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