Time Capsule, 1948

You may or may not have noticed that I haven’t posted for a while. Nothing is amiss, but I just needed a real break. Now, break taken, I’m back and with a backlog of really good material to talk about. With luck I’ll return for the foreseeable future to the usual schedule of writing once or twice week. I hope someone is still here to read it.

First up, always interesting–a time capsule. I got an email from FE&P saying that they’d found one in the cornerstone of Abercrombie when they started demolition and that I could pick it up in Cantu’s office. I was thwarted that first day by heavy rain but when I finally made it in I found a square copper box that you could kind of almost see into. I took it back to the Woodson and with a couple pairs of pliers pried it open:

Inside I found this:

All that stuff was actually in there, although mysteriously the only thing wrapped in cellophane was the list itself.  The newspaper clippings are interesting particularly because they show the explosion of new building on campus after World War II, driven in large part by the philanthropy of the Abercrombies, the Wiess family, the M.D. Anderson Foundation, and the Fondrens. This generosity transformed the face of campus in a very short span of time:

I was also interested in the date on the list: November 10, 1948. The formal opening of the building took place at Homecoming that year, which was held on November 20th. It hadn’t occurred to me that you’d put the time capsule in the cornerstone when the building was already finished. Just for fun, here’s the front page of the Thresher that talks about the opening:

I’m most grateful to FE&P for saving this piece of Abercrombie history.

Bonus: With trepidation I wandered over to Abercrombie to have a look at the action. Happily, this is what I found:

The workers had painstakingly removed the heavy pieces of the sculpture on the front of the building (about which more later), saving them–and the cornerstone–for use somewhere else, I’d guess in the new building. Pretty cool.

This, though, is kind of sad, even though I know it needs to happen:


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11 Responses to Time Capsule, 1948

  1. Richard A. Schafer says:

    The thresher article begs the question: when was there a snack bar in the basement of Fondren and what did it get named?

    • rusk49 says:

      I came to Houston in the summer of 1949 to register at Rice. The paint was barely dry on Fondren Library and somehow I met Sara Lane and got a brief tour. The snack bar was in the basement at that time. Coming from a town of 5000 in south Texas I had never seen a real library and was blown away.

  2. Bill Johnson '57 - '58. says:

    Was it called “The Roost” as a takeoff on the name of Samie? I believe that it was just south of the bookstore and on the east side of the room.

  3. Steve Lukingbeal, Hanszen ‘76 says:

    I’m going to give you and your pliers a call the next time I need to pry open something metallic.

  4. grungy1973 says:

    Cellophane resists a lot of things, but water vapor is not one of them.
    There were not a lot of choices back then.
    Yet the contents survived.

  5. Lou Ann Montana says:

    Of course we are still hear to read, Melissa – you can’t get rid of us that easily! Thank you!!

  6. How strange it sounds to the modern ear to learn that alumni must be “at once competent scientists and men of human understanding,” and that “he must have an education that will fit him to understand, and to work with other people…” Furthermore, “If an alumnus is to be a real asset to his alma mater, it is necessary that he forge a link between the college and the community,” and that “men of education and men of special skills are desirable citizens. Communities want them. Man for man, they, the trained, are worth more than the untrained…,” and “(h)ere the alumnus may be an outstanding representative of his college if he is willing to shoulder his responsibilities.” I guess women didn’t count in 1947!

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