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New Deal Agency Poetry


My interest in political-based poetry of American history means I find all sorts of weird stuff, or more accurately, I report on what others have found if I don’t find it myself. Such as this slight bit of rhyme from the papers of forester David Mason. One of the founders of sustainable forestry, Mason was involved in the New Deal attempts to bring forestry into an era that meant something other than rampant exploitation. Anyway, during the era of the National Recovery Administration, before the National Industrial Recovery Act was ruled unconstitutional in 1935, someone wrote this small bit about the lumber code:

“NRA me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my Code to keep.
If I should bust before I wake.
The AFL my plant will take.”

As it would turn out, it would mostly be the CIO their plant would take, as the International Woodworkers of America would step into the breach, although certainly in some areas, it would be the United Brotherhood of Carpenters. In any case, while timber interests originally had some support for the NRA, it quickly faded once it meant not decimating workers’ lives. And then came the National Labor Relations Act and their world was never quite the same.

This is taken from Rodney C. Loehr, ed., Forests for the Future: The Story of Sustained Yield as Told in the Diaries and Papers of David T. Mason, 1907-1950 (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 1952). And yes, looking at this sort of thing is what I spend the non-LGM part of my days doing.

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