Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Happy Birthday Emily & Henry!

Today, June 30, is the birthday of two famous people - of course, many famous people were born on this day, but I'm think of only two. They're an unlikely pair - an English writer who died young after catching a cold at her brother's funeral and an American inventor who revolutionized the workforce and made reliable automobiles affordable to the masses. Can you guess? The latter, of course, is Henry Ford. The former may be a bit trickier, so here's a hint: Heathcliff. Just the name is swoonsome, isn't it? And he sprang from the creative mind of Emily Bronte.

Bronte was born in 1918, the middle of the three Bronte sisters. She is best remembered for her brilliant novel, Wuthering Heights. It's been quite a few years since I've read WH or watched the classic film version with the unforgettable Laurence Olivier, but I think it's time to revisit one or both! If you've seen the movie, but not read the novel - or vice versa - be warned, the endings are quite different. And what would Emily think of the Hollywood ending? Possibly not much!

Fifteen years after Emily's death, Henry Ford was born just outside Detroit, Michigan. He became a household name with the introduction of the Model T in 1908. Just ten years later, half of all cars in America were Model T's. My husband and I spotted this antique Ford last winter. It's not a Model T, but it's certainly from Henry's era.

And, if these colors are authentic (well, the chartreuse is doubtful) this was made after Ford's famous directive that customers could have any color they liked, as long as it was black. Ford's innovations didn't stop at the drawing board, he initiated a 40 hour workweek and minimum wages, and was quite the visionary. His interests included plastics, engineered wood, airplanes, and ethanol (Ford's first ethanol-powered car was produced in 1942!). And like most famous creative-types, he had his quirks as well. I mean, who else would want a test tube containing Thomas Edison's last breath?

So happy birthday to Emily & Henry - and thanks for the entertainment and transportation. And you can celebrate in your own way by driving your hybrid Fusion to your local bookshop and purchasing Wuthering Heights - it will make a great read for the upcoming holiday weekend!

1 comment:

  1. Ah yes, Happy Birthday to both of them, both visionaries in different ways.


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