Articles

There’ll Never Be Another Model T

Henry Ford’s “car for the multitude” became almost a way of life. Jokes about it filled two hundred books. Roads were built because of it and it even influenced women’s fashions. More than fifteen million Model T’s rolled off Ford’s production lines and then suddenly the public it had educated outgrew it

BILL STEPHENSON February 15 1954
Articles

There’ll Never Be Another Model T

Henry Ford’s “car for the multitude” became almost a way of life. Jokes about it filled two hundred books. Roads were built because of it and it even influenced women’s fashions. More than fifteen million Model T’s rolled off Ford’s production lines and then suddenly the public it had educated outgrew it

BILL STEPHENSON February 15 1954

There’ll Never Be Another Model T

Articles

Henry Ford’s “car for the multitude” became almost a way of life. Jokes about it filled two hundred books. Roads were built because of it and it even influenced women’s fashions. More than fifteen million Model T’s rolled off Ford’s production lines and then suddenly the public it had educated outgrew it

BILL STEPHENSON

ONE DAY in 1922 a farmer parked his Model T Ford in front of his house while he ate lunch. When he came out if had disappeared. If had slipped ils moorings, rolled downhill into an open barn and broken out through the opposite wall. After knocking down a fence and flattening two small trees, ¡I stopped in a newly plowed strip of bottom land.

The farmer followed the tire tracks to the field and drove the runaway back to the house. Then he wrote a letter to the Ford Motor Company complaining to Henry himself that this slight mishap had dinted one of his fenders pretty badly. “What,” he demanded, “are you going to do about it, hey?” He was serious. So durable was the famous Model T that its fenders were expected to survive more than a mere encounter with a barn, a fence and two trees. This may sound like nostalgic nonsense to modern motorists but it won’t to any reckless soul who drove the Model T during or after its nineteen riotous years of production.

Only last year executors probing the estate of an auctioneer near Lethbridge found a serviceable Model T in the garage. In a shed nearby they were mystified to find a second T, under canvas and brand new. The auctioneer’s diary for 1925 supplied the explanation.

“Today I acquired two Model Ts.” said a neat entry. “I’ll drive one and use the other for spare parts if they stop making them. Or perhaps I’ll drive one till it wears out and then use the other.” Twenty-seven years later the auctioneer himself had accepted a final bid from a Higher Power but the first. Model T was still running fine. Its only sign of age was a slight wheeze on hills and a tendency to creak caused no doubt by inferior baling wire used in some minor adjustment to its innards.

This was part of t he T’s universal charm. If the car did falter and it did, often it was more like a fellow creature needing encouragement than a machine needing repair. And every Ford owner was somehow flattered into the belief that it was his touch and his alone which kept the fickle creature happy. “It was a person, crotchety and mean, frolicsome and full of jokes,” writes John Steinbeck in his story, A Model T Named ‘It’. “Just when you were ready to kill yourself, it would run five miles on no gasoline whatever. I do not recall any new part ever being bought for it,” he remembers. “What couldn’t be done with baling wire was not done.”

The antics of the Model T (jitney, flivver, Tin

Lizzie, Tin Pegasus, Henry) were at one time a source of conversation as familiar as the weather. Friendships were built and broken across its ribby chassis, and no cracker-barrel conference was complete without a session on the latest ruses to outwit that almost human, usually heartless hussy Henry had sired.

What say, Charlie? She won’t climb hills like she useta? Didja try turning ’er round and backing up? Always works for me. You left Lizzie out in the rain and now she won’t kick over? Do like I do: take the coil out from under the dash and warm it in the oven for five minutes. Car’ll start like nobody’s business.

On a strange road at night you were advised to (a) stop the car (b) put ’er in low (c) rev up the engine. This would make the lights bright enough for you to go at least a hundred yards before you had to stop and do it again. Or if you were the daredevil type fand who wasn’t?) you could rip along at a fine clip and since your lights worked straight off the generator you would be able to see quite a piece ahead. The only catch was that if there was anything in the road your brakqs probably wouldn’t stop you in time.

All these hints were given with a bit of a chuckle, like anecdotes you tell on yourself, pointing up little facets of your character which you secretly feel make you a droll, enchanting fellow. So too were the out-and-out Model T jokes, which filled more than two hundred books.

Like the one about the Model T being shipped back to the factory for

Continued on page 34

These Model T Jokes Tickled A Generation

Gleaned and winnowed from many sources including The Original Ford Joke Book, published in 1915.

Three men presented themselves at the Pearly Gates. The first two. it transpired from St. Peter’s questioning, had driven a Packard and a Buick. They were denied admission. The third woefully admitted he had been a Ford owner.

“Come in, man, come in,” said St. Peter warmly. “This is the place for you. You’ve had your hell on earth!”

A man, while talking to a friend of his, kept one foot on the running board of his Ford and the other on the curb. A passing urchin stopped and looked curiously at the man for some time. Finally he said plaintively, “What’s the matter, mister; did you lose your other roller skate?”

QUESTION : Why aren’t they putting horns on the Model T this year?

ANSWER: Because it looks like the devil anyway.

Two men in a restaurant tossed to see who paid for the meal. The loser said, “I tell you what; I’ll match my car against what I’ve just lost.”

The other looked outside and saw a Ford parked at the curb. “Aw, let’s make it a real wager,” he said, “I’ll toss you for two dollars instead.”

A wit remarked that they would have to change that old slogan — Everybody Works But Father because Father now owned a Ford.

The owner of a Franklin following a Ford over a country road asked his chauffeur why he didn’t pass. “Oh, it’s not necessary, sir,” replied the chauffeur, “I’m just waiting till he hits a bump so I can drive under him.”

Sign in a garage: Autos repaired. Fords mended.

There'll Never Be Another Model T

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 26

its regular ten-year checkup. En route, it was piled into a bin with a load of scrap metal destined for the same place.

“Your Ford is in a little harder shape than we had gathered from your letter,” wrote the plant manager to the car’s owner, “but don’t worry; we’ll soon have it. back on the road.”

There was no middle line of thought about the flivver. You were either fer it or agin it. Even while women’s organizations and civic groups were assailing it as “a house of prostitution on wheels” other thousands of amateur Ford-fixers flocked to the Palace Theatre in New York to gape as the “Twelve Speed Mechanics” assembled a Ford in two minutes flat. Millions of people believed implicitly that the flowing scripted “Ford” on the radiator was Henry’s own John Henry. They would probably have fought anyone who told them that this world-famed

sign actually came from a child’s printing set found in an attic by C. H. Mills, inventor of the T’s celebrated planetary transmission.

Not the least part of the Ford legend was the incredible profits reaped by those crazy enough to invest in it first. In 1903 a dozen men raised twentyeight. thousand dollars to form the company to build Fords. Henry himself contributed no money, but got twenty-five percent of the stock for his machine. Young lawyer Horace Rackham however put in five thousand dollars against his banker’s fervent

advice. A few years later he cashed in for a cool twelve and a half million. Detroit housewife Rosetta Hauss tossed a hundred dollars of her savings into the pot, and in the ensuing years reaped ninety-five thousand dollars in dividends and finally sold her shares for two hundred and sixty thousand dollars. Shareholders could not keep pace with the rising value of the stocks, the fastest expansion of an industrial empire ever recorded. In less than ten years, the twenty-eight thousand dollars’ worth of stock was worth two hundred and fifty million dollars!

One of the original dauntless twelve was not quite so lucky, however. Albert Strelow, convinced the bubble would burst, sold his five thousand dollars’ worth of shares within a year to Henry for twenty-five thousand dollars which he invested in a sure-thing gold mine in British Columbia. Within two years, Strelow was back at Ford—penniless, and looking for work.

Ford Motor Company of Canada at Windsor, Ont., was organized by Gordon M. McGregor in 1904—just one year after the parent company was launched in the U. S. Ford of Canada started with seventeen employees and an annual payroll—which included McGregor’s salary—of twelve thousand dollars. At first it imported alLJts parts from Detroit and just had an assembly plant.

Henry’s Soliloquy

Everything written and told about the fabulous flivver points up the undeniable fact that it was not just a car. It was the herald of a new way of life. In its own homeland it burst upon a people who had just begun to wrest a few hours of leisure from the business of making a living and were eager for something to occupy that time. It was somehow fitting that in the Century of the Common Man, the object which should help satisfy this deep yearning for a fuller life should be the commonest car ever made. Henry, never afterward renowned for his understanding of his fellow men, had long sensed this hidden desire. In one of his earliest recorded soliloquies, before the Model T was even a blueprint, he told what he proposed to do about it.

“I will build a car for the great multitude,” he said. “It will be large enough for the family but small enough for the individual to run and care for . . . And it will be so low in price that no man . . . will be unable tó buy one and enjoy with his family the blessing ... of God’s great open spaces.”

The impious offspring of this pious resolve which was to change the face of history was not in itself too remarkable. It was not the first car, for Europeans had built and driven them for thirty years. It contained no revolutionary principles. Nor was it the first auto wit h interchangeable parts, for Charles Leland had demonstrated this with three Cadillacs in London in 190(1.

It was not even Henry’s first car. Between the company’s founding in 1903 and the Model T in 1908 there had been eight other models—A, B, C, F, K, N, R and S—all of them quite successful money-makers.

But the Model T was the first car whose parts could literally be thrown together. It was lighter than any other automobile of its size and it was a combination of a lot of ideas which Henry felt would shake the world out of the semi-carless state it was in in 1907, the year before the piston shot which was to be heard around the world.

In 1907 the gasoline age was in a curious kind of suspended animation. Redwing was the top tune and Ellen Terry an established star. There were

many who still believed that Old Dobbin would come riding along like a White Charger and sweep all the smokebelching dragons off the roads forever. These proponents of the simple life invariably hooted, “Get a horse!” whenever an auto limped by. They could sit and watch a begoggled, besmocked motorist sweat and curse his machine for hours—and smile pi-.yingly.

There were those however who seemed to sense that a new force was abroad in the land and they may have suspected that the horseless carriage was its exemplification. Autos of the day were beyond the reach of the working man because of the costly upkeep. An Overland in Canada cost three thousand dollars. In the United States Franklins cost twelve hundred ar.d fifty, and the Simplex was out of the question for the masses at six thousand dollars. The hand-made cars were for city driving only; country roads were little better than ruts, impassable most of the year.

There were other deterrents: many

towns limited autos to eight or ten miles an hour. Summerside and Charlottetown, P.E.I., allowed automobiles or. their streets only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and some United States communities ordained that a man ringing a bell and/or carrying a lighted lantern must precode every auto on foot, warning pedestrians of its approach. Still other h,--.inlets found they could balance the municipal budget by fining every motorist, no matter how fast he was going.

First mortals to behold the machine wnich was to change all this were the upper-crusters who attended the Chicago Motor Show in December 1907. Their reactions were of vital importance to the producers of the Model rF. If the elite liked it Henry felt he was doomed. He wanted the Model T to be the car for the masses. On the other hand, if the rich carped at its inelegant lines, compared its bony honesty unfavorably with the cunning phaetons in other parts of the building, Henry knew the ordinary folk everywhere would acclaim it.

The moneyed ranks wavered for a moment. Then they broke into unanimous smiles of pity for the poor ugly duckling. From then on Henry knew he couldn’t go wrong. One of his first acts of 1908 was to suspend production on models A to S. From then on only one chassis would carry the flowing Ford insignia the Model known as T.

Henry never made a smarter move. For where his salesmen had sometimes to make an effort to sell their other models there was always someone waiting to buy the next Model T they tossed together. He’d had an assembly line of sorts as early as 1903 and as the demand for Model Ts grew he moved advantageously ahead of competitors by bringing the work to the workers, not. the workers to it the principle of the assembly line.

Henry also had the idea of upping man-hour production and boosting wages, thereby making laborers customers. He was the first manufacturer to pay five dollars a day, a move which in 1914 rocked the financial world. The prevailing wage scale for U. S. factory workers was $2.34 for a nine-hour day. Ford announced he would pay a minimum of five dollars for an eight-hour day.

The following year Ford of Canada announced a minimum daily wage rate of four dollars, followed by an increase to five dollars in 1918 and six dollars in 1919. Old-timers at Windsor can still recall great moments of shouting and jubilation when the four-dollar minimum was announced by Gordon M. McGregor who served as general

manager from 1904 to 1922.

In 1909-10 Ford sold 1,280 cars in Canada at. nine hundred and seventyfive dollars each. The next year he doubled his sales at eight hundred and fifty dollars each. By 1913 nearly twelve thousand Model Ts were sold at six hundred and fifty each. Prices were lower in the United States and, of course, sales far outstripped those of Canada.

Thirty-five thousand were sold in the U. S. in 1910-11 and the next year seventy-eight thousand. By 1912-13 when the first Chewy took to the road

(a five-passenger touring car listed in the U. S. at $2,150) two hundred and forty-eight thousand Fords were sold at a price of only five hundred and fifty dollars apiece. This was a notable triumph for mass production methods and it brought the car at last, to the Common Man’s front door.

The first Canadian-made Fordas distinguished from Canadian-assembled—appeared in 1913 and during Lizzie’s lifetime there were more than eight hundred Ford dealers all across Canada. They distributed more than seven hundred and fifty-five thou-

sand copies of Henry’s Little Wonder. Today at least fifteen thousand Model Ts are still going strong. Ottawa’s Public Works Department, for example, st ill uses them for snow clearing.

But back in 1908 the car was something more than a conveyance: it had a personality. The 1908-12 vintage American looked upon himself as a four-square, honest, slightly rougher Frank Merriwell, the era’s prototype of the all-American boy. The flivver was the mechanical embodiment of these traits. Said its makers: “The

LUeS(~ (151(5. il1U 1U~ lII51jt'U~. I r~Iode1 `1' is all hone and muscle, with-

out. an ounce of fat on its frame.” And if the only shock absorbers were the passengers, well, Americans could take it.

The average American looked down his nose at foreigners. The Model T likewise eschewed foreign entanglements by being the first mass-produced car to have its steering wheel on the left instead of the right, like European models.

Americans were certain that other Americans and a few Canadians— were as honest as the day was long. If there was crime in America—and hardly anyone denied it—it must he perpetrated by non-Americans. The makers of the Model T capitalized on this ostrich sentiment by fashioning only one key for the T. Every Ford key fitted every Ford car. All were safe because no real American woidd steal another’s Model T. (“Rut then,” asked other car manufacturers maliciously, “who would want to steal a Model T?”)

Not the least of the flivver’s allurements was the method of propelling it. The transmission was of the planetary type, the same principle used in modern automatic transmissions. There were three foot pedals; clutch, reverse and brake. When the clutch was pushed to the floor the gear was in low and then went into high as it was released. When the hand brake was pulled halfway back it put the car into neutral by depressing the clutch pedal halfway down. When it was pulled all f lu* way back it acted as a brake. There was, however, an old saying that no matter which pedal a man pushed the Model T slowed down.

The advertising of the Model T was almost as ingenious as the car itself. For farmers it was lauded as “better than ten hired men.” It got the farmer to market, sawed his wood, pumped his water and “even does the churning,” as one of the ads of the day proclaimed. This last was a cunning bit of seduction intended for that forgotten drudge, the farmer’s wife.

The low price, of course, appealed to those of moderate means. Rut stories like that of the wealthy maharajah who preferred his flivver to his most luxurious howdah carried weight with the snob trade. Ford’s famous slogan Watch The Fords Go By hooked the impressionable, its lack of bumpers challenged the daring and its jaunty appearance caught the eye of the frivolous. Yet for the staid and sober no statement could have been better tailored than Henry’s famous edict:

“Any customer can have a car painted any color he wants, so long as it is black.”

Model Ts had no starters — they were cranked—and although there was a whole cranking technique the T broke tens of thousands of arms. Rut once if. was started its gearless type of transmission resulted, in skilled hands, in a relatively jerkless take-off. If you were an innocent beginner, however, or dumb enough to turn your back on the car, the crank might suddenly catch and knock you for a loop or calmly push you down and run over you. “Even if the car was in the state known as neutral,” recalls L. S. White, in his Farewell to Model T, “it trembled with a deep imperative and tended to inch forward.”

Of course, even if Lizzie did run you down she rarely did so maliciously

except if ÿou happened to have on a new suit and were intending to take your other girl for a spin and a spoon. For the Model T exhibited all the characteristics of a jealous female and was rarely thought of in other terms by young men who owned one.

The first impact of the Ford on communities was to start people think-

ing about roads—a subject which had not really bothered a horse-and-buggy civilization. To make them think a little harder, Henry entered two twenty-horsepower Model Ts in a cross-country race in 1909. To everyone’s surprise, Ford No. 2 rolled into San Francisco twenty days after leaving New York City—a full day ahead of its nearest rival, a forty-horsepower Shawmut. Ford No. 1 was third. The other cars never got outside New York State for they were up to their hubs in mud on the main highways of the nation.

Resides thinking about mud, as Henry had figured, the surprise outcome of the big race also set folk thinking about Fords. Rut as soon as they got a Ford they were faced with the mud problem again. Not that the Ford was particularly bothered by mud; it would plow cheerfully through mud so deep that other cars were lost from view. The point was that when you got out to fix a flat tire on your Model T—and this happened almost every time you ventured on the highway—

the problem of the mud literally hit you square in the eye.

The result was the gradual improvement of highways from mud to gravel to pavement. In Canada this trend was hardly noticeable until the midTwenties, the Automobile Blue Rook of 1921 cautioning its readers that in the drive from the Vermont border to Montreal “chains on all four wheels are essential in wet weather.” Vigilante committees roamed the roads about Winnipeg to trap farmers, many of whom made a living hauling motorists out of mudholes on the road—holes which the farmer kept in shape by daily applications of water and sand. And as late as 1920 the Canadian Good Roads Association found if necessary to inform New Brunswick farmers that it was displeased by the practice of burying scythe blades in the high road to keep autos from scaring their horses.

In 1914 Henry dropped a bombshell on the American public by offering to return fifty dollars to every customer buying a Ford in the coming year— ¡F sales should top three hundred thousand. To the other stockholders, raking in dividends hand over fist, this was a brilliant publicity stunt involving, they felt sure, no risk whatsoever. For they knew that Ford couldn’t even produce that many cars a year. Still, it was a dangerous precedent. Start offering to give money back and where would the shareholders he?

This rhetorical question was answered for them one year later. By a miracle of speedy streamlining under the guiding genius of Walter E. Flanders a total of 308,213 Fords were built and sold. Shareholders watched in stupefaction as Henry cheerfully returned over fifteen million dollars in fi ft ydollar cheques to 308,213 new customers. There and then, several sold their stock outright to Ford, convinced the world would end on the morrow —if not tonight.

Rut the world did not end. In September of 1915 Ford produced its

millionth car without even noticing it. The following year they put out almost eight hundred thousand cars at the incredible price of three hundred and sixty dollars each. Henry had lived up to his promise. Now “no man would be unable to . . . enjoy with his family the blessing of God’s great open spaces” —If the new forest of billboards would let him. For the result of putting the world on wheels had been tí) bring about vast changes. It was obvious, for example, that the stagecoach had rounded Eagle Pass for the last time. Fords had replaced most of them on

regular runs. The Ford’s popularity and ability to traverse the toughest terrain had also put some railways out of business and forced others to make drastic cuts in passenger schedules. The moonlight steamboat cruise, that widespread form of summer recreation, also felt the bite. For, as any shrewd swain could have testified: “Why pay to sit on deck with a million other people, when 1 can sit and neck in a Model T for free!” Another casualty of the motor age was the itinerant peddler. With a car, anybody could gel inti) town to shop.

The car gave the impetus for cities to expand, for city limits are determined roughly by the time it takes a man to get to his work. Anil soon, in many a Norlh American family, parents could no longer be sure where their offspring were at all times—nor what they might be doing. Nor—and this was most deeply distressing to parents of the old school il id they know just what to do about it. Cars revolutionized Sunday habits, wrecked trout fishing, wrote finis for most amusement parks and sightseeing trams, ran governments into stagger-

ing debt for roads, ushered in installment buying, and nearly eliminated country doctors and old-fashioned general stores.

Women’s costume, too, began that startling movement toward today’s “sensible” clothes. It probably began when some wilful young thing complained that she couldn’t get in and out of her boy-friend’s car in those awful clothes. Her mother sided with her father in disapproval of such complaints until she discovered that her own wide skirts, whalebone corsets and voluminous underthings were uncomfortable and unbecoming in an auto. That, naturally, eliminated father from any further place in the discussion.

No one would attribute this social upheaval entirely tí) the Ford, powerful Katrinka though it was. A thousand other forces converged tí) produce change: World War I, for example,

with its accelerated breakdown of accepted moral codes; the silver screen, which imposed the ideas of the few on the receptive minds of the many; the phonograph (and later the radio) which took entertainment out of the public hall and put it into private homes.

The Model T, moreover, was not the only car on the road, though some said it was the only car you could hear on the road. More than a thousand other makes flourished for short or long terms during Lizzie’s lifetime. Autos like Twy ford, Hackett, Stutz, Maxwell, Zimmerman, Alpena, Overland, Stanley, Locomobile, Wizard and Matheson. Well-known ones still going in our own era like Packard, Buick, Chrysler, Oldsmobile and Nash. Strange ones like the Klink, Birch, K.R.I.T., Seven Little Buffaloes and the Dixie Flyer.

Canadians left their stables to produce cars like the Gray-Dort, of Chatham; the McLaughlin, of Oshawa; the London, of that Ontario city; RussellKnight, a Toronto entry; and the S. G. Gay of Ottawa.

The point is, however, that the auto did play a tremendous part in the molding of the Twentieth Century for it took people out of their homes and turned them loose on the country—for good or evil. And having given the auto its due, you must give the great part of that due to the Model T. During most of its lifetime there were more Model Ts on the highway than all other automobiles combined.

This last fact was mainly due to Ford’s ability tí) produce more cars cheaper. They made a fetish of it. One twenty-four-hour day in 1920, just to show off, the Ford plant turned out more than fifteen hundred, or better than one per minute. Five years later in the same one-day experiment, they turned out nine thousand one hundred and nine cars, for an average of one every ten seconds. The price: two

hundred and ninety dollars, f.o.b. Detroit. In a single year, 1923, Ford produced the staggering total of 2,090,338 cars.

Ford of Canada did not go in for records. Its forte was the opening up of new branches—in Australia, South Africa, India, till most of the Empire had been covered. It specialized also in service, boasting that nowhere in the Empire would a Ford owner be more than a few miles from a repair or spare-parts shop. Still, in the year 1925. the Windsor Ford plant was abie to offer Canadians a coupe-type run about, without starter, for the quite moderate price of three hundred anil ninety-five dollars, the lowest it ever reached in this country.

As the second decade of its life drew to a close, it began to look as if Model Ts would roll off’ production lines till the end of time. Now everybody could own one.

And then, almost as abruptly as the love affair started, it waned. One minute, Lizzie was the homely but popular kid she had always been, surrounded by admirers, able to run smoke rings around more svelte rivals. 'The next, she was a beat-up old hasbeen, something you were ashamed to be seen in or with.

Ford dealers sensed it before it happened and tried to get Henry to smarten Liz up a hit, or even re-tool. Henry yawned and asked them if they knew any other good jokes. By the time he stopped yawning, it was too late. Frantically he began to make concessions: any color you liked you

could have. You want the chassis lowered? Fine, we’ll do it, and we’ll round off the rad and windshield, too.

In one famous announcement, Henry offered to do a complete engine and upholstery repair job on any Model T for only sixty dollars. Thousands took him up on it. and some riotous-looking re-treads roared around for a while. But it was hardly a sop to tin* relentless march of progress.

In the spring of 1927 Henry himself drove the fifteen millionth Ford off the assembly line. It was a little lower and larger and a bit more rakish. But if you were a myopic middle-aged fellow you would hardly have been able to distinguish the 1927 model from those first ones which ventured outside only after dark back in ’08.

A few days later Henry mournfully announced: “We are suspending pro-

duction of the car on which the Ford Motor Company was founded.”

The final T bore the serial number 15,007.033. This meant that for more than eighteen years a hundred new fl Avers had been born every hour.

I sed Car Catastrophe

What had destroyed tin* first massappeal car were the very forces it had created. The Model T made* people conscious of the roads. So better roads were built. But once people had better roads under them they felt tin* urge to go faster and in more comfort than the Model T could carry them. So they bought a Chev or an Olds which gave them speed with comfort as standard equipment, not something which you could have only if you paid extra and ran the risk of being called effete.

'The second great factor which finally caught up with the Model T was the Used Car Lot. “Why should I buy even a brand-new Model T for three hundred dollars,” the line of reasoning ran, “when for the same money I can get a slightly used good car?”

This line of thought was a tough one for Henry’s assembly line to buck, for if cut him off before* he started.

But over and above economics, there had been a growing discontent with t he hard austerity of the Model T. Where an eighteen-year-old might consider it a great lark to be stranded miles from nowhere with his girl because Liz had burned another bearing, the middleaged could not see the joke. Many people also felt that a good waterpumping system might be a better way to keep a car from boiling than Henry’s oft-reiterated instructions: “.Just lift

the hood and fold it under.”

As people matured in this new mechanical age they no longer thought it fun to stick a ruler into the gas tank to test the fuel supply. “Clutch epilepsy,” that chronic disease of Ford owners result ing from constant contact of the human frame with that celestial organ, the planetary transmission, no longer seemed as hilarious a national malady as it once had. Farmers, looking past the ads, thought they might have a better chance of get ting

their eggs to market unbroken, their milk to market as milk instead of butter, if shock absorbers were made standard equipment.

Biggest complaint of all was being compelled to fix those unending {junctures. Ironically, the number of {junctures could have been drastically reduced but for Henry himself, who actually believed people liked fixing flats. He had a theory it gave them a pioneering thrill to get out and under.

That was the crux of the matter: motorists had grown up. Once they were satisfied just to get outdoors.

Now there was a desire for motoring in comfort. There was little comfort in the gaunt lines of the Model T.

And so, inevitably, it went the way of fixe horse before it.

But the memories stayed and grew mellow'. People who now travel hundreds (jf miles a day through countryside they hardly notice, passing other motorists who are equally anonymous dots on the highway, often rememljer fhe cheery camaraderie of (ht* Model T days. Tiren, no one was ever alone on the road. Have a breakdown and ten cars drew up, their owners eager

to help. Middle-aged men. looking at their soft, clean hands, now smile reminiscently, remembering that their hands were never clean. The grease was grimed right into the pores but they’d be proud of it for it showed they owned and serviced a Model T.

Now you never think of giving your car a pet-name like Liz or Sweetheart or Betsy or Bertha. It’s just “my car.” as impersonal as an old shoe.

But the sweet memories of Model T days linger on. for though Liz was no lady she gave every man who wooed her a wonderful run for his money. ★