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1950-1954 - Early Years in the Fort Worth Branch A.S.C.E

The following is a description of some of the members and activities of the Fort Worth Branch during the “early years.” Much of this information is taken from “The History of the Fort Worth Branch, Texas Section, American Society of Civil Engineers for the Years 1931 to 1970”, by H. H. Hester (a former Branch Historian & a Life Member, A.S.C.E.)

My prior articles in the Fort Worth Branch newsletter summarized some of the early activities of the Branch from its formation (August 2008 newsletter), during the 1930’s (November, 2008 newsletter) and the 1940’s (November, 2009 newsletter). Now we’ll move on to the first half of the 1950’s.

H. H. Hester stated in his history of the Branch that “It is indeed unfortunate that only meager records were kept in those early years and that most of those records have disappeared. For much of the above information, we are indebted to the memories of such old-timers as Charlie Davis, Harry Friedman, W. O. Jones and Joe Rady.”

Looking back to those earlier years, one is tempted to say that the most noteworthy accomplishment of the Fort Worth Branch was “survival”. The Branch was organized in the depth of the great depression (and at the time of the founding of the Fort Worth Branch there were only 231 Subscribing Members in the Texas Section A.S.C.E.). Soon after emerging from the crisis, its members faced World War II, with complete unsettlement of normal conditions. Hardly was the recovery completed when the Korean War came on (1950-1957). It is indeed to the credit of the past generations the Branch not only continued functioning, but showed great vitality and substantial growth. By 1950 the number of Subscribing Members in the Texas Section had grown to 845 members (from the initial 147 members in 1922).

At the Fort Worth Branch meeting on June 9, 1952, the speaker was Dean H. Flath, Dean of College of Engineering at S.M.U. He talked on cooperative education. He said the cooperative plan was started at S.M.U. in 1925 through the efforts of the Technical Club of Dallas. Further, our Branch President, Jimmie Alewine, was the first graduate of the school of Engineering at S.M.U. The 1952 Texas Section Fall Meeting was held in Fort Worth October 16th-18th. And Henry Cook spoke to the Branch on November 10, 1952 regarding his experiences in handling heavy construction work in Ecuador. He presented slides that made the talk most interesting.

On December 8, 1952, the speaker was Mr. Norman Strachan, who served as a member of the U. S. strategic bomb survey team. He told of the destruction caused by the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This talk was most unusual. Everyone was astounded at the devastation.

In 1953, the Branch had as its guest the National President of the A.S.C.E., D. V. Terrell, Dean of Engineering at the University of Kentucky. The November 2nd affair was held at the Blackstone Hotel, with the wives as guests. The Dean was introduced by Mason Lockwood, the new vice president of Zone IV. Dean Terrell stressed the importance and necessity of changing the annual dues that had not been changed since 1921. The Dean said the urgent need of the country was more Engineers, since there was a shortage of some 40,000 Engineers. He said that programs were being instituted to encourage more youngsters to enter on an Engineering career. He commended the Texas Section and the Fort Worth Branch on its excellent program of activities, especially the work being done for the younger Engineer.

On February 8, 1954, the speaker was R. M. Dixon, Managing Director of the Municipal Contractors Association. His subject was "Contractors - Engineers Relations." This was a most controversial subject, and the heated discussion was led by Don Lee, Gardner Endress, and Charlie Davis. This subject was so interesting that the members decided to have this subject discussed at a later date, using a panel for discussion, but the group never did get together again for such a discussion.

On April 9, 1954, the meeting was arranged for the benefit of the Junior members. This party was held at the Peninsula Club on the shores of Lake Worth. It was a big success and enabled the Junior members to get acquainted with the older members. In addition to delicious food and drinks, the group enjoyed swimming, boating, pool, and cards.

On May 12, 1954 the Branch enjoyed a most interesting discussion by Mr. Loren W. Crow, of the Water Resources Development Company, on cloud seeding to develop rain- fall. Mr. Crow said that cloud seeding was the answer to arid areas, and predicted that cloud seeding to increase moisture may become standard procedure in many parts of the world.

The Presidents of the Fort Worth Branch during this period were:

- John P. Wier, P.E., R.P.L.S., Historical Chair, Fort Worth Branch ASCE, February 2010

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