Thomas Alva Edison invented the incandescent light bulb, the movie camera and the batteries that start our cars. Toward the autumn years of his life, he worked in a modest building that resembles a barn. There, with his son, Edison would often remain late into the night, laboring to perfect his inventions. One evening, in an attempt to improve the retention of a battery’s charge, an unfortunate combination of chemicals caused his latest experiment to burst into flames. The fire quickly spread through the old wooden structure, and what began as a minor chemical combustion exploded into a towering inferno.
Edison’s son quickly evacuated the building. Using his smock to shield him from the heat of the flames, he desperately called for his father, fearing Edison might still be in the barn trying to save his precious lifework. Running frantically, the young man circled the barn, hoping his father had escaped through another exit. On his second time around the building, he turned a corner and, to his great relief, there stood his legendary father. Edison’s hands were buried deep in his soot-speckled smock, his white hair blackened with ash. He was watching intently as flames devoured the structure.
“Father!” cried Edison’s son. “I was afraid you were still inside!” Without taking his eyes off the flames, Edison said, with a sense of urgency, “Son, go get your mother!”
With a twinkle in his eyes his father replied, “Because your mother comes from a small town and she’s never seen a fire like this before!” When the flames had finished their work, leaving only ash and a twisted frame, Edison turned to his son. “You know anyone who has a tractor?”
“Yes, Dad, but why?”
Edison answered, “Because it’s time to rebuild, Boy. It’s time to rebuild.”