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Pho tos From The Pr iva te Co llec t ion o f Be ver ly Ra n do lp h All of my life I had heard of walls of water coming down rivers . . . but I didn’t really think of it as real walls, i.e. a solid 5 or 6′ wall come down without warning until I personally experienced one of them, while fishing on camping on, rode up rather briskly and told me to get out of the river on to the bank, that a big rise was closely approaching. Of course I did as advised and started back to camp when to my astonishment there came this actual wall of water, it looked to me to be a straight up and down wall about five feet high. It was approaching with speed; it was swirling and muddy, filled with all manner of debris, and before long actually was carrying with it . . . a cow and again a pig. . .. It then became understandable to me how incidents we read of in the and autos are often reported swept off low bridges, washed down stream frequently with loss of life and property. It is a sight once seen will not ever be forgotten. E. H. Perry, Sr. Unpublished autobiography SATURDAY, APRIL 6, 1940. Noon. About three hundred spectators are assembled at the Austin Dam. The day is cold and rainy. A mild blue norther has settled in on Austin, chilling the air. Throughout the region the rains have come, after a dry spell of interminable length. Despite the weather, today will be a grand occasion. Just one day short of that Saturday, forty years earlier, when the first Austin Darn had been destroyed by a heavy flood, a new darn will be dedicated. Dedicated in the name of Austin mayor Tom Miller, but also dedicated to the many men and women who had worked so hard to insure the reconstruction of the first dam. Edgar Perry, the Commodore, is on hand to serve as the Master of Ceremonies. Two years earlier, his friend, Tom Miller, had chosen him to serve as the Chairman of the Citizens Advisory Committee, a group of prominent Austinites who worked in Austin and Washington to secure the darn. A. B. Spires, President of the Chamber of Commerce, is here, too, and soon will make a speech praising the men and women who helped to build the new dam. Naturally, Austin business leader Walter Long, ever the circumspect but guiding figure, is here, but, as is his custom, he will remain in the background, letting others make speeches and raise the hoopla. Alvin Wirtz, Undersecretary of the Interior, is on hand, but his close friend, Congressman Lyndon Johnson, is not, having been unable to attend the ceremonies. And Torn Miller, the large, ebullient Mayor is here, beaming and proud of another accomplishment for this city on the Colorado he loves so much. Anthony M. Orum is Professor of Sociology, UT-Austin. This article is excerpted from his book-in-progress, a social and political history of modern Austin. Funding for research for the book provided by the University Research Institute of UT. The author is particularly indebted to the encouragement and support of Dean William Livingston. He also thanks Audray Bateman and her extraordinarily helpful staff at the Austin History Center, the staff of librarians at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library, especially Linda Hanson and Nancy Smith, and the staff of librariaith at the Barker History Center of UT This chapter is also based on a number of personal interviews conducted by the author. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15