I have just put in the most wonderful day of my life; it is impossible to explain it all, or to tell how it feels, but I can at least recount my doings in more or less detail and let you judge for yourselves and guess at it. In the afternoon I went out in the car, took an American colonel aboard before I had gone a quarter of a mile and a British and a French soldier.
The Place de la Concorde, which is the ceremonial center of the city, presented a scene indescribable. We went back to the office, stopping every two seconds to shake hands with somebody or anybody, or to kiss his wife or sweetheart if she were along, and on arrival opened up a certain bottle which we have been treasuring nearly a month for just this occasion, and then F. We went there ostensibly for supper, but when everybody is standing on the tables cheering and singing and laughing and weeping, it isna€™t quite possible to serve meals, so for an hour or more we helped them out with what they were doing. We finally got a taxi and the driver exacted a toll of 25 francs to take us to the hotel; and on arrival there driving off again and forgetting to collect. There are those, too, to whom the coming of peace means only a sudden keen realization of their losses which they have borne so bravely while the war has lasted. Except for home leave after the wara€™s end, Christmas 1918 and the first two months of 1919, he was in Paris until August the latter year, promoted to captain and supporting the Liquidation Commission created to resolve U.S. By family tradition Edgar met the 20-year-old Marthe Marcelle Trocqueme in Paris on Armistice Day, amidst the citya€™s jubilant celebration of the wara€™s end. General Motors, initially and in 1919 still, was a conglomeration of not always highly compatible companies and chiefs, headed by the redoubtable William Durant whoa€™d formed GM in 1908 after creating Buick.
He and his boyhood chum James Morris not only went to high school together, they were GM colleagues in New York in the 1920s, with Morris later reporting directly to Edgar there. Edgara€™s November 1952 GM curriculum vitae says that his initial assistant manager position was with its Samson Tractor Sales Division. What it meant to be a junior executive there immediately after the World War is captured in the late Peter B.
This called for prodigious feats of organization and management, and GM found its leadership for that in two men.
This was new, and very modern, and Edgar was one of the pioneers a€” though by personal inclination, he was not entirely a practitioner of his own doctrine. 1 This seems to dispose of the story of how Edgar met the French girl he would marry in 1919 as told by Thomas L. 2 a€?War Letters to The Eagle from Brooklynites Abroad,a€? Brooklyn Daily Eagle, December 8, 1918.
6 At the Mairie of the 11th Arrondissement, if anyone wishes to install a plaque commemorating the event, not far from the Cemetery PA?re Lachaise where Moliere, Chopin, Oscar Wilde, and many other notables rest. 7 See my BSI Archival History volume a€?Certain Rites, and Also Certain Dutiesa€? (2009), pp. 8 Eventually quite sophisticated in his command of French: see for example his January 30, 1939, letter to Christopher Morley in Irregular Memories of the a€™Thirties, p. 10 Like other Americans, Edgar could not have helped but notice in 1937 the a€?Worlda€™s Highest Standard of Livinga€? billboard, some 60,000 of which were put up by the National Association of Manufacturers, asserting additionally that a€?Therea€™s no way like the American way.a€? Today ita€™s known from Margaret Bourke-Whitea€™s photograph of it behind what appears to be a Depression breadline of Negroes, making a mockery of its message, but that seeming breadline was after flooding in Kentucky had driven people from their homes. 11 His 1920 passport application lists countries, cities and companies where he was expected to spend time in performance of his duties. 15 As a member of the Army & Navy Club myself, I wondered why they sought membership in it in 1938. He and his boyhood chum James Morris not only went to highA  school together, they were GM colleagues in New York in the 1920s, with Morris later reporting directly to Edgar there. Needless to say there was little work done, and when at the appointed hour the guns boomed all over the city and the sirens shrieked (no more with the message they formerly bore) it was the signal to turn loose.
A group of the wounded men who were convalescing, or who began to convalesce when the news came, wheeled one of their number in a chair up and down the block, the occupant of the improvised chariot of victory playing a corneta€”what could it be but the a€?Marseillaisea€?? Five small boys piled on the running boards and we made progress somehow or other through the cheering crowds surging all around until we became hopelessly entangled and stopped in a position from which we could not have been extricated for an hour. In the course of our progress home we went through a dense crowd at the Place de la€™Opera and about a hundred people seized the taxi, which was in gear at full speed ahead, and dragged it backward about half a block, assaulting me in the window (the captains were on the floor) with salutes of both a manual and osculatory nature. Now that the fighting is over, it comes to them that they are alone, and that one of the contributing causes of all the celebration and joyousness was the giving of a life which they loved.
The armistice terms are crushinga€”they have taken the very bones out of the structure of the German nation and leave her at the mercy of the Alliesa€”a mercy which they do not deserve.


There still remains much for the American Army to do in the way of occupation, readjustment and reconstruction.
It has almost been worth all the long months away from home to have been herea€”the very center of the universea€”on the greatest day the world has ever seen, and to have been part of it. His immediate superior at the time was the last Second Assistant Secretary of War during the war years, Edward Stettinius Sr., previously president of the Diamond Match Company.
General Motors Export Company had been created three years later with a staff of three and only $10,000 in capital, located in New York as the fulcrum point for American commerce abroad. He applied for, and was accepted as, assistant manager of one of the GM Export Companya€™s sales divisions. Not only a young man of brains, energy, and pleasing personality, Edgar had prewar business education and experience, and had been an army staff officer in high-visibility wartime assignments in Washington and Paris, training him in the skills needed to organize and manage tremendous undertakings. Spivaka€™s chapter a€?Baker Street Industrialista€? in the third of my BSI Archival History volumes, Irregular Records of the Early a€™Forties. Russiaa€™s Bolsheviks and Whites were fighting a vicious civil war, with Russian aristocrats and democrats resettling in Paris in reduced circumstances. In the late 1930s and a€™40s, when he and Christopher Morley worked some ten blocks apart in that age of communications, with telephones on their desk, they habitually conducted BSI business with each other by letter, as often as three times a day. On August 26, 1926, he was appointed assistant to the vice president for overseas operations.
The letter was likely one to Edgara€™s parents at home, and made available by them to the newspaper.
What would have pleased Edgar was the family of four, plus dog (his family had one at home), being shown not in a kitchen with the latest appliances, or in a living-room with a console radio and perhaps a piano, but in an automobile, clearly taking to the highways for pleasure. Perhaps it was only, as their work took them to Washington more often, to have a congenial place to stay that was convenient to the State Department and other government offices.
Even now, at 2 oa€™clock in the afternoon of the next day, the parades and crowds are still thronging the avenue. The clouds of four years and three months were blown away in ten minutes and the population simply went insanea€”and are still insane. According to the marriage announcement in the New York Times after he brought her home to start a new life together in America, her parents were M.
In the beginning, GM Exporta€™s energies were focused upon the sale of GM products through foreign distributors, but with the war over, its ambitions turned to establishing manufacturing operations abroad as well. In that job, and in other sales and junior executive posts at various European plants and at the home office, he became intimately acquainted with world trade problems. Samson Tractor, purchased in 1917 in order to compete with Ford in that market, was a signal failure, losing GM some $33,000,000 before being shut down for good in 1923. Edgar had also, Morris tells us, learned to speak French during his twelve months in Paris, and had a French wife to keep him in practice.
Spivak, a member of The Amateur Mendicant Society who had also been a Detroit lawyer and judge with both professional and marital connections to GM, was able to exploit for me its tightly-controlled archives for an account that must be one of the definitive Smith biographera€™s first stops.
Sloan, expand overseas, dazzle the public with its vision of the future at the 1939-40 New York Worlda€™s Fair, convert its vast industrial base to military production for Americaa€™s armed forces in World War II, and then convert it back again to consumer products after the end of that war, just as automobiles and modern highways began truly to transform American life.
France and Britain were rubbing the new Weimar Republica€™s nose in Germanya€™s defeat, with Berlin thwarting their reparations demands by setting off the horrendous inflation that undermined Germanya€™s economy, facilitating the rise of both communism and fascism. Then on March 23, 1925, the family came home for good (now at 1355 East 16th Street, Brooklyn).
This was no gofer job; it carried responsibility, authority, and promise, with the last starting to be fulfilled before the year was out, when Edgar was appointed additionally a director of GM Export Company. In 1937, the thought was still a stretch; but by the time Edgar retired from GM in 1954, he saw it come true, complete with automatic transmissions and air-conditioning, on the four-lane highways GM had predicted at the 1939 Worlda€™s Fair. GMa€™s first assembly plant overseas was in 1923; by 1937 it was adding four new plants a year around the world, putting considerable stress upon the companya€™s organization and management ability.
But there were equally congenial and convenient hotels nearby, so something more must have been involved.
One little midinette from the shops (of course nobody was working) wanted to see the guns fire, so H. We finally got a room upstairs and I actually ate a plate of soupa€”then supper was entirely forgotten in renewed celebrations and libations.


There will be other and more elaborate affairs, with bands and uniforms and orderly array, but nothing can ever compare with the spontaneity of yesterdaya€™s celebrations. We went into the war under the most propitious conditions; we came out of it when its effects are just beginning to be left. Edgar landed in New York in August 1919 just as the General Motors Export Company was poised to pursue these ambitions. This firsthand experience laid the groundwork for his later prestige as an authority on international trade. But the company did not hold it against Edgar, rightly seeing in him a GM man with a future. He was ambitious, and General Motors in 1919 was one of the most ambitious companies in the world. Born in 1884 in Cleveland, Mooney had a technological Case Institute education, and worked for a number of major corporations before 1917 when he joined the Army as an artillery officer. As the word slowly came out at first, and then spread like wildfire, it seemed everybody in Paris was in any one particular spot you might pick out. It was not, as in New York, on one street in one place, it was everywhere, in the most remote portions of the city. Of all the 2,000,000 men here only 30,000 have been killed in battlea€”not as many as the British lost at Cambrai alone, and not as many as one small province of France has lost.
This Stettinius went on to be a GM vice-president designing employee benefit plans, before moving on to U.S. By the following month, he was working at its 120 West 42nd Street head-quarters in Manhattan, and living in a detached house of his own at 39 Argyle Road, Brooklyn.
His agenda was to take him also to London, Brussels, Liege, Madrid, Barcelona, Milan, Turin, Geneva, and Antwerp, and perhaps other places. Jim Mooney, to whom Edgara€™s photograph below was inscribed in 1928, would remain his boss and mentor until 1941. Meanwhile I had lost my hat in the restaurant and returned every few minutes or so to look for it with my head tied up in a handkerchief.
He had a sophisticated view of the world, and a reputation as a management expert reinforced in 1931 by his book Onward Industry! Passport Office in Liverpool, Merseyside - Phone Number, Map, Postcode, Address of Firms, Companies, Shops, Small Businesses, Professionals, Organisations - MisterWhat For passport advice, call 0300 222 0000.
French civilians and women carried French, American and British soldiers about on their shoulders, motor trucks draped with flags (and every automobile had at least two) rumbled past loaded down with the boys from one country or another, all wildly cheering and singing. Each entry was the occasion for a wild tumult, the diners (?) leaping to their feet and cheering and shouting. Her French husband surnamed Trocqueme had been killed in the war, leaving her a young widow with a two-year-old son, Jacques Robert, born May 19, 1916. As war approached again, Stettinius would serve in various senior capacities in the federal government, including Lend-Lease Administrator, Under Secretary of State, and finally Secretary of State for some six months in 1945 at the end of Franklin Roosevelta€™s life, and the beginning of Harry Trumana€™s Presidency.
The disintegration of empires ruined by the war resulted in new fragile democracies beset by enemies within and without. Names were exchanged, and Marthe got off the Metro, walking on a€?fairy feet,a€™ to go home to tell her roommate of the handsome young American officer she was to meet for dinner a€” if he showed up.a€? Did Edgar, despite his letter to the Eagle?
Many wartime marriages do not survive, but Edgar and Marthe were married in Paris on March 20, 1919, honeymooning in Trouville and Deauville. During Edgara€™s four years in Europe, he witnessed vast economic and social dislocation, often with violence and bloodshed, and learned to detest and fear economic nationalism and the beggar-thy-neighbor policies that made a bad situation worse.
By Edgara€™s death in 1960 he and Marthe had been together forty-one years, with three more sons of their own.
101 Old Hall Street, Liverpool, L3 9BD Tried desperately to find a telephone number for Liverpool Passport Office. 101 Old Hall Street, Liverpool, L3 9BD Call the number below to obtain the number for the: Liverpool Passport Office.



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