In the southeastern corner of Michigan where I grew up, almost every family has a tight bond with one of the car companies, passed from one generation to the next, and in my family it is Ford.
Besides my Dad's more than 50 years serving Ford in one capacity or another, a brother's couple of stints at the Wixom and Ypsilanti assembly plants, I can count at least 4 cousins who worked for Ford at some time. If you count the time I worked prepping cars at my Dad's Ford store, so did I.
Unless you live in SE Michigan or a city in the Midwest where cars have been built for decades, it's hard to imagine the deep sadness that hangs like a mist over these places. Fear is becoming resignation to a new reality. Which seems quite surreal.
The idea that GM and Chrysler may fade into bankruptcy is scarcely imaginable to people who have depended on those companies to support generations of their families. The fact that Ford is managing to hang on is pretty cold comfort.
This might be comparable to a native of Colorado being forced to contemplate the disappearance of the Rocky Mountains, or a New Yorker losing the twin towers from their skyline.
In Detroit, there is a palpable feeling that We Blew It, and it Ain't Ever Comin' Back.
At one time, the "Big Three" may have been in that privileged category of "Too Big to Fail", with the big banks and brokers. "As goes GM, so goes the nation." Remember that?
60 years or so ago - one generation - the American car was a wonder of style, but already the underpinnings of the eventual collapse of the American makers was built in to every vehicle.
The pain is the worse knowing that it didn't have to happen this way.
A couple of months ago, when Ford stock was down to a dollar a share, I picked some up. Had to.
The Blue Bomb - My 2002 SVT Focus