by Jay Kelly
It wasn’t that long ago that daily life in America was very different than it is today. Let’s take a look at life in 1909, just for the heck of it and give thanks for the fuel-injected, Costco, ATM, frequent-flyer lifestyle we can easily take for granted today. So much has happened in the last 100 years to make life more comfortable and convenient. It is mind blowing if you meditate on it for even a few minutes. 100 years is only one long lifetime away.
One set of my great-grandparents on my mom’s side came to Washington in a covered wagon about 100 years ago. They settled on the Olympic Peninsula in Sequim, WA and later after a back injury while logging my Great-Grandfather Cooley began farming sugar beats in Toppenish, WA where my mother was raised. My mom’s father, Alexander Lee, was the son of a Swedish Ship Captain and a native American of the Haida tribe in Alaska. It just wasn’t that long ago, but let’s take a look together.
THE YEAR 1909 – Some statistics from a century ago:
A postage stamp was 2 cents.
Radio and Vaudeville were all the rage.
Pittsburgh won the World Series.
From 1909 to 2009 world population soared from 1.7 billion to 6.4 billion.
The average life expectancy was 47 years! (My parents are 69 & 74 and Carol’s parents are 83 & 84 and all are in great health thanks to modern medicine and good genes)
Only 14 % of homes had bath tubs.
Only 8% of homes had telephones.
There were only 8,000 automobiles with only 144 miles of paved roads.
Maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.
Tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower.
Average wage was 22 cents an hour.
The average worker earned between $200 and $400 per year.
More than 95% of births took place at home.
90 % of all doctors had NO college education.
Eggs cost 14 cents a dozen.
Coffee was 15 cents a pound.
Most women only washed their hair once a MONTH and used Borax or egg yolks for shampoo!
The five leading causes of death were: Pneumonia & Influenza, Tuberculosis, Diarrhea, Heart disease and Stroke.
OTHER FACTS FROM 1909
The American flag had only 45 stars.
The population of Las Vegas was only 30!
There was no Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.
Two out of every 10 adults couldn’t read or write!
Only 6 % of all Americans had a high school education.
Marijuana, heroin and morphine were all over the counter at your local drugstore and were known to be medicinal and “perfect guardians of health!”
There were only 230 reported murders in the entire country!
NONE OF THE FOLLOWING HAD BEEN INVENTED YET:
Crossword puzzles, canned beer, ice tea, zippers, tinkertoys, toasters, band-aids, hair dryers, traffic lights, Wheaties, blenders, bread slicers, bubble gum, Penicillin, sunglasses, ballpoint pens, Monopoly, trampolines, shopping carts, nylon stockings, duct tape, Tupperware, bikinis, disposable diapers, kitty litter, Velcro and milk cartons. The list goes on and on…
Let’s spend some time giving thanks for all the ways that life was easily lived today. I’m writing this on my MacBook and posting it on the global internet which arrives in your homes and offices almost immediately without a postman or the Pony Express. Wow, it just goes on and on.
Have fun growing in gratitude today. Hope this helps. See you tomorrow. Only 10 more days in our “Month of Gratitude.” Tell a friend how you’ve grown through it.
-Jay Kelly, Seattle Church of Christ