It is Saturday morning - and all too near that ghastly deadline. But what I am going to tell you in the next half hour (before Mr. E. gets up) is far more important and heartening than the letter I have been struggling with since last Sunday. That first letter was just some military data gleaned from this interesting family, the father of which got his commission in the last war the day the Armistice was signed. Bob has been to West Point, and Gene is a graduate of Kemper Military School, Booneville, Mo. There is another member of this family, absent, still in the service of her country, bound to the E.'s only by the bonds of love. It was in the attempt to get more facts about her and her work that I stumbled upon this new story at the breakfast table yesterday. I consider it so important that "if I should die before I wake" tomorrow morning, you shall have the story, anyway. You will not find it in the daily newspapers, because the doer of these good deeds wants no publicity. To have the story appear in the daily press would seem like commercializing on the handicaps of our war wounded, Says Mr. E. No doubt some of you know about it - especially if you have a loved one or a friend who became an amputee in this war. It is news to me - and the most gratifying that I have heard in weeks. I asked Mr. E.'s sanction because of the guard against cheap publicity. Since I have no connection whatsoever with the Ford Motor Co., there can be no ulterior motive. The story proves that one man in industry does not forget what our boys did for this country, and how dearly they paid for it. As I told you before, Mr. E. is part owner and vice president of a Ford agency. His firm has been authorized by Henry Ford to make all alterations necessary in a Ford car or truck to suit the needs of a handicapped veteran, and send the bill to him. He sends his personal check for all such alterations, the figure running as high as $600 where all four limbs are disabled. "Take the case of Johnnie Novak out here (in Euclid)," said Mr. E. "He lost both arms in the war - right up to the shoulder. When he was sent home from the hospital, he was so discouraged that he threatened to kill himself. I got him a ten-ton truck, and had it rigged up with electric switches for each gear shift, and a special steering wheel where that 'hook' (in place of a hand) fits over a knob or handle. Now Johnnie is in the trucking business, making good money - and making good, period, as the youngsters put it. He comes over here to my house to make his payments, and he's happy and contented now." "I've fixed up 39 or 40 vets since the first of the year," Mr. E. went on to say. "Forty boys, finding their way back to normal life," I thought to myself. Now there are, or were, 10,000 Ford agencies throughout the country. If each is giving such a service to the disabled or the handicapped service men in its own community, think what it all adds up to! These boys are all saying, "Not charity, but a chance!" Henry Ford is giving them that chance. About Henry Ford! May his tribe increase! ***
Mr. E.'s pet customer is the beautiful young woman whose legs are shrunken pipe stems, as a result of infantile paralysis. She sat in a wheel chair for years. Her father was her tender guardian, carrying her in his arms out to the family car. He would take her for long rides in the country - and she would forget that she could not walk - for here she could fly! Her father took sick, and died. He left his beloved daughter about $2600 in his will. She sent for Mr. E. to get her a car, and have it rigged up so she could drive it. He spent seven months teaching her how to drive. (This was before all the new button switches were devised). In the meantime the mother married again, and the stepfather had no patience with such foolishness. The mother sent for Mr. E., demanding that he take the car back - that Valetta would never learn how to run it, anyway. Mr. E. went out to the house, to see what should be done about it. Valetta was sitting in the corner of the big porch. She had a butcher knife in her hand. She said, "If you take that car away, Mr. E., I will cut my throat from ear to ear. That car is all I have." Mr. E. told the mother he would come back later. Then he talked the mother into letting her keep the car. From that day on she mastered the driving of it, and has now driven that car 90,000 miles. What a triumph over paralysis! Now I must close. But I have two more good stories coming up.
Florence B. Taylor
20100 Edgecliff Blvd.,
Next - 8/15/46 - Leona
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