LONDON: The Racing Journal

VALLEY STREAM, N.Y. — Hurricane Irene gave us time to take stock of our lives and what we have. It has been a wild week. A week ago Monday, sitting here at this computer, I felt my house shake. Often a passing truck causes this and it lasts a couple of seconds. Then my house swayed for 45 seconds. I realized what it was.

We don’t get earthquakes in New York. Well, I guess we do. Then along comes Hurricane Irene, a touchy subject as that was my mother’s name. My electric was out 34 hours.

Some said it made them respect the Amish. Actually it caused me to realize their lives suck.

I was primed for two great events last week. Thursday’s Mr. DIRT USA at Lebanon Valley saw a dismal day. I stayed home, knowing how their weather usually goes. I was right this time. Sunday’s Open House at Marty Himes’ museum was canceled. It will be held Saturday Sept. 10 at his address 15 O’Neill Ave., Bay Shore, NY.

Marty told me last night that a car that ran at the Vanderbilt Cup race in 1905 will be on hand around noon.

Thinking about the importance of electricity and being without it, made me realize the contributions of some important people. Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford were a big part of the success this county has. Despite its flaws, still the best place in the world to exist. Those four men had one thing in common:

They were all eccentric.

With all the technological progress made since WWII, you have to salute those who did their thing long before that. They did it all using their considerable minds.

Since we all have a love of cars, racing or otherwise, we’ll talk about Henry Ford. It is doubted that no one jumpstarted the USA like he did. Mr.s, Benz, Daimler and Duryea got the automobile started, Ford made it grow.

Enacting an assembly line was pure genius. Can you imagine the millions of our ancestors got jobs and careers because of the automobile? I’m not just talking about the car itself. In the 1900s, there were no paved roads. Therefore they were built all over the USA. This put people everywhere on a payroll. The auto industry absolutely made this country prosperous.

Those workers made forty cents an hour and worked in shifts getting Ford’s Motel T on the road. For his genius, Ford was paranoid.

He was afraid the workers would unionize (which they did) giving them power. He was scared that the Germans were going to take his plant over. He used to sleep in the facility with a shotgun close by.

He was an astute businessman. When buying the glass for his cars, he particularly instructed that each piece must by shipped in cardboard of a certain gauge, length and width. Manufacturers who balked were told he’d take his business elsewhere. This was an account not to turn one’s back on. Why the unusual cardboard? Simple. Ford used it for the Model T’s floorboards. It didn’t cost him a nickel.

One day he took his brother-in-law, Mr. Kingsford around the plant. Both kept tripping over discarded wood on the floor. Ford was unhappy he had pay somebody to clean up and haul the unwanted wood away. Mr. Kingsford, himself a businessman struck up an idea.

He went to Ford and other factories and hauled away the wood for free. He used the wood to make charcoal. As you may know, Kingsford is still in business as the top selling briquette manufacturer.

Today we can’t live without computers. Those gentlemen did.



Posted by on Aug 31 2011 Filed under Columns, Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.


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