Update: You have to read the comments to this one. I got every possible date wrong and even which anniversary it was. It’s absolutely epic. The pictures are still awesome, though.
You may remember that after his death I posted some undated pictures of President Bush at a Rice football game:
After seeing them loyal reader John Wolda ’57 sent me some of his own shots of Bush at that game. Here’s one with former Rice Board chairman Charles Duncan ’47 and Elizabeth Gillis:
John also explained that the game, which was played on October 18, 2003, was a special one, honoring the great 1957 team on the 50th anniversary of that season. (Yes, I know it wasn’t really 50 years. But it was close enough and we were playing Navy. Who beat us again.) I wrote about this season game by game back in 2012 (here’s a link to the post about the A&M game) but I never got to the last one. This was the Cotton Bowl, played against Navy on New Year’s Day, 1958. The Midshipmen gave us a pretty good beating, winning 20-7, which makes writing about it not so much fun.
What brings this to mind right now is that among the images that David Davidson ’58 sent us are several he took up in Dallas at this game. There are some real beauties:
This last one is quite interesting. Rice’s Homecoming Queen that year was Penny Blackledge who also became the Cotton Bowl Queen. When the all-male Naval Academy found out that she had a twin sister, Patti, and that their father was a 1920 alumnus of the Academy, they asked Patti to be their Queen for the game. So I don’t know which one this is:
Melissa, I was Rice ’59. I attended that Cotton Bowl. My wife, Pat McNabb, was in high school and I had trouble convincing her folks that this was a once in a life time deal and that it would be totally supervised. She did get to go. In May we will have our 60th anniversary. Time flies. I also have memories of King Hill and Frank Ryan for another day.
JIm Walzel ’59
Thanks, Jim. It really was a once in a lifetime deal. We’ve never been back and didn’t win another conference championship for something like 35 years.
Like my future colleague at Shell Oil Co., Jim Walzel, I was also at that game, along with my future wife, Mary Ruyle, and my dad. It was a beautiful day, but cold at the start of the game. Rice had been there four years before, and four years before that, so we assumed that four year cycle could go on forever; but the 1958 game was the first bowl game Rice ever lost, and we have not won many since. Mary and I reached 60 years this past June. I suppose that game was good for engaged Rice students, or at least for those who later worked for Shell.
Rice didn’t play a game October 13, 2008. On October 18, the Owls, who were good that year, beat Southern Miss 45-40. That was the only home game Rice played in October that season, so if the month and year are right, that must have been the game. 2008 seems like an odd time to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1957 team, though perhaps the observance honored the Cotton Bowl appearance.
Yes, the 18th is right. Typo!
Also I typed 2008 instead of 2003! In my defense I spent the day moving house and was extremely tired. Hopefully, that’s all!
Ah, that makes sense because the opponent October 18, 2003, was Navy, same as in the 1958 Cotton Bowl. Sadly, the Midshipmen won both games — the score of the 2003 game, 45 years and a few months later, was 38-6.
My favorite honoring of, I believe, that same 1957 squad was at a 1989 game. Rice was getting slaughtered by Arkansas when the former players were introduced one by one at halftime. As each middle-aged alum trundled out onto the field, a very Rice-like chant rose from the student section: “Let them play! Let them play!”
That’s the most spirit-lifting thing I’ve heard in a long time.
Melissa, it was actually the ‘53 that was being honored.
lol! So I essentially got nothing right this time. Better luck tomorrow, I guess.
I too was at the game—freshman, class of “61. One of the most unique plays that day had Frank Ryan at quarterback and King Hill at end. Frank threw the ball at least 60 yards in the air and King Hill caught it—-but was one step out of the end zone. This was the same year I bowed to the Owl what seemed like 10 hours (only the fourth quarter) when Rice upset No.1 A&M. Unfortunately, Rice’s win was second page throughout the country that day as first page was taken up with Notre Dame halting Oklahoma’s 47(?) game win streak.
Melissa, I was a journalist before I clawed my way to the bottom and became a lawyer. I had days like that. I love the story about the twin Cotton Bowl queens.
Many thanks, Andy. I’ll lick ’em tomorrow.
Hi, Melissa and fans of Rice History Corner –
I am Michael A. Blackledge, a younger brother of Patti and Penny Blackledge of 1958 Cotton Bowl fame. I won’t mention that I am a Navy grad, Class of 1963. And I’m not even sure who is in the photo! But I am strongly suggesting it is Penny, as she reminds us, she was THE Cotton Bowl Queen! Penny continues to reside in Los Alamitos, CA with her husband Fred Woods (Captain of Rice Basketball Team 1957); Patti lives here in Albuquerque, NM with her husband Dr. Richard Blide, formerly of the Cooper Clinic in Dallas. For all your history fans, I have uploaded some of Penny’s memorabilia (photos and clippings) of that glorious history which can be found In The Cloud Forever at: https://archive.org/details/1958CottonBowlQueens
– Mike Blackledge
Thanks, Mike. That’s awesome.
Michael, I’m looking at the archive you provided a link to. Thank you! It’s fascinating reading. So many interesting tidbits. The article titled Dixie Twins Hit Jackpot was one of those; I’ve never before seen an article describe a woman’s choice of makeup colors! Clothing yes, extensively, but not makeup.
Thank you for sharing!! Very cool! I live in Albuquerque too. Maybe we should have another Rice alum get together some time.
Mike: You’re certainly correct that the photo above shows Penny, the Cotton Bowl Queen. It matches this photo of Penny in your archive: https://ia600709.us.archive.org/23/items/1958CottonBowlQueens/PennScraps3_097-2-1958Jan1-CottonBowl-PennyFloat.jpg
… while Patti’s float is different: https://ia800709.us.archive.org/23/items/1958CottonBowlQueens/PennScraps3_084-2-1958Jan1-CottonBowlFloat-Patti.jpg
I attended the game honoring the 50th anniversary of the 1957 team. I was permitted to escort Wade Dueitt, a son of Larry Dueitt, to the festivities afterward. Larry was a high school classmate of mine. He died earlier in the year. I’m almost certain that game was played on November 3, 2007. I am trying to confirm that. Here is a link to the game report, but I did not see a mention of the ceremony. https://www.ricefootball.net/07utep909.htm