Henry Ford considered Thomas Edison his personal hero and friend. Did his admiration for Edison provoke the admittedly idiosyncratic Ford to request the capture of Edisonâ€™s last exhalation when the great inventor died at 3:24 a.m. on October 18, 1931?Acknowledging Fordâ€™s interest in reincarnation, one source claims that â€œHenry Ford believed that the human soul exited the body with its last breath. Ford somehow convinced Thomas Edisonâ€™s son to sit by the dying inventorâ€™s bedside, clap a test tube over his mouth, then plug it with a cork. Maybe Fordâ€™s intentions were noble, and he expected future scientists to reconstitute Edison from the aether.â€
The real story actually is more mundaneâ€”yet more poignant and laden with meaning. Ultimately, it is not about some bizarre capturing of a â€œdying breathâ€ but, rather, about the very common process of memorializing deceased heroes. The sealed test tube, removed from the room where Thomas Edison passed away, was offered to his good friend, Henry Ford, as a symbol of Edisonâ€™s life and breath.