Henry and Edsel: The Creation of the Ford Empire

By Richard Bak | Go to book overview
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12
The Little Man
in the Basement

We Nominate for Our Own Hall of Fame Harry H. Bennett. Because
as head of the Personnel Department of the Ford Motor Company, he has
a more direct influence over the destinies of more men than anybody else
in Detroit. Briefly, his job might be described as that of “trouble shooter.”
His specialty is preventing the tenancy of round holes by square pegs.

—Detroit Athletic Club News

Mark Beltaire, the longtime “Town Crier” columnist of the Detroit Free Press, recalled a party he once attended at the fashionable Book-Cadillac Hotel in downtown Detroit.

“There was a lot of drinking going on up in the suites,” he said. “When I went to the men's room, I stumbled over a body.”

It was Harry Bennett, passed out drunk. That is, Beltaire and everybody else who gingerly stepped around the crumpled heap thought the legendary security chief of the Ford Motor Company was drunk. “I heard later that he had a habit of doing that so he could listen in on conversations,” said Beltaire.

Any man who would play possum on the floor of a public lavatory deserves to be taken seriously. Bennett most certainly was. For the better part of a quarter-century, the stocky little man with the trademark bowtie and tattooed forearms flexed a muscle far out of proportion to his five-foot-five frame. “Do you really want to get rid of Hitler?” Henry

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