Someone sent me a photo of a 1913 Ford.  To put our changes over the last 100 or so years, some stats were included.  Consider:

The year is 1910, over one hundred years ago. What a difference a century makes!
Here are some statistics for the Year 1910:
· The average life expectancy for men was 47 years.
· Fuel for this car was sold in drug stores only.
· 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 US wage in 1910 was 22 cents per hour.
· The average US 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 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.
· There was no such thing as under arm deodorant or tooth paste.
· Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from entering into their country for any reason.
· The 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 iced 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 and only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school. [We are quickly returning to this.  And if to this, then … perhaps to the other points mentioned in this list?]
· 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 am now going to forward this to someone else without typing it myself.
· From there, it will be sent to others all over the WORLD…all in a matter of seconds!
· Try to imagine what it may be like in another 100 years.

We also had not had two great World Wars and the other horrors of the 20th century.

And, because the person’s email tag interested me…

Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you!
Pericles (430 B.C.)

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Brick by Brick, Just Too Cool, The future and our choices and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Dennis Martin says:

    For perspective on this perspective, keep in mind that the life expectancy of 47 included heavy infant mortality. Factor that out and a person who made it past 3 years old, let’s say, a child of 10, could expect to live to 60-65, more or less.

    Not that infant mortality wasn’t a terrible thing. It was. But in terms of trying to get some, well, perspective, on how people perceived life, 63 is different from 47. It’s also different from 78 or 82.

    Just not quite as different.

    If one were 10 years old and perceived life to end, for most people, at around 50, then anyone 68 years old would be truly unusually and remarkable. But they weren’t. 85 or 90, now that was truly remarkable. Today, 85 or 90 is fairly common and 95 or 102 is remarkable but not infrequent. But in 1910, 63 or 68 or even 72 was fairly common. Yes, some died at 50 or 55 and that was seen as a young death, though not as young a death as it would be perceived today. But death at 47 was not taken as, more or less normal.

    That’s what historians call putting some perspective on things.

  2. wmeyer says:

    Tooth powder, however, dates to the Romans, more or less.

    More perspective: I remember buying bread for 19 cents a loaf in 1952–I was 4. Cisco Kid was on the end (paper) seals. And in 1960, my father’s brand new Thunderbird had a base sticker price of $3,755. And further, when driven in moderation, it got 20 miles to the gallon, with a 352 cu. in. V-8 which was impressively powerful. Not so much less than my V-6 2000 Montana, though the T-bird was not cursed with catalytic converter, electronics under the hood, nor any of a myriad later “improvements” which make engine repair a thing best done in shops now, and no longer in the driveway.

    And 50 years ago, there was no Ritalin, no HIV nor AIDS, and blessedly, we still celebrated in Latin. Suburban schools did not have police officers in the halls, and nothing remotely resembling pornography was to be seen on television, even in prime time. Many politicians were respectable men, and were respected.

    The times were indeed different.

  3. Supertradmum says:

    When I was six, Mom gave me money to help her with shopping at the local store. Bread was 10 cents a loaf and milk was 5 cents a pint. Once in awhile we got to have a bottle of soda, like orange pop, which was 10 cents a bottle and Popsicle were 5 cents or 7 if with ice cream in them. This would have been in 1955.

    My parents bought a huge bungalow in 1953 for $12,000 and that was less than a third of my dad’s salary or so. Ten years later, a brick house with a large “yard” would cost them $20,000, which was considered pricey at the time. Cars were all under $10,000. My first year at college, although I had scholarships and did not have to pay a bean was, in 1967, about 450 per year room and board and about 500 for tuition. Books for a year cost about 100 dollars.

    By the time I was in graduate school in the late seventies, inflation has hit and the days of living on one salary were fast disappearing.

    My generation saw the last of stay-at -home moms en masse. Not one mother worked in a job outside the home my entire grade and high school life, and all the mothers in our Catholic world had 6-8 children, the norm. My mother had eight, but lost four.

    To me, this is the real America, long gone. Dads worked at jobs which could afford families and families went to Church together, to Latin Mass. Sigh…no more. And, we had community WITHOUT talking about it.

  4. Isn’t 22 cents an hour about what we make now, after taxes?

  5. Supertradmum says:

    Miss Anita Moore, rofl

  6. Maltese says:

    When the stock market crashes we’ll make cents!

  7. Suburbanbanshee says:

    My impression was that, in the US at that time, there were still many doctors who had apprenticed with other doctors, just as lawyers had used to read law with experienced practicing lawyers. As schools became more available and licensing requirements changed, law schools started to be attached to universities — but medical schools were still attached to hospitals, as many nursing schools have been until recently. The idea that all professions’ training facilities must be attached to universities or colleges is very recent in the US. (Though of course doctors of medicine were attached to the University of Bologna, and canon law was taught at the medieval universities.)

  8. dafrenchman says:

    What is today life expectancy if we factor in roughly 17% of all births willfully terminated?
    This was not a factor back then. I would also think infant mortality is lower today.

  9. Priam1184 says:

    I want to echo the infant and childhood mortality comment above. Even in ancient times it wasn’t entirely unusual for many people, if they made it into their teen years to live to sixty or seventy years old. But then again one has the problem back then (not so much in 1910) of the calendar and the marking of years and probably a good deal of the population actually had no idea exactly how old they were.

  10. mamajen says:

    Based on my experience as a frugal lifestyle blogger, I can say that people are starving to return to simpler times…and it’s starting to catch on. Women of all backgrounds are increasingly choosing to stay at home. Homeschooling is becoming very popular. It’s trendy to make things by hand, fix up or repurpose items from thrift stores, garage sales Craigslist, etc. I have several friends who have found great success writing about slowing down and enjoying simpler things. I still know plenty of people who are caught up in worldly pursuits, but the internet has given me faith in humanity.

    Like so many others, I am on a mission to live a simpler “old-fashioned” lifestyle and make it look good. The mormons excel at this for some reason. “Mormon mommy blogs” are wildly popular, and vintage-inspired modest clothing businesses (like Shabby Apple) are very successful. People don’t respond well to the “back in my day” stuff that sounds like criticism, but if you exude happiness and make it look good, people will follow (kind of like how the Bible tells us not to put ashes on our face and mope around). A lot of people want off the hamster wheel, but they just don’t know where to start.

  11. JamestheOlder says:

    A recent article by a rabbi included in Jewish World Review noted that the 20th Century was the bloodiest century in the history of the world……..not one we should wish to repeat.

  12. Supertradmum says:

    Well, Mamajen, I have been thinking it is time for me to learn how to make soap. I suggest going back to great-grandma’s skills. My generation did this for awhile in the 1970s, with the Back to the Earth movement. We canned, make pickles, sewed out own clothes and learned to cook and bake in old fashioned ovens.

    I also suggest learning Dutch Oven open fire cooking, which is utterly fantastic

    On soap..

  13. NBW says:

    @Miss Anita Moore: That’s so true!!! LOL!
    “· Ninety percent of all Doctors had NO COLLEGE EDUCATION!” And they were probably a lot smarter than the doctors we have now. They used their brains not their prescription pads.

  14. dafrenchman says:

    A boat is docked in a tiny village and this conversation occurs….

    Businessman: Nice catch! how long did it take to catch all this nice tuna?

    Fisherman: Not very long.

    Businessman: But then, why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?

    Fisherman: This catch is sufficient to meet my needs and those of my family.

    Businessman: But what do you do with the rest of your time?

    Fisherman: I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a nap with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs…I have a full life.”

    Businessman: I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat. With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middleman, you can negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Los Angeles or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge enterprise.

    Fisherman: How long would that take?

    Businessman: Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years.

    Fisherman: And after that?

    Businessman: Afterwards? That’s when it gets really interesting. When your business gets really big, you can start selling stocks and make millions!

    Fisherman: Millions? Really? And after that?

    Businessman: After that you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a nap, and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends!

  15. Dennis Martin says:

    For Dafrenchman,

    It’s a nice story but we need to bewareincluding on this thread, of romanticizing the past. Perhaps there were some places where you could feed your family by fishing for a few hours, sleeping late etc., but most fishermen in most places throughout the world throughout most centuries worked very long hours, often in very dangerous situations and managed to get by at best. The same is true of most people in most places throughout most of history. My family were peasants and farmers for as far back as I can trace, to the 1500s. They worked long hours and never knew what the next year’s or next months or next week’s weather might mean for how much they’d have to tide them over the next winter.

    I agree with most commenters that morally, psychologically, personally it was a better way to live than the material affluence and the spiritual, emotional, psychological and personal abject poverty most people live in today, at least in the West.

    But let’s not kid ourselves about what came with that spiritually and emotionally and personally richer way of living: hard, fingers-to-the-bone work, physical tiredness for much of one’s life, fear of invasion or economic collapse or . . . . rapine from immoral but powerful elites–all of which they coped with through faith, fundamentally.

    But yes, they were happier. And that’s not romanticizing. Our culture today is riddled with deep unhappiness. It depends, of course, on what one believes happiness to be. Given our Christian and Catholic definition of happiness, they were happier. But let’s be honest about how hard, physically, economically and otherwise, the happier life was.

  16. APX says:


    I spent four years living in the Mormon captial of Canada. The city I lived in had stake house on almost every corner, and a scrapbooking shop on almost every other corner. I used to get so envious of my Mormon friends’ wives who got to sit at home a day doing crafts, scrapbooking and baking and decorating cupcakes, despite that I don’t enjoy to any of that and am an utter failure at arts and crafts. Unfortunately their “modest clothing” though is still too immodest by the standards in Tradom. I love the dresses at Shabby Apple, the prices…not so much.

    I average about 10 years on the people I go to university with. It’s as if there’s an entire gap in generation. These people don’t know of days before dial-up (I still have a dent in my head from my brother throwing shoes at it for taking up the phone line with the Internet), let alone the days before Internet. “En-cy-clo-pe-di-a”?? What’s that? Lol, I even caught myself reading the back of a book trying scroll the text upwards with my thumb. It took me a few moments to figure out why it wasn’t working. I still remember the days when you had to use one of those card index drawer things at the library to find a book. Now, the libraries have the books online?! When I was a kid, you still needed to know basic grammar to pass elementary school. Now you can get into university without knowing how to write a complete sentence. They just make you take a required English class that teaches you all that…even if you already know it from grade 3! I think the problem now is that every guy and his dog is not only getting Bachelor degrees, but getting their Master’s as well, even if they don’t have the brains for it.

  17. majuscule says:

    I was thinking just the other day of the ’60s and ’70s when growing your own food, making things from scratch–canning, baking bread and living simply were all the rage. I had married young and lived on a ranch so we were doing these things for real while the hippies were playing at it.

    So the other day I was musing about how this somehow led to supermarkets full of pre-made meals to heat and eat, or just unwrap and dig in.

    I think many of the self sufficiency folks got tired of the work involved and are happy to have an easier but not simpler life.

  18. Mari Kate says:

    Life was physically harder. I remember we had one of those washers with the wringer on the top. We hung out all of our clothes on the line. When they were dry they smelled so good! We could walk down the lanes and not be scared to death of being kidnapped. We lived on an L shaped block with 83 kids (we counted one night). We played baseball almost every night in the summer. We didn’t have to buy fruit at the market from Mexico. It grew in our back yards, or our neighbors.

    If we did something wrong, our parents knew about it before we could tell them. My friend’s mother asked me right after Barbie came out on the store shelves, if I was concerned about Barbie being too developed for little girls to play with. I was so naive I remember looking at her saying “Huh?”

    Having a TV dinner was a rare treat. My mother didn’t believe they were good for us. Life was physically harder but simpler then. We can make choices to make it more simpler now. I find that the more faithful I am to prayer, the simpler my life becomes. I can’t turn back the clock but I can choose not to buy into the fast track and frenzie. I am beginning to sound like my dad more often.

  19. StJude says:

    I was born in 68. My mom would take $20 to the grocery for the week and come back with change.
    As kids.. we left the house in the morning and didnt come back til the moms started yelling out the front door to come home at night. We explored every wood, backyard, cornfield within 5 miles.
    When my son was little..I never allowed him to roam the neighborhood. (same neighborhood) EVER…and its a nice suburban place…with really low crime.

    I wouldn’t trade growing up when I did for anything.

    My mom, whose childhood was early 50;s has the same great memories of being a kid. My grandma’s childhood however, was… hard. The Depression, poverty.. lots and lots of work on the farm.

  20. Dennis Martin says:

    I should modify my curmudgeonly comment by noting the long hours and fatigue were relieved by more frequent holy-days/holidays. Now, if you are a farmer and have livestock, even some chores have to be done on a holiday, but still, the pre-modern and Christian calendar did recognize Pieper’s leisure the basis of culture. But the presence of holidays that people looked forward to can only be fully appreciated if one recognizes first the drudgery of a lot of daily life for most people. Honest drudgery can be happier than dishonest and immoral affluence. Moral and honest affluence is not impossible but harder to achieve than one might think.

    And dafrenchman’s story was more about being satisfied with what one in comparison with entrepreneurial overdrive. I recognize that it was a fable, not a claim to represent historic reality.

  21. Charivari Rob says:

    An interesting list, though some of the entries should be taken with a grain of salt, with no source cited to back them up, or being phrased so broadly as to be incorrect.

    I’ll assume the bathtub reference meant only 14% were hooked up to plumbing. I suspect most of the remaining 86% had tubs, too – tubs you had to fill and empty the old-fashioned way.

    The paved roads figure is suspiciously low. In a quick search, I didn’t find anything that specifically disproved it, but I did find one source that said 140 miles of rural roads were paved as of 1904. Another source says 55000 motor vehicles in 1904 jumped to 470000 in 1910.

    The list doesn’t reflect a lot (both the bad and the good) that we didn’t have in 1910. Margaret Sanger hadn’t gone into business yet. At the same time, we didn’t yet have womens’ suffrage, many vaccines, antibiotics…

  22. APX says:

    What I miss the most are the days when you didn’t need things like police checks, driver’s abstracts, liability waivers and $1 million dollar liability insurance policies per person in order to have volunteer drivers. It’s beyond ridiculous now. In Canada, you can’t even sue for more than $250,000 (and getting that is rare) in motor vehicle accidents, but everyone is so paranoid of getting sued.

  23. mamajen says:


    Thanks for the links! Soap-making is something I’ve been meaning to try. I’m finding that I really enjoy making things from scratch. I make homemade bread (albeit cheating with a bread machine), finally tackled homemade mozzarella, homemade baby food, etc. And my husband has been greatly enjoying his new homebrew hobby. It’s just fun discovering what you’re capable of.

  24. frjim4321 says:

    Also interesting along these lines in the “Mindset List” produced by Beloit College:

    It’s not the best example of such lists, but it does give a sense of perspective.

    The typical eighth grader has a device in her/his pocket that includes both a telephone and the internet, making it possible to connect with anyone around the world in seconds. That would have been completely mind blowing to a kid like me, born around the time Chuck Yeager was causing the first sonic boom.

    Kids today don’t have to “duck and cover” for fear of nuclear explosions, but they have lock down drills. I wonder which is worse?

  25. albinus1 says:

    Ninety percent of all Doctors had NO COLLEGE EDUCATION!” And they were probably a lot smarter than the doctors we have now. They used their brains not their prescription pads.

    And if they’d graduated from high school, they probably had a better general education than most people today with college degrees.

  26. robtbrown says:

    FrJim4321 says,

    Kids today don’t have to “duck and cover” for fear of nuclear explosions, but they have lock down drills. I wonder which is worse?

    I lived through the former, and it was no big deal-so I would say the latter is worse.

  27. acardnal says:

    I thought you were going dark?! You shut your blog down to pursue a more spiritual life I thought you said. Yet here you are. What’s up with that?

  28. chantgirl says:

    Supertradmum- Amen to cooking in cast iron! Fewer women of childbearing age would be anemic if people cooked in cast iron more often.

    As to the desire to live more simply, most of the big families that I know have had to do this to survive. They don’t live in the country, but they grow “victory gardens” in their backyards, the children wear hand-me-downs, they have fewer and older cars, they repurpose things, they have modest homes, and they work hard. Many, even if they wanted to, could not afford to send their children to Catholic school, so they homeschool. They live more “green” than many of the small families I know who have much larger houses, drive the newest and biggest SUVs, and drive their two children to endless activities.

    Ah, if I could find a few acres in the country with a church nearby that offered the EF, and a Chinese restaurant close too, I would be content.

  29. Good point about our country returning to 1910 substandard education. While Obama attempted to insult his pro-life opponents by claiming we wanted to bring the country back to the 1950’s, Obama on the other hand is well on his way to take us back even further, way beyond 1910. The gay marriage “evolution”of Obama is indeed “historic” we’ve never heard of institutional approval of sodomy since the Aztecs who also sacrificed innocent humans to their false gods and even earlier in history to the early Roman Emperors who invaded and pillaged territories wholesale.

  30. Skeinster says:

    There’s toothpaste in the 1908 Sears catalogue.
    Also, shampoo, face powder, eyebrow pencil and rouge.
    My 1918 Good Housekeeping is full of brand names you’d recognize, but no underarm deodorant yet.
    But the most striking thing about that magazine, which was of course aimed at the middle-class American housewife, is its sheer bulk. There are a lot of full and half-page ads in its 152 pages, but the stories and articles are usually several pages long and are set in about 8 pt. type.
    Compare that to the average women’s magazine of today and you are left with the conclusion that we’ve become illiterate- or maybe just rushed off our feet.

  31. Tradster says:

    I’m sure it is not meant the way it reads but the post talks about a 1913 car, immediately followed by 1910 statistics that includes “fuel for this car…etc.”. The implication of “this car” being the one just referenced, three years before it was made.

  32. I am always amazed to find out what life was like “back then”. Most of us will have a good idea of how the Church functioned back in the early 1900s, but I never really thought to touch on secular life “back then”. Times change, but the faith and history remains ever the same. One of Father Zuhlsdorf’s favourite quotes: “To be deep in History is to cease to be protestant”

    Also, I guess back then women wouldn’t need to worry about styling their hair like they do nowadays… they’d all be more concerned about what lace decorated chapel veil to wear! Oh, how times have changed.

  33. Jeannie_C says:

    Was your Mormon capital Cardston by any chance? It was the first city that came to my mind living in Alberta.
    I remember “the good old days” of the 70’s but wouldn’t want to go back to my wringer washer and clothesline. In the winter everything froze on the line, knuckles cracked and bled in the cold hanging things out. Sheets and towels would wrap around the line in the wind, sometimes I had to get a ladder and broom handle to untangle so I could bring the board stiff diapers in. I grew produce, too. Nowadays living in cities we can grow in community gardens, but risk having our veggies stolen. You don’t see kids playing outdoors unattended any longer, too risky. You definitely do not, ever, under any conditions leave your baby sleeping in a pram under a tree or on the verandah like we used to. The world has changed.

  34. sunbreak says:

    I liked reading the list for comparison purposes. Times have changed quite a bit.

    One of the most interesting things I saw was an exhibit in 2001 in the Detroit Historical Museum of letters that were written at the end of 1900 and placed in a time capsule. The “century box”, as it was called, was opened at the end of year 2000. The letters of the past were so hopeful for the future of Detroit and now, when you see what happened to the city, it makes you want to cry. At the end of the letter written by then-mayor William C. Maybury, there is one rather moving statement of hope for the future :

    “May we be permitted to express one hope – in our hearts – superior to all others – that whatever failures the coming century may have in store – in things material and temporal – you may realize that as a nation, people, and city, you have grown in righteousness for it is this that exalts a nation.”

  35. APX says:


    I was referring to Southern Alberta in general, which includes Cardston. It’s such a cool town to drive into at night. The Temple is built directly in the centre of the town, and in the dark, it literally glows white light and lights up the night sky from a far distance. I like Cardston. The people there are so nice and wave at you with all five fingers. I don’t understand why Mormons can still build nice temples, but we can only build ugly cathedrals now?

  36. Jeannie_C says:

    We can see the new Calgary Mormon temple from our kitchen window, far off in the distance. It, too, is lit up at night. We were given a guided tour when it opened by a Mormon neighbour and his wife. Very beautiful, built entirely from member donations. They are required to tithe, which explains their larger budget. Perhaps we’d have more money for nice things if we hadn’t had to pay out so much in lawsuits? It rankles me, that and the Vatican banking situation. So much for faithful stewardship. Too much “gimme” not enough “much obliged”.

  37. SegoLily says:

    Mamajen: I have lived among the Mormons in Utah for three decades. The live simply set is very much a sub-culture of this All American-Made Religion and is fading fast, IMHO. I would say many more are having none of this “live simply” business. McMansions, SUVs , trucks and lots of plastic surgery are more the norm and are aspired to. Have you studied LDS (Mormon) architecture? Their ward houses (1000s of them) and temples are SCHLOK on steroids. Mormon temples generally look like spaceships ready for takeoff. It’s a very wealthy, flashy religion, and is probably now the dominant religion in the West. Come, visit, and your impression of Mormons as quaint, homespun, bread-baking, pickling and quilting relics of a simpler age will be imploded .

  38. Ellen says:

    My grandfather only got to the 6th grade which was all his small rural community offered, but he was a self taught man and fiercely intelligent. He started his own successful small business and was a pillar of the church. He was the kind of man we need now.

  39. Midwest St. Michael says:

    Yes Ellen, we do need men like your grandfather (he reminds me of my grandfather on my dad’s side – grew up during the Depression).

    I think we need score upon score of men like your grandfather, Ellen.


  40. bookworm says:

    Re life expectancy: the lower figures of past centuries, i.e. 47 years in 1910, include not only much higher infant and child mortality but, probably, also a higher incidence of young women dying in childbirth. Pregnancy-related conditions that are easily preventable or manageable today, such as eclampsia and Rh incompatibility, used to kill thousands of babies and mothers. In fact, much of the so-called population explosion of the 20th century was due not to higher birth rates but to rapidly declining death rates as medical care, vaccination against disease and sanitation improved. The notion of 2.1 children per woman as a “replacement level” birth rate assumes that practically every child born will live to adulthood. In a society with high infant and child mortality, that figure would be higher; in places like Haiti or Bangladesh where a woman can expect to lose half or more of the children she bears, 4 or 5 children per woman would be a bare “replacement level” birth rate — something the aggressive population control promoters overlook.

  41. AndyMo says:


    Dozen Eggs = 14 cents
    Average Hourly Pay = 22 cents

    Today, eggs would cost $15.20 a dozen, given the current average hourly pay of $23.89 / hour.

  42. JonPatrick says:

    Just in my own life (born in 1949) I’ve seen a lot of changes.

    My mother’s parents lived their whole life in a house in England with no running hot water. Every Friday Nanny (as we called her) built a coal fire in the kitchen fireplace which heated the water in a tank over said fireplace and everyone had their weekly bath. She never had a refrigerator and shopped every day at the grocers in the village.

    We never had a phone until we moved to the US (Boston) when I was 11. I remember my parents making along distance call to England. You called the operator then she called back a while later when there was a free circuit. It was $12.00 for 3 minutes, a lot of money in 1961 when you could buy a week’s groceries for less than $20.

  43. A couple of numeric monetary facts to give some perspective on the monetary facts cited in Father’s article:

    “In America for most of the 19th century we had a gold/silver standard. In the 67 years before and leading up to the beginning of the Federal Reserve system in 1913 the consumer price index (CPI) increased by 10 percent, and in the 67 years after 1913 the CPI increased 625 percent. This growth has accelerated since 1971 when Nixon ended any link to gold we had left.”

    “1833 the index of wholesale commodity prices in the US. was 75.3. In
    1933. just prior to our going off the gold standard, the index of
    wholesale commodity prices in the U.S. was 76.2: *a change in hundred
    years of nine-tenths of one percent*. The index of wholesale commodity
    prices in 1976 was 410.2. Today. the index is 612.3. For 100 years on
    the gold standard wholesale prices rose only nine-tenths of 1 percent.*
    In 45 years of paper money up to about 1981 they have gone up 536%.” (bold emphasis mine)

    In just the past month I saw a statistic that the price of a gallon of gasoline was, at the time, the same as it had been in the ‘teens or ‘twenties when priced in gold in both eras. Prior to the 1970 closing of the Fed’s “gold window” a Troy ounce of gold was valued at precisely $35 (US). A month ago the price of one ounce of gold was $1,680 (US). (bold emphasis mine)

    Having a currency redeemable in a precious commodity (gold, silver, etc.) is a tremendous barrier against high levels of inflation. The absence of such backing is an invitation to the government and the people to live above their means. And the enabling factor in the latter is government’s ability to disregard economic realities by means of inflation (which phenomenon is not the increase in the price of goods, but rather the increase in the quantity of currency or credit which has no fixed relation (i.e., is not fixed in value in terms of a durable and valuable commodity, whether that increase in quantity is accomplished by means of printing ‘greenbacks’ that are irredeemable in terms of a hard currency, or by making electronic entries into the accounts of the banks by the Treasury through the Federal Reserve System.

    This gives you some idea of what government has done to our money, with well-nigh disastrous results. Welcome to the real world!

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

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