As a ’76 graduate, I can say that I have observed the history of the Village through its ups and downs. We recently moved to the Hanover Southampton building after decades in West U. I love the Village, it’s always been an important part of my life in Houston.
In the last year I have noticed way too many empty storefronts. Many of these spaces have remained unleased for far too long. Monday through Thursday, the streets and the stores are quiet. Additionally, I talk to retailers, young and old, recent and longtimers, local and national businesses, and have found few happy souls. The reasons? I was given a mix of higher rents, obtrusive meters including on the ground floor of the garage, and landlords who don’t readily respond to concerns.
I have no connections to any retailers. Granted, there are multiple landlords in the Village, but Rice has an overriding responsibility, as it sets policy and others appear to follow. The bright updates and the events on Morningside Plaza are welcomed — noticeable empty spaces are not.
— Nabila Cronfel Kinghorn ’76
Your article on the Rice Village spoke volumes to me and my family. How great to see Kegg’s Candies on your Village marquee illustration. There is probably more tie-in to Rice than you know. My father, Robert Kegg ’42, opened that store with his brother, David Kegg ’39, after they attended Rice. My sister, Colleen Kegg ’73, and I worked at Kegg’s in the 1970s when we were students at Rice. My son and daughter, Andy ’07 and Sally Johnson ’08, remember the legacy as they attended Rice. Of course, we all hung out in the Village while in school. I went on to open my own chocolate shop in Santa Barbara with my husband, Tim Johnson ’74. After 38 years, we recently closed this shop. We stay in touch with many former Kegg’s customers and Rice alumni through seasonal ordering of these great chocolates. Thanks for the memories!
— Karen Kegg ’76
I was reading the Spring 2018 edition of Rice Magazine, pretty much cover to cover, when the following book notice, “Because I’d Hate to Just Disappear: My Cancer, My Self, Our Story” by Don Hardy ’88 with Heather Hardy ’74 caught my attention. The name “Heather Hardy” sounded familiar, and when I saw that she is a linguist, everything fit together. When I was a sophomore, I was looking for courses to take. I was a Spanish major and very interested in anything that had to do with language. Back then, I didn’t even know what “linguistics” was beyond knowing that the field had something to do with language. I found a fall course in General Linguistics that would fit my schedule and fulfill a distribution requirement for me, so I happily signed up. The professor for this course was Heather Hardy. Well, I took Dr. Hardy’s course, and although it was interesting, I did not do all that well. I got my first, last and only C in that course! After fall grades came out, I licked my wounds, continued to take additional linguistics courses, but the sting of that C always remained! Being the competitive Rice type that I am, I decided that at some point in my life, that C would have to be avenged! Well, it took me until 1999 to earn my Ph.D., and, of course, it is in linguistics.
— Kathleen Broussard ’85
I must disagree with the very first sentence in Jennifer Latson’s summary of Elaine Howard Ecklund’s new book, “Religion vs. Science: What Religious People Really Think,” which says in part that Ecklund “doesn’t believe faith and science are mutually exclusive.” Both religion and science make fact claims about existence, but only science backs it up with evidence. Most religions make testable claims about reality that have never been supported by evidence. Until and unless that happens, then yes — religion and science are, indeed, mutually exclusive.
— David W. Ball ’86
As a former English major at Rice turned animal protection attorney, I was particularly inspired to learn of English professor Timothy Morton’s books on our relationship with nonhuman species. He speaks of the killing of Cecil the lion in 2015 as a pivotal moment “when a very large number of humans figured out they had a lot more in common with a lion than with a dentist.” I’ve been to Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park and was devastated by this news of one of its majestic creatures. But I, too, share in Morton’s hope. I encourage alumni to check out the Nonhuman Rights Project, an organization working through litigation, public policy advocacy and education to further awareness and empower each of us to lend our voices and expertise on behalf of animals.
— Sharon Discorfano ’92
The photo of the interior of Valhalla in the Summer 2018 issue brought back nostalgic memories for me. I was a new grad student in chemistry when I learned of the effort to convert the old paint shop to what became Valhalla. The project was spearheaded by Tom Nichols ’71 and Kurt Alex ’72, a chemistry postdoc. Dozens of us worked in our spare time to complete the transformation. The oak-paneled seats were taken from storage after Lovett Hall was renovated. The first foosball table was purchased with monies loaned by two grad students, Carl Christensen ’73 and Bob Loewenstein ’67, and their spouses.
I recall making regular restocking runs to Houston Restaurant Supply on Old Spanish Trail, and when Valhalla opened at 4 p.m. on Fridays, I was one of the original TGIF bartenders. The others were Rich Gandour ’72, Scott Glaspie ’74 and Charles V. “Skip” Smith ’70. It has been gratifying to realize that we had a hand in the beginning of an enduring Rice tradition.
— David Bishop ’75
Congrats to the entire staff on the Summer 2018 issue. It was the first time I’ve carefully read an issue nonstop from cover to cover in quite a while. Good concept, excellent writing, and engaging and clear graphic design and layout. Keep up the good work!
— Karl Sowa ’88
I enjoyed “On the Nose” and congratulate David ‘94 and Heather Kuhlken ’96 for producing successful Texas wines. As a past contributor to “Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book,” I focused on wines of the Southwest and saw the growth of wine interest in states such as Texas. In regard to “sneaky winemakers” and the notation on a label, “For sale in Texas only,” wineries submit their wine labels for approval to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which has rules as to wine labeling. Yes, some wineries do produce a wine with out-of-state grapes and, knowing the rule as to the percentage of “non-homegrown grapes” allowed for label approval, choose to use the “only” designation. There are other reasons why that agency may not approve a label.
In 1993, a very small winery in New Mexico owned by a winemaker who had worked as a nuclear chemist at Los Alamos produced a red wine blend with New Mexico grapes. Thinking of Los Alamos and the 50th anniversary of the Manhattan Project, he named the wine “La Bomba Grande.” The bureau did not approve the label. Rather than revise the name, the winemaker chose to use the term, “For sale in New Mexico only” and sell the wine only in New Mexico. When the winemaker died, the small winery closed. But La Bomba Grande still has a presence in New Mexico at another winery. I believe the phrase “For sale in … only” is commendable — as the winery is following the guideline and rules of Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.
— Shirley Machocky Nelson ’59
Ed. Note: This is fascinating, Shirley. Thanks for getting in touch with us!