Cocktail Hour, no date

It’s 5:00 and I’m about to have one even though I’ll never be as cool as architecture profs Andy Todd and Will Cannaday.

Bonus: I’ll also never be as cool as my little grandson, who just walked right up and joined the Christmas choir even though he can’t really talk much yet.

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Merry Christmas from Jones North, 1959

Yesterday I received a wonderful surprise. In the mail came a big packet sent by loyal reader Karl Benson ’63 that turned out to be full of photographs taken by his late wife, Carolyn Susan Emmenecker, class of 1963 (no degree). And they really are just absolutely wonderful, a candid look at life inside Jones North in 1959 and 1960–and all labeled and dated! These are a treasure and my gratitude to Mr. Benson is heartfelt.

I’ll need several posts to do them justice but since it’s the Christmas season I’ll begin with these. It looks like the young women spent time making holiday decorations for each other’s room:

And here is the first Jones housemother, Mrs. Morrow, opening presents under the college tree. From the happy look on her face and the shape of the box it may have been an official Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-Shot Range Model air rifle!

But maybe not.

I have it on pretty good authority that Mrs. Morrow was really a peach. Here’s a bit more about her:

Bonus: Here’s the Jones tree in 1960, in faded color. I like the crazy angle.

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“I’m pissed,” no date

I found this sequence of images in the Bill Wilson stuff we recently acquired. There are no dates or labels of any kind. I know at least one of you out there knows what’s going on here though, so if you do, please tell me. I love them, by the way, for their pure silliness:

You mad, bro?

Bonus: Front desk at Fondren. We’re doing our best.


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Thanksgiving Leftovers

I happened upon this while browsing in old Threshers the other day. My first instinct was to save it for next year but after all who knows where any of us will be by then. So here we have Thanksgiving, 1943:

We certainly take a lot for granted.


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My personal debt to Rice University . . . is quite fundamental,” 1963

F. Ellis Johnson was one of the original members of the Rice faculty. He arrived in Houston in 1912 to take up his first teaching position as an instructor in the nascent Department of Electrical Engineering and stayed until 1915. He held a bachelor’s degree in E.E. from the University of Wisconsin and came to Rice from a job with the British Columbia Electric Railway Company. Johnson never returned to industry, spending instead the rest of his career as a teacher. Here he is in a very early image, which I’ll call circa 1913, standing in front of the Mech Lab:

After the Semi-Centennial celebration in 1962 the Association of Rice Alumni awarded all the original faculty honorary alumni status, sending each a scroll with a message of gratitude. Ellis responded in a lovely and unexpected letter with gratitude of his own:

And here he is with those young men from whom he learned the joy of teaching:

Even though there have been some days when I surely did not like Rice University very much there is no question that, like Johnson, my debt is fundamental. Winding up here was truly one of the luckiest breaks of my life. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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Friday Follies: Mechanical Malfunction

I like this guy’s style:

It turned up in Dr. Bill’s stuff, by the way, undated.

Bonus: I don’t understand this either.

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Secession, 1992

We recently received a whole bunch of Dr. Bill Wilson’s things in the Woodson and among them I found these peculiar documents:

This is, of course, a complete mystery. If anyone can explain, please do. Although I suspect no really good explanation is possible.

Bonus: The real treasures in the boxes are the hundreds of recordings of Rice events made by Dr. Bill.

Extra Bonus:

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“the first such award ever to be made,” 1937

Last week’s post about how Dr. Lovett received the scroll and the second Gold Medal from the Rice alumni in 1941 immediately raises the question of who got the first one.  My initial guess turned out to be correct–it was Will Rice (last seen here sporting at the Houston Country Club.)

All the supporting material turned up in the ARA files that I wandered into the other day:

I found the ARA president’s remarks as well:

All true, of course, and I might add that Will Rice was not yet finished with his generosity to the Institute–he left a legacy of over 2 million dollars at his death.

But the thing I found touching was this: they paid for the medal and scroll by chipping in for them. Here’s the list of contributors, many of them familiar to long time readers:

Also a bit of a surprise was the fact that they didn’t award these every year. Only eleven were given out between 1937 and 1959:

I was stumped for a moment by Mrs. Malcolm W. Perkins, then realized that’s Sallie Shepherd Perkins, who gave the gift to establish the Shepherd School.


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Lost Again, circa 1970

Poking around in my laptop I came across this image taken sometime in the late 1960s or early 1970s by Bob Roosth ’70 ’71, who was a photographer for the Thresher and the Campanile. I have no idea who any of these people are but I was enjoying the fashion (especially that sweet shift dress on the young woman in the middle) when I realized that I don’t know where they are. I can’t recall what sidewalk would have had that kind of landscaping alongside.

Any thoughts?

Bonus: Another question. Why is that railing there? There isn’t one in front of any of the other Maxfield Hall basement windows.

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Maxfield Hall, Part 2

As promised, a couple of small things I noticed at Maxfield Hall the other day.

First, remember the long saga about the original light fixtures in the Mech Lab cloisters? If you missed it, the story is here and here. I really hate to leave loose ends so I went and took a close look at the new fixtures to see what they finally came up with. Well, they aren’t precisely identical to the originals –not unexpected after a hundred and ten years–but are pretty darn close and historically appropriate:

And second, even more interesting, are the basement windows, which are no longer bricked up. This was taken looking up from one of the basement meeting rooms:

I take this to mean that the Powers That Be have decided that the Cuban Missile Crisis is now over.

Bonus: I got a big box of photos today that were taken at various History Department events during the 1990s. There’s a lot of good stuff in there that I’ll study more closely when I have a minute but I can’t help but notice what good looking graduate students they had back in those days.

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