Thanksgiving, 1956: “Help Hungary”

Thanksgiving in 1956 fell just after the rebellion in Hungary, begun as a student revolt, was crushed by the Soviet military. It was a somber time but American students rushed to raise relief funds, doing what they could to alleviate the suffering in any small way even as they gave thanks for their own blessings. Rabbi Schachtel was the speaker that year at the annual Rice Thanksgiving service, held across the street at Emanu El. I wish I knew what he said but we don’t seem to have any record of his remarks that day.


Bonus: Amidst all the sorrows of this strange year we are especially grateful for a new grandson. Forward we all go.

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14 Responses to Thanksgiving, 1956: “Help Hungary”

  1. Matthew Noall says:

    Congratulations on the latest addition, Melissa! Now two comments on your post. Miss Slipstick? I never heard of this tradition so it must have gone away before the early 70’s? Also greased pole and field?

    • almadenmike says:

      The earliest mention I found in a quick search was in 1944.

      The July 13, 1944, edition of the Thresher ( – school must have been year-round during WWII) announced that the Rice Engineering Society’s annual “The Engineer” ball — to be held July 22 in the Crystal Ballroom and South American Room of the Rice Hotel — would feature “a new attraction. It is the election of a Miss Slipstick of ’44. Each of the Lit societies and the Girls Club will put up one nominee for this honor. Voting will be carried on at the door and each boy must vote as he enters the dance.”

      The next week’s Thresher (July 20) included the nominees — Muriel Wicks, E. B.; Ann Martin, P.A.L.S.; Marion Holland, O.W.L.S.; and Barbara Hicks, the Girls Club. The Aug. 3 Thresher reported that Muriel Wicks was the winner … the first Miss Slipstick.

      The last Miss Slipstick I found was in in 1958. The Nov. 11, 1958 Thresher ( said “Candidates for ‘Miss Slipstick’ are chosen from the various engineering groups on campus. The A.S.M.E. has nominated Diana Thomas; A.I.Ch.E., Kathy Lacy; A.I.C.E., Judy Ladner; and E.E.’s Fanny Lou Lyne.” (Note that this article said the winner would be “Miss Slipstick of 1959.”)

      The Nov. 25, 1958, Thresher reported that “Diana Thomas was chosen to reign over the Engineers’ Ball Saturday night as ‘Miss Slipstick of 1958’. She received a gold bracelet in commemoration of the event at intermission. Kathy Lacy, Judy Ladner, and Fanny Lou Lyne, the princesses, received silver bracelets.”

      I didn’t find any mention of Miss Slipstick or the Engineers Ball in 1959. (But I didn’t look everywhere; I could have missed it.)

      However, an article on page 10 of the 32-page (!!) March 26, 2004, Thresher ( –headlined — Engineering Ball revived from ’50s — reported that “The Rice Engineering Society Council wants students to invite their favorite professors to a black-tie dinner and ball at the Momentum Porsche/Jaguar/Volvo dealership April 24. The Rice Engineering Ball will be held from 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. on the Saturday following the last day of classes. … The Engineering Ball will revive a past Rice tradition, which has not been held in about 40 years. Reviving the ball was the idea of RESC Chair Mark Lai. Lai, a Will Rice College senior, said he wanted to see Rice host a black-tie event with an interesting theme.”

      The calendar entry on page 19 of the April 23, 2004, Thresher said “there will also be a door prize to win a Jaguar for a weekend.”

      A slow-dancing couple at the “E-Ball” was shown on page 10 of the May 24, 2004, Thresher.

      None of the 2004 articles mentioned “Miss Slipstick”.

    • almadenmike says:

      Matthew — Regarding the greased pole, this Rice History Corner post ( has a number of comments and links regarding its 1967 demise.

      • Matthew Noall says:

        Thanks! Definitely a tradition best kept in the distant past by never to be resurrected. Almost losing a foot over a prank !

        • grungy1973 says:

          The grassless depression in the ground where the greased pole stood was still there when I started in ’73.
          It was across from the old tennis courts next to Wiess, on the Autry side of where the band practice field used to be.

  2. Paula Eisenstein Baker says:

    I wonder whether Josh Furman would know where the text of Rabbi Schachtel’s 1956 Thanksgiving remarks might be found. Since the talk took place at Emanu El, their archives might have a copy. And Schachtel’s own archives may be at Beth Israel.

  3. Galloway Hudson (Wiess '60) says:

    Within a year or so. a Hungarian refugee named Janos Lazar joined the Rice community.. He was one year behind me in Mechanical Engineering, and I’m pretty sure he graduated with his class despite the language difficulty. I always greatly admired him. I don’t know what he did after Rice. Other readers may know.

  4. Francis Eugene "Gene" Pratt Rice Institute 1956 says:

    I wonder how many OWLS of that era remember the Hungarian rebels’ comments after the USA gave NO miliatry aid to them when the Russian tanks rolled into Hungary?
    A paraphrase: If the USA will NOT help us, then keep your “Voice of America” propaganda out of Hungary.
    I, for one, was ashamed. Eisenhower was the President.
    Reminiscent of the Cubans that were abandoned by the Kennedy administration.

  5. Nita Jackson says:

    Hi, Melissa- How can we see a pic of page 9 of that Thresher so we can read the rest of the Vandiver article?

    • almadenmike says:

      Nita — Here’s the pdf link for that Thresher issue:

      Scrolling down to page 9, I see that the jump text is quite short, so I’ll copy/paste it below:

      – – –
      marched to battle both as state militia and as Confederate forces. Each state wanted to care for its own men and no others. The Confederate government, desperate to get men into the field, was forced to accept with thanks all the efforts of the states and try to work out the problems of state and national authority later.

      A central agency charged from “the beginning with planning Confederate mobilization might have minimized some of the effects of “separate state action.” But there was no such agency, and the tradition-minded South found itself caught in a mammoth struggle for which previous wars offered no precedent.

      To all who have ever “fought” the Civil War, Rebel Brass will provide insight and ammunition.
      – – –

  6. We need pictures of the various Miss Slipsticks!

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