Taking you back to bring you ahead
Who Does Henry Ford Think He Is?
September 08, 2010 - Please bare with me as I go back to those thrilling days of yesteryear to set up this modern day Jottings. Okay, here we go . . . The Detroit Tigers won the American League pennant in 1935.
And, in the 1930s The Detroit Free Press had a faceless columnist, Iffy The Dopester.
Iffy's booklet "Iffy's Book of Tiger Tales" was bought by my wife many years ago. Only recently did I rediscover it. While the booklet is a collection of his writings during the Tiger's winning season of '35, inside are six yellowed and clipped Iffy columns from 1938 titled: "Who Does Henry Ford Think He Is?"
It is one of these Dopester Remarks I want to dwell on today. Of Mr. Ford, he wrote the following . . .
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. . . He's just a hometown boy who has made good and there's nothing high-hat or fussy about him either. Just as comfortable as an old shoe, is our Henry.
He's a clean living, descent citizen, friendly and neighborly as they make 'em. Used to like to get shaved in the village barber shop out in Dearborn. Waited his time like everybody else. Then curiosity crazy folks made that impossible.
Nation thought he was crazy for not letting the NRA (government-run National Recovery Act) run his business for him. New Dealers made all kinds of threats to him.
He wouldn't let Washington run his business any more than he would let Wall Street run it. He was paying his men way beyond the scale in any code, hours were shorter and their working conditions better.
New Dealers said, "He can't get away with it. Who does Henry Ford think he is?"
Henry, you know, didn't get much schooling. Too busy thinking things out for himself. A lot of book-taught fellers think that means he don't know nothing.
Mebbe he don't; it ain't for me to say. But then Tom Edison never went to school either and there was feller named Franklin (Ben) and Abe Lincoln and whole lot of chaps like that who didn't either.
Mebbe Mark Twain would not have been so great if he had had some college professor teach him how to write.
So, when Henry, back in 1914, sprung the idea of the solution of our economic problems was greater production and lower prices, not higher prices and less production, the college professors they said he was crazy as a loon.
Henry doesn't argue these things. He just says 'em as he goes along and you can take 'em or leave 'em. Winning arguments don't interest him, he's just interested in getting things done.
I got a great laugh out of Harold Ickes' radio speech a few weeks ago when he said that industry ought to organize to put Henry out of business, because he makes the New Dealers so mad by refusing to conform - like he did in the NRA.
Well, I wonder what Mr. Ickes thinks of his rivals have been doing for the past 30 years. When the game started every motor company was trying to put the others out of business. Only the giants lived. It was a survival of the fittest, all right.
Every darn one of them worked as hard as he could to put Henry out of business. And they have not stopped since then. That's business. His rivals want him to sell as few cars as possible because the less business he does the more they will do.
If I were Henry's competitors I would have wired Mr. Ickes that night: "We've been trying to do what you suggest for 30 years. Will you kindly inform us how to do it?
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Back to a Jim Jottings original thought . . . what do you think Ford would say of today's government run auto companies. According to Iffy, not much. But, what do you think Iffy would say?
As a side note, back to the booklet where I found the above column . . . Iffy's book was prefaced by Free Press editorial director Malcolm Bingay, who was, in fact, Iffy The Dopester.
Jim Sherman, Sr. is president of Sherman Publications, Inc. He has penned "Jim's Jottings" since 1955.