High Water Line, 4-19-79

It’s been a rainy spring and it rained again this morning, pretty hard. It was nothing, though, compared to what happened 38 years ago. Zoom in and take a close look at this map of where the water went:



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College Magisters

Of course no one asked me but if they had I would have told them that we actually used the word “magister” for a while, at least in writing. I suspect it wasn’t used in speech because it’s frankly kind of clunky and it died out pretty quickly even in writing. I usually see it on  various administrative papers that masters had to fill out, most often in its pompous adjectival form, which makes me laugh every time. Here’s an example that I just happened have ready to hand on my laptop:

If we had to change I would have preferred “Maestro,” which is, I believe, substantially funnier.

Bonus: Thanks to Campus Photographer Jeff Fitlow for another classic Rice image.

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“With Greetings at Eastertide,”nd

This is what I intended to post for Easter before I came across those irresistible bunnies last week. As far as I can tell the two images have nothing in common:

This one is a small Easter card sent by Harris Masterson, Jr. to President Lovett. It’s undated but looks like mid to late 1920s. We’ve seen Rev. Masterson before in a post about the groundbreaking for Autry House. That post is actually worth another look but for those in a hurry here’s the main image, with Masterson standing second from the right:

We have his papers in the Woodson and I had a chance to look briefly at them this afternoon. They are quite interesting and even a bit odd. Here’s the biographical note from the finding aid:

Harris Masterson, Jr., born June 22, 1881, Brazoria, TX, was the son of Judge Harris Masterson and Sallie Stewart Turner. A graduate of the University of the South in Sewanee, TN (1904) and the Episcopal Theological School of Cambridge [Harvard] (1907), Masterson began his career as chaplain of All Saint’s, Austin, TX, 1908-11. He worked with the YMCA in China (Hankow and Wuchang, 1911-16) and the US (1916-17), and became a Red Cross chaplain in 1918. He came to Houston in 1919 to become the organizer, director and chaplain of a community house for Rice Institute students, later known as Autry House. Masterson was active in civic and educational affairs and served in various positions including chairman of the Building Committee of the Houston Public Library Board and as a Trustee for the University of the South. In 1925 he married Elizabeth Simpkins who shared his work with Rice students. The Mastersons moved to France to work with American students in Paris and returned to Austin, TX in 1926 for Masterson to become Rector of All Saint’s Chapel. He resigned in Oct. 1935 and died in Austin in Nov. 1935.

Among the photos in this collection I found two of particular interest. This first one is a rather puzzling. What do you think is going on in the foreground?

The second one I’ll get to later. I need time to look some stuff up.

Bonus: I thought I’d seen it all on this campus but today I watched a man repeatedly throw a water bottle at one of the Italian cypresses.

I wish I’d thought of that myself.

Actually, it just turned out that his football got stuck up there when his daughter missed a pass.

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Easter Will Never Be the Same

I was already planning to take tomorrow off for Good Friday but after seeing this I might need an extra couple days:

The third bunny from the left looks a bit familiar to me but I can’t quite place him.

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I Need a Little Help With This One, nd

I love this picture. Both the woman and the technology surrounding her are simply wonderful. (I’ve started giving some thought, by the way, to just going ahead and attaching my glasses to a chain. Maybe I’m just kidding myself but I think I can pull it off.)

The problem is that I don’t know who she is. I also don’t know where she is but I’ll bet that if someone can tell me the answer to the first question, the answer to the second will become apparent.

Bonus: New branding for Rice athletics. They’re installing fourteen of these around campus. But they’re also–and this is what makes them complete maniacs–putting another half dozen in Rice Village.


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Around the World in 53 Years

Have a look at the envelope in which the Edgar Odell Lovett-Frederick Seares correspondence arrived. It was given to me some weeks ago by Malcolm Lovett, Jr., Edgar Odell Lovett’s grandson, who had come across it somewhere at home. It’s stamped “1964” on the back, by the way:

Quite surprisingly it isn’t addressed to anyone in the Lovett family at all but rather to Rice President Kenneth Pitzer’s son Russell and daughter-in-law Martha. This is, of course, instantly engaging. I began to think through by what improbable route this had traveled to me but couldn’t quite get it to make sense.

In the end I had to write to Russell Pitzer, who graciously helped put the pieces together. What I didn’t know was that Mrs. Seares, who sent the package, was Martha Pitzer’s grandmother. After Frederick Seares passed away in Hawaii in 1964, she must have found these letters among his things and, knowing that her granddaughter’s father-in-law was then president of Rice, sent them on to her. At some point Russell had to have passed them on to his father, who then would have handed them to Malcolm Lovett, Sr., then a member of Rice’s Board of Trustees, who kept them for his son to find and give to me.

And in the end all is as it should be.

Bonus: This is my second favorite letter of the bunch. If anyone ever offers you a college presidency, I recommend turning it down.

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“with great joy and in bold hope,” 1908

Not too long ago I was handed an envelope that contained a large number of letters written by Edgar Odell Lovett to his friend Frederick Seares. Most of them date from Lovett’s years at Princeton and have to do with the comings and goings of various friends and acquaintances in the community of American astronomy. (Seares was at this time on the astronomy faculty at the University of Missouri, although he would soon leave for the Mt. Wilson Observatory in California where he spent most of his career.) One of my favorites, though, has Lovett admitting to Seares that it’s true, he really is headed for Texas:

The envelope this came in also tells a pretty good story, which I will relate tomorrow.


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