This is the seventh part of Felt Necessities: Engines of Forest Policy, a series of essays tracing the history of the conservation movement in the United States, and its influence on the nation’s ever-shifting forest policy.
The series expands significantly on a half-day lecture Evergreen founder, Jim Petersen, delivered to a graduate-level forestry class at the University of Idaho in February 2017.
The term “felt necessities” is taken from The Common Law, a book of essays assembled in 1881 by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., in which he explains the historic underpinnings of the nation’s legal system. President Theodore Roosevelt thought so much of Holmes’ essays that nominated him to the Supreme Court in 1902.
We hope you enjoy and learn from this series. Your comments or criticisms are most welcome. Felt Necessities will subsequently be available in book form. To read the first part of the series, click here. Part two can be found here, and part three can be found here. For Part 4, click here. Part 5, can be found here. To read Part 6 click here.
Of American forestry’s two Roosevelt-era felt necessities, only reforestation – survives. David Mason’s big ideas about cooperative sustained yield did not survive their post-war monopolistic tendencies, which is to say that Mason’s exceptional forestry intellect blinded him to the political realities that accompanied the bare-knuckle brawl that pit landowning lumbermen against their landless upstarts following the Second World War.
No understanding of the historic post-war development of our western National Forests is complete without some understanding of the forces that derailed Mason’s cooperative sustained yield campaign and replaced it with a more democratic but bruising competitive bidding system that gave landless lumbermen the opportunity to purchase the federal timber they needed to run their mills at public auctions run by the Forest Service.
David Mason’s undoing – some might say his comeuppance – had a name. He was Fred Harris, a hardscrabble Cottage Grover, Oregon lumberman who had grown up on a small farm in the back of beyond halfway between Cottage Grove and the Oregon coast. Although Harris had no formal education, he was street smart, and he had a mile-wide patriotic streak running down his back.
The trouble began with Harris’ 1945 attempt to buy a patch of timber adjacent to a 220-acre tract that he owned near Cottage Grove. He was soon informed by a Department of the Interior General Land Office forester named Hart that the tract he sought had been reserved for the much larger W.A. Woodard Lumber Company.
“What the hell was this,” Harris thought. “Why was his own government reserving publicly-owned timber for one lumberman, especially a guy as wealthy as W.A. Woodard.
Harris’ solution – which he laid out in January 1948 letter to the Department of the Interior – reflected his homespun view of the way the federal government ought to sell its timber. He had no problem with Mason’s basic sustained yield idea, but he was annoyed by Mason’s frequent public references to “the swarm of little mills” that he thought were making it so difficult for the government to slow the drain on the nation’s timber supply.
“The small man made this country, fought its battles, paid its taxes, endured its hardships,” Harris wrote in a swipe at Mason’s logic. “Free enterprise incentive will lead this class of people on through ages of battles, taxes and hardships. I am afraid of this attempt to drive the American people once their privileges are taken from them. As you know, Germany tried this. This is the sticker: two boys going to the same school. One has been born with a hundred-year contract with the government; the other has been born with nothing.
“This is wrong, and very dangerous to peace with our people,” Harris warned. “Gentlemen, this attempt makes me feel bitterer toward the Department of Interior than I do towards the bickering of a lot of our politicians.
“Sustained yield could be so simple,” Harris concluded. “Barring over-ripe, decay, timber beetles, fire, wasteful logging and atomic bombs, it can be estimated how much timber there is; then estimate how long it must last. Sell an allowable cut on the open market to the highest bidder to be milled locally, utilization urged in logging and milling, government built and maintained roads in national forests, with malice toward none.”
In a one and one-half page letter, Fred Harris blew apart almost everything Mason had championed for more than 20 years. Sustained yield was fine, Harris thought, but achieving it did not require that the federal government favor big landowning lumbermen, or the creation of sustained yield units composed of their private lands and adjacent O&C Lands that were administered by the Department of the Interior. If the government really wanted to weed out the slackers Mason disliked, all it had to do was offer its timber for sale at public auction and see who showed up to bid on it.
If would take three years for the U.S. Government to see the moral and ethical underpinnings in Harris’ plain-as-day solution. Meantime, the Cottage Grove lumberman would be joined by a slew of landless lumbermen shouting “monopoly” to the high heavens.
Woodard and his Big Lumber brethren deeply resented any suggestion that they were monopolists. After all, they had supplied almost all the lumber the nation’s armed forces had consumed during World War II. No formal agreements between Big Lumber and the Forest Service or the Department of the Interior had ever been made, there was among landowning lumbermen a tacit assumption that they would have first call on the federal government’s timber following the war.
Mason’s push to establish cooperative sustained yield units had unofficially affirmed what landowning lumbermen already felt was theirs for the taking. It wasn’t monopoly, they would reassure one another. But it was, and in due course, they would learn that the country’s felt necessities had shifted in a way that favored Harris’ ideas about entrepreneurship. The Truman Administration, which employed many holdovers from the Roosevelt years, suddenly had no interest in dancing near the New Deal’s monopoly flames.
The three-year sustained yield battle that ensued never would have occurred had David Mason first asked Fred Harris – or any of the thousands of landless lumbermen just like Harris – for their ideas on how growth and harvest might be better balanced, but he never got past his belief that the only way to stop the hemorrhaging from the nation’s timber balance sheet was to starve out those who did not own timberland, the so-called “have-nots.”
Fred Harris thought otherwise, but he was a shy man who, despite his feisty nature – or perhaps because of it – was poorly suited to mount any sort of public offense against Mason’s campaign. Someone more articulate would need to handle the diplomatic chores. Knowing no one and mad as hell about what was happening, Harris went to see Lane County District Attorney, Frank Reed, a pugnacious man whose most distinguishing feature was the permanent scowl on his face. Reid listened intently to Harris’ tale of woe, then picked up his phone and called a most unlikely combatant, George Owen, a Eugene lumberman and former city councilman who loved growing roses and relished the political limelight.
Owen’s pedigree was such that, had he owned much timberland, he would surely have been a member of Big Lumber’s clubby fraternity, but he did not, and so – like Harris – he was heavily dependent on timber he bought from Willamette Valley farmers. No less than 50 Lane County lumbermen – Harris and Owen included – looked forward to the day when western Oregon’s vast storehouse of federal timber would be accessible and offered for sale. That they would have to fight their own government for the right to buy it seemed preposterous.
In preparation for a battle he welcomed, the combative Frank Reid filed incorporation papers for the Western Association of Lumbermen and Loggers [WALL} in the fall of 1945. Reid was certain the Department of the Interior had no legal basis for entering cooperative sustained yield agreements with anyone.
Over the next three years, George Owen would lead the appropriately named “WALL” into an escalating series political skirmishes with Big Lumber leading to a showdown public hearing in Eugene in February of 1948. The Mohawk hearing, named for an O&C timber tract in the Mohawk Valley east and north of Eugene, would be the undoing of Mason’s cooperative sustained yield dreams, not just in western Oregon but also in western Montana, where another cooperative unit had been proposed by the U.S. Forest Service.
As impossible as it seems, an acerbic New Jersey Jew named Dan Goldy probably had more influence over the post-war shape and substance of federal forestry and the federal timber sale program than anyone in the Roosevelt or Truman administrations. More amazing was the fact that Goldy wasn’t a forester. He was an economist, and the last surviving witness to the 1948 Mohawk hearing, which he orchestrated from his post as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior, much to the dismay of wealthy western Oregon lumbermen who believed David Mason had secured their defacto monopoly on O&C timber under the terms of the cooperative sustained yield program codified in 1937 O&C Act.
Their long nightmare began one spring evening in 1947. Goldy was working late on a tall stack of documents a government courier had delivered to his Interior Department office that afternoon. Buried in the pile and secured by a red shoe string [today we euphemistically call this wrapping “red tape”] was a contract awaiting the signature of Interior Secretary, Julius Krug. It granted the Eugene-based Fischer Lumber Company exclusive cutting rights to O&C timber in the Mohawk Valley northeast of Eugene for 99 years at a negotiated price that precluded competitive bidding. Goldy could not believe his eyes. He rose from his desk and walked briskly into an adjacent office occupied by his boss, Assistant Interior Secretary, C. Girard “Jebby” Davidson, a Louisiana lawyer who had joined the Roosevelt Administration following a chance meeting with Tommy “the Cork” Corcoran, FDR’s chief talent scout, fixer, speechwriter and dealmaker.
Davidson was everything Goldy wasn’t: tall, handsome, charming, always impeccably dressed and rumored to be an Eleanor Roosevelt favorite. Goldy would quickly become Davidson’s “Tommy the Cork.”
The following morning, Goldy and Davidson reviewed the pending Mohawk contract with Secretary Krug, who readily agreed with Goldy’s assessment that it stacked the deck in favor of lumbermen who needed no assistance from the federal government. Worse, Goldy warned, the agreement seemed certain to pose election year political problems for President Truman, who faced a formidable battle against New York’s crime-fighting governor, Thomas Dewey. Goldy would soon be headed west to investigate the Mohawk situation. The politically savvy Krug wanted him to the lay the groundwork for a public hearing that showcased Truman’s support for the common man.
Goldy’s investigation confirmed Fred Harris’ claim that Interior’s General Land Office [the newly minted Bureau of Land Management following GLO’s 1946 merger with the U.S. Grazing Service] was indeed playing favorites with lumbermen who owned timberlands adjacent to O&C timberlands. Several sweetheart deals had been consummated since President Roosevelt signed the O&C Act in June of 1937. What had been political nirvana then was fast becoming a political firestorm.
What Dan Goldy lacked in charm he more than made up for with a set of analytical skills that bordered on sheer genius. He had intended to become a lawyer, but during his undergraduate years at the University of Wisconsin, he fell under the spell of Edwin Witte, an economics professor and Roosevelt insider credited with writing much of the 1935 Social Security Act. His admiration for Witte led him to switch majors and join with other economics students who were members of the left-leaning Student League for Industrial Democracy.
His SLID affiliation got him introduced in 1933 to Monroe Sweetland, a Molalla, Oregon newspaper publisher and the undisputed leaders of Oregon’s Democratic Party. More than a decade later, Sweetland would help Goldy uncover the truth about the chummy relationship between western Oregon’s wealthiest lumbermen and the General Land Office.
Goldy was 20 when he graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Wisconsin in 1936. He would soon be immersed in the Roosevelt Administration’s search for skilled labor pools large enough to support wartime industries that were quietly mobilizing in anticipation of war in Europe.
By the time he and Jebby Davidson met in November of 1946, Goldy had developed an unusual and quite valuable skill set: he could size up an industry’s manpower needs, break down its manufacturing costs. Identify its efficiencies and inefficiencies, and determine what skill sets were needed, or had to be retained, to improve efficiency and reduce raw material waste.
Equally important to the Truman Administration, Goldy had developed a keen appreciation for the political possibilities that accompanied the federal government’s vast spending and regulatory powers. Hindsight suggests no one in the Truman camp was more qualified to carry out Secretary Krug’s Mohawk investigation than Goldy.
In October of 1946 – a month before he and Davidson met for the first time – Goldy toured western Oregon’s coastal Douglas-fir forests with his wife, Rusty. When they married in 1944, he had promised he would accompany her to Oregon to see her beloved forests.
The couple also stopped in Portland so that Goldy could reconnect with Sweetland and another college acquaintance, Dick Neuberger, who had become a columnist with the Oregonian, and would later become Oregon’s junior U.S. Senator.
Among other things, Goldy wanted their assessment of future job opportunities within the Truman Administration. Sweetland suggested he contact Davidson, who he had befriended during the latter’s years as chief legal counsel for the Roosevelt Administration’s Bonneville Power Administration. On the strength of Goldy’s manpower expertise, Davidson hired him to oversee the Columbia Valley Authority, a Roosevelt public relations outreach that was promoting hydroelectric developments on the Columbia River system. Recall that President Roosevelt saw hydroelectric development in the West as central to his New Deal plans for alleviating economic and social struggle in eastern cities, and on midwestern Dust Bowl farms, by making it possible for devastated families to start anew in the vast undeveloped West.
Goldy took the job, and was in the process of moving into a new home in Portland when Davidson recalled him to Washington. His Deputy Assistant Secretary had resigned, and he needed a new one fast. By early January 1947, Goldy was back in D.C. and fully immersed in the Truman Administration’s attempt to brand itself while staying true to the Roosevelt Administration’s quest to control as much of the nation’s means of production as possible. It was no small chore given the fact that the country’s entrepreneurial juices were again flowing. With the peacetime economy gaining steam, workers were no longer saw a need to be tied as tightly to the government’s apron strings as they had been during the Depression years.
Goldy’s discovery of collusion involving the General Land Office and Big Lumber whetted his appetite. He’d spent enough time inside factories during the war to know the difference between one that was operating efficiently and one that wasn’t, so he asked Dale Fischer, the third-generation owner of the Fischer Lumber Company if he could tour his Molalla mill. Fischer had rebuilt the mill following a 1941 fire, so he was delighted to show off the mill’s state-of-the-art band saws. Goldy was impressed with what he saw. For comparison’s sake, he also toured George Owen’s mill in Eugene, which though not as new, also utilized band saws rather than the thicker and more wasteful circle saws, which had been a sawmilling staple for more than 100 years.
Timber was so abundant in western Oregon that there was no reason for complacent millowners to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in more efficient bandsaws. Goldy made a mental note of the fact that the mountains of sawdust circle saws generated were being burned in teepee burners at the expense of the post-war homebuilding boom. To the angst of landowning lumbermen who already resented his presence in the Willamette Valley, Goldy would soon inject his own competitive juices into the region’s stodgy mills.
What troubled Goldy most about the western Oregon situation was that there was no public oversight of the government’s relationship with Big Lumber. Although David Mason had made a big show of the fact that the regulated sale of O&C timber would become a significant contributor to rural western Oregon economy, the 18 O&C counties had no place at the table where said timber was sold to handpicked landowning lumbermen at negotiated prices within the framework of cooperative sustained yield agreements good for 99 years. There was nothing competitive about the process, though General Land Office officials would insist that they were abiding by the 1937 O&C Act.
Goldy agreed with Mason’s ideas about sustained yield. The federal government needed to find a way to balance harvest against growth, but allowing wealthy lumbermen to buy the public’s timber at negotiated prices that were less than market value – in exchange for their promise not to overcut their own timberlands – wasn’t the answer. Moreover, it wasn’t going to win many western Oregon votes for Harry Truman in what turned out to be Truman’s photo-finish run for the White House in November of 1948. In the spring of 1947, Goldy proposed his own ingenious solution:
Blocs of O&C timber would also be set aside for landless lumbermen. Fair was fair.
All O&C timber would be sold at public auction. There would be no back-door negotiations.
Advisory boards would be established in each of five O&C administrative districts. The boards would be composed of landed and landless lumbermen, conservationists, county officials and grazing and mining interests.
The membership of the existing O&C Advisory Board would be expanded so that it, too, mirrored western Oregon’s largely rural demographic profile.
Landowning lumbermen were aghast. They had come so close to monopolizing the entire O&C forest, then estimated to be worth at least one billion dollars.
It was all a matter of perspective.
The intellectually sophisticated forester in Mason saw a carrot in its checkerboard ownership pattern: the federal government would sell O&C timber to private landowners at negotiated prices if they allowed federal foresters to set annual harvest levels on their lands.
The politically cunning economist in Goldy saw a stick in the same ownership pattern: private landowners would permit their landless brethren to use their logging roads to reach O&C timber purchased at public auction. If they refused, the government would not allow them to use the federally-owned segments of the same road system to reach their private timber.
Fred Harris must have thought he’d died and gone to Heaven. Dale Fischer no doubt feared he was descending into Hell. Such were the enormous powers of the federal government, and now those powers were vested in an obsessive-compulsive New Jersey economist whose incessant questioning often bordered on pontification.
Willamette Valley lumbermen quickly returned fire in a brutal counteroffensive, but if they thought they could intimidate Goldy they were sadly mistaken. He was a college boy for sure, but he was no fool. He was tough, just like them, and much too busy choreographing the January 1948 Mohawk hearing to be bothered by their verbal assaults on his character. Of course, it helps when the President of the United States has your back.
If the little-known Mohawk story seems exceptionally long and involved, especially when compared to other more There often told stories that illuminate our nation’s conservation history, it is because the hearing and Jebby Davidson’s subsequent decision fundamentally and permanently altered the course of federal forestry in the western United States.
There are no audio recordings of the Mohawk hearing, so we cannot hear the boos of lumbermen who came only to ridicule David Mason for his countless public condemnations of their “haywire outfits.” Nor is there any Fox Movietone News film that would allow us to glimpse the oratory genius of Leif Erickson, a former Montana Supreme Court Judge who gave up his seat on the High Court to chase his populist political ambitions. Those who had seen him in action in Montana courtrooms said his oratory skills rivaled those of Clarence Darrow. In Eugene, the” small men” cheered his rousing testimony. It was no accident that he took the stage after Mason. Goldy had planned it that way.
“As a preliminary, I want to comment on Mr. [David] Mason’s remarks” Erickson began in a booming trial lawyer’s voice that swept over the auditorium like a shot from a cannon.
“You know, like everyone else here, I believe in democracy and free enterprise. I have been an admirer of the State of Oregon and the people in the state, and I did not think that I would ever come here and hear it said that it would be better for America and better for you and for me that we should have only one creamery in Eugene, one grocery store, and that we should have only one, instead of a dozen lumber companies.
“The basic objection lies right there, Erickson said. “The federal government has stepped out and they have chosen the Fischer Lumber Company as the chosen instrument that is going to carry out the objectives of the [O&C] Act in the handling of our property. All right, I holler monopoly. I holler it in the morning and at night.”
In a mere 172 words, Erickson tore the scab off a festering wound that threatened to suffocate some very American ideas about competition, free enterprise and access to publicly owned lands – felt necessities shared by millions of us who formed “the greatest generation” that Tom Brokaw so movingly described in his book by the same name.
Yet apart from newspapers clippings, the only record of the raucous Mohawk hearing is its transcript, a 500-page word-for spoken-word- treatise compiled by a Portland, Oregon court reporting service, and housed in the Special Collections Library at the University of Oregon. But as we shall soon discover, the nation’s felt necessities would undergo dramatic change over the next 30 years.
The transcript reveals that the wily Erickson had borrowed the creamery analogy from an unnerved and poorly prepared David Mason, who squandered his 20 years of meticulously assembled sustained yield research by pointlessly refuting testimony offered in absentia by the equally cerebral Ellery Foster, head of research for the International Woodworkers of America.
Foster, who held forestry degrees from the universities of Michigan and Minnesota, wrote that Mason’s approach to sustained yield proceeded from the “false and misleading premise that a wood manufacturing plant needed to control the forest if the community was to enjoy the benefits of sustained yield. This premise is no more valid than it would be to say that a creamery needs to control the dairy farms that supply it with milk and cream.
“We have made that argument before, but we make it again, because it is the crux of the matter,” Foster wrote. “The reason it is true is that forest lands can be managed in small blocks as well as large, to provide a reasonably steady flow of logs into local markets, just as dairy farms, whether large or small, can supply a steady flow of milk and cream to the local market. In fact, a community has more security if it depends on the production of numerous operations than if it is subject to the whims of one large operator.”
Foster thought the best way to control private landowner behavior was to use the stick, not the carrot. Landowners who treated their own lands with respect should be granted the right to bid on the public’s timber, but if they treated their lands poorly, they ought to be excluded from bidding. It was a takeoff on George Owen’s 1945 suggestion that the government reward mill owners who made investments in new, more efficient milling equipment: those that did would have first call on the government’s timber and those that didn’t would have to wait until everyone else had all the timber they needed. Wasn’t this the essence of free enterprise? How could any lumberman worth his salt oppose it?
With hypocrisy clearly in his sights, Foster nailed sustained yield’s advocates – most of them Republicans – with a roundhouse right that put them on their knees. “In our judgment, these monopolistic deals are as raw a betrayal as the Ballinger scandals which our first great forester, Gifford Pinchot, fought so vigorously, and which played a major role in splitting the Republican Party from stem to stern a third of a century ago. If anything, these deals are worse, because they are doused with sweet scented perfumes, labeled ‘cooperation’ and ‘sustained yield,’ labels which obviously have fooled and befuddled many sincere, well-intentioned people.
“Actually, if we go below the heavy film of perfume, and get down to what the plan really is, it stinks to high heaven,” Foster declared. “It stinks of something that Theodore Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot fought vigorously against when they formulated and gave this country and the world a people’s conservation policy. Under the guise of doing something for the community, a plan is being promulgated which helps a powerful few to become more powerful by depriving the many of their rightful opportunities.”
Foster’s command of forestry’s political history was exceptional. Mason’s was, too, but on the afternoon of January 21, 1948, he took leave of his senses, choosing instead to argue that it would be good to have only one creamery in town, but “not good to have dozens of small creameries.” He had made the same miscalculation in his high-minded conclusion that “the swarm of small mills” had made it impossible for landowning lumbermen to amass sufficient capital to begin the long process of reforesting their cutover lands. Thus, the only way to balance harvest against growth was to control access to federal timber, and who better to have access than adjacent private landowners: men of business and industry, like Dale Fischer.
It was a delicious moment, and the opportunistic Erickson seized it for all it was worth, arguing that Mason’s demand that his detractors offer better solutions was wrong-headed. Cooperative sustained yield was Mason’s idea. The burden of proof was his, not his critics.
Having extemporaneously dispatched Mason, Erickson next trained his oratory sites on the U.S. Government – specifically the earlier noted Assistant Interior Secretary, Jebby Davidson, who was doing his best to steer the often-raucous hearing, without disclosing his own fears that Mason’s cooperative sustained yield ideas were monopolistic – so much so that Erickson sensed it.
“I believe that this proposal runs exactly contrary to the expressed purposes of your department,” he told Davidson. “I know of efforts of your superior, Secretary [Julius] Krug, to do what he can in the oil and coal industries and to prevent monopolies. You have here, Mr. Secretary, the opportunity to prevent a situation mentioned by Governor [Charles] Sprague under which all the forest lands might come into small ownership – the ownership of a few – and so create a monopoly throughout the whole Northwest. And so, it is how you handle the lands and how the Forest Service handles its lands that will determine whether there will be opportunities for the little fellows.”
Erickson then pulled a piece of paper the size of a cocktail napkin from his coat pocket and read from it:
“Under your regulations, Circular 116652, Paragraph 115:10, it states, ‘Cooperative sustained yield agreements: The formulation and administration of cooperative agreements shall be guided by a policy promoting the widest distribution of the benefits obtainable under sustained-yield management, and of preventing monopoly.’”
Erickson then looked squarely into Davidson’s eyes: “That is the expressed language of the Act. If these agreements are to be made, they must be made to prevent monopolies. We must prevent monopolies here.”
Davidson had no choice but to listen to Erickson’s rejoinder. He had set the tone for the hearing earlier in the day. “We do not come to this hearing with our minds made up in advance. We are here to learn.”
Erickson was simply taking Davidson at his word.
“I know that you, Mr. Secretary, will keep that [monopoly] thing in mind,” Erickson said quietly. “I know that you have expressed that viewpoint before and, if the final conclusion is that there should be a cooperative agreement, I think that it should be started all over again from scratch because the agreement now violates the policy of our own department.”
Then, turning back to the scrap of paper he had shoved in his pocket, Erickson said, “If there is any doubt about it, here is the answer. This is from Paragraph 115.7 in your Circular. It says: ‘Each forest unit shall be established so as to promote the widest distribution of the benefits of sustained yield management to all forest owners, operators, workers and dependent communities affected thereby.’
“Operators, not operator, Erickson reminded Davidson, emphasizing what he had just read from Paragraph 115.7. “But here we have an agreement which admits only one company as the boundary now stands. As it stands, only one company can participate in the sustained yield agreement, and I therefore believe that this agreement violates your regulations.”
Others testified for and against Mason’s cooperative sustained yield proposal over the next day and a half, but none as skillfully as Erickson had done it. Five months later, Davidson killed the Mohawk agreement and, with it, Big Lumber’s hopes for surreptitiously monopolizing the post-war federal timber sale program. Sustained yield – growing more timber than is harvested – would be codified in many federal laws, but federal timber would henceforth be sold at public auction.
To this day, we do not know who invited Erickson to testify at the Mohawk hearing, but Dan Goldy is the most likely suspect. He never tired of reminding people that he had discovered the Mohawk contract in the spring of 1947 in a stack of papers awaiting Interior Secretary Julius Krug’s signature. Perhaps to tamp down Goldy’s outsized ego, his boss, Jebby Davidson, had called the discovery “a complete fluke.” And it was, but only a political gadfly with Goldy’s chutzpah would have dared attempt such a high-wire act. Had he not, or had he failed, the federal forest landscape in the western United States would look very different than it does today. Our felt necessities are again on the move.