My mom would have turned 100 this year. She was born in Manhattan in 1913, increasing the city’s population to 7,001.
New American flags had 48 stars then, but just barely — Arizona and New Mexico had just entered the Union the year before.
The average life expectancy (for a man) was 47.
Only 14 percent of homes had a bathtub; 8 percent had a telephone. There were just 8,000 cars and less than 150 miles of paved roads. The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.
Sugar cost four cents a pound. Eggs were 14 cents a dozen. Coffee was 15 cents a pound. But the average U.S. wage was only 22 cents per hour. The average American worker made between $200 and $400 annually. An accountant would have expected to earn $2,000 a year, a dentist $2,500, a veterinarian $3,000 and a mechanical engineer about $5,000.
More than 95 percent of all births took place at home. That’s where Mom was born.
When Mom was born a hundred years ago, two out of every 10 adults couldn’t read or write, and less than 10 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.
Most women washed their hair only 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. Heroin and morphine were available over the counter at the local drug store. Pharmacists said heroin cleared the complexion, gave buoyancy to the mind, and regulated the stomach and bowels.
Crossword puzzles, canned beer and iced tea hadn’t been invented. There was no Father’s Day; Mother’s Day was in its infancy.
About 230 murders were reported during the year in the entire USA.
Certainly things have changed since 1913, mostly for the better. Mom died in 1998. I think she would be amazed at all the changes that have taken place just since then, in Manhattan, in Kansas, in the world ... in the Dendurent family.
When Mom was born, many homes didn’t have record players, because they were such a new idea. Now my son Jeff tells me many people are throwing out their CD players because they’re obsolete - folks’ tiny electronic devices hold hundreds of times more music than CDs do.
What will our world be like in another hundred years? Unimaginable.
Give these riddles a try:
1. A man is condemned to death. He has to choose among three rooms in which to meet his doom ... or not. The first is full of raging fires, the second is packed with assassins with loaded guns, and the third is filled with lions that haven’t eaten in three years. Which room is safest for him?
2. What is black when you buy it, red when you use it and gray when you throw it away?
3. Can you name three consecutive days without using the words Wednesday, Friday or Sunday?
4. This is an unusual paragraph. I’m curious as to just how quickly you can find out what is so unusual about it. It looks so ordinary and plain that you would think nothing was wrong with it. In fact, nothing IS wrong with it. It is highly unusual though. Study it and think about it, and you still may not find anything odd. But if you work at it a bit, you might find out. What’s up with this particular paragraph anyway?
1. The third room. Lions that haven’t eaten in three years are dead. (That one was easy, right?)
2. Charcoal for barbecuing. (Did you think this would be so simple?)
3. Sure you can name three consecutive days without saying Wednesday, Friday or Sunday: yesterday, today and tomorrow. (Easy, easy and easy.)
4. The letter “e,” which is the most common letter used in the English language, does not appear even once in the paragraph.
Nice try anyway.