Pall Malls, Pizza, and Pepsi-Cola, no date

I found these, undated and otherwise unlabeled, in a packet in a box of things from Space Science. They are hard at work, building something:

Maybe working late, with pizza for dinner:

I don’t know where they are, what they’re building, or who they are, with the exception of the guy in the brown shirt who I think is Brian O’Brien, an early member of the Space Science faculty. (There’s a really interesting Rice News piece from his 2019 return to campus here.)

I would particularly like to know who this elegant young woman is:


Bonus: These were in the same packet might well be what they were building. Took two photos to get the whole thing in and the piece on the very tip looks likely.

As usual, any help would be greatly appreciated.

Extra Bonus: Where am I standing?

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16 Responses to Pall Malls, Pizza, and Pepsi-Cola, no date

  1. harnmarsh says:

    My guess on where you are standing is: a balcony on an upper floor of the western end of Duncan Hall.

  2. Bob Casey says:

    Have you reached out to Alex Dessler for info on the photos? He is living in College Station and might be able to help.

  3. Bob Swanson says:

    I think you’re standing on the new Abercrombie.

  4. Marc Hairston says:

    I don’t recognize any of the folks there (well before my time at Space Physics), but they are building some instruments (can’t tell which ones) for measuring the upper atmosphere/ionosphere. That’s a sounding rocket and those were launched (and are still being launched) going up to 200-400 miles. The instrument package was probably in the gold/brown segment of the rocket in the last picture. Once it’s over about 50-60 miles up it deploys the instruments and measures whatever they’re looking at for the remaining 10 minutes or so of flight as it goes up and comes back down.

  5. James McAdams says:

    The gold segment is definitely an instrument package. The gold housing is visible in the first photo and 4 antennas in the last photo. The rolled sleeves, hair and test equipment, especially the frequency counters, feel like late 50s, maybe early 60s. I remember hearing about space science sounding rockets when I got to Rice in 69. The package they are building feels remarkably like the instrumentation I have built for pressure vessels in pipelines and the deep sea… long an skinny. Before my time, too. I do not have any other info more definite.

  6. Karen Shelton says:

    O’Conner 5th floor

  7. grungy1973 says:

    The word “Cola” was removed from Pepsi’s branding in the early ’60s (bottles on left, second photo above).
    A peek at close to a dozen sites talking about the brand history hasn’t narrowed it down to exactly when – some time between 1960 and 1962.

    • Although in the days of returnable glass bottles, local bottlers would continue to use bottles with “old” branding as long as the bottles were not damaged. You could determine the earliest date a bottle came into use by the branding, but not the latest.

  8. marmer01 says:

    When did takeout “pizza pie” become a thing? Could that have been from Valian’s?

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