Tau Beta Pi Bent, 1949

I felt a small surge of panic when I came across this picture and flashed back to my epic 2013 struggle (here, here, and here) to figure out when the Tau Beta Pi bent moved from the front of Abercrombie to the back corner:

My first thought was that I had failed to establish when the bent was  installed in the first place. But it turned out I actually had–it was 1968.

These guys here were the initiates from the spring of 1949 when all we had was a sad little cloth bent. They had to lay it out on the lawn as part of the initiation ceremony.

(I’m giving you the entire page with the story about this event because of the article right underneath about the upcoming debate on federal education policy. One of the debaters was Rush Moody, who spent a couple of years at Rice before heading to UT for a joint BA/law degree. Why do I care? I have two reasons. First, he’s the father of my friend Brad Moody ’80 and second, we have some of his deeply interesting papers right here in the Woodson Research Center. Go ahead, take a peek!)

Bonus: I laughed when I saw these and thought of the Hackerman inauguration.

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Friday Follies: Ennui with Cheesecake, circa 1924

Classic dormitory boredom, West Hall, probably either 1923 or 1924 based on the banner between the windows.

Bonus: Speaking of folly.


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HMRC Thursday: Aggies Return Kidnapped Sammy, 1962

This sequence of photos from the Houston Post Collection (RGD0006N-1962-6086) was taken on November 12, 1962. How those rascals got Sammy in the first place I do not know but they certainly seem to be treating him with a great deal of care:

I’m not completely sure where they are in this last picture. Those pipes make me think that somewhere in the RMC basement might be a good guess but I don’t know how they could get that big owl down the stairs. Anybody?

All in all, though, a better result than the aftermath of the wild and wooly 1917 kidnapping, which I talked about here and here.

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“Mein Kampfanile,” 1959

This morning I was looking at this sweet image of Rice girls enjoying a book when I realized two things. First, the picture was dated 1960 but it had to have been taken in the fall of 1959. And second, the reason for this is that what they’re smiling at is the 1959 edition of the Campanile, which was distributed as was then customary when school started in September.

What we’re seeing is the instantly recognizable back cover:

And here’s the also instantly recognizable front:

As you might expect this cover caused a bit of a stir. Just to be clear, no one was endorsing Hitler or Nazi ideology. What they were doing was bluntly criticizing the Rice administration for their perceived indifference to the well being of students. In the days before tuition this perception was not completely without merit. Still, this choice may have been, shall we say, ill-advised. The reaction of the administration, the board, and quite a few vocal alumni was quick and vehement. The word most frequently used to describe not just the cover but the entire issue was “crude.” Too many pictures of beer bashes and so forth. Was it crude? I’m not sure. By today’s standards it all seems pretty tame but it was a very different time.

Were there consequences? You bet. By the first week of October, over the objections of the Campanile staff it was decreed that from now on the book would be distributed in the spring, when Rice still had control over the students who produced it. And over the objections of nearly the entire student body it was announced that Engineering Professor and Dean of Students Jim Sims would have final authority over what was published in it. Interestingly, the student reaction actually had an impact here. Over the course of the semester the idea of a single administrator controlling the content of the Campanile was abandoned and instead a compromise, the creation of a Publications Board, was reached.

Amid all the words spent agonizing over all this in that semester’s Thresher I confess I was most impressed by this little piece from the November 20 issue, written before the compromise was found. It’s brutal and in my opinion justifiably so.


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“Population of the birds . . . range as high as 6 million,” 1975

Last Friday’s post with the helicopter and swirling grackles drew an interesting comment from the always helpful David Scott:

The more interesting helicopter escapade was an attempt to drape a huge net over those trees by Chem Lec and perhaps by Hackerman’s swimming pool. But the net was blown by the downdraft and would never get in place. An Assist Prof in Biology tried to study the birds, having students place cardboard on the ground to count droppings. Didn’t get tenure as I recall.

I’m home with a cold today (and although there are others I might point a finger at I believe Patient Zero was my oldest granddaughter), which left me with time to look around for a picture I only dimly remembered. I found it this afternoon and it was just as Professor Scott said. Here’s the photo, taken in January, 1975 by Houston Chronicle photographer Darrell Davidson:

And here’s the description that went with it:

For those of you who weren’t here, just think about that for a minute. Six million birds. Yikes.

Bonus: The Admission Office sign, right next to the visitor lot by Cohen House, is new. This should significantly reduce the confusion endured by high school kids and their parents trying to figure out where to go for the campus tour. One would hope.

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Friday Follies: “an airborne symphony,” 1979

That’s the unexpected (and thoroughly unwarranted) romantic sounding description that accompanied this November, 1979 Houston Chronicle photo of a helicopter trying to roust some of the grackles that were infesting campus:

I don’t think it was quite so romantic if you had to live with them on a daily basis.


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I had more or less forgotten that the student-run coffeehouse in the RMC was once located here, right next to the door to Sammy’s:

The two pictures I found are undated but taken well within my era at Rice. I’d guess late ’90s or so, which doesn’t sound like that long ago but actually is:

There have been several other things in this spot since, including a Chinese outlet and the still mourned Droubi’s. It’s a taco place now:

And the CoffeeHouse has expanded, improved, and moved over to the Kelley Lounge, where it’s always packed:

Bonus: Reader Maria Martinez writes with the solution to the alien billboard mystery. Thanks a million!

I just wanted to let you know that there was a series of billboards produced (six total) from Chris Sperandio’s Advanced Drawing course (ARTS 425) that were up during the month of April in Bryan, TX. I don’t have a lot of details regarding the project other than his students created the images/art for them, but if interested I could ask him to send you more information. 
I posted the images to our social media pages earlier this week and if you’re interested in viewing them all (6 total) you can do so here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BxsRUcMJyWo/
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