“The policemen like to be paid in cash,” 1952

It isn’t every day that you find this much trivia, and so much of it so amusing, condensed in such a short document. I think English professor J.D. Thomas had just been made chief marshal and was trying to figure out what exactly the job entailed. This memo is the report of Guy McBride, the Dean of Men, on his part in organizing the chaos of the 1952 commencement ceremony recently completed. I hardly know were to start with this one:


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History Department Follies, no date

As soon as I saw this I laughed too:

Harold Hyman and Frank Vandiver, both genuinely amused. It lifted my spirits.

Bonus: As several readers indicated, yesterday’s pole vaulter was Fred Hansen ’63 who confirmed it himself. Also, I got the sequence correct and he says he was still learning how to use the then-new fiberglass poles.


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HMRC Thursday: Pole vaulter, 1962

I don’t know who this is but I do know that a Post photographer took this lovely sequence of images at a track meet in the old stadium on March 2nd, 1962. I think they’re all good. I’ve tried to put them in the right order but honestly I’m not at all confident that I’ve got it right:

One of my colleagues in the HMRC pointed out to me today that my life would be easier of I gave the citation for each image. That way, if someone wants a copy they know what to ask for and more importantly they can ask the archives instead of me. The only explanation I have for why I never thought of that is that I’m so focused on the content I’ve totally failed to think about consequences. Ah well, nobody’s perfect. And the citation for these pictures is RGD0006N-1962-6036.

Bonus: And now for something completely different.

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The East Side of Lovett Hall

The front side of Lovett Hall is one of those places on campus that seems unchanging but really isn’t. For example, I can’t be the only person who noticed that in yesterday’s picture Lovett and the trustees are standing next to some enormous shrub  that no longer exists:

First, of course, there was nothing there at all and we had to start from scratch. This image from the formal opening in 1912 shows a parking lot with an extremely unpromising looking freshly planted hedge and some pots, which were moved to the other side of the building as soon as the ceremonies concluded:

By 1935 the hedges were thriving and wild looking:

By the time this next undated shot was taken that long hedge had become beautifully manicured. This is one of the very few pictures of Lovett Hall that have ever surprised me, by the way. Such an odd angle! And now in addition to the curved hedge we have a head-on view of six conical shrubs along the front of the building. I’m not sure what they are but the first one on the south side of the sallyport would be the one Lovett and the trustees were standing next to in 1947:

Here’s an aerial from January, 1958 that I found in the HMRC Houston Post photo collection. Click on it and you can see that those six have been joined by at least four more (and probably another four on the north end, don’t you think?):

The obvious next question is when did they disappear. My best guess is that the big changes came at the time the front parking lot was grassed over to become Founder’s Court in 1960. Both the hedge and the shrubs have disappeared, although it looks like some sickly looking littler ones have been planted:

These days it’s bare except for the jasmine ground cover but a couple of years ago they did add a sidewalk across the front, which makes a lot of sense:


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First Draft, 1947

I’ve been poking around the sallyport recently and have realized that I’ve never talked about the renaming of the Administration Building for Edgar Odell Lovett. This was done in a ceremony held on the afternoon of Thursday, December 4, 1947, just more than a year and a half after Lovett’s retirement.

Here is President Emeritus Lovett at that occasion, looking quite pleased, along with Rice trustees Harry Wiess, Lamar Fleming, Harry Hanszen, William Kirkland, and George Brown. Dr. Houston, Gus Wortham, and Frederick Lummis are at right:

They’re standing right in front of where the plaque would eventually go but it isn’t there yet. A quick search of the files turned up the fact that they knew almost immediately what they wanted it to say. A bit trickier was the matter of how to lay it out. Here’s the first draft:

Somehow not quite right. A little squashed, no? It went through a couple more iterations before we got to this one, which spreads it out nicely over three sections of stone:

And here it is today (yesterday, actually), spread out nicely over three sections of stone:


Bonus: A faithful reader with what seems to be too much time on his hands (No, it’s not Mike Ross . . . this time) has solved the mystery of Mrs. Pitzer’s coffee. It was part of Rondelet weekend:


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Coffee with Mrs. Pitzer, April 29th 1967

I found this today on the Cart of Mystery. It seems to have come in with a batch of intriguing materials from Jones College in the mid-1960s that I have just begun to explore. At first I was just charmed by the invitation, then I noticed that this coffee was held precisely 52 years ago today:

I don’t know what the occasion was, although based on the time of year I suspect something to do with graduating seniors. Mainly I’m just a bit boggled that 52 years have gotten away from us so fast. 1967 doesn’t seem that long ago somehow.

Bonus: I just had a cup of coffee myself and raised a little toast to the Pitzers, who had such an important role in the history of the university. It’s almost 6:00, though, so I made it a decaf.


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HMRC Thursday: Shedding Light on Some Rice Buildings

I’ve always wondered (in a non-snarky way, honestly) what they were thinking when they built the post-WWII science buildings. To me they look and feel like motels, with all those straight skinny lines and corridors and staircases along the outside of the buildings and more or less open to the elements:


The other day I found some photos from the Houston Post archives that help me understand it better. Here is one of the new buildings at the University of St. Thomas, in an image dated September 10, 1958:

And dated September 12, 1958, the new Cullinan Wing at the MFAH, right across the street from Rice:

In this context the Biology and Geology buildings at Rice, which were under construction at this exact moment, make much more sense.

Bonus: The whole place gets power washed for commencement.

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