I had received this or something like it several times in recent months and was glad Ed Fitzgerald reposted it in his consistently wonderful weblog unfutz. He uses it to riff on the fact that, despite the reminder of the progress we have made in material well-being over the last 100 years, we are in the midst of the rightwing dismantling of the century’s progress in personal freedoms. Point well-taken, but I was searching for it for a different reason. The mother of a friend of mine, who had celebrated her 100th birthday last summer, passed away last week. I wanted to send her this text to complement the more personal reflections on her mother’s 100 years:
“Here are some of the U.S. statistics for 1905:
The average life expectancy in the U.S. was 47 years.
Only 14 percent of the homes in the U.S. had a bathtub.
Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.
A three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost eleven dollars.
There were only 8,000 cars in the U.S., and only 144 miles of paved roads.
The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.
Alabama, Mississippi, Iowa, and Tennessee were each more heavily populated than California.
With a mere 1.4 million residents, California was only the 21st most populous state in the Union.
The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower!
The average wage in the U.S. was 22 cents an hour.
The average U.S. worker made between $200 and $400 per year.
A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year,
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.
More than 95 percent of all births in the U.S. took place at home.
Ninety percent of all U.S. physicians had no college education. Instead, they attended medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press and by the government as ‘substandard.’
Sugar cost four cents a pound.
Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.
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 prohibiting poor people from entering the country for any reason.
The five leading causes of death in the U.S. were:
1. Pneumonia and influenza
4. Heart disease
The American flag had 45 stars.
Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Alaska hadn’t been admitted to the Union yet.
The population of Las Vegas, Nevada, was 30!!!
Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and iced tea hadn’t been invented.
There was no Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.
Two of 10 U.S. adults couldn’t read or write.
Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated high school.
Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at corner drugstores.
According to one pharmacist, ‘Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health.’ (Shocking!)
Eighteen percent of households in the U.S had at least one full-time servant or domestic.
There were only about 230 reported murders in the entire U.S.”