Friday Follies: Fake News, 1953

I don’t have any idea why they couldn’t just film commencement.

Bonus: There’s been some clamor for more bricks. This one, with its lovely lace background, was sent by reader Jeff Ross who says it’s a survivor from old Wiess.

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HMRC Thursday: A Man’s Got to Have His Priorities, 1958

In the Houston Post photo files that I’ve been working with each envelope contains both negatives and the assignment sheet that led to their production. So I can see that the photographer who was sent out to the Rice practice field on September 6, 1958 was supposed to be taking pictures of the team scrimmaging, thusly:

And obviously he did. He took, in fact, exactly three such pictures. Then he took nine more, all of the twirlers who were practicing on the other side of the field:


Bonus: I forgot to mention this earlier but for all you fans of the Rice architecture school there’s a program tonight at the HMRC about one of our own.

Collection Spotlight: MSS 0351 Betty Jo Jones Architectural Drawings

This evening will introduce customers to the Betty Jo Jones Collection, currently the only architectural collection at HMRC featuring the work of a female architect.  Jones, born Betty Jo Lackey, was a 1947 graduate of the Rice Institute.  Creating her own firm in the 1950s, Betty Jo Jones was one of Houston’s earliest female architects.  Her collection is primarily comprised of architectural drawings for small residential properties, typically in the suburbs surrounding Houston.  This presentation will highlight some of her work in the area, as well as her role in a male-dominated field.

Thursday, March 7, 2019      6:30-7:30 pm   Julia Ideson Building





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Hans Ander, ’25

I’m sure you all recall that a couple of years ago I discovered English Professor George Williams ’23 had left notes in his correspondence files describing his relationships with the letter writers. Here’s one that briefly describes the life and death of Joseph Davies, which I wrote about yesterday:

So far, so good, all totally as expected, but it’s the back side of the note that’s really interesting:

But who was Hans Ander? I’d never heard of him at all and he had had a small but  important part to play in the history of the institution. The first part was easy–he was a graduate fellow in the biology department. He was also a band guy. Ander spent several years trading off leadership roles in the band with Lee Chatham. One year he’d be director and the next president with Chatham taking the other job each year. (I have no clue what these jobs entailed, by the way.)

Here’s the band in 1921. Ander is the serious fellow with the french horn at far left:

And in 1925 he’s in the white sweater sitting at the far right:

After this promising start, things began to get confusing. I now understand that the reason I struggled to untangle his story is that he and his father were both Lutheran pastors in Texas at the same time. After graduation Ander continued to serve as a pastor and also went on to a long career as a teacher and administrator Texas educational institutions. In time, he began adding sons to the ministry:

Ander’s second son, Hans Jr., also became a Lutheran minister and was martyred during World War II in New Guinea. After this loss Ander left Texas to spend the last years of his career as the founding dean of the Alabama Lutheran Bible Institute in Tuscaloosa, an institution dedicated to the training of black ministers and church workers. He died in 1949, only a year after opening the school.

Here he is in a photograph from the Evangelical Lutheran Church Archives, second from left. That’s his wife Bertha next to him:

ALC 27 CNM Photographs Pastors, Teachers, Workers – Group
l. to r.
Rev. W. Sewell (Tuscaloosa, AL), Rev. & Mrs. H. Ander (Dean of Alabama Lutheran Bible Institute), E.E. Krebs, Percy McShaw (ALBI Student)
ALC 27/6 f. 25
ELCA Archives Image.


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The Grim Reaper Visits Faculty Council, 1966

There are weary days when I feel like I’ve seen it all but I have never seen this before:

Death may interrupt for a moment but the trivia of academic governance grinds ever onward.

Bonus: Dr. Davies.

Extra Bonus: Still cold.



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“we used to laugh because that’s the only place he was happy”

I’ve been poking around recently in the papers gathered by Fredericka Meiners ’63, ’72 during the writing of her book on the early history of Rice. (This is an exceptionally accurate work, by the way, and I refer to it frequently.) Here’s the description of the collection, which brought a smile to my face:

The collection is made up primarily of materials created by Fredericka Meiners in writing her 1982 book A History of Rice University: The Institute Years, 1907-1963. It includes multiple draft copies with corrections and revisions. There are audio tapes of three interviews with transcriptions. There are also pre-publication responses to the text from readers including Ray Hoagland, who recommended particular changes in style and content.

If you ever knew Ray Hoagland ’36, I bet that made you smile too. Her recommendations tended to be rather . . . emphatic. I’m not really even sure that “recommendation” is the right word.

In any event, what I’m interested in right now are the interviews, some of which are currently out for transcription. One of the ones that had already been done is of an interview Meiners did with William Masterson ’35. There’s a lot going on in this interview, some of it quite important, but one small detail caught my eye. Here’s a short excerpt from the middle of it, with the arcane topic under discussion being the arrangement of the offices of senior administrators in Lovett Hall:

It’s the bit written out by hand about Houston only being happy in the lab. After  nearly thirty years in these archives I can testify that that was absolutely correct. In the end, you can’t hide from a patient researcher. William Houston was a physicist. That’s what he was. That’s what he loved.

Many years ago I found this drawing in Bud Morehead’s papers. It shows the alterations made to Lovett Hall’s north wing when Houston assumed Rice’s presidency in 1946. Zoom in and look over on the left side. It warms my heart to know that he could keep a lab just a few steps away from the president’s office. It must have been a refuge.

Bonus: They were very serious about this.


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Friday Follies: George Rupp Celebrates Staff Appreciation Day

I’d rather have this than the ice cream social:

Bonus: When I got back from vacation I saw that the chairs outside the Brochstein Pavilion had been replaced. I thought “Who authorized these crazy chairs?!” Then I remembered that I’d actually tried them out myself when Raymond ’55 and Susan Brochstein were picking them out. They’re quite comfortable. So, just carry on as usual, I guess.



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HMRC Thursday: Parsons’ Bricks Attract National Attention, 1957

This didn’t start out to be about bricks but quickly wound its way over that direction. I found this set of pictures in the collection of Houston Post negatives downtown at the HMRC. The first one in the envelope was of Rice art professor David Parsons welding something. My first reaction was to wonder not what he was doing but where he was doing it. It doesn’t look at all familiar:

The next image in the batch immediately cleared up both issues. He was working on one of the two large sculptures he did for the new science buildings. I believe this is the one for Geology. It hadn’t occurred to me that they would have been executed on site but they were so big it makes sense. Both of these sculptures are now long gone and I have never found a single picture of either one of them. This is partly my fault as the one by the east staircase of  Biology was still there as of about fifteen years ago and I failed to take a photo when I had the chance. If you happen to have one I’d love to know about it, partly to assuage my guilt.

The last picture finally gets us to some bricks. Here’s Parsons examining one of the  bricks he made for the buildings, with the mold in his hands no less. I’m guessing this is Anderson Biology:

And a Thresher article explains how and why he did it:

Bonus: In January, 2017 the St. Joe Brick guy brought samples for the new performing arts building. I caught them over by the Humanities Building. Whatever they picked is what’s currently sitting out in the parking lot.

Extra Bonus: We’re doing renovations at my house and there’s pile of them in my driveway too.

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