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The Watchmaker of Michigan

At a farm in Michigan, lived a little boy. In his pocket, as his constant companions, were little trinkets: nuts, bolts, washers and other small pieces of machinery. He would play with them all day long. Experimenting with them, joining them, taking them apart. His father did not much appreciate all this. Like most fathers, he wanted his son to help in the family business: the farm. Mother was different, she gave in to her child’s fancy, perhaps, thinking it was a passing phase that was better indulged than opposed.

So, with support from his mother, the boy set up a small workshop in the farm, in which he kept his tools and other knick-knacks. He would tinker idly in his workshop for hours, to the growing discomfort of his parents.

Then, in the year that the boy turned twelve, he got a watch. It was a big thing then (in the 1870’s) and it quickly became the focal point for his tinkering.

The fascination grew. By the time the little boy was 13, he could assemble a watch in his workshop. By 17, he could make a watch for all of 30 cents. Making something that everyone could afford was important to him. During those times the railroads were the talk of the town. New rail lines were being laid and it was becoming a popular mode of transportation. However, railways ran on a standard railroad time that often differed with the local time. People often faced problems adjusting to the two time zones. 

An idea struck this boy. He used all that he learnt during the watch repair days and created a watch that could tell two times: a double dial watch. It soon became a curiosity in the neighbourhood. This little boy was none other than legendary car-maker, Henry Ford.

While his interest in machines never waned, as a teen, Henry Ford was a watchmaker and repairer. Later, he worked on a lumber farm so he could get married and start a family. Finally, he went on to found the Ford Motor Company. He wanted to make cars that could be used for transportation, at a time when most people thought of cars as racing toys.

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