February 22, 2018
Poetry, Ford in Head-On CrashOn this day in 1955, American poet Marianne Moore submitted the last of the names that she had contracted to provide to the Ford Motor Company for the new car they were about to launch. This labor had begun six weeks earlier, at the behest of David Wallace, the sociology Ph.D. who had been hired by Ford to conduct the search, and who had written to Moore with his despair:
The Mooremobile was not to be, and Ford returned to its old, pedestrian route. Every day the appointed panel of executives would assemble in the appointed projection room to review some of the 18,000 names forwarded by the appointed ad agency. Each contender flashed across the screen in six-inch high letters, to oblivion unless someone shouted, "Stop!" and gave reasons for their enthusiasm. This got the list to 6,000 and then 400 and then 16, though perhaps more quickly than it should have: Wallace was so suspicious after several sessions had gone by without a single "Stop!" that he had BUICK flashed across the screen, again to no response, and turned on the lights to see most people dozing.
None of the final contenders, neither "Corsair" nor "Citation" nor "Ranger" nor "Pacer," made the grade in the end, and Ford returned to its better, much earlier idea: the Edsel.
Moore returned to poetry, and baseball -- though "Baseball & Writing," one poetic homage to the sport, seems at times to speak to the ad-man's game:
Your arm, too true at first, can learn to
catch your corners....
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