A Look Back in History: Youthful Folly at Sunol Water Temple

The SFPUC’s Historical Archive is predominantly a document collection. There are a few objects, but by and large, the collection is paper. And there are many different types of documents, including blueprints, mechanical drawings, agreements and contracts, field studies, management reports, measurements & calculations of many things, newsprint and other external pamphlets, reports, other publications, maps, photos, posters, and many memos.

One of these memos requires little introduction. It speaks to the folly of youth, the luck of the dice (“miraculously,” as the memos states in the third paragraph from the bottom), and the lenience of a bygone era. The SFPUC’s beloved Sunol Temple came through the traumatic incident nearly unscathed, also miraculous. In this short, matter-of-fact-toned memo, a vivid picture is drawn involving several people and points of view.

San Francisco Water Department Interdepartmental Memo of June 27, 1966.

The memo tells a story of a rebellious and perhaps angry youth, two frightened and probably perplexed parents, a Water Department Construction Inspector, a Highway Patrol Officer, first responders, a Claims Division Investigator of the Water Department (and thorough he or she was), various Managers and Administrators of the Claims Division, and who knows how many astonished bystanders. It’s a rather crowded scene to fit in a 1-page memo.