Henry and Edsel: The Creation of the Ford Empire

By Richard Bak | Go to book overview

13
Rearview Mirror
The Crown Prince
at Work and at Play

Jim Backus, a native Detroiter and an army veteran of the First World War,
moved from the production line to a clerical position through the persistent
pestering of his superiors and some evening classes in accounting. His twenty
years inside Edsel Ford's office, beginning in 1923, gave him an intimate
view of the heir apparent to the Ford Motor Company.

Shortly after I started to work in Mr. Edsel Ford's office, he received an extortion letter threatening his sons, Henry II and Benson, with bodily harm unless a certain sum of money was left in a church. To my surprise, Mr. Harry Bennett called me to his office and asked if I would be willing to pose as Mr. Edsel Ford and deliver the ransom money demanded. I agreed and accordingly was instructed as to what I was to do.

A dummy box of money about the size of a shoe box was given to me, and with a chauffeur driving me in a big Lincoln I was driven to the particular church where I deposited the box on the pew as directed in the letter. Of course, detectives were planted all through the church and my every movement was carefully guarded. The writer of the letter was watching the events through the window of an adjacent bar and was apprehended. His name was Vaclac Simek. It was necessary for me

-163-

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Henry and Edsel: The Creation of the Ford Empire
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents iii
  • Acknowledgments v
  • 1: Farmboy, Tinkerer 1
  • 2: The Horse is Gone 18
  • 3: Rearview Mirror Ford the “automobileer” in 1900 32
  • 4: Who Can't Afford a Fordmobile? 38
  • 5: Hunka Tin 51
  • 6: The Five-Dollar Day 64
  • 7: Rearview Mirror the Crystal Palace in 1914 78
  • 8: War on Several Fronts 83
  • 9: Joy Ride 106
  • 10: Farewell, Lizzie 125
  • 11: Chronicle of the Neglected Truth 141
  • 12: The Little Man in the Basement 154
  • 13: Rearview Mirror the Crown Prince at Work and at Play 163
  • 14: Airships and Time Machines 172
  • 15: An Invitation to Organize 188
  • 16: Bullets and Frescoes 200
  • 17: A Matter of Style 210
  • 18: The Overpass 221
  • 19: Rearview Mirror Battling “fordism” in 1937 231
  • 20: A New Social Order 238
  • 21: You Know How Father Is 250
  • 22: Running on Empty 261
  • 23: Rearview Mirror the Last Years of the Flivver King 275
  • Postscript - Ford After Ford 284
  • Notes 293
  • Selected Bibliography 302
  • Picture Credits 305
  • Index 307
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