Probably more frequently then I realize, I find myself complaining, or at least grumbling about something of other because it doesn’t work exactly as I would have wished it to. Often, it is something that I normally take for granted, like the car or the computer or the phone. I never give any thought to what life would be like without them. So, the other day, when I came across an article that described what it was like to live in 1910, I started to feel a little spoiled as well as surprised. Here’s some of what I found.
There were only 8000 cars in the U.S. and only 144 miles of paved road. If you were fortunate enough to own one, if fortunate is the right word, you went down to the local drugstore to buy your gas. Hopefully, it wasn’t a very long drive as the maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 miles per hour.
The average wage was $.22 cents per hour and a normal annual income was between $200 and $400. However, an accountant might earn as much as $2000 (a guess it paid to be the guy that kept the books) and a dentist could pull down around $2500. And here is a scary thought. Ninety percent of the doctors did not have a college education. Probably had something to do with why the life expectancy back then was only 47 years. The leading causes of death were Pneumonia or Influenza, Tuberculosis, Diarrhea, Heart Disease, and Stroke. And forget about maternity wards. Ninety five percent of the children were born at home.
If you have purchased groceries lately, here are are some prices that should get your attention. Sugar cost $.04 per pound, coffee was $.15 per pound, and eggs were $.14 per dozen, and heaven forbid, canned beer and iced tea hadn’t even been invented yet. You didn’t waste much time in the personal care aisle either as there was no toothpaste or deodorant back then. In fact, only fourteen percent of homes even had a bathtub.
Today, we place a lot of importance on education as well we should. But it has not always been a given that everyone had a chance to go to school. In 1910, two out of every ten adults couldn’t read or write. Not a lot of people made it to high school and only six percent graduated. Starts to make those doctors look a little better doesn’t it?
How far we have come in 100 years. I’m sure if we transported back to that time, we would have somewhat of a problem coping. I know I would. What must it have been like to not be able to pick up the phone and order a pizza. Not just because there was no such thing as pizza But also because only eight percent of homes even had a phone. Nope, on second thought, I’ll stay right here, thank you very much. Make mine with extra cheese.