This week and next, many will be doing retrospective looks at 2015. I thought it would be interesting and/or fun to take a look at 1915 instead.
Here are some events that took place in 1915:
While working as a cook at New York's Sloan Hospital under an assumed name, Typhoid Mary infected 25 people, and was placed in quarantine for life.
The Rocky Mountain National Park was established by an act of the U.S. Congress.
The United States House of Representatives rejected a proposal to give women the right to vote.
An act of the U.S. Congress designated the United States Coast Guard, begun in 1790, as a military branch.
The controversial film, The Birth of a Nation, directed by D. W. Griffith, premiered in Los Angeles.
In Washington, D.C. the first stone of the Lincoln Memorial was put into place.
NACA, the predecessor of NASA, was founded.
The U.S. submarine F-4 sank off Hawaii; 21 were killed.
Babe Ruth hit his first career home run off of Jack Warhop.
The RMS Lusitania was sunk on passage from New York to Britain by a German U-boat, killing 1,198.
U.S. Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan resigned over a disagreement regarding his nation's handling of the Lusitania sinking.
Guinn v. United States was decided by the Supreme Court of the United States, finding grandfather clause exemptions to literacy tests for voters to be unconstitutional.
The United States occupation of Haiti began.
Hurricane Two of the 1915 Atlantic hurricane season over Galveston and New Orleans left 275 dead.
The Pennsylvania Railroad began electrified commuter rail service between Paoli and Philadelphia, using overhead AC trolley wires for power.
Release of Inspiration, the first mainstream movie in which a leading actress (Audrey Munson) appears nude.
The Triangle Film Corporation opened its new motion picture theater in Massillon, Ohio.
Even though World War I had started the previous year, the United States would not enter the war until 1917.
The president was Woodrow Wilson, the vice president Thomas R. Marshall, and the chief justice Edward Douglass White.
Several famous people born that year were Zero Mostel, born Samuel Mostel, film and stage actor, Billie Holiday, born Eleanora Fagan, African-American jazz blues singer, Orson Welles, actor and director, Tasha Tudor, illustrator, and Frank Sinatra, singer and actor.
Among those who died that year were Ellen G. White, co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and Booker T. Washington, African-American educator.
Here are some interesting facts about everyday life in the USA in 1915:
The U.S. population was only 100,546,000. Today, our population is over 318,892,000!
The average life expectancy was about 53 years for men. Women lived an average of close to 57 years.
One out of every 10 babies died before their first birthday. For every 1,000 births, six mothers died during labor which, for the most part, took place at home.
A new Model T Ford could be purchased for only $440. This was the first year these cars were equipped with electric lights and they were available “in any color as long as it was black.”
There were about 2.5 million cars registered in the United States.
The first transcontinental phone call was made when Alexander Graham Bell, in New York City, called his assistant Dr. Watson, in San Francisco, on January 25th.
“Hello, Frisco” was the number one hit song by Olive Kline & Reinald Werrenrath. The song celebrated the first coast-to-coast long-distance telephone call and featured the sounds of a ringing telephone.
Corning Glass introduced the first glass ovenware made of a new, clear, heat-resistant material they named Pyrex.
Few homes had indoor plumbing. It took until 1940 for the number of homes with complete indoor plumbing to reach 55%.
Maytag added a gasoline engine to their washing machines for homes that did not have electricity.
Close to 60% of children were enrolled in school.
Only 13% of the students earned a high school diploma.
The yearly median household income was $687.
The average costs for these items were:
- Round steak sold for 23 cents a pound.
- Eggs cost 34 cents per dozen.
- Milk was 35 cents per gallon.
- A loaf of bread was 7 cents.
- Coffee sold for 30 cents per pound.
- A ten pound bag of potatoes cost only 15 cents.
- Gasoline prices rose to 25 cents per gallon.
- A first class postage stamp sold for 2 cents.
- Houses were only $3,200.00.
What did union workers earn?
- Carpenters could make up to 65 cents an hour.
- Painters and structural iron workers made up to 70 cents an hour.
- Plumbers were up to 75 cents an hour.
- Bricklayers earned as much as 87.5 cents an hour.
The price of silver was at $1.29 per ounce and gold was at $20.67 per ounce.
Sears sold kit homes in their catalogs. For instance, you could purchase their two-story, seven room “Phoenix” model for only $1,271.00. The kit had all the materials needed to build the house, including paint.
Can you imagine living today without a bathtub, radio, TV or smart phone? As you can see, life has really changed a lot over the last 100 years! I would say it is probably the 100 year period that has seen everyday life change the most radically in human history. (Historians among my readership are, of course, welcome to correct me on that.)
One of my New Years "Revolutions" for 2016 is that I will rarely, if ever, be posting to this blog. My longtime readers have undoubtedly noticed that the frequency of my posting has dropped off steadily. The way teaching is going nowadays requires me to spend much more time on a computer, and so the thought of coming home and spending the hour or two that it takes to put together a decent blog post is at best unappealing. Also I am nearing the 20-year mark on doing "iv's," over 10 of those years on my blog already! Read: doing iv's for 1/5 of the past 100 years and blogging for 1/10 of those 100 years! There are many things in life that are simply more attractive to me at this juncture.
Never fear — I will leave my blog online for archival purposes. There's 10 years worth of humor here — almost 750 posts on myriad topics! You can find humor on those various topics either by looking using the alphabetical "tag cloud" in the right-hand sidebar of the blog, clicking on a topic, or by doing keyword searches in the search feature at the top of the sidebar. Like Dorothy's ruby slippers, they have been there the whole time. There's no need to unsubscribe from anything. If you leave things in place, you won't miss it if/when I make any additions to my blog.
I would love to continue to receive the funny things you readers send me. Who knows, in a fit of nostalgia or creativity, I might just do the occasional post. I am also going to open the comments to all the posts for the sake of those who stumble upon my blog in years to come.
I look forward to your reactions to any of the factoids from 1915 or to my retirement from blogging. Many thanks to those who have stuck with me all 20 years!
"The law reveals just how sinful I am and actually excites my sinfulness." — Drew Conley
I’m always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page document to which I am certain I had made no changes.
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