Some Surprises in a High School Yearbook, 1931

Just before Christmas break I spent some time down in the Woodson’s annex, a large work room where we sort out large, sometimes very disorganized new collections. The largest and most disorganized I’ve ever seen is Doc C’s stuff and a portion of it is now laid out across the work tables. I wasn’t even really working while I was there, just looking. There is so much material, so amazing and so varied, that it’s going to take some time to figure out how to approach it all. In the meantime, I was poking around without any intent. When I stumbled across an old high school yearbook my first thought was that it was so random that it was probably something we wouldn’t keep for the collection:

I nearly jumped out of my skin when I opened it and found this note tucked in the front:

(Editor’s Note: There was zero chance, by the way, that Doc would ever throw this out. That warning was meant for me, a known dimwit.)

The problem now, of course, was to figure out why it would be stupid to get rid of the book. I brought it upstairs so I could sit down and read through it carefully and it didn’t take long to discover something absolutely wonderful. The list of faculty is full of early Rice women grads! Look, there’s Adele Waggaman ’16 (of the famous Waggaman sisters), Lel Red ’16, and Helen Weinberg ’17!

Two minutes later I realized that this wasn’t what Doc was talking about. It was the debate coach he was interested in (although in all honesty I care more about the Rice grads):

Next to it I found an 1853 copy of the book of Exodus, translated into Cherokee.


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Happy New Year, With Owls

I returned to campus after the holiday break today, rather unsteady on my feet and without any clear memory of what I was working on before vacation. Classes don’t start until next week so my intention is to sort of ease my way back into things before the spring semester lunacy commences.

In that spirit today I offer a simple re-entry post. I’ve never had all that much interest in the whole owl thing, having seen too many alumni owl collections get wildly out of hand, but sometimes one will catch my eye. In Rice’s early years owl images very everywhere in student publications and they were quite various and often charming. Today there was a box in the back of the Woodson that held Pender Turnbull’s (’19) Campaniles. As I looked through them I noticed that each one had a book plate glued to the inside of the front cover. Here’s the one from 1917, with a confused looking little owl and the view towards Mech Lab from the late, lamented Gate 3:

1919 also featured an owl, this one much more threatening, with its scowl and suggestion that time is running out:

The 1917 label wasn’t anywhere near that dramatic but still elegant:

I spent most of the afternoon with this all rolling around in the back of my mind. Where would these labels have come from? And why would you paste one in your book then not bother to write your name on it? The answer is you wouldn’t. A quick check of some other copies reveals that they came already pasted into the book. Two birds with one stone!

Bonus: Not owls. Peacocks with hideous, hideous lighting.

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“Cordial holiday greetings,” 1930

This simple and elegant card is what the Lovetts sent out to friends and colleagues every year. I think it’s lovely, with the embossed Rice shields and the pretty engraving:

Until a few weeks ago I’d never seen any other Christmas greetings issue forth from Dr. Lovett but one day as I was looking through his correspondence files I found, of all things,  an unexpected Christmas telegram:

The addressee was Robert Granville Caldwell, who arrived at Rice to teach American History in 1914 and stayed for nearly twenty years, becoming in the process Rice’s first Dean. He and his family spent the 1930 academic year in Grenoble and were visited for an extended period by the family of Philosophy professor Radoslav Tsanoff. And I just happen to have a photograph of the Caldwell and Tsanoff children, the youthful contingent of the colony, taken on this very Christmas of 1930:

As usual the Woodson will be closed over the holiday, beginning Monday and reopening on January 2nd. I’m off from today until the sixth, which means essentially that I’ll be off email (as much as possible) but still posting here on a very irregular schedule. By which I mean only when I feel like it.

And like Dr. Lovett, I send cordial holiday greetings to all of you! See you in January.

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“Delivery Receipt,” 1975

Every once in a while I notice how strange it is that we still have stuff like this, all carefully catalogued. I think it’s delightful, although I could live without the quotation marks:

We also have a collection of Rice presidents’ holiday cards, from which I extracted this one, roughly of the same vintage as the receipt (although likely a bit more towards 1980):

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“The Seventh Richest Educational Institution in the Country,” 1915

It was a rare quiet afternoon in the Woodson today, the last day of finals. This meant–even rarer–that I had some time to simply explore, meandering through the collections just to see if anything good would turn up. After a while I found myself crouched down in the rare books stacks, leafing through old books and magazines from or about Houston. I came upon quite a few interesting things but the best was this, the 1915 City Book of Houston, which featured the Rice Administration Building on its cover:

This volume contained exactly what its cover promises: reports of all departments of the city, lots of facts and figures, and a great deal of enthusiasm about all of Houston’s progress. Roads, bridges, new fire wagons, library budgets, waste disposal, etc., etc., etc. There are also lots of photographs, including several of Rice. The top two images here aren’t really breathtaking or anything but I’m reasonably certain I’ve never seen them before. The bottom one is a drawing:

The next page is where things get weird. The top photo is new to me but mundane. But the bottom one is–what the heck? It also seems to be a drawing and one that looks like it came from some alternate reality. The reflecting pools are strange enough but I’ve seen that in other drawings. There are no Italian cypresses, which I’ve never seen omitted before. But it’s the statue at the far left that really looks odd:

All in all, it’s left me feeling rather uneasy.

Bonus: I never feel completely good about this either.

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Friday Follies: Offsides?

I know nothing about rugby but I’m pretty sure something is wrong here. The ball seems to be on the ground. I don’t know, maybe they’re dancing.

Also, there’s a dog involved which can’t be usual.

Bonus: Cohen House decorated for Christmas.

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HMRC Thursday: Santa, 1964

From the Houston Post Photo Collection, RGD006N 8580:

Don’t those look like feet on the right side?

Well, it’s because they are:

Times have most definitely changed.

Bonus: And another thing! Kids today have it too easy. Back in the day I had to leave bread crumbs behind to find my way through Fondren.


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Order of Service, November 10, 1960

While I was going through the RMC chapel material, which is extensive, I came across this program from a service held there in the fall on 1960. It looks like the standard fare of the era and was initially notable to me mostly for the inclusion of the great Psalm 151:

Then I noticed the speaker: Bishop James A. Pike, about whom words simply fail me. His papers are at Syracuse and here is the Biographical Note to that collection:

James Albert Pike (1913-1969) was an American clergyman, lawyer, and author. He wrote and spoke extensively on the church and social problems, Christian and legal ethics, pastoral psychology, psychical research, and spiritualism.

Pike was born February 14th, 1913 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to James A. Pike and Pearl Agatha Wimsatt Pike. After his father died he moved to California with his mother where he graduated from Hollywood High School in 1930 and attended the Santa Clara University for two years. From 1932-1933 he attended the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), then transferred to the University of Southern California (USC), where he received his BA in 1934 and an LLB from the university’s law school in 1936. That same year he was admitted to the California bar.

Pike received a Sterling Fellowship and spent part of 1936-1937 studying for a doctorate in law at Yale, where he was awarded the JSD in 1938. He served as an expert in federal procedure at Catholic University Law School (1938-1939) and in civil procedures at George Washington University Law School (1939-1942), then with a fellow lawyer he established the law firm of Pike and Fischer, specializing in the publication of books on federal judicial and administrative procedure.

Pike married Jane Alvies in Los Angeles on August 14, 1938. They separated at the beginning of 1940 and were divorced in October 1941. On January 29, 1942, he married Esther Yanovsky, whom he had met while she was attending his law class at George Washington. He and Esther had four children: Catherine, James Jr., Constance, and Christopher.

In 1942 Pike joined the Office of Naval Intelligence and later sought and received a commission as Lieutenant (jg) in the Naval Reserve. In 1943 he was accepted as a postulant in the Protestant Episcopal Church. In 1944 he moved to the United States Maritime Commission, War Shipping Administration, but then requested and received inactive duty status due to his ordination as deacon in December of that year. His first appointment in the Church was as curate at St. John’s Church in Washington. At the same time, he served as chaplain to Episcopal students at George Washington and studied at Virginia Theological Seminary.

In 1946 he left Washington to become a fellow and tutor at the General Theological Seminary in New York, and a few months later (November 1, 1946) he was ordained to the priesthood of the Protestant Episcopal Church. In 1947 he was appointed rector of Christ Church in Poughkeepsie, New York; he also served as chaplain to students at Vassar College. In 1949 he became chaplain at Columbia University in New York; together with Professor Ursula Niebuhr he established Columbia’s Department of Religion.

In 1952 Pike became Dean of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, where he made the pulpit a place for discussion of the religious and social problems of the day. He became known as a spokesman for liberal Protestantism and in 1955 was invited by the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) to host a series television programs. In 1956 he participated in a trip to Israel to study and report on Arab refugee problems, and in 1957 he was appointed to the Zellerbach Commission, which studied refugee issues across Europe.

He was selected bishop-coadjutor by the annual convention of the diocese of California and consecrated to the position May 15, 1958; later that year, following the death of Bishop Karl Morgan Block, he became the fifth Bishop of California. He held the position for seven years, until he resigned in 1965 after a sabbatical at Cambridge. Shortly thereafter (1966) he joined the staff at the Center for Democratic Institutions in Santa Barbara, where he established a foundation to aid people experiencing a transition in their religious lives and began an extensive schedule of speaking engagements.

A series of inexplicable events following the suicide of Pike’s son James Jr. in 1966 convinced Pike that his son was attempting to communicate with h im from beyond the grave, and he turned his investigative attention to the field of psychic phenomena. This capped an increasingly contentious career, as Pike’s outspoken views on theological and social issues (including ordination of women, racial desegregation, and acceptance of lesbians and gays within mainline churches) had already disturbed his fellow clergy. Pike was charged with heresy three times (though the charges were dropped) and was formally censured by his fellow Bishops in October of 1966.

In 1967 Pike and Esther were divorced and Pike married Diane Kennedy, who had been his assistant at the foundation and who had helped him complete a book on psychic phenomena. In early 1969 Pike announced that he and his wife were officially ending their connection with the Episcopal Church in particular and with all forms of organized religion in general. Pike’s continued interest in the early Christian church led him and Diane on a research trip to Israel in 1969 where they were lost on an expedition into the desert between Jerusalem and the Red Sea. Diane found her way to safety but Pike’s body was found by a search party. He was buried at Jaffa in Israel on September 8, 1969.

This history is thorough although perhaps a bit bloodless so if you want more of a feel for Pike here’s a link to a short 1976 New York Times piece, The Death and Life of Bishop Pike. 

I had to laugh when I turned the program over, though, because however interesting I might find Pike whoever held this piece of paper that evening in 1960 had other things on his mind:

Bonus: Some unidentified person recently  returned this sugar bowl that he or she boosted from Lovett Hall some time ago. Whoever it was didn’t identify himself so we’ll just have it dusted for fingerprints.

I’m kidding, I’m kidding! We’re glad to have it back and would encourage any other such miscreants to do the same.


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For The Time Being, 1971

Today was a dreary day on campus, cold, wet, and gray. It’s also the last day of the study period before finals begin and between these two things there were very few people about:

I don’t know whether this is paradoxical or not but this cold, damp, quiet day turned out to be the day I began to feel the weight of the long fall semester come off my shoulders and the anticipation of Christmas miraculously begin. How lucky we are to be here!

In 1971 Rice’s annual Christmas in the Chapel departed from the usual musical offerings. Instead of choral works the Rice Players presented W.H. Auden’s great long poem on the meaning of the Incarnation, For The Time Being, written during some of the bleakest days of 1942. I wish I had been there to see this:


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“Over Our Heads”: The KTRU Antenna, April 1971

Lacking something else to do I was reading some Sid Rich newsletters the other day and came across this great bit about the installation of the antenna on the roof. I’ve always enjoyed turning up pieces of Rice radio history so I was delighted to find this goofy drawing on the cover:

I hadn’t realized that Sid residents were cut off from all the glorious KTRU programming until the FM antenna was up and running:

Bonus: A while back John “Grungy” Gladu sent us some images of a later (I’m not sure of the date) antenna-raising, crediting Wiley Sanders ’78 for the photos. When I went back for a look at them I was happy to note that many of them actually look a lot like that goofy drawing above.

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