What on earth is going on here? I scanned these images a couple of years ago then, confused, forgot about them:
The answer is in the 1924 Campanile, which I am still looking at today. This was an actual fight, part of a nearly week long tussle between the new freshmen and their would-be sophomore overlords. The freshmen came out on top in the end, led by their clever class president William McVey:
It’s hard to know where to start with McVey, one of the most interesting characters of this era. He was both a football player and an artist while at Rice and he went on to a long and productive career as a sculptor. Here’s his entry in the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History (yes, that’s a real thing). I’ve got some good stuff about his pieces on the Rice campus which I will dig out for tomorrow.
Bonus: Fondren is closed as of this afternoon but I would like to say that we’ve been washing our hands in there since before it was cool.
Enjoyed this piece. Re: the last picture: What if you’re not just visiting, but live there?
It’s always made me smile. It sounds like you and the toilet have been sitting out on the porch drinking sweet tea.
William McVey carved the friezes on the exterior of the San Jacinto Monument.
Very curious that an artist from Cleveland would choose to attend an infant institute almost on the frontier in 1923/1924. I surmise that either 1) he was recruited to play football; or 2) the reputation of W. W. Watkin had spread far and wide by that time. Once, at Homecoming, I asked Dr. Lebron how he liked living on the frontier. He replied, “Oh, Houston is not on the frontier. Dallas is, but not Houston”.
This article supports your recruitment hypothesis … and not so much Watkin’s reputation, as he returned to Cleveland to complete his degree:
He enrolled at the Cleveland School of Art (which later became the Cleveland Institute of Art), but soon seized another opportunity that took advantage of his athletic, six-foot-4-inch frame. He played football for Rice University’s Coach John Heisman, on a full scholarship. After three years (and several nose realignments) he returned to Cleveland to complete his degree.
But this Woodson Online article says he came to Rice as an architecture student, and THEN was recruited to play football.
I wonder if there are any articles or oral history interviews in which McVey told what really happened.
An article about McVey in the January 1961 Sallyport quoted a Cleveland Plain Dealer (newspaper) article about the sculptor: “His football career reached its peak when he missed a sideline tackle and hit the water bucket with his head, denting same.”
Turnverein Hall: “In 1913 the club moved to into a large four story building at Prairie and Austin that had been designed by Sanguinet, Staats, and Barnes. This complex contained a gymnasium, a library, meeting rooms, bowling alleys, ballrooms, banquet rooms, and a theater which could seat between 300 and 400 people.”