Modern history

Chapter 4

Life and Works of Henry Kaiser

Building is my business.

—Henry J. Kaiser

IN A curious way Kaiser is an anachronism. His is not so much the voice of the future, one might say, as that of an early American pioneer. It is impossible to understand Kaiser without realizing that he is remarkably like some of the early railway corsairs; he too is a builder and contractor, tough, creative, packed with ideas and energy, above all a man who likes to make things. As I heard it said in San Francisco, “People look at Kaiser, and think he is something new—a radical. But he’s their grandfather.”

You cannot convince Kaiser that a thing cannot be done, no matter how grandiose, any more than you could have convinced Huntington or Stanford that it was impossible to push the Central Pacific over the Sierras. This is a paramount secret of his power and success.

But there are, of course, differences between Kaiser and his semiprototypes. The latter found their opportunity and moneybags in the richness of the earth and the necessity to conquer distance; Kaiser found his—during the war at least—partly in something much more prosaic, federal credit. Which leads to the observation that whereas the railroad and mining kings worked with and enormously served to encourage “free” enterprise, Kaiser on the contrary has been a kind of link to enterprise by government, since government was on his side.1

Another important difference is that the men of the 70’s were, by and large, marauders who cried, “Let the people be damned!” But Kaiser has great social consciousness and conscience. The welfare of the people as a whole is, he thinks, the basic desideratum in any enterprise; he believes in “public” welfare literally, and cares very little about money for money’s sake.

Hence, many “orthodox” tycoons today think that Kaiser is lunatic and dangerous. The Hearst papers call him a “coddled New Deal pet”—though he is a registered Republican and was once mentioned as a Republican candidate for the presidency—and he is perpetually being denounced as a kind of economic anti-Christ. I even heard a friend say fervently, “I’m a left winger, but by God Henry Kaiser scares me!”

Kaiser did indubitably operate during the war on government money in part; for instance the RFC lent him $110,000,000 for the steel plant at Fontana, near Los Angeles, and the great shipyards at Richmond and Vancouver were of course run by Kaiser for the government. Yet to say that he is merely a “subsidized guy” is grossly to miss the point. He was, and is, a genuine builder, as a glance at the record will prove beyond doubt.

Career on Thumbnail

When Henry John Kaiser was twenty-three years old he was already owner of a small photographic shop in Lake Placid, New York. A young lady named Bessie Fosburgh, whose father was a comparatively wealthy Virginia lumberman, came in to buy some film. Henry became interested in Bess, and Bess became interested in Henry when she saw that other girls, among the summer visitors to Lake Placid, liked him too. They fell in love, and Henry forthwith proposed marriage. Mr. Fosburgh did not, however, think much of the eligibility of the young man who seemed to be little more than a small town salesman without a future. So he forbade the marriage unless Henry, within a year, fulfilled three conditions: first, own a house; second, have a bank account with a balance of $1,000; third, be earning $125 a month. That, thought Papa Fosburgh, would finish Henry. Whereupon Henry packed up and left Lake Placid, went out to Spokane, and returned 365 days later with all three conditions duly fulfilled.

The Kaisers have been a wonderfully happy family ever since. They call each other “Mother” and “Father” and in public are as comfortable together as good old shoes. They have two sons, Henry Jr. and Edgar, both of whom hold high office in the Kaiser domain, and both parents adore them. I have seldom seen a more affectionate family. Mrs. Kaiser told me once, “We just have fun all the time.” Saying good-by to his boys in the office, Mr. Kaiser embraces them.

Kaiser was born on May 9, 1882, at Sprout Brook, New York, one of four children of a German settler who came over after ’48. Everybody in the family had to work hard for a living, and Henry’s schooling stopped just before eighth grade at the age of thirteen. From that date to this he has never stopped working. For three weeks, aged thirteen, he walked the streets of Utica, New York, looking for a job, any job that would pay enough to eat on. He told me that the deepest emotion of his life—the joy of achievement—was rooted in this childhood experience. “I’m doing now all the things I swore I’d do when I was thirteen.” And he has thought ever since that all young people are entitled to better opportunities. Also his intense interest in such things as modern medical care dates from this period. His mother died at the age of forty-nine, and he has never stopped thinking that good medical facilities could have prolonged her life twenty years. What she didn’t get, he wants to give to others. Hence the elaborate prepayment plan for medical services he set up for workers and employees, one of the most notable experiments in group medicine ever launched in this country. It was, of course, fought with bitter tenacity by the medical vested interests. Kaiser’s reply was to extend the project outside his own companies to near-by communities at large.

The “joy in achievement” motif runs straight through his life. He showed me a watch Edgar gave him in 1943, with the inscription, “The Understanding of the Joy of Achievement is Your Priceless Gift to Your Boys.”

Kaiser’s first “real” job came at sixteen, as a cash boy in a Utica department store; later he became a salesman. He got into the photographic business, as a shipping and billing clerk, and bought the Lake Placid photo shop. On the west coast, setting out to meet the Fosburgh conditions, he was first a clerk in a hardware company, then a gravel and cement dealer, then a paving contractor. By 1914 he had his own company, Henry J. Kaiser Co., Ltd., with a $325,000 contract for road paving in British Columbia. By 1916, when he was thirty-four, the company had million dollar contracts in Washington and California, and Kaiser was in the big-time at last.

A full list of joint venture contracts undertaken by Kaiser and various associates has never, I believe, been printed; it has been made available to me but it occupies seven closely typed pages, and I cannot possibly include it all. Note that Kaiser helped build both Bonneville and Boulder dams—as well as Grand Coulee!

PROJECT

CONTRACTOR

SPONSOR

APPROX. VOLUME

Boulder Dam (1931–36)

Six Cos. Inc.

Six Cos. Inc.

$54,861,316

East Bay Substructure Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge (1933–34)

Bridge Builders, Inc.

Bridge Builders, Inc.

4,582,721

Bonneville Dam & Lock Approach Canal near Bonneville, Oregon (1934–38)

Columbia Const. Co.

Henry J. Kaiser Co.

16,846,114

Gray’s Harbor Jetties, Gray’s Harbor, Wash. Three separate projects (1935–42)

Columbia Const. Co.

Henry J. Kaiser Co.

7,724,724

Columbia River Rock Jetty near Illwaco, Wash. (1937–39)

Columbia Const. Co.

Henry J. Kaiser Co.

1,188,387

Grand Coulee Dam west of Spokane, Wash. (1939–42)

Consolidated Builders, Inc.

Henry J. Kaiser Co.

$40,821,6 67

Shasta Aggregates near Redding, Calif. (1939–44)

Columbia Const. Co., Inc.

Henry J. Kaiser Co.

7,732,048

Shore Facilities, Mare Island, Calif. (1940–43)

The Kaiser Company

The Kaiser Company

10,057.327

Long Beach and Los Angeles Breakwater, Long Beach and Los Angeles, Calif. (1941–42)

Columbia Const. Co.

Henry J. Kaiser Co.

8,700,000

Mare Island Shipyard Construction near Vallejo, Calif. (1941-43)

The Kaiser Co.

The Kaiser Co.

7,366,144

Drydock, Vancouver, Wash. (1944–45)

Columbia Const. Co.

Columbia Const. Co.

3,276,400

To say nothing of a billion dollars’ worth of other installations all over the country, in which he participated with others.

But this was all secondary in a way, for Kaiser also created industrial operations all his own. Of these the most important was the Permanente Cement Company, near San Francisco; until the war, this was one of the biggest segments of the empire, though the core and “capital” remained the sand and gravel plant at Radum, California. Permanente broke what had been a West Coast cement monopoly. Kaiser forced the price way down. Came the war. Kaiser was still comparatively unknown outside California business circles. He started making ships and steel—for him two utterly new fields—and became a national figure overnight. His Permanente Metals Corporation developed “goop” out of magnesium—this was the incendiary material that helped finish off the war with Japan—and he made shells in Colorado and aircraft in the East, while becoming the biggest shipbuilder in history.

Today Kaiser runs eighteen or twenty different companies covering twenty-six or twenty-seven industries. His interests include gypsum, helicopters, ferrosilicon, housing projects, insurance, and busses made of magnesium. Because he found steel hard to get, he has very recently made prodigious inroads into aluminum. And, as everybody knows, he is tilting at that most dangerous and dramatic of all American superwindmills—the automobile.

Kaiser: Attributes and Characteristics

Henry Kaiser is a very large heavy man with a fringe of gray hair at the back of a big, bald, squarish skull. He has a heavy thick nose, a heavy thick jaw, and dark benevolent eyes behind shining rimless spectacles. He eats everything, drinks moderately, and likes to work fourteen hours a day. He loves to tinker with things, and has amazing mechanical aptitudes. Once he took five minutes’ instruction in an autogyro, and then took off and flew it, though he weighs close to 260 pounds and had never been aloft alone before.

Nowadays he flies practically not at all, though his associates are crossing and recrossing the country by plane all the time. This is because his wife hates to have him fly. His only hobby now, outside work, is experimenting with speedboats on Lake Tahoe, where he has a summer home. Every summer he tries out new combinations of engines and hulls.

Kaiser has his headquarters in Oakland but he spends considerable time traveling. His offices in New York are in Rockefeller Center. The telephone is, however, unlisted, and there is no name on the door. The location of the eastern headquarters of the man who is probably the most important industrialist in the United States is, in other words, a secret; the Kaiser offices are a hideout. Perhaps allied to this strange point is the fact that until he went into automobiles Kaiser never did any direct advertising. He bought no radio time, and there were no Kaiser ads of any kind in newspapers or national magazines.

Inside the New York offices, which are luxuriously crisp and modern, Kaiser sits in a moderately large room behind an empty table. If the phone rings, he gets up, begs his visitor’s pardon, and takes the call in an adjoining office. His assistants move in and out of his own room all the time. He pays attention or not as he chooses, while his courtesy to the visitor remains fixed. It is all like a madhouse with a velvet lining, a madhouse run on greased ball bearings.

If interrupted, even if he has been out of the room for several moments, he will return to pick up a sentence at the exact word where it was dropped. Almost all intelligent executives have this trait, but in Kaiser it is very pronounced. “I’ve always contended that you can and should be able to keep two things in mind at once,” he told me.

Most sketches of Kaiser make him seem somewhat ponderous and forbidding, and people tell me that when he loses his temper it is a sight to see; but most of the time his mood is comparatively benign. Friendship means a great deal to him, he loves people, and he is excellent company in any kind of gathering. Sometimes he startles new acquaintances by quoting Longfellow by heart and at considerable length.

He runs everything with the minimum of paper work; he practically never writes a letter, and nowadays reads very little but the newspapers. But it is an impressive sight to see Henry Kaiser read a newspaper. He is a chain reader. He holds it with hands outspread, at arm’s length, with his elbows on his knees, and shells it like a walnut.

Mostly Kaiser relaxes by plunging out of one enterprise into another; he replenishes energy by variety of occupation. He never goes back to a job, he told me; he has never even seen Boulder Dam or Grand Coulee since their completion. He does have to look at the San Francisco-Oakland Bridge, which he helped to build, but he calls it a superhighway, not a bridge at all. “I have no interest in a thing once it’s done.” He corrected himself. “I’ve always thought a job was done when it was half done.”

I asked him once what the turning point in his life was and he answered, “Cuba.” He went there in 1927 to build some two hundred miles of road in the province of Camaguey; the contract amounted to $17,702,286, a sum phenomenal for those days. “It was a great adventure. We had to create all our own materials, except cement. People used oxen and wheelbarrows. We had to start from the beginning,” Kaiser recounts. What Cuba taught him was the necessity for team work, group work, which in turn depended on personal relationships. This principle he soon applied elsewhere by promoting partnerships and associations among fellow contractors who then worked on a project together; hence arose the famous “Six Companies” (not to be confused with the Six Companies of Chinatown!) and their co-operative bidding on various jobs. People said that the partners wouldn’t stick together long enough to make a bid, let alone do any building. People got fooled.

His closest associates are almost fanatically devoted. They are like movie people; they work a murderously long day, Sundays included, and after hours they still keep on working, in that all their talk is shoptalk. “Kaiser Industries is a family outfit,” I heard it said, “and it operates exactly like a family. Once you’re in, you’re in for life. But you don’t get in by sitting on your tail.” Closest in the circle are, of course, the two sons. Henry Jr. ran the ordnance plants at Denver and Fontana during the war; Edgar ran the Oregon shipyards and is now general manager of Willow Run. Also very close are Edna Knuth, the confidential secretary, and E. E. Trefethen Jr. who as “principal assistant” is vice president of most Kaiser companies. He is only about thirty-five. A chum of Edgar’s, he once took a week’s job running a steam locomotive at Livermore, California; he caught the old man’s fancy, and, moving up fast, has been close ever since. The oldest of the senior executives in point of service is A. B. Ordway, who was administrative manager at Richmond and for a time was general manager of the insurance company which Kaiser helped organize and which is the second largest industrial insurance company in the West; Ordway now heads the iron and steel operation at Fontana. The light metals boss is D. A. Rhoades, another veteran who led the Kaiser entry into aluminum. S. D. Hackley at Bristol, Pennsylvania, is in charge of airplanes and appliance manufacture. One of the big bosses at Fontana is Chad F. Calhoun. An indispensable executive in many industrial operations is Clay P. Bedford, vice president in charge of manufacturing at Willow Run. Twenty years ago Bedford was shoveling sand for a living in one of the first construction jobs Kaiser ever undertook. Incidentally, “Totem” James A. Shaw, the oldest employee in service, is a Negro.

What does Henry Kaiser believe in most? Work—more work—people—himself. What interests him most? “The power that is in the souls of men, and how to reach it,” he told me. Then, above all, how to improve things. He went on, “The most wonderful thing about life is that it isn’t perfect.” When he goes into a project he asks himself two things. First, is it financially practicable? Second, is it a contribution—will it make something available to more and more people at a better price?

He doesn’t talk much about politics, per se; it is the bent of his mind to think more in terms of kilowatt energy than votes. He believes in democracy, in competition, in open team play. “Sometimes Washington goes crazy,” he says, “but then a democracy ought to fumble and flounder every once in a while—that’s what democracy is.” He does not, he told me, believe in “power.” He explained, “Power corrupts. You use it, abuse it, then lose it.” It is the “immensity of resource” of the United States that moves him most. He hates monopoly, no matter how it is disguised, and he wants industrial decentralization above all. He thinks that “devotion of the United States to its own ideals is what will keep it going.”

As to labor Kaiser’s friendly relations are well known. He wants to be able to calculate his costs to the last inch, and he never budges without a labor contract. In January, 1946, he signed up with the CIO for an i8½¢40 increase at Fontana, while Big Steel kept hesitating in the East; he told me that this boost increased the plant’s efficiency by 15 per cent and thus saved money, instead of costing anything. Similarly, during the General Motors strike, he offered Kaiser-Frazer workers a scale based on the highest wages ever paid by Ford, plus whatever General Motors workers would get, plus a five dollar bonus for each completed car. Production depends in the last analysis on the will of labor to produce, he feels; you can’t have healthy and viable industry without, first, a healthy labor movement, and second, social insurance, community health, hospitalization plans and decent housing. “To break a union is to break yourself,” is one aspect of the Kaiser credo.

Richmond and Fontana

We went out to Richmond, across the bay from San Francisco, on the day that Kaiser’s 732nd ship was launched. The first thing I noticed: a chain of cars from the old Sixth Avenue El in New York, which Kaiser used to help move his workers to where they slept and back.

Richmond consists of four yards, built by Kaiser for the U.S. Maritime Commission, on a fee basis in conjunction with other companies. Yards No. 1 and No. 2 were operated by the Permanente Metals Corporation, No. 3 by Kaiser Co., Inc., No. 4 by Kaiser Cargo Co., Inc. For the four together, the peak of wartime employment was 91,000. As of V-J Day the yards had built $1,800,000,000 worth of ships, mostly Liberties and Victories, amounting to about 7,000,000 tons which is 20 per cent of the entire American production of merchant shipping during the war. One-fifth of the American merchant navy was, in other words, built by Kaiser in this single area. Count in the Oregon yards, and the proportion goes up to one-third.

Kaiser turned out combat ships too; in fact his Vancouver, Washington, yards built fifty baby flattops, small aircraft carriers, in eighteen months. Not only did the Navy say that this could not be done; it fought the project with embittered stubbornness, holding that ships built so fast could not be seaworthy; Kaiser got the program started only by going to Roosevelt over the heads of both admirals and Navy Department. For a time he was delivering carriers at the unprecedented and seemingly impossible rate of one a week.

The Liberties rolled off at Richmond even faster. At peak, a ship could be built in four and one-half days, that is the various prefabricated parts and sections were put together in that time, and launchings once reached a rate of thirty-two per month, or one million-dollar ship a day. We visited yard No. 2, and I began dimly to see how the job was done. Part of the secret lay in prefabrication, part in the astute application of new techniques. Take deck houses. These were the toughest problem to solve, because they are the soul and brain of the ship and complex to make. In World War I it took 180 days to build a ship; most of the delay came from deck houses. So a method was contrived to build them in sections—upside down! They proceed down a monstrously large assembly line just like an automobile; then, when finished, they are cut into four huge parts, and each part is carted to the ship on an enormous specially-built eighty-five-ton trailer; finally the deck house is welded together again on the ship itself.

Richmond trained something like three hundred thousand welders out of soda clerks and housewives. Normally it takes two to three months to make a tolerable welder. The Kaiser technique turned them out in ten days, because they were only taught “down-hand” welding, which means welding below the waist, so that the weld itself flows by gravity. To make a good weld overhead takes skill, but practically anybody can do it on the lower level. So forepeaks were built sideways, and the actual sides of ships, cut, shaped and welded to predetermined patterns, were built flat, rather than inside a tall and costly scaffolding. The Kaiser principle was to fit the job to the man, instead of vice versa.

Richmond expanded so fast that a near-by mountain once got in the way. So three million cubic feet of it were moved.

A fancy explosion came in 1946 when Congress began an investigation of huge wartime profits by the shipbuilding industry in general. Nineteen firms, it was charged, had made $365,000,000 profit on a capital investment of $22,979,275. Six Kaiser companies were cited in the complaint drawn up by the General Accounting Office; this asserted that Kaiser and his associates, on an investment of only $2,510,000, had realized profits of more than $190,000,000. The sight—and sound—of Kaiser on the witness stand was stimulating. His rebuttal stated that his firms’ combined net profits amounted to only one-tenth of 1 per cent on dollar volume (New York Herald Tribune, September 24, 1946).

. . . . . . .

Fontana, built on 1,300 acres of walnut groves and vineyards about sixty miles inland from Los Angeles, is Kaiser’s great adventure in steel, and a de luxe war baby. It looks like no other steel plant on earth; to see a blast furnace out among the oranges seems incongruous. Kaiser built it from scratch—assisted by some borrowed steel experts—in record time; the ground was cleared in April, 1942, and the first furnace blew in nine months later. This feat was, moreover, performed when all labor and materials were jacket tight.

The idea behind Fontana was, of course, to provide the West coast with a plant capable of making steel plate for Navy and Maritime Commission building. Suppose the Japanese had cut the Panama Canal. The West had no steel industry of any size, and it was imperatively necessary to set one up. The Army, afraid of a Japanese invasion, insisted on an inland site, instead of tidewater. Fontana has to go something like 175 miles for its ore,2 and 800 for coal; but limestone is near by, and—a valuable item—Los Angeles is a first-rate source for scrap. So Fontana blossomed in the sun, and California for the first time had something it had always craved, a steel industry of its own.

Fontana’s future is, at the moment, tied up in a titanic struggle with eastern steel. Kaiser built it with a $110,000,000 loan from the RFC, which must be refinanced. He does not think it fair or just that this whole sum should have to be repaid, since Fontana, was built as a war measure at emergency speed and almost without regard to cost. He points out that the plant was built for plate, and that to reconvert it to peacetime steel for automobiles and countless other products useful to the West is an expensive proposition. What he hopes, of course, is that Fontana will not only help take up the slack in California reconversion but will be the pivot of future industrialization in the state by providing an integrated steel supply. But eastern steel has always bitterly opposed this kind of development. It fought Fontana because it wants to sell its own steel to California, at its own handsome price. In fact Kaiser asserts now that former bosses in the RFC opposed the construction of Fontana in the first place, and did their best to impede its operation, even during the war, to protect the interests of Big Steel in the East, which was warily watching the evolution of this formidable competitor. He says (New York Times, August 8, 1946) that he has sworn evidence that a special consultant to Jesse Jones, then head of the Defense Plant Corporation, told him, “I will never recommend spending government money on a steel plant in California to be operated by you. We prefer to have the United States Steel Corporation … in Utah.” But Kaiser got the money, and went ahead. His most recent step in this campaign was a demand for a Senate investigation of Big Steel. Meantime the eastern steel companies are doing everything they can to freeze him out of the steel and other commodities he needs desperately for his new venture in automobiles.

Deeply involved in all this is the question of freight rates, to be discussed later in this book. The greatest single barrier to national productiveness, Kaiser feels, is the burden imposed on the nation by regional freight differences. For a generation steel has cost between six and twenty dollars a ton more in the West than the East, because of shipping charges, which Kaiser and most Californians think is an outrage, and want to change. And Fontana could not operate at all—much less create a great all-West steel industry—if it were not protected by a temporary differential.

Kaiser-Frazer Invasion of Detroit

Americans are crazy about names, they’re crazy about gambling, and they’re crazy about automobiles. Perhaps this as much as anything explains the bizarre events attending the birth of Kaiser-Frazer.

Kaiser had been thinking in terms of automobiles for a long time. But his closest advisers kept telling him, “Listen, a dam or a shipyard is O.K., but automobiles—my God, lay off!” He maintains, however, a kind of experimental laboratory at Emeryville, near Oakland, where he could not resist fussing with ideas for new types of cars; for instance as far back as 1942 he built a model with a detachable engine that fit in either front or back.3 The people, he felt, wanted two things above all in an automobile, comfort and safety. To satisfy the first wish, he experimented toward more room; for the second, wider vision.

Two men are major actors in the early history of Kaiser-Frazer. One was R. J. Thomas, head of the United Automobile Workers, CIO. As soon as he learned that Ford was going to close down Willow Run after the war he went to Kaiser, urging him to buy it. His motive was, of course, to get the Californian into the automobile business and thus help keep employment up in the Detroit area. Kaiser was impressed by Thomas, and they talked it over. Next, Joseph W. Frazer happened to call at about the same time on A. P. Giannini. Frazer, an old hand in the automobile business, former head of Willys-Overland, and president of Graham-Paige, wanted help in financing a new venture. Old Giannini said, “You ought to get in touch with Henry Kaiser.” A meeting was arranged, Kaiser and Frazer liked one another at once, and the new company was in effect born that minute.

Oddly enough Kaiser and Frazer had had contact before, but it was indirect and not exactly smooth. Kaiser has never joined the National Association of Manufacturers. Nevertheless, after considerable persuasion, he consented to address an NAM convention and in the course of his speech urged the automobile tycoons to come out with new models even though the war was in progress. Frazer heard the speech—he was building jeeps at the time—and was so outraged that he denounced Kaiser publicly. So when Giannini suggested that he and Kaiser meet, he feared that Kaiser would be unfriendly. But the partnership has been as smooth as ice cream since the first meeting. “We fell into the same groove right away,” Kaiser explains.

The early days of Kaiser-Frazer are too well known to need recountal here. Detroit was both skeptical and then impressed—especially when Kaiser began to pick up dealers by the hundred—and the big manufacturers concertedly sought to prevent his buying tools and parts. Then things happened. “The U.S. public, with stars in its eyes, subscribed $53,450,000 worth of stock … for a car in which no one has ever ridden,” as Fortune put it. When two hand-built mock-up cars were displayed in New York in January, 1946—the only two Kaiser-Frazers then in existence—people fought through police lines at the Waldorf to put in almost ten million dollars’ worth of orders. Kaiser’s own explanation of this is that “the masses of the people are hungry to participate in an enterprise in which they have faith.” But as of the moment of writing Kaiser-Frazers are only just beginning—very, very slowly—to come off the assembly line. The automobile business is not a picnic for anybody these harried days.

More than fifty million dollars behind a car before it ran! This is the sort of thing—we shall find others before this long book is done—which, as the saying is, could only happen in the U.S.A.

What Next for Kaiser?

Henry Kaiser showed me two things while we talked. One was a booklet describing the five-passenger Kaiser-Hammond airplane, 140-mile-per-hour, spin proof, stall proof. He is hoping to produce it in a year or so, provided he isn’t too busy building what he thinks is more imperative—a couple of thousand new airports. The other was a kind of aluminum basin on the floor beside his desk, the Kaiser “Jet-Propelled Dishwasher.” Of these he plans confidently to sell a million at a modest price. The dishwasher does not need electric current; it fits on any tap, and gets free power from the running water. From airplanes to a household gadget—that seems to be the Kaiser gamut. No wonder American men of affairs are by and large more interesting than the politicians.

. . . . . . .

So now we conclude with California. Let us look briefly at the curious state of Nevada next, and then proceed upward to the virile area of the great Northwest.

1 But only, he says, because his companies were the lowest bidders on projects or because he performed prodigies of building beyond the capacity of anybody else.

2 This distance was lately cut to 130 miles when the Kaiser interests acquired Eagle Mountain, which is supposed to contain a hundred million tons of ore, in San Bernardino County.

3 This Emeryville laboratory is a fascinating place. Here the Kaiser staff has tinkered with any number of new ideas in housing, roofing, plastics, glass furniture, speedboats, small scooter-type cars, awnings, and kitchen gadgets.

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