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History repeating itself

History repeating itself

What happened on Necker this week reminded me of what happened to Thomas Edison when his huge West Orange New Jersey laboratory complex caught fire and burned to the ground. This was Edison’s reaction as told by his son at the time:

"One December evening the cry of 'Fire!' echoed through the (Thomas Edison's) plant. Spontaneous combustion had broken out in the film room and within moments all the packing compounds, film and other flammable goods had gone up with a whoosh...

When I couldn't find Father, I became concerned. Was he safe? With all his assets going up in smoke, would his spirit be broken? He was 67, no age to begin anew. Then I saw him in the plant yard, running toward me.

'Where's Mom?' he shouted. 'Go get her! Tell her to get her friends! They'll never see a fire like this again!'

At 5:30 the next morning, when the fire was barely under control, father called his employees together and announced: 'We're rebuilding!' One man was told to lease all the machine shops in the area. Another, to obtain a wrecking crane from the Erie Railroad Company. Then, almost as an afterthought he added, 'Oh, by the way. Anybody know where we can get some money?"

Later on he explained, 'You can always make capital out of disaster. We've just cleared out a bunch of old rubbish! We'll build bigger and better on these ruins.' With that he rolled up his coat for a pillow, curled up on a table and immediately fell asleep."

At least he didn't have to contend with any cactus bushes!


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