AWRA celebrates its golden anniversary in 2014. What was the world like fifty years ago?
The US population was 192 million (vs. 314 today). Ford introduced the Mustang, which cost about $2,400. There were no mileage stickers, but who cared, when you could fill up that baby for 30 cents per gallon? No wonder Lyndon Johnson swept to reelection over Barry Goldwater in November!
In popular culture, Elizabeth Taylor married Richard Burton — for the first time. The Gilligan’s Island series began its fabled run (“a three hour cruise”). The Beatles released “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” Muhammad Ali defeated Sonny Liston to become World Heavyweight Champ. There was no Super Bowl yet, but the Boston Celtics were the NBA champions and the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series
The Soviet Union and “Red China” were our mortal enemies, the communist menace. In August, fearful of allies falling like dominoes, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, effectively declaring the Viet Nam War. When in Washington, D.C, please visit the memorial to 58,195 brave Americans who would give their lives.
On a more positive note, the Civil Rights Act became law, and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. won the Nobel Peace Prize. Typical of the times, nearly all AWRA charter members were white males. Many engineering schools, even those accepting all races, still did not admit women. When you go to an AWRA conference this year, look around at the wonderful diversity; such a meeting would have been almost impossible in the segregated South of 1964.
IBM introduced the System/360 computer in 1964, the first with a true operating system. You programmed it with 80-character punch cards, carrying your boxes of cards to the “computer room,” where operators accepted your offering and, eventually, gave you back a printout. Engineers and scientists did routine calculations on slide rules; there were no pocket calculators. Most phones had dials, all were tethered to cords, and “Ma Bell” owned every one of them.
Flying in the new Boeing 727, introduced the year before, was fun, an upscale activity. Many travelers wore a jacket and tie onto the airplane. No problem getting through security: there wasn’t any. In flight, a pretty stewardess served you a meal on real china.
The environmental movement was in its infancy: Silent Spring had only been published in 1962. The Wilderness Act was signed in 1964. The Surgeon General declared smoking hazardous to one’s health, but the Marlboro Man remained the image of manly ruggedness, and people still smoked almost everywhere. Yet over the horizon were: the Cuyahoga River fire (1969), NEPA (1969), EPA (1970), and the Clean Water Act (1972).
This was a time for starting journals. Some other journals that started in this period include: ASCE Journal of Sanitary Engineering (1956), Journal of Hydrology (1963), and Water Resources Research (1965).
In preparing a journal paper, you wrote your first draft in cursive on a pad of paper. Then a “secretary” – remember them? – typed it. Minor corrections were made with a gooey substance called “whiteout.” If you were lucky enough to have your paper accepted, the journal sent you a template on which you glued “camera-ready copy.”
Water Resources Bulletin, Volume 1, published in 1965, wasn’t much to look at, mostly a newsletter. (Hydata would later serve this purpose.) The first original technical paper, “Water Dynamics in the Soil-Plant Ecosystem,” by M. B. Russell, was published in 1966 under our first Editor, Randy Boggess. Three more original papers were published that year. Today, I am the eleventh in a distinguished line of Editors, and JAWRA publishes about 115 papers annually.