2/03/2012

The Year 1910





I received an interesting email earlier this week from my former father-in-law.  No, it had nothing to do with my ill-fated marriage to his daughter.  He would never do that sort of thing.  He forwarded to me the differences in prices, wages, and just the overall life style of 1910.  It is amazing how different things are now over a century later.  I always heard about the "good old days."  I'm not so sure that is true after reading some of the stats between then and now.  Yes, life was much simpler back in 1910.  You could leave your doors unlocked at night for the most part.  Crime was relatively low.  There were still world problems (as the world would discover about seven years later).  There was still hunger throughout the world, including the USA.  Prohibition was just around the corner a decade later (1920).  But, people had a certain innocence about them.  There were rapes and murder, robberies and so forth.  Just not on the scale of which we are accustomed.

Just to give some striking examples, the average life expectancy for men was 47 years!  That means I would have been dead for 13 years if I lived back then.  Of course, lack of adequate or modern medical technology could be blamed for that relatively low life expectancy.  If you needed fuel for your car, you had to go to the drugstore to get it.  I'm curious if you needed a prescription for that. There were approximately 8,000 cars back then.  A good thing too since there were only about 140 miles of paved roads.  Less than 15% of the homes had a bathtub. I guess people didn't bathe during the winter.  The average working man made $.22 an hour.  That's right.  Some restaurants today charge you more than that for a glass of water.  A veterinarian made about $4000 a year, while an  engineer made $5000 a year.  I'm at a complete loss at how to explain that.  But, this is the one that shocked me most of all; 90% of all doctors had NO college education!  Most went to alleged medical schools that were condemned by the press and government as substandard.  Now, you know why men only lived to age 47!  Women washed their hair once a month with borax or egg yokes for shampoo.  Imagine doing that, ladies.  The leading causes of death (respectively) were pneumonia or flu, tuberculosis, diarrhea, heart disease and stroke.  That seems rather odd to see now, doesn't it?

Finally, the American Flag had only 45 stars, Las Vegas had a population of 30, 20% of Americans couldn't read or write, only 6% finished high school.  There were only 230 murders in the entire country that year.  I'm not sure how that translates per capita. Sure, those were some good old days.  But, you have to also consider they were bad old days also.  If you had heart trouble, you were done.  Take a trip cross country and it could take weeks to complete.  Each century has its good and bad.  After reading that email, I'm not quite sure which century I would prefer.










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