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into annual crop producers, but he has not the appropria-
tions. That is because we who appropriate have not yet
got the idea that we should plan to do constructive work
for the future. The Department of Agriculture, therefore,
is busy with .problems of the day. We will not permit it
to plan great projects.

We need spillways and floodways to save the farms and

Photo by E. A. Sterling, courtesy U. S. Forest Service

Small-strip method of cutting mature forest in Vrwald, Qermany. In Austria, France,
bean (bean substitute). These hill- Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Qermany, government forests are protected from
sides were not plowed and the tree fi re> against which the individual owner of forest land in the United States is helpless



cities of the lower Mississippi. It is well to work with
nature rather than against her. We have been fighting the
river rather than cooperating with it. Hence the calamity
of 1927. The Mississippi River flows through a flood plain
from Cairo, at the mouth of the Ohio, to the Gulf of
Mexico. The river built this flood plain by filling an an-
cient sea. In nature, the river floods thousands of square
miles of this flat land at every overflow. As the water
swings out of the main channel into the still backwaters,
its speed is checked. It drops part of its load of silt and
mud. This makes the river bank higher than the back
swamp. (See the picture on pages 376 and 377.)

A river in a flood plain has another habit that is appalling
to men. It is very crooked, and therefore it is always
cutting the outer bank of the bends. As a result of these
two habits of bank-building and bank-cutting, the river is
continually relocating itself. After any overflow, we may
expect to find a flood-plain river flowing in some new course
out in the back swamp which is lower than the banks of
the old stream.

A third conspicuous habit of the flood-plain river is a
natural result of the first two. Water breaks out of the
main river and flows to the sea by separate channels, giving
the river many mouths. The Mississippi has done this for

We build levees to keep the water off the land. This
narrows the channel. This piles water up higher in the
main river. This increases the speed and the cutting power
and the danger of breaking through the outer sides of bends.
Then we have made it worse by increasing run-off by de-
foresting and bad hillside farming. For result see our end-
less series of floods with their crevasses and drownings.
Especially see the flood of 1927.

In the Sacramento Valley of Cailfornia they have been
through all this experience and have gone on to the next
step. They are cooperating with the river. They have
built a set of levees which make a reserve channel or flood-
way. It is a kind of second river to take the surplus when
the first river gets full to safe capacity. One or more re-
serve channels are absolutely vital to the Mississippi for
much of the distance between Cairo and the Gulf. The
following facts should serve to convince the most skeptical.
A. The Mississippi River near New Orleans has a chan-
nel built by nature to carry a minor fraction of the river
in flood. Most of the flood water was, in nature, flowing
through the swamps into which the river had been discharg-

Courtcsy of New York Times

Spillways ? Yes the Mississippi has seventeen of them now-
wild ones, all but Poydras, and it is half wild. The river
always has had spillways and it always will have them.
The shaded area, the 18,000 square miles flooded this year,
should be called "part of the natural bed of the Mississippi
river in flood time." Therefore the levee along the Red River
became a kind of unbelievable attempt to dam the Mississippi.
It is unbelievable, yet it was built. It is unbelievable because
it dammed up water for which no outlet was provided.
This sounds like Alice in Wonderland, this dam of the
Alice engineers.

al the War Department

Railway between Memphis and Vicksburg, 3 feet
under water



ing water for a thousand miles. B. We have built a sys-
tem of levees which artificially raise the safe level of the
river at New Orleans to twenty feet above mean low water.
C. This enlarged river carries less than one-half as much
water at New Orleans as the Ohio and the upper Mississippi
and its tributaries were pouring into the stream in May.
It carried only a half of the flood of 1882. Enlarging the
lower Mississippi to make it carry two and a half or three
times as much water as it now does is an unthinkable task.
It is also an unthinkable menace to farm and town alike.
The idea is enough to be a real nightmare to the people of
New Orleans. No wonder some people say they are crazy
about spillways. Why not say they are sane about spill-

It should also seem too clear for argument that these
spillways should not be gates to get out of order, but
structures that would handle a flood automatically if the
whole population had gone to Europe.

The present system is one of repeatedly uncontrolled
breaks and uncontrolled flood. The spillway and floodway
idea would put a safety valve on one and a fence (the levee)
around the other. That is cooperating with nature.

We need to fertilize the Mississippi flood plain with flood
mud. The Mississippi flood plain is rich with river mud,
because the levees break and we have floods so often. If
we should really succeed with the flood prevention on pres-
ent lines, the land would soon become impoverished. By
flooding it under control at proper intervals, it can be made
to yield a five-hundred-pound bale of cotton to the acre. The
national average is one hundred and forty-three pounds.
The difference of three hundred and fifty-seven pounds
looks like an annual acre profit to result from using the
flood. Crops of corn and hay would be increased propor-
tionally. Flood mud on 2O,OOO square miles of flood plain
might, if the land were cultivated, easily be worth several
hundred million dollars per year. This is a simple but big
task of engineering plus constructive imagination.

The whole problem needs to be examined from the
beginning as though it were a new thing. At present it
is chiefly in the hands of the army engineers, as prescribed

Donahey in the Cleveland Plain Dealer

Still Afloat !

by Congress in the act creating the Mississippi River Com-
mission. Flood control is a technical, economic task, of
far-reaching industrial significance. What is the best type
of man in America to do this work? Is it the man who
elects war for his profession? This choice indicates his
fundamental interest. He goes to a war college, studies
the art of war, becomes a part of a military machine. He

Courtesy Miami Conservancy District

A dam at Qermantown, Ohio, at work checking a flood, with thirty-seven feet of water piled up behind it. There is a
spillway a quarter mile away. It may not be used for a century, but it is there, ready for an emergency.

thinks and acts according to an established military dis-
cipline. There are sometimes strange conflicts between
military discipline and the facts of particular situations. If
I wanted a war fought, I would send for him. If I wanted
a law case put through, I would send for a man interested
in the law, I would not send for a soldier. Nor does a
railroad company send for an army engineer to plan or
execute difficult railway work. If I wanted a river con-
trolled, I would send for a man who had studied engineer-
ing as a civilian in a civilian school. He is interested in
engineering. Perhaps the type of man employed in the
past helps to explain the reason for the colossal failure of

Photograph above by
Engineers Corps
United States Army




The hill is a Mississippi levee. The steamboat shows that

the water is near the top of this. The man shows how high

the levee is. Sandbags in the foreground

the Mississippi after the chief of engineers of the United
States Army had reported (Annual Report 1926, p. 1793) :
"The improvement is providing a safe and adequate chan-
nel for navigation and is now in condition to prevent the
destructive effect of floods." It was these men who tried
to dam up the Atchafalaya outlet and confine in the main
channel twice as much water as it could hold. The result
was the drowning of the Louisiana Sugar Bowl in May
when New Orleans was so glad that she did not get
drowned instead.

An example of the other type of man is found in Arthur
E. Morgan, now president of Antioch College, and of the
Morgan Engineering Company, in charge of a Mississippi
survey. He has made predictions about Mississippi floods
that came true; also he has probably done more successful
flood-control work than any man acquainted with the Mis-
sissippi River. Perhaps he has done more than any man in
the world. The flood-prevention works at Dayton are

Vertical section Jrom a contour
map by the Sewerage and Water
Board of the city o] New Orleans

Co \s

A vertical secti(
Orleans. The el
sides are greatly
in this river (x
level (21.26).




When the levee breaks the river becomes a kind of deadfall

for the whole countryside, all of which is much lower.

Some propose to build the levees still higher

chiefly his in conception, in negotiation with the public, and
in execution. In 1913, when he was only thirty-six years
old, his reputation was good enough to cause the people of
Dayton to entrust him with their millions and their lives
when the chief of engineers of the United States Army
publicly condemned his plans. He now says the whole
Mississippi problem needs to be examined anew.

There should be some kind of a board back of the tech-
nical men who do the work. Keeping it clear of politics
is one of the tasks of the century. Can it be done? I
suggest the following board as a possible way out of this

One member each appointed by Pittsburgh, Cincinnati
and New Orleans named by the mayor, the most representa-
tive commercial organization and the president of the uni-

One each by Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas, named
by the governor, the director of the State Agricultural Ex-

periment Station and some fairly representative organization
of farmers in the flood area.

One familiar with the Agriculture of the hill country,
named jointly by the directors of agricultural experiment
stations in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Vir-
ginia, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Four by the President of the United States, one of
whom shall be an expert in forestry, one in navigation,
one in water-power. The lower river would have four,
the upper river three, the nation four. No bloc would have
a majority. All interests would be represented.

Who will pay this bill and who will get the direct cash
benefits ?

Perhaps when the bill of costs for such adequate plans;
is seen, the only way out will be for the United States
government to take possession of the large area of swamp
now held by corporations, protect it, reclaim it, own it and.
rent it. It is almost sure to be rented by some one. It is;
one thing a tenant cannot hurt. There are not many such
in this world.

Ity of New
feet on the
i low water
mean Qulf
fer to an




Between Metairie Ridge, and the Mississippi
the city is below Qulf level. What would happen
if the river should pour in from an elevation
22 feet above this? Therefore Neu/ Orleans
wants spillways elsewhere













7.3 M I U E i

From the engraving by Gustav Dori


The White Elephant Wins


OOP laid his paint-brush on the half-finished
fender of the ramshackle Ford and walked
across his muddy back-yard to the little shed
where he and his son made "White's Super-
fine Bluing."

"Wonder what I done with that extry
can of paint?" he muttered to himself.

He fumbled among bottles on the table, finally spied
what he was looking for on the shelf above. Turning back,
he paused in the doorway to peer across the higgledy-
piggledy shacks and cottages of his neighbors to where the
yellow river was rising, rising. His deep-set dreamer's eyes
took on the far-away look they so often wore. He did not
see his visitor until she stood before him.

"Good morning. I see you're painting the white elephant !"

"Yup. Paintin' 'er black."

Pop's cackle bespoke embarrassment rather than mirth.
If he'd spotted the Charity Lady coming across the Flats,
he'd have joined the crowd along the river. Mary and the
kids swore by her because she'd sent a visiting nurse and
groceries and coal when they all had the grippe, but Pop
mistrusted her.

"Like walking on a sponge to get here." The visitor
regarded her mud-caked rubbers cheerfully. "Think there's
going to be a flood?"


Pop was carefully noncommittal. He resumed his job,
shrewdly refraining from sharing his thoughts with the
tailored young woman who now settled herself on an up-
turned box and watched him slap on the black paint. He'd
been recalling the chain of circumstances that three years
ago brought him the cherished Ford. When the triplets were
but five days old the river came pouring through the embank-
ment. Pop's old woman was the first to be carried to safety
and spent two luxurious weeks in the Maternity Hospital.
A bunch of reporters doing the flood gave state-wide pub-
licity to Pop's lucky inspiration in naming the babies for
the mayor, the governor, and the president. Presents and
money came pouring in. The City
Hall made up a purse for little
Patrick Murphy White and the Re-
publican Club handsomelv remem- r I7 ,, T . , a jf

Wins Again. It won back self-

Miss Roller's title might be
amended to The White Elephant

bered his brothers, Gifford Pinchot
and Calvin Coolidge. By pooling the

respect and a job for Pop and it

quently the leavings from seven church kitchens almost kept
his family in food. Twelve baskets of goodies and three
beautiful trees they'd had that Christmas. He suspected
that Miss Allison had thereafter given his name to that
pesky Christmas Clearing Bureau, for they'd received only
one basket and one tree last December. This pretty, de-
termined lady from the Charities Welfare Bureau they
called it now belonged to the troublesome minority that
regarded his luck with naming the triplets as a misfortune.
Pauperized, she said he was, wouldn't leave off urging him
to sell the "white elephant," as she called the Ford.

"How's business lately?" She always asked that ques-
tion, never seemed to understand that he couldn't work
days when it rained or he had a crick in his back or fishing
was good.

"Purty good." Pop's usual answer, delivered with a
patient sigh.

"How much did you make last week?"

"Didn't figure exactly. Me and Ben was deliverin' all
Friday afternoon and Sat'day morning. Peddled a few
bottles 'way out in Oak Hill."

"And spent all your profits on gasoline?" ventured

Pop's face fell. "Well, had to buy a few gallons fer her,
and some paint."

"Last week it was ten dollars for repairs, the week be-
fore a new tire," Margaret reminded with a twinkle. "Now,
Mr. White, you're a sensible man, do you call that good

"When a feller starts in business fer hisself he's got ter
take chances." Pop drew himself erect with dignity, ignor-
ing the twinge to strained muscles. He was not aware that
the wide new overalls of a size to fit his son made him look
puny and ineffectual.

Margaret reflected. "Suppose you keep track this week
of how much you make and spend."

Pop grunted acquiescence.

"Girls still working at Healy's?"

"Yup. Got a raise, and Susie's per-
moted to be inspector in the labeling
room. They's gittin' awful independ-
ent, though, about givin' Mary they
wages, wants everything fer clothes."
"They're young, you know. It's

a.iiu v-'ai v uj \~A^U i u ^c . uy i^juiing uic _

money, Pop managed to buy his car, won for its author the second natural they want a good time.
after which he gave up his job at prize in the recent short-story con- Maybe they'd rather pay your wife
Healy's Bluing Factory and went test of the Committee on Publicity board than turn over their wages.


into business for himself.

Methods in Social Work. The

Bn? "


More good luck followed. The story O f a f am il y both wrecked and He amt helped me much lately,

babies got on the cradle roll of the ',! ~ hangs ar und them P ool -

- rooms


First Baptists who began sending
Mary the left-overs from their ban-


, tl nan ; ni ~Wr

r ."( orej ^ n overflowing "> depot. I caint make him out,

" has a particularly appropriate stup ; d ,; ke .

quets. This gave Pop the idea of en- place in this issue of The Purvey "I'll have a talk with him and the

rolling each of his other offspring in given over largely to flood control, big girls. Lily and Pansy taking

a different Sunday school. Subse- More than that, it is a good story, their tonic?'




"Yup, but they sniffles all the time. They aint started
back to school yit."

"Oh, my! The nurse told me Dr. Howe dismissed them
a month ago."

"They aint had shoes and now with the spring thaw Mary
thought best to keep 'em in."

"But you don't want them in Juvenile Court for truancy!
Look here, I'll write Mrs. White an order for shoes and
you can repay me when you have the five dollars. She'd
better stop at the nose and throat clinic, too. Dr. Howe
thought their colds might be caused by adenoids."

"Supper, Pop!" The kitchen doorway framed Mary, short,
stout, with fair freckled skin and turbulent reddish hair.

Pop led the visitor into the reeking, cluttered kitchen.
In one corner a large pile of soiled clothing lay heaped about
the washtub. The triplets played upon the floor amid bread-
crusts, bits of coal, dried mud, heterogeneous filth. Smelly
work-clothes hung on nails, grimy pans were piled high on
the stove.

Mary and the children were at table. Susie and Emmy,
nineteen and eighteen respectively, sat on a bench against
the wall, Evan, freckled, smudgy, twelve, on an upturned
box, Lily and Pansy, the scrawny second-and third-graders,
ate standing. The lank sixteen-year-old Ben and his mother
occupied two of the three chairs.

"Have a bite with us, Miss Allison?"

Pop took his seat, indicated the bowl of thick soup in the
middle of the table. Ben arose, flushing darkly, and offered
his place.

"No, thanks, had an early supper before I came. Keep
your seat, Ben. How are the working girls?"

Susie and Emmy, fair and auburn like their mother,
dimpled and smiled at the jolly young woman from beyond
the tracks. Susie, the loquacious one, spoke of the recent
raise and promotion.

"Your father told me. I wondered if you wouldn't
like to celebrate by going to a movie with me tonight?"

Would they? Say, ask 'em again!

"Did the visiting housekeeper come, Mrs. White?"

"Yes, she come, and I sure was glad. The work seems
easy the way she done it I used to get all muddled so I
didn't know what to do first. Today I aint cleaned like 1
done the day after she was here the babies was cantankerous
and I had to stop to entangle 'em from a fight and feed 'em
and sleep 'em till I'm sore as a rubbed corn."

"Three babies are a care," said Margaret sympathetically,
dangling a springy ball before Calvin's enchanted eyes.

A'TER supper Pop sat on the back doorstep smoking a
solitary pipe. Presently he heard Ben's voice reply-
ing to something that was said. He leaned against the door
to listen.

"Loafing?" The boy's voice was scornful. "Well, I don't
know, don't seem loafing no more'n hanging around Pop's
old bluing shed. What's Pop doing but loafing anyhow?
With that pesky car fer an excuse!"

Mary put in a word. "The children's gittin' down on
Pop 'cause he expects 'em to bring in all their money and
him drivin' 'round the country in that ornery old rattletrap."

Pop listened in hurt silence. Would they never leave off?
Presently he heard Miss Allison and his elder daughters
leave the house, chattering and laughing fit to kill.

"Interduce our fellers to Pop?" Susie was saying as

the front door closed. "All he kin do's pet a second-hand
Ford same's it was a child. They'd laugh at Mm !"

Pop smoked on, sitting there alone in the dark.

When Fate and the Charity Lady descended upon him
Saturday morning, he was at work in the shed, pouring
water into a vat.

"Good morning. How's business?"

"Not so good as might be." Pop's cheeks were flushed,
his mouth drooped dejectedly, the graying hair above his
rounded forehead was all awry.

"How much did you sell?"

"Fifteen bottles at fifty cents makes seven-fifty."

"And how much did the white elephant eat?"

"I bought five gallons gasoline fer her." He didn't men-
tion that he'd left her at Jim's garage for repairs.

There was a silence that lasted several minutes.

"~\7'OU see, it was this way." Pop sat down heavily.

J^ "Part of the time it rained and part of the time
I had to mind the kids. Thursday the sun come out and
I took Nannette the goat, you know up the river to graze.
Finished my batch of bluing that night and delivered yister-
day. 'Bad luck all 'round, business aint what it used ter be,
you see that in the papers right along."

"If you had a job at the factory you could depend on
so much a day, rain or shine."

The logic was irrefutable. Pop was dumb before it, yet
he felt bereft of dignity, stripped. Being in business for
yourself, the proud owner of a car, did that count for
nothing ?

"I'll try it another week," he said with finality.

"How's Ben?"

"Same's ever."

"Lily and Pansy in school?"

"Yup. They's to have they adenoids cut out this summer."

"Good! Did Susie and Emmy make their party dresses
out of the silk I helped them buy?"

"My, yes, and that proud! Wished you'd speak to 'em,
though, about they wild beaux. I caint say nothin' to "em,
they treats me like they's 'shamed of me." Pop's face grew
wistful. He changed the subject. "Think they's goin' ter
be a flood?"

"Don't know. Paper said this morning the danger's past
unless we get more rain."

But that night the rain began again. Pop sat on an out-
jutting ledge below the bridge, breathlessly watching the
angry river. A flood meant excitement, adventure, even
luxury. Hot meals, the city looking after your family. The
Red Cross giving you bedding and furniture and wall-paper.
Would she break loose tonight? The little man shivered
and drew his ragged sweater more closely about his meagre
shoulders, while his imagination constructed an air-castle
of magnificent proportions.

"Man the boats! Here you, White, take the first one
and row across the Flats!"

"Sure, you bet, here we go!" In through the windows,
rescue the women and children. Yonder's a mother and
her little ones clinging to the roof. Row for dear life!

"Our distinguished fellow-citizen receives Carnegie medal
for bravery." Crowd before the City Hall, cheering madly
while the mayor pins the medal on his breast. Business
picks up, soon there's a factory ten times as big as Healy's.
Pop in a salt-and-pepper suit, a twenty-cent cigar between



his teeth, dictating to a row of stenographers. Mary the
mistress of a home in Oak Hill: "The man that rescued
a hundred people in the flood? Yes, that's my husband."

Shortly after midnight a guard patrolling the river bank
caught sight oi the hunched figure under the bridge.

"Hey, you, what you doing here this time of night?
Drunk, air ye?"

Pop came to with a start. "No, jist hangin' 'round handy.
Is she risin' any?"

"Rising? Hell, no, she's going down, everyone's left.
Get a move on you!"

Grunting with the pain of using his cramped muscles,
Pop made his careful way to the ground. The soft mud
sucked at his boots so that he was winded after a few steps.
He toiled across the Flats past silent houses. Before his
mean little cottage he stopped to catch his breath. Rags in
gaping windows puffed grotesquely in the wind. Shingles
blew off the already leaky roof. In the yard were flying
papers, piles of trash, and everywhere mud, mud, mud.

He opened the front door. The odor of poverty met his
nostrils, rank, overpowering. He stepped across Ben and
Evan, lying asleep on the floor. Awhile he sat on the edge
of the bed where Mary slept with the three babies, then
he dropped his damp clothing, crept between the scanty

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