“it might distract from his professional stature to represent him as a poet,” 1966

When I first read this I was left sputtering with disbelief and annoyance:

The poems in question were written by Joseph Davies, Rice’s long serving and beloved professor of biology, who had recently passed away. The article that Miss Meredith had prepared was a lovely tribute to him. The poems themselves were also in the file and I present them here in an admittedly small but deeply heartfelt act of defiance:

I don’t give two raps what Mr. Ross or anyone else in the Development Department thought–I like them and I think even more highly of Dr. Davies than I did before, which was considerably high.

Bonus: Ominous!

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8 Responses to “it might distract from his professional stature to represent him as a poet,” 1966

  1. Bill Peebles, Hanszen '70 says:

    I agree that Dr. Davies was in Colorado when he wrote these poems but nonetheless he saw blue-gray clouds.

  2. Jim Walzel says:

    Thanks Melissa, I remember all of these “old” guys when I was Class of “59.
    You do great work! Best, Jim Walzel

  3. Katie Beth Gottlieb says:

    I was admiring the font of “Rice University” at the top of Mr. Phares’ stationery, and noticed the “Houston 1, Texas.” I Googled it and see it listed on the official addresses of many places in the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s. (I also Googled it with “Kean” to see if you have discussed it before.) So why the “1”?

    • Dale Henry says:

      The “1” is a postal zone, a US Post Office system in use from 1943 until 1963, when zip codes were mandated. In 1966 the writer was no doubt exhausting his remaining supply of pre-zip code stationery.


      “The basic idea of postal zoning came into being in 1943, in the midst of World War II. At this time, U.S. annual mail volume was growing steadily (the years between 1940 and 1943 saw an increase from about 28 billion pieces of mail to about 33 billion pieces of mail). In addition, post offices across the country were forced to hire inexperienced clerks as more experienced staff members went off to serve in the war. The creation of a postal zone system was deemed necessary in order to improve the accuracy and efficiency of mail sorting and delivery. Zone numbers were implemented in 124 of the country’s largest urban areas, and individual delivery districts within these areas were given one or two digit codes, to be written as part of the address after the city name. These early postal zone codes faced little opposition and caught on quickly with businesses and the American public.” (1)

       1) Carl H. Scheele, A Short History of the Mail Service (Smithsonian Institution Press: Washington, D.C., 1970), 174-175.

      My suspicion is Houston 1 designated the main post office downtown.

      Just before it disappeared, the postal zone system was immortalized in Elvis Presley’s 1962 hit single, Return To Sender:

      “I gave a letter to the postman,

      He put it his sack.

      Bright and early next morning,

      He brought my letter back.

      She wrote upon it:

      Return to sender, address unknown.

      No such number, no such zone.”

      • Katie Beth Gottlieb says:

        Fascinating! Thank you for such a thorough explanation, Dale.

      • Mark Williamson says:

        The 1963 scheme to replace one- or two-digit zones with five-digit codes was called the Zoning Improvement Plan, hence “Z.I.P. code” or zip code.

      • jdrum00 says:

        Oh, thanks. Now I’ve got that song stuck in my head.

        No, really, no sarcasm intended. Thanks. 🙂

  4. nburch2 says:

    Regarding Mr. Phares: “Eyes are useless when the mind is blind.”

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