: "The Day the Dam Broke" is the personal account of the flood of 1913 written by humorist and Columbus native James Thurber (1894-1961). One afternoon a panic began in downtown Columbus based on a rumor that the dam on the Scioto River had broken and the river was rushing to cover the east side of the city, which was still above water. Thurber estimated nearly 2,000 people went running out of the city and past his home, yelling "go east." His family soon followed in the evacuation. He reported that a few people eventually ran twelve miles before stopping. Most people were stopped by the militia men who drove by reassuring the crowd that the dam had not broken and even if it had, areas east of High Street were in little danger of flooding. The story is on pages 34 to 51 of My Life and Hard Times, published in 1933, which is 153 pages in length and measures 5.5" x 8" (13.97 x 21.32 cm).
Thurber's father, who had dreams of being an actor or lawyer, was said to have been the basis of the typical small, slight man of Thurber's stories. Young James was partially blinded by a childhood accident--his brother William shot an arrow at him. When he was unable to participate in games and sports with other children, he developed a rich fantasy life, which would serve to inspire his later fiction. Between 1913 and 1918 he studied at The Ohio State University. He worked as a code clerk in Washington, D.C., and at the American embassy in Paris and as a journalist for the Chicago Tribune in Paris.
In 1926 Thurber went to New York City, where he was a reporter for the Evening Post before joining The New Yorker, where he found his clear, concise prose style and where fifteen of his books first appeared. Thurber's wry humor showed great sensitivity to human fears and follies. Thurber's first book, Is Sex Necessary, appeared in 1929. The book presented Thurber's drawings as well and instantly established him as a true comedic talent. Thurber left The New Yorker in 1933, but remained a contributor. In the 1950s Thurber published modern fairy tales for children. His eyesight became worse in the 1940s, and by the 1950s his blindness was nearly total. Thurber continued to compose stories in his head, and he played himself in 88 performances of the play A Thurber Carnival. View on Ohio Memory.
: Om2903_2481667_001 Subjects
: Literary Ohio; Climate and Weather; Floods; Thurber, James, 1894-1961; Authors Places
: Columbus (Ohio); Franklin County (Ohio)