Henry and Edsel: The Creation of the Ford Empire

By Richard Bak | Go to book overview
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6
The Five-Dollar Day

We believe in making 20,000 men prosperous and contented rather than
follow the plan of making a few slave drivers in our establishment multi-
millionaires.

—Henry Ford, January 5, 1914

Henry Ford was on his way to becoming a wealthy man even before the runaway success of the Model T made him fabulously rich. In 1907 he was paid $36,000 as company president—a substantial figure, given that baseball's most sensational young player, Ty Cobb, earned $2,400 that year while leading the Detroit Tigers into their first World Series. But Henry's salary was peanuts compared with the hundreds of thousands of dollars in dividends he initially raked in as majority shareholder, a figure that quickly climbed into the millions.

Money was never Ford's primary motivation. He lived comfortably, but not nearly as ostentatiously as a man of his means could have. After years of residing in rental properties, he and Clara moved into a custom-built $300,000 house at 61 Edison Street. The brick and stone residence sat on a double lot, allowing Clara to indulge her passion for gardening. Wisteria, roses, lilacs, forsythia, and rhododendron blossomed under her care. Meanwhile, Edsel lost a fingertip to a lathe inside the fully equipped workshop Henry had built over the garage. The accident didn't discourage the mechanically inclined boy, who had been driving cars since he was ten years old. (Henry's only concession to his son's tender age was to require that a butler crank the starter.)

-64-

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