The first Ford wasn't the first automobile. But its assembly in 1896 was symbolic of the American century to come. It was symbolic also in that the assembly shed's door was too small and bricks had to be knocked out to let the future emerge. An obstacle to progress here and there in these past 100 years ensured that British novelist Aldous Huxley would be taken ironically when he wrote, "Ford's in his flivver, all's right with the world" - a world where Huxley imagined a "Fordian Science Monitor."
Americans remain the drivingest people - 1.5 trillion miles a year. But there's a new spin on the famous question of British author Sydney Smith, in the pre-auto 19th century: "In the four quarters of the globe, who reads an American book...?"
Who drives an American car - or knows if it is one now that the assembly shed has gone global? The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association polled US adults: 71 percent considered US companies' cars made abroad by foreign workers to be foreign cars; 52 percent considered foreign companies' cars made in the US by US workers to be American cars.
Yes, dear, but the question is do we stop here for tomatoes or hope we get to another stand before dark?