I made the trip down to Ellington Field today to see the recently opened Lone Star Flight Museum, with museum board member and Rice trustee emeritus Charlie Szalkowski ’70 as tour guide. I was absolutely blown away and I think you should all go down there and see it for yourselves. The planes are stunning but the historical exhibits and the educational programs are just as enthralling.
I of course knew what a ball turret was and had read Randall Jarrell’s short poem The Death of the Ball Turrett Gunner, but it wasn’t until I saw one today on the B-17 below that I grasped its emotional reality. It was all I could do to keep my composure. This is a very powerful place and I’m going to urge you again to go.
I had a chance to tell the folks down there about two collections we have at Rice that might be of some use to them, the Ellington Field Collection and the remarkable collection of aeronautical history accumulated by Ben Anderson, the son of Frank Anderson and nephew of M.D. Anderson. This picture was taken in 1986, when Mr. Anderson and his wife, Mary, transferred the collection, one part of which is on the shelves behind them, to the Woodson archivist Nancy Boothe ’52, at left:
After Rice brought in an appraiser to examine all these materials, her report was featured in the Friends of Fondren Flyleaf the next year. Here’s the introduction, which gives some sense of the depth and breadth of this collection. It really is one of the jewels of the Woodson and if you’d like to know more here’s a link to the finding aid.
Bonus: I saw four herons sweep across the quad and light on top of Sewall Hall as I left campus this afternoon.