A hundred years worth of change

January 11, 2012  

Have You Heard…we just completed the year 2011. It was a significant year for me as my Dad was born in 1911, and if he were still around, he would have just turned 100 years old. He left us five years ago at the age of 95. My curiosity was stimulated though and I wondered if he had seen any significant changes over the nearly hundred years he was around. And it seems that there have been considerable social and lifestyle changes over this past century. So, I thought I would share a few with you. For example, a hundred years ago, the average life expectancy for men was 47 years, fuel for cars was sold only in drug stores, only 14 per cent of homes had a bathtub, only 8 per cent of the homes had a telephone, there were only 8,000 cars and only 144 miles of paved roads and the maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.

At the time of my Dad’s birth in 1911, the tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower, the average US wage in 1910 was 22 cents per hour, the average US worker made between $200 and $400 per year, but a competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year and a dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year. Ninety percent of all doctors had no college education but instead attended so-called medical schools which many, including the press, condemned as being sub-standard. More than 95 per cent of all births took place at home.

In those days, sugar cost four cents a pound, eggs were fourteen cents a dozen, and coffee was fifteen cents a pound. Most women only washed their hair once a month and used Borax or egg yolks for shampoo. Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from entering into their country for any reason. The leading causes of death were: pneumonia and influenza, tuberculosis, diarrhea, heart disease and stroke. The American flag had 45 stars, the population of Las Vegas was only 30. Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and iced tea hadn’t been invented yet. Two out of every 10 adults couldn’t read or write and only 6 per cent of all Americans had graduated from high school. Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at the local corner drugstores. Back then pharmacists said, “Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health!” Eighteen per cent of households had at least one full-time servant or domestic help, and there were about 230 reported murders in the entire U.S.A. Maybe the “Good old days” weren’t so good after all.

Just as a contrast, I started thinking of the changes just during my own lifetime and was a bit startled about the progress I have seen – from pre-jet planes to walking on the moon, from telegraph and postal services to the internet, and so on. And I’m not even that old (at least compared to an oak tree). I expect our grandchildren will probably also marvel about the changes during our lifetimes. Anyway, I hope your holidays were enjoyable and that we all have a better year in 2012.

 

Have You Heard…local politicians abound. A few days ago a few of us local political sages were talking to an Oak Hill resident running for a county office. As is often the case when political discussions happen in a liquid-refreshment establishment, the discussion deteriorated to “Us and Them,” or the prevalent partisan environment in our nation’s capitol. But I may have a solution to the constant impasse we have been seeing for the last year, or more. What we need is a third party called the “Republicrats.” Candidates running as Republicrats would hold as their principles (is that a proper term for a politician?) combinations of the prevalent opinions of the two major parties today. For example, everyone could have a gun, but when they shoot themselves and each other, they get free health care. I could go on and on, but you get the idea. So now, let’s all get together and find the right candidates and end all the waste of time and money for those politicians who just only debate and then proceed to do nothing in Washington. Our party symbol, instead of the elephant and donkey, would be the “Crocogator” – the animal with a head on both ends and who is ticked-off all the time. Our slogan – “re-elect no one.”

 

Thought for today…Give a person a fish and you will feed him for a day. Teach him to use the internet and he won’t bother you for weeks, or months, or maybe ever.

 


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