About three years into the We Make History experience, a friend
shared with me some information which had been previously unknown to me and
which was quite intriguing. Apparently there had been someone else, about
eighty years before, who had concerns, a vision and goals which in some
regards mirrored my own.
That someone was Henry Ford.
By the 1920s Henry Ford was one of the wealthiest men in
America and was a household name. His foresight, determination and innovation
had made him the driving force in the automotive industry during the first
decades of the 20th century. Ford's "assembly line" made the mass production
of reasonably priced automobiles a reality and thus transformed them from
being the toys of the rich to being practical transportation for the common
man. The Model T gained a meteoric rise in widespread popularity and became
America's car of choice.
Ford had achieved the pinnacle of personal and financial
But Ford had a social conscience as well as business savvy.
Looking at the cultural impact of the "Jazz Age" and the "Roaring Twenties"
Ford believed he saw American culture taking a dangerous turn, and one which
was negatively impacting young people in particular. Noticing the attractions
of the "speakeasy", and jazz oriented nightclubs and dance halls he settled on
the promotion of a more wholesome alternative.
Ford was aware that there had been a time when social
dancing, often of a community nature, had been the norm but that the practice
had all but died out shortly after the Civil War. Ford began rounding up old
dance masters and musicians who were in their 70s, 80s and 90s and bringing
them to Detroit. His next step was to hold dance classes where his executives
and their wives had to learn these old time social dances from the elderly
instructors. The dances proved to be very popular and Ford embarked on his
grand quest. Namely to use old time social dance to turn the culture back in a
Henry Ford put the word out to communities, schools and
organizations around the country that he was prepared to finance the return of
social dancing and would personally foot the bill for any who would take him
up on his offer of bringing it to their community. Ford was as good as his
word and soon had several trains speeding around the country each with a team
of musicians and a dance master on board.
By all accounts, Henry Ford did indeed succeed in stirring
up considerable interest and renewal in old time social dancing for a number
of years before the Depression and World War II hit.
At a point when I was very busily working, investing and planning
in order to
continue building a vision called We Make History with ultimately huge dreams,
you can imagine my amazement to discover that another person in another time
had developed and acted upon similar ideas for similar reasons.
We Make History aims to promote multi-generational dance and
social interaction through making use of the arts in a positive and
inspirational way thus strengthening families, recovering our heritage and
ultimately lifting our culture to a higher level. We intend actually changing our
society for the better. By doing this ... We Make History.
By the way, Mr. Ford, we are planning to build a
Heritage, Education & The Arts. Perhaps you could help us out a bit. It
will require a few million but I don't need to tell you of all people that it is a
worthwhile investment. :o)
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