He glowers at the salary man.

By Gregory Clark, October 2, 1920.

Henry Ford Started Something Which May Turn Out to Be Either the Real Thing in a Price Decline, or, Again, It May Only Be a “Flivver.”

Mr. Ford certainly started something when he tooted his horn and commenced to lead the way back to the good old days.

It’s to be hoped this pilgrimage of his will have more success than his peace pilgrimage during the middle of the war.

But it is creating an awful ruckus high and low over the town.

“I always knew,” declared a magnificent lady, who has been enabled to move, owing to her husband’s success in pulpwood the past couple of years into the Hill district – “I always knew that man Ford would do something terrible. I’ve had a premonition. Every time one of his staple line of goods would toot its horn behind our limousine, it sounded to me like the cry of doom. And now, look at him! If prices come down, where will a clever person be able to make an honest fortune?”

The great lady sniffed tearfully into her hankie.

“It will drive us all back to those bad old days before the war,” she cried, “when a man had to be wicked in order to make any money. My poor husband can’t sleep at nights; and at five o’clock in the mornings, he starts making trips to the front door in his nightie to see if the paper has been delivered with more terrible news in it. He’ll catch his death of cold one of these days. And I blame that man Ford!

“I just feel as if I were in an elevator these days, going down, down, down!”

On the other hand, the poor office worm, the “salary man,” the “white collar slave,” is bucking up marvellously. Note him in the street car coming down these mornings: spry, frisky, sporty. That tired feeling seems to be leaving him. See him nudge the stranger beside him jovially and read a paragraph out of the paper about another one down ten per cent.”

“Shoot Luke,” he chortles, “or give up the pistoler!”

But the stranger he so amiably jiggles is a merchant. And this merchant has a store-full of high-priced goods on his hands and mind.

He glowers at the salary man, and says belligerently:

“That’s all right! That’s all right! Don’t let’s get eager over this thing! If goods come down to where you’d like ’em, where will your 1920-style salary come from? Eh? Where from, I ask you? Eh?”

And the undampened salary man moves further up the car, looking for an unmistakeable salary man to joggle.

For you can tell a man’s business by his face these days.

The salary man, the poor fish who belongs to some department of industry not deeply affected by the ups or the downs of business, wears an expression of almost holy glee on his face, as did the fathers of sons immediately after the Armistice. Those whose business is likely to be tinged for a while by a drop in prices wear that expression of ill-concealed gloom which marked the munitioneer when the Armistice was duly and inevitably signed and sealed.

There are others who are neutral: young follows with nothing much at stake either way. One of these expressed the view of a large group of younger men when he said, a couple of days ago:

“Well, it will be quite an adventure to have to get out and find business for a change! Think of it: having to go and dig business!”

Of course, there is no real reason as yet for either jubilation or alarm, but there are always those who must leap one way or the other on the least provocation.

But the salesmen are busy.

“Now is the time,” they say, “to buy a nice winter overcoat!”

And indeed it may. The price of that overcoat is slightly reduced, in deference to Mr. Ford. So that it this hue and cry for decreased prices is only another false alarm, it is, in fact, the time to buy that coat.

So the pessimists buy and the optimists hold off, saying to each other, scornfully:

“Why, he’ll be giving us that coat in a few weeks.”

And no man can say who is right and who is wrong.

If it is another of the many false alarms, those who are buying now are doing good business. If it is the honest-to-goodness “decline” the cheerful and irrepressible predicters are wise.

But either way, it is a gamble.

At all events, Mr. Ford has provided the liveliest feeling in Toronto since the last time Mayor Church was elected. And I, for one, have dug up the flags and bunting and spiral confetti left over from Armistice Day: and on the hour eggs hit 35 cents and boots $5 a pair, I am going to declare a public holiday in my family and astonish the neighbors.

Editor’s Note: I’m not sure what news article prompted this story, but it seems Henry Ford might have been talking about the 1920-21 Depression and the reduction in prices due to deflation.

The phrase “Shoot, Luke, or Give up the Gun” is cowboy slang for “Do it or quit talking about it.”

A munitioneer was a businessman who made munitions in World War 1. There was a lot of resentment of them during the war due to profiteering.

Tommy Church was mayor of Toronto and opposed by the Toronto Star.