Sure enough, there’s John Rogers with the reins in his hand:
Well, now. I sat for a minute thinking. This is the point where you have two choices. You can either slip the picture back into its envelope, rebox it and go about your business or you can go totally off the deep end and attempt to figure out exactly what was going on here. As usual I went with the second, less rational, option. Just because.
With almost nothing to go on, I quickly found myself way down in the weeds of Roger’s professional career and it became clear that he had spent a significant amount of time in India, East Africa, and the Middle East. Lots of this kind of thing:
There wasn’t really any way to ascertain when and exactly where the image was made.
There was, however, something even better: a memoir, available for purchase on Amazon. This is heaven, sheer heaven. Tomorrow I’ll tell you what’s in it.