A Reporter in Hell
I moved to Israel from the United States in June 1995. In the six months after my arrival, five buses were blown up by suicide bombers — three in Jerusalem, where I live.
Everyone developed defense mechanisms to deal with this strange reality. I always carried some identification, even if it was just a checkbook. Israelis snapped up cell phones, because we wanted to be in touch when a bomb hit. But then peace negotiations resumed and the bombings stopped, for a while.
With the Palestinian intifada in September 2000, the bombings returned — and I often covered them as a reporter. I’d race to the scene to witness body parts strewn across the road, and to see body bags empty because there were no whole bodies to fill them.
When I first approached Egged about a story on the bus company’s response to terrorism (“Driving in the Valley of the Shadow of Death,” page 86), a spokesperson said that drivers were tired of talking to reporters. Egged had already turned down the New York Times and Nightline, among others. But Israel is a place where talking to just the right person really matters — and where the right cell-phone number is an inside track. I got the number of Egged’s media-savvy CFO, Ofer Linchefsky. It turned out he was eager to tell Egged’s story. And so were Egged’s drivers. Jessica Steinberg
Sundays on the Road With Henry
Annual meetings rarely score high for entertainment value, but this year’s Ford Motor Corp. gathering produced some fine storytelling (“Needed: A Braver Soul,” page 34). William Ford, father of CEO Bill Jr. (right), reminisced about his grandfather Henry Ford. “One of the first things he did was to teach me how to drive a car, at roughly the age of 10. I would sit in his lap; he would run the gear shift, clutch, and brake. I did the steering, and . . . I could control the speed.”
One Sunday, Henry and grandson hit the road. “I was going about 70 MPH. He didn’t say anything. Unfortunately, there was a policeman who did. He pulled us over.” The officer gave Henry a “little lecture, and we went on our way. With me in the passenger seat.”
The officer never asked Henry for his driver’s license. Just as well, “because . . . he never owned one. I think he figured he knew how to drive a car.” But “when we got home, my grandmother was on the front steps. Her first words were, ‘Billy, you go to your room. Henry, I want to talk to you.’ After that, any time we left the property, I was in the passenger seat.” Charles Fishman
Color Them Red. No, Wait — “Fred.”
At Binney & Smith’s Crayola factory in Easton, Pennsylvania, (A Day in the Life of Work, page 116), I learned just how sacred crayons are. In 1990, the company replaced eight colors in the original 64-color box, which dated back to 1958. Protesters — yes, grown-ups — picketed the factory, waving signs such as “Save Lemon Yellow!”
This year, the company is again tinkering with its palette. To avoid another outcry, though, consumers are getting a say. The company nominated five colors to be “retired” and invited the public to decide which one to keep. Nearly 55,000 people voted online. Crayonphiles also pitched more than 150,000 ideas of names for four new shades. Among them, “Mom’s Lipstick” and “Fred.”
Not everyone could be appeased. “We had irate consumers saying, ‘Raw Umber was one thing, but Burnt Sienna? Now you’ve gone too far,’ ” says a spokeswoman. Burnt Sienna, sadly, is up for retirement. Its fate — and the names of the four new colors — will be announced on October 11 at Crayola’s centennial celebration in Easton. Chuck Salter