In 1989, a filmmaking group for public television asked me to participate in a documentary video film, Mulholland: The Dream-Builder (part of the Los Angeles History Project series for KCET). One of the shoots took place April 28 in San Francisquito Canyon, where I had not been since I was five years old when my shaken father had taken me the day after the disaster to view the wreckage. Sixty years later, although trepid about visiting what still seemed haunted and forbidden grounds, I hiked with the crew on a warm sunny day to the former dam site where few traces of the tragedy remain. (The standing portion of dam wall had been blasted away in 1929.) Perched on a boulder in the riverbed of the canyon, I spoke before camera of the devastation that overtook so many in this place, including my grandfather.
Afterwards, Richard Callison, one of the young Department of Water and Power engineers who had escorted us, drove me up to Power House One and beyond to see the employees' quarters, which, being above the dam, had been untouched by its failure. In this idyllic spot in the quiet of the canyon where ancient native sycamores shade the ground stood vintage wooden bungalows recalling the Southern California of my childhood. Callison told me the department engineers enjoyed duty there because of the beauty and quiet of the place, and then he said he would like to give me something. We proceeded to his garage, where after rummaging about in a carton, he brought forth a small water glass of lavender tint.