With the help of loyal readers Mike Ross ’70 ’74 and Marty Merritt ’85 (and a much needed visit to the Woodson this morning!) we have a solution to last week’s Semper Fidelis mystery. In Lovett’s files I found several pieces of correspondence from June, 1941 relating to the efforts of the club to honor Dr. Axson. This first letter was sent to Alan McKillop of the English Department who forwarded it to Dr. Lovett:
Lovett’s typical gracious response:
Note that they asked for the books to be marked in honor of Axson–hence the book plate–and that it was to be McKillop who selected the books for the library. I’ll have more to say about this tomorrow.
This club does not seem to have been affiliated with Rice. It was organized by a group of local women in the wake of Axson’s death and my best guess is simply that they had heard him speak and admired him. Axson was a frequent public speaker, both as part of the Rice Institute lecture series and in many outside venues in Houston, across Texas, and far beyond. His style would be considered ornate today but at the time it was what was expected of a sensitive and scholarly gentleman. Here’s a link to his 1925 Rice commencement address, a really interesting and for him pretty direct talk in my opinion.
Turning to the Houston Post sheds some light on the club. This article from February 15, 1939 was the first mention of them I found:
And especially interesting was this, also from the Houston Post, in the edition of March 1, 1940, on the genesis of the bookplate itself:
Nolan Barrick ’37 was a student of William Ward Watkin and later his son-in-law–he married Watkin’s daughter Rosemary. After teaching at Iowa State and Texas he joined the faculty in the school of architecture at Texas Tech in 1953, where he spent most of his career, much of it as department chair. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I own a book he wrote about the architecture of the Texas Tech campus, much of it designed by his father-in-law.