Committee on Disaster and Emergencies, 1962

After the Cuban Missile Crisis at the end of October, 1962 the Rice administration wasted no time putting together a committee to attempt to figure out what to do if war, specifically nuclear war, broke out. They quickly did a study of the available options, made some changes to the physical plant and issued this notice to the entire Rice community within a month:



It’s curious to me that this produces a strong sense of anxiety even now, 55 years later. Aside from that, though, I’m most interested in the steam whistle at the Powerhouse. That had never occurred to me. Also in this folder was the answer to a minor mystery–I’d always wondered why the basement windows in the Mech Lab were bricked up. It’s not hard to think of all kinds of possibilities but it turns out that the engineering firm we hired to consult on this job recommended it, not because it would make some physical difference but for psychological reasons. It cost $250.

I’m very grateful we never had to do this.

Bonus: I’m reasonably certain that’s not the gym. The floor looks great, though.



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6 Responses to Committee on Disaster and Emergencies, 1962

  1. Bill Peebles, Hanszen '70 says:

    When I was in elementary school in Houston during the ’50’s, we had regular air raid drills. We were even issued dog tags. I suppose this was so some survivor could identify our dead little radioactive bodies.

  2. Bob Toone says:

    That happened my freshman year at Rice. I was so stressed out and overwhelmed that I never noticed it.

  3. effegee says:

    The plan apparently remained active for quite some time. In the 1990s, I noticed fallout shelter signs ( in the basement of Lovett College while working on network and phone systems. Lovett wouldn’t be built until several years later.

  4. C Kelly says:

    I attended the Rice – Texas game on October 27, 1962. I was in junior high. Rice pulled an ‘upset’ by tying the Horns 14-14, but the crowd was noticeably somber that night. We sat in the west-side upper deck, and I recall looking east toward downtown Houston’s skyline and wondering if we’d have a split second to notice if a war head detonated there.

  5. Karen says:

    Interestingly enough, looks like Hillyard Gym Finish still exists. Maybe since the product is traditionally used for gyms, they include standard signs, which reference gyms? This is the RMC, but I don’t see why one couldn’t use a gym finishing product on the floor there. The hardwood floors in there did always look nice. I’m wondering about a date, but there’s not much to go on.

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