This is a picture of the remnants of a village in the Amazon rain forest called Fordlandia. It was a small industrial city built by Henry Ford in the late 1920’s for the production of rubber. It was one of Henry Ford’s few failures and it is the subject of an excellent book called Fordlandia by Greg Grandin.
Henry Ford is a fascinating figure. He was born in 1863 exactly 100 years before I was born. He started Ford Motor Company at age 40 and produced the first Model T at age 45. He ran for President in 1918 as a peace candidate.
He was a visionary. One of my favorite quotes was by Ford who said: “If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.”
Another excellent book about a great American is Walt Disney: The Triumph of American Imagination. One overriding takeaway about Walt Disney is his perserverance. In the 1920’s Disney created the animated character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit which predated Mickey Mouse. He was producing popular animated short films and was distributing the films through Universal Pictures. Charles Mintz was the owner of Universal. In 1928 Disney went to New York Cityto try to negotiate a better distribution deal. At that meeting Mintz informed Disney that he had hired most of Disney’s animators. Mintz further informed Disney that Universal was the sole owner and producer of the Oswald trademark. Disney was devastated and was facing a long train ride back to California. But he was undeterred. On the train ride home he sketched the character that would later be known as Mickey Mouse.