|Logo on a Springfield Rolls|
Had you just returned from The Great War, say around 1919 or so, you would have noticed that the Wilson Administration’s haphazard efforts to rev up the economy to absorb the many doughboys being mustered out were having a negligible effect. The economic first fruits of what eventually would be called “The Roaring 20s” were still far from ripe, and the sons of America’s great burgeoning middle class were coming home from Europe to marry their sweethearts and to have kids.
The members of their parents’ generation, born in the late 1870s and early 1880s, who may have served in the Spanish-American War, who suffered economic deprivation in the depression years of the “Gay ‘90s,” and who marveled at the American “Can Do” spirit that constructed the Panama Canal, did well during The Great War. A great many companies, formed during the darker economic days of the late 19th Century, expanded and profited in the early 20th Century. They were buoyed by the groundswell of trust-busting and prosperity that characterized the “Oughts” and the “Teens.”
The doughboys returned to jobs as farmers, factory workers, clerks, salesmen, and accountants. Some had money in their pockets…but all were suffering from two to three years of pent-up demand. One savvy engineer in Detroit, a chap named Henry Ford, figured out how to meet that demand. He devised a way to produce a four wheeled, self-propelled vehicle called a Model T, on a scale so efficient that the end product — a transportation appliance, if you will — started out being sold in 1907 at $850, but could be sold in the early 1920s for the princely sum of $290.