So . . . . . It’s Me Again

Before I leave for vacation I need to tell you all how astonished I was by the reaction to my retirement. Honestly, I had no idea. The comments, emails, and facebook comments were deeply moving and I’m so very grateful for those expressions of appreciation for my work and of good wishes for the future. I’ll never be able to live up to them!

Also–don’t laugh–I’m already a little bored. So here’s a classic piece of obsolete technology to keep our spirits up until I get back. The first time I saw this I was so enchanted by the bedspread (and those tiles! certainly asbestos) that I failed to notice the slide rules:

But there’s more–zoom in and take a look at that old-time clock. It looks like you have to wind it up. And is it sitting on top of a transistor radio? There’s no date on this–I called it circa 1950 but it could well be somewhat later than that, although probably not earlier. I don’t know much about the history of radios but this kind of small radio (if that’s what it is) doesn’t start showing up in pictures until the 1950s.


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14 Responses to So . . . . . It’s Me Again

  1. Fascinating picture. It is definitely Wiess College. It is identical to my room at Wiess, except a mirror image. I don’t recognize the two men. I had a clock exactly like that one, and my mother had a radio exactly like that one in her kitchen. This could have been anywhere from about 1950 to the mid-1960s. I used a slide rule at Rice when I was there (and I used it for a couple of decades after). I saved a copy of the picture, and noticed that the file name is Wiess-Hall-c1950-046.wepb. I suspect you gave it the name, using 1950 as a date guess.

  2. Matt Schreck says:

    Melissa, I cannot believe I missed your retirement announcement! As an avid follower, I, too, have mixed emotions as many others. Happiness for your plans into the future, but sad that your regular, must-read posts illuminating both the history and, yes, oddities of Rice over the years are coming to an end. Perhaps you can swoop in on occasion to say hello, let us know how you are doing, and dig up yet another historical tidbit for our entertainment (and, of course, edification). Over these many years, you and I never met. But in a tribute to you as a blogger and, more importantly, as a person, I feel like I know you (a bit) and that you will leave us all with the fondest of memories. Take care and happy travels!

  3. Bob Casey says:

    Tennis court wing at old Wiess…

    Melissa- what will we do without you and your blog? You bring a regular smile to my day!

  4. Matt Schreck says:

    P.S. — yes, that’s the tennis wing at Wiess. Based on where the tennis court is, I spent a semester in the adjoining room a long, long time ago. Phew!

  5. Chemistry 101 went to calculator accuracy (rather than slide rule accuracy) in my freshman year, 1976.

  6. Jessie fitzsimons says:

    Cuffs are those kids?

  7. Ann Pound Hopkins says:

    I missed your retirement announcement as well! I guess your’e going to be playing with that new grandbaby? I hope you remember me even though I haven’t written in quite a while. Please respond when you have time.
    Ann Pound Hopkins

  8. If that is a transistor radio, this photo cannot be earlier than 1957. Sony introduced the first mass-produced transistor radio that year.

  9. Galloway Hudson. Wiess '60 says:

    That room is a mirror image of one Ramil Wright and I shared as sophomores in m1957-58. I was near the door, and Ramil was at the other end. Our suitemates (shared bath facilities) were two freshman who both eventually flunked out. That was a great room to have in many respects, especially before air conditioning.

  10. Pat Martin says:

    Speaking from my memories as a coed in SE Texas in the 1950s, I can assure you that cuffed jeans and white t-shirts with rolled-up sleeves was the accepted male uniform–and a most appealing one.

  11. Barney L. McCoy, Hanszen 67 says:

    It’s before 1963. By that date the courts were a more modern surface like Laykold and the outer fence had a windbreak fabric attached.

  12. Michael Bludworth says:

    Not a transistor radio but a tube table radio. 1950 is as right as anything.

  13. Melissa,
    I also missed your announcement. I’m sorry you are leaving us but happy for your retirement.
    I alwys planned to drop in and meet you but it never happened. I’m so sorry for that.
    Best Wishes,
    gene pratt, Rice Institute 1956.

  14. Joe Graves says:

    All very interesting, as usual. Your amazing contributions will be missed. Slide rules were de rigueur for engineering and science students until the 1970s when they were replaced by the early Texas Instruments electronic calculators that qualified as hand-held (as compared to the Wang suitcase calculators which arrived on campus in the late 1960s when one was acquired and allowed undergraduate to calculate to more than three significant digits without resorting to logarithmic tables). Two other things in the picture caught my eye. First, although I can’t quite see the iconic star on the ankle (it’s hidden by the jeans) those white shoes, with the distinctive colored ring at the top edge of the rubber sole where it meets the canvas upper, sure look like Converse All-Star high tops to me. Second, the vintage light fixtures were typical mid-century modern. The long neck, between the circular base mounted on the wall and the modern conical shape that housed a single light bulb, was similar to (or maybe was, indeed) metal electrical conduit. It was stiff enough to firmly hold the lamp in place, but also flexible enough to let you change the height of the light and the angle at which it was pointing over a rather large range of options. However, to do so, would require resetting it only after it had been turned off for a significant time to cool, or using a heavy towel as a “pot holder” if you wanted to redirect it while it was still illuminated. Today, it quite possibly would be prohibited from being sold because of the risk of inflicting burns.

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