News and Notes
SCWUA circa the 60's by Emmett Lowry
I read with pleasure the article of memories written by Toni Poli for SCWUA. The web site made the mistake of asking for other contributions. My name is Emmett Lowry and I think the memory of Walter Weight is so valuable that I leap at the chance to share with all some of the essence of his legacy. SCWUA wasn’t just another organization, it WAS Walter Weight. It was serious, beneficial to the industry and the individuals, but above all, was human, could laugh a lot, work a lot and generate real respect among the members.
1957 was a good year. That was the year I left the Aerospace industry, entered into the water business and joined the SCWUA ( otherwise known as sc _ _ _ U ). Those meetings had to be seen to be believed. They always started out with Walter spending a good half hour imposing fines on an astonishing number of members for things we all wondered how he knew of, real and made up on the spot. He had an extremely quick mind, was absolutely never at a loss for words, and those words were worth listening to. Toni’s reference to twirling dinner plates on the floor just as Walter started to get down to business, brings back grand memories. The other juvenile act was to throw a tied up napkin across the room at a chosen moment. Bill Whiteside, who became sort of master-at-arms, took the unprecedented action of outlawing that practice after a couple napkins landed in the soup bowl thereby decorating a few diners. Speaking of soup. the meetings were always at the French Café in El Monte. The French soup and sourdough bread was superb and the meal was always prime rib, and it was also superb. One of the reasons for the seemingly disrespectful actions of the attendees was because, almost to a man, the general attitude was INFORMAL with a capital I. The programs were usually serious and well presented. This did not, however, divert the membership from remembering their REAL reason for being there. It was the comraderie that was genuinely enjoyed (helped along by a little libationing). It was common to arrive at least 45 minutes early at the French Café Bar in order to be sure of slowly handling two beers with friends before the seating began. Of course there were many that took a third and sometimes a third and a forth into the dining room with them. This guaranteed that they would not be overcome with thirst during the lunch and program.
Then there was the meeting after the meeting. Walter was the sales manager for the Hersey Meter Co. No announcement was ever made, but it was known that the Hersey Co. back room was open for business after the SCWUA meeting. Anywhere up to about 20 of us could show up there for some friendly poker. 3,4 or 5 tables would be set up and the rest of the day began. Neither Walter or any Hersey man EVER said a word about meters there. The most famous saying to be heard in a stud game when an ace appeared was “Beidemans mother would always bet on an asse”. This of course was a reference to Ed Beiderman of Walnut Creek Water District. Huge quantities of hor dourves, sandwich material and beer was available and consumed. Stakes were kept low. You could not lose or win enough to get anybody excited. The party would usually break up around 11:00 and a good time was had by all. One of the guys would pass the hat. We all contributed to thank Walter and Hersey for the hospitality. Walter was a good poker player and could give and take ribbing with the best of them. He referred to all of us as “peckerwoods”. We all dearly loved Walter, although these unfunny days you must be a little bit careful how you say that.
I served as a director of SCWUA in those days. We actually conducted very little business. Walter gave me the honor of Doctor of Water, complete with meter gears instead of an official seal when I left SoCal to work internationally in Southeast Asia. I still cherish that document. We are now upright citizens that would not think of such an unorthodox, unruly, uncaring, foolish and definitely not politically correct behavior. But let me tell you, IT WAS A LOT OF FUN. I wish I could remember the names of all those guys, but I’ll give it a try just to say hello to Bill Whiteside, Al Jorgenson, Ed Beiderman, Hank Snyder, Pete Peterson, Will Stokes, Tom Phillips, Jack Schroeder, Van Wagner, Jack Snellgrove and Peter Hersey. Hi you guys, call me and we’ll swap lies.
Warmest regards, Emmett the Lowry.
6th Annual San Antonio Water Shed Clean Up Day
Join the City of Upland, the City of Pomona, and the San Antonio Water Company for the 6th Annual San Antonio Canyon Watershed Clean Up Day. On July 10th from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., bring your friends and your tennis shoes and help keep the forest and the water supply clean. All clean up materials and refreshments will be provided. Meet at Shinn Rd., across from Station 25 at 3000 N. Mountain Rd., Mt. Baldy. For more information, please contact Christine Sluss at (909) 802-7421.
The Good Old Days by Tony Poli
Tony Poli, retired General Manager of Rowland Water District, was President of SCWUA in 1993. In the following article, he shares memories of his early years in the association.
Since I started in the water field, the water association has been, and continues to be, the local organization for water officials and those related to the water industry to meet monthly and discuss water issues and share ideas. The philosophy driving the association has always been to improve the industry through education, mentoring, and leadership, all of which is beneficial to the day-to-day operations of the various water agencies, companies, and departments. I have been fortunate to be a part of the association’s transformation from a “Good Old Boys” fraternity to a modern day inclusive network of industry associates. I can look back and remember those times when things were not as they are now but as they were then. It was an era of friendships forged through mutual respect, of free advice, and of deals sealed with a handshake. The memories will remain a source of pride, and sometimes red-faced embarrassment; all of which I remember fondly.
Some good times were spent with SCWUA members and their families on field trips, campouts, and Christmas parties. There was the camping trip to Lake Skinner where we sat at night around the washing machine tub fireplace that Don Leath brought. Enjoying the heat that came through the small holes of the tub we listened while Phil Crocker and Dale Kyle told stories about the time that someone placed a few chickens in the hotel room of Walter Weight and how someone else tried to tap a gas main. There was even the story about a company car being rolled on the way back from an AWWA conference (no injuries; the occupants were well sedated). Billy Temple knew a body and fender man who fixed the company car as good as new. Who among us “Old Timers” can forget the twirling of dinner plates on the floor just as one of our presidents, guest speakers, or honored retirees would take a turn at the podium. At Christmas parties there was the hapless president seated center stage while the entertainers, “Belly Dancers” performed their routine which always included some small act to make him miserable and make the audience roar. Association meetings often provided entertainment by invited guests as well as by members. Upon occasion Walter Weight could be heard talking to himself while trying to adjust his squealing hearing aid during the middle of a guest speakers’ presentation. There was the time that Walter and guest performer, Iron Eyes Cody, tried to top each other’s stories about the past. Everyone knew that both of them were telling tall tales. And at one of Walter’s birthday parties we had to delay the celebration while our program chairman, Bob Bowcock, gave directions to the Swiss Chalet to the limo driver of George Burns, our star entertainer; George never arrived. Pee Wee Herman did show as a guest performer, and integrated the president (me) in his routine which included some emasculating jokes.
As I remember the association in my early days it was a bit like a college fraternity with a few shenanigans for a laugh and a good time but, when an industry member was in need, caring, knowledgeable people surfaced and some of the industries finest were present to mentor, advise and assist with solutions.
Remembering our History
Like any organization that has been around for 78 years, SCWUA has a great history. Although the history as retold through membership generations, is quite colorful and entertaining. This space on the website will be a place to remember stories from the good ol' days, talk about the history we are making now, and get updates on the members that are leading us into the future.
The one thing I have always wondered is how great it must have been to know Walter Weight. He must have been a great guy. I hear that when he retired, his friends from SCWUA took up a collection and bought him a car. Is this true? If you have memories of this, leave your comment below!