Back in the year of our Lord, Nineteen Hundred and Forty-Six (1946), a small group of men holding membership in the Southeastern Section of the American Water Works Association came to a momentous decision. These men felt the Southeastern Section had become so large the time had arrived when another Section should be formulated. To the best of our knowledge, these men were: Arthur N. Beck, Chief Engineer, Department of Health Montgomery, Alabama; John L. Snow, Layne-Central Company, Montgomery, Alabama; Frank G. Crow, Manager Water Department, Florence, Alabama; and A. Clinton Decker, Chief Engineer, Tennessee Coal and Iron Company, Birmingham, Alabama.
It seems that Beck, Snow and Crow had just returned from a Southeastern Section meeting in Savannah, Georgia, wherein only nine person from Alabama (none from Mississippi) were in attendance. This small attendance from Alabama and lack of attendance from Mississippi convinced these gentlemen the time had now arrived for a “Pull-Out” from the Southeastern Section, and that Alabama and Mississippi. So they wrote Harry Jordan, Executive Director of the American Water Works Association, New York City, informing him of the situation which existed in the Southeastern Section and requested his views on the idea of organizing another section. Harry Jordan was very sympathetic and keenly interested in the matter.
Arthur Beck and John Snow went to New York for personal consultation with Harry Jordan to ascertain just what steps would have to be taken to organize this New Section. They were told that in order to organize a New Section, it would require membership of eighty-five (85) which would include personal, municipal and corporation membership.
So Beck and Snow returned home and immediately contacted by letter all Alabama-Mississippi members of the Southeastern Section, advising them of the contemplated “Pull-Out” and requesting they vote by return mail either “For”, or “Against” this move.
A vote for the “Pull-Out” of slightly over eighty-five (85) was received and recorded and the first organization meeting was held in the Tutweiler Hotel, Birmingham, Alabama, in the late Nineteen Hundred and Forty-seven (1947).
Says Arthur Beck: “We were sitting around the lobby of the Tutweiler – Frank Crow, John Snow, Ben Crabbe and a few more of us – and the conversation ran something like this:
“John Snow: ‘We haven’t gotten a thin dime on which to operate this section.’
Arthur Beck: ‘Nope! Not a thin dime!’
Ben Crabbe: ‘How are we going to operate without any money?’
Somebody said: ‘We haven’t gotten that far along yet.’
Snow: ‘We’ll find a way to operate without any money.’
Ben: ‘I tell you what! I’ve got a hundred Goosenecks!’
Beck: ‘What in hell can we do with a hundred Goosenecks?’
Crow: ‘I’ll buy them! We use that type Gooseneck in our water system and when you break one it’s hard to replace.
Beck: ‘So we bought and sold a hundred lead Goosenecks before one could turn around – providing Frank Crow’s check didn’t bounce – which it didn’t. One hundred Goosenecks at two fifty ($2.50) and now we had money on which to operate.’”
So THIS was the beginning of the Alabama-Mississippi Section! Conceived with courage, born with hope, and followed through with grit, determination and vision by a small group of dedicated Water Works Men who followed a star.
Truly, “He who serves most, serves best.”