October 26, 2006

95 Years

Last weekend, I managed to get down to Missouri to visit my Grandpa. I don't see him very often because it's quite a long drive. I had to go, though, because his 95th birthday is this week and we took him a birthday cake.

Grandpa was a farmer and a carpenter. He helped build many beautiful, historical buildings in the Schuyler County area, and maintained a 200 acre farm for nearly 70 years. I spent a lot of my summers on that farm, going out at daybreak with Grandpa to feed the cows, check the beans, gather the eggs...whatever needed to be done. It was he and Grandma who taught me to work the land and appreciate it and how to live simply. Yes, a lot of happy, peaceful summers.

Now Grandpa is in a nursing home. Since Grandma passed away 5 years ago, he's been very lonely - they were married for 69 years. Grandpa has macular degeneration and is nearly blind now, so he can no longer read or watch TV. He is becoming more fragile and unsteady every time I see him and I know it's just a matter of time before he leaves us. I really don't think there's much time left. He doesn't have any disease to take him out - I think he'll just drift off to sleep one of these days and never wake up. I hope so, as he's ready. He wants to be with Grandma again. I can't say that I blame him.

The world has changed so much during Grandpa's lifetime...

When Grandpa was born:

The average life expectancy in the U.S. was 47.

A 3-minute call from Denver to New York City cost eleven dollars.

There were only 8000 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 people, 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 US. was 22 cents per 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 $2500 per year, a veterinarian between $1500 and $4000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5000 per year.

More than 95% of all births in the U.S. took place at home.

Ninety percent of all U.S. doctors had no college education. Instead, they attended so-called medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press AND the government as "sub-standard."

Sugar cost 4 cents a pound.

Eggs were 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.

Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from entering into their country for any reason.

The Five leading causes of death in the U.S. were Pneumonia and influenza, Tuberculosis, Diarrhea, Heart disease, and Stroke in that order.

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 only 30.

Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and ice tea hadn't been invented yet.
There was no Mother's Day or Father's Day.

20% of U.S. 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. 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."

18% of households in the U.S. had at least one full-time servant or domestic help.

There were about 230 reported murders in the ENTIRE U.S.A.

How different the world is now. I wonder what the world will be like when I am 95, if I make it that long.

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