Not her in the flesh, of course, but rather a bust that had been given to Rice by Jane Blaffer Owen in memory of her father, Robert Lee Blaffer, who had served as a Rice trustee. Here’s the story in the Chronicle, with some pointed comments from Mrs. Owen:
The photo in the Post story is priceless, with librarian Hardin Craig driving Miss Stein home from the police station. I wish he had buckled her in, though.
I believe we still have the bust but I don’t know where it’s kept these days. I interviewed Mrs. Owen in 2008, by the way, and she was still pretty irritated about this.
Bonus: Here’s the 1935 Thresher article about Blaffer’s election to the Rice board.
Seat belts were rare to nonexistent in 1954. They only became required in 1967, and many people distrusted them then.
As I was writing that sentence I thought “I wonder of they had seat belts in 1954. Well, Marty will know.”
Thanks for the very interesting blog today. I forwarded it to the Board of the Robert Lee Blaffer Foundation in New Harmony, Indiana.
Mrs. Owen commissioned a beautiful work by Jacques Lipchitz in the Roofless Church. The Church and the sculpture were dedicated in 1960.
Rice Design Alliance is organizing a trip this summer which includes a stop in New Harmony
It is a beautiful town which carries on the spirit of Mrs. Owen.
Marty beat me to it. I remember going with my dad to, I think K-Mart, to get after market add-on back seat belts for our 1962 Chrysler.
Our ’63 Rambler wagon had no seat belts and was so flexible that a rear door opened when my mom was going around a curve and I found my little self rolling down Stella Link with the laundry.
Yes, it was unusual, because they had to be retrofitted to cars made within the past few years. We had to add them to our ’62 Rambler. Our ’67 Pontiac had them from the factory. And they were scary because they had no give at all.
Apparently, at the police station, there was something there.
The two stories differ. Was the bust 2 times or 3 times life size?
The picture in the car sure makes it look like more than 2 times!
Must also take into account the perspective distortion due to the wide-angle lens used in that newspaper photo.
Could she be in the Humanities Building?
If that bust is sitting in a closet somewhere, unloved and gathering dust, I’d be happy to take it off Rice’s hands. I promise to be very nice to Ms. Stein and to never paint her with watercolors or leave her off at the PD. Google “Jacques Lipchitz” (the alternative spelling) and “bronze” and “Sotheby’s” or “Christie’s,” and you’ll see why.
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Unless I am mistaken, the last time I saw it (1976?) it was in the old Music Library in Fondren. I had no idea til now about the theft! I don’t recall it being that oversized – ?