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Aug 1, 2009

THE GOOD OLD DAYS - OR NOT

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The following article is from Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter and is copyright by Richard W. Eastman. It is re-published here with the permission of the author. Information about the newsletter is available at http://www.eogn.com.
Ah, the good old days. Life was simpler and...
The year is 1909, one hundred years ago. Here are some statistics for the Year 1909 :
  • The average life expectancy was 47 years.
  • Only 14 percent of the homes had a bathtub.
  • Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.
  • There were only 8,000 cars and only 144 miles of paved roads.
  • The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.
  • The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower.
  • The average wage in 1909 was 22 cents per hour.
  • The average worker made between $200 and $400 per year.
  • A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year, a dentist earned $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 took place at HOME.
  • Ninety percent of all doctors had NO COLLEGE EDUCATION! Instead, they attended so-called medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press AND 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 that prohibited poor people from entering the country for any reason.
  • Five leading causes of death were:
1. Pneumonia and influenza
2. Tuberculosis
3. Diarrhea
4. Heart disease
5. Stroke
  • The American flag had 45 stars.
  • The population of Las Vegas, Nevada, was only 30!
  • Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and ice tea hadn't been invented yet.
  • There was no Mother's Day or Father's Day.
  • Two out of every 10 adults couldn't read or write.
  • Only 6 percent 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 percent of households had at least one full-time servant or domestic help.
  • There were about 230 reported murders in the ENTIRE U.S.A. (I suspect there were more but many were never reported to any national data collection organization)
I would like to say that in my own family research the life span is much higher, as it has been in my work on other trees and my transcription of many censuses and death records. I dispute that fact.
gramophone de luxe spain 1909 - 27Image by phonogalerie.com via Flickr



8 comments:

@eloh said...

And hopefully, someday, today will be the good ole days.

Housewife Savant said...

They died of diarrhea...oh my. Atkins dieters I'll bet.

Joanne said...

Actually I think of the 60's as the good old days -- NO DRIVERS ON CELL PHONES!!! Ooops didn't mean to yell.

Blondie's Journal said...

Incredibly interesting, Lori. My mind was doing it's blonde math and it seems my grandmother was pretty much starting to raise a family at this time. The life expectancy for her was pretty good because she was around when I was born...but not for long...

When my mother was alive, I used to drill her on her early life. She always said that I was born at the wrong time. And I did this with my MIL too. She loved to talk about when she was a young girl and I listened in awe. My father, blessedly is still here, 82 years young, his answers are clipped in spite of the fact that he is sharper than a knife...

Thanks so much, Lori. I really loved this post and learned so much.

xoxo
Jane

prof en retraite said...

Hi Lori! What an interesting post! I am with you, however, on the life span. My family is from the mountains and I think just the hard life there has managed to make us a very strong clan! Many of my ancestors have lived into their 90's. As my mom used to say, our family is known for its long livers!! lol Happy weekend!...Debbie

Muddy Boot Dreams said...

Great post! Loved the stats.

Jen

Shirley said...

Oh, Mom would talk about her childhood and all the stories she'd tell. My sister and I got her a book to start writing it down but she said she had terrible hand writing . . . so she never did.! Oh well, I'll write what I can remember. (which is getting less and less!!!)

DianaR said...

Hi Lori ~ I agree - I have lots of ancestors that lived to ripe old ages...well past 47...but I think when you factor in the high rate of mortality with infants and young children it drives the "average" life expectancy way down. It seems like most of the family lines I have worked on so far have a least one or two children who died in infancy. Sometimes I don't even know about them right away as they were born and died between censuses.

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