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Remembering Henry Ford

October 11, 1987

In behalf of Ford employees and retirees on the West Coast, please accept our thanks for Ted Thackrey's story (Part I, Sept. 30), on the life of Henry Ford II.

By coincidence, my 35 years with Ford parallel his 35 years at the helm of Ford Motor Co. His courageous firing of Harry Bennett (his grandfather's adviser who presided over a secret police force set up to spy on Ford employees) came just five days before I was hired in at the old Long Beach assembly plant at the end of World War II.

The "old timers" were really proud of young Henry as the abuses of Bennett were legend. One retiree related to me how he was summarily fired on the spot by a Bennett stooge in 1932 for walking with empty arms to the tool crib! His boss had him back to work the next day. Maintenance crews told of numerous trips from Long Beach to work on his private estate in Palm Springs painting and doing other jobs, including plumbing to solar heat his swimming pool.

No plant manager who wanted to keep his job dared ignore a request from Bennett. Young Henry changed all that to benefit workers as well as plant managers and the company.

No doubt the leadership of Henry Ford II made possible not only my long employment with Ford, but for thousands of other grateful employees across the country.

Of young Henry's cars that Thackrey listed, I will never forget that first classic 1955 red T-Bird show car as it arrived at the Long Beach plant, the big Edsel promotional campaign for employees at San Jose and the first Falcon production at Los Angeles. The prize was my "sporty" 1964 red Mustang, thanks to Lee Iacocca.

I was honored to meet and shake the hand of Henry Ford II as he toured our L.A. assembly plant, and as a retiree I appreciate him even more for a generous retirement plan and health benefits that are as good as his name.

Now retired, I am proud to be driving one of the new generation of Fords which have really come a long way since that first 1946 white sedan which we rolled off the line at Long Beach for Henry Ford II more than 42 years ago.

GREG GREGSON

Los Alamitos

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