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What a Difference 100 Years Can Make!

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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34 Comments on “What a Difference 100 Years Can Make!”

  1. #1 Anna Faye
    on Dec 28th, 2015 at 11:32 am

    I remember when I worked full time in the admin 15 years ago sitting at my desk and having your iv emails come through. What a fun break to read, chortle, and share. We still can’t see a sign typo without feeling like we ought to take a pic and send it to you. Thanks for all the work you did to give us all an “instant vacation!”

  2. #2 Rob
    on Dec 28th, 2015 at 11:34 am

    Thanks for your kind words, Anna Faye! I will miss the interactions that my postings have brought about, but I will enjoy the freedom from the guilt of not having posted for a month.

  3. #3 Dan Sehested
    on Dec 28th, 2015 at 11:56 am

    I noticed that the time in between posts was quite long. We’ve enjoyed the posts through the years. Thank you.

  4. #4 Rob
    on Dec 28th, 2015 at 11:59 am

    Thanks, Dan. You and Lyn have been following me for a while, for sure.

  5. #5 Andy Bonikowsky
    on Dec 28th, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    Hey Rob,
    Thanks for sending these for so many years. I wasn’t able to look through every one, but did enjoy many of them! I’ll miss them.

  6. #6 Rob
    on Dec 28th, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    Thanks, Andy! You’ve been there through many of those years.

  7. #7 Betty Lacey (France)
    on Dec 28th, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    Ah… Makes me sad to know that another source of good, clean and enjoyable humor will come to an end, but I think I understand! Thanks Rob for your faithfulness all these years; you’ve had a great ministry to lots of missionaries!

  8. #8 Johann the PT
    on Dec 28th, 2015 at 12:38 pm

    Ach! Es tut mir leid. Another sign of our arrival at senior citizen status…giving up projects rather than taking them on. Just in the last year, I finally threw out my notes from med. school. I’m never going through them again, plus they are outdated. I agree with you…use that time for better things, like holding grandchildren! God’s blessing on your new year!

  9. #9 Rob
    on Dec 28th, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    Thanks for your kind words, Betty. I had no idea you were still following my posts.

    It’s the Lord who has been faithful all these years. And lots of missionaries have had a great ministry to me. If not for your Dan, I have no idea what my life would look like now. He claimed he did little but listen to me, but it was those conversations with him as we did door-to-door ministry that changed the course of my life in several areas. His being a willing listener and his asking appropriate, thought-provoking questions helped me to see what was really going on in my heart. I will be eternally grateful to him for those interactions.

  10. #10 Rob
    on Dec 28th, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    Danke, Johann! Holding them grandbabies is part of the mix, for sure. But I am also launching into an adventure in ministry, and I have no idea at this point what kind of time that will involve. I’m trying to be careful on social media to say little about it until I know the details more fully. Old age isn’t for wimps, but it’s also potentially a very fruitful time in our lives. Thanks for your friendship through the decades and for allowing me to have input into the lives of several of your children. I say with George Bailey, “It’s a Wonderful Life!” And I am blessed beyond my comprehension.

  11. #11 Elva Farrell (France)
    on Dec 28th, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    We have enjoyed your posts over the years. And I think it has been all 20 of them. May the Lord bless you as you continue elsewhere.

  12. #12 Rob
    on Dec 28th, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    I think you are undoubtedly right, Elva. Many of you missionary friends, along with family and other friends, were among the first recipients of my e-mails. It’s been great to follow you and Mike through this exciting stage of life in your letters and on Facebook.

  13. #13 Ila Holloway
    on Dec 28th, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    Now that we are facing a period of technical “backsliding” some of these historical “conveniences” seem desirable. . . like a gasoline washing machine. In an ice storm aftermath 8 years ago we were without electricity for almost 2 weeks. It was a cold December so I dressed up in my ski suit and read books by my kerosene lamp. The temperature in my house was 42 degrees when my kids demanded that I migrate to the farm and enjoy their wood heat.

    I shall miss your amusing input. BJ produced my pastor/teacher of almost 50 years.

    Thanks for the Memories, as the song goes.

  14. #14 Rob
    on Dec 28th, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    Aww know, Ila! When people talk about “the good ol’ days,” I ask myself how good they actually were. We have become so pampered by our modern conveniences that many would not know how to function, as you did. I guess our camping has helped us know better how to survive without power, etc. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  15. #15 Barbara H.
    on Dec 28th, 2015 at 3:00 pm

    I’m sorry to hear you won’t be blogging much, if at all, any more. I’ve enjoyed ivman even when it came by e-mail subscription. I’ve “borrowed” several items for our ladies’ newsletter. 🙂

    I do hope you’ll be able to pop in every now and then. You don’t have to have half a dozen funny photos or 20 items in a list to make a post – if you come across something funny you think we’d enjoy, feel free to share it even though it’s only one item.

    Best wishes with the new ministry venture, teaching, and grandparenting! 🙂

  16. #16 David McGuire
    on Dec 28th, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    That old adage that “all good things must come to an end” is a propos here. One thing that I always appreciated about reading “ivman’s blague” is that the humor usually reflected my own weird sense of humor. And when I was asked about Rob Loach one time, I said to the questioner that “ivman’s blague” was an acquired taste that one just kept coming back to. Thanks for the memories, Rob. 🙂

  17. #17 Rob
    on Dec 28th, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    Thanks, Barbara. I may do exactly what you suggest, but it will be nice not to feel like I’m not keeping a commitment when I find it hard to get motivated. Random and spontaneous will be my new posting schedule.

  18. #18 Rob
    on Dec 28th, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    Thanks, David, for explaining me so aptly to the uninitiated. 😀 Many good memories!

  19. #19 Barb Corey
    on Dec 28th, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    What an accomplishment. Twenty years of entertaining us! Thank you! Will be praying for your new ministry venture.

  20. #20 Ronnie Cox
    on Dec 28th, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    Will miss you, see you soon I hope !

    Steve’s Auto

  21. #21 Rob
    on Dec 28th, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    Thanks, Barb! It’s kind of mind-boggling to think that I’ve been at this almost 20 years! It’s especially amazing to think how few people I have offended over the years. 🙂

  22. #22 Rob
    on Dec 28th, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    Thanks, Ronnie. You will be seeing me very soon.

  23. #23 Marilyn
    on Dec 28th, 2015 at 6:01 pm

    “Random and spontaneous” sounds just fine to me but “rarely if ever” is sadly isolating. Every iv post has been a treat to receive. We married in 1969 – Greenville was having a gas price war down to 20c a gallon sometimes. But even at 22-25c it was a blessing for all of us pinching our pennies.

  24. #24 Anna Turner
    on Dec 28th, 2015 at 8:37 pm

    How many times we laughed until we cried reading your instant vacation comments. The secondary authors was known for crazy stories and comments, but you brought us to a new level. Even as a teacher, you enlarged my day and often lightened the load. Thank you for all the moments of joy.

  25. #25 Steve Coon
    on Dec 28th, 2015 at 9:45 pm

    Well, brother, I sure can’t blame you, but we will miss the lift you often gave us!

    Steve & Karen

  26. #26 Rob
    on Dec 28th, 2015 at 10:05 pm

    Thanks, Marilyn, for taking the time to comment. Glad you enjoy my posts.

  27. #27 Rob
    on Dec 28th, 2015 at 10:06 pm

    You are most welcome, Anna. Your laugh is contagious.

  28. #28 Rob
    on Dec 28th, 2015 at 10:08 pm

    Thanks, Steve. You get the occasional “lift” from me personally. As I recall, you do your share of lifting my spirits with some of your e-mails and texts. 🙂

  29. #29 Marla Stiger
    on Dec 28th, 2015 at 10:20 pm


    Always enjoyed your blog, but really enjoyed talking to you a Becca at the church the other week. What a blessing…..when you get back this way, let me know and I would love to have you over to do some reminiscing. Told Jean Longacre I had seen you and she wished she could have as well. Maybe we could get a few people together and just enjoy catching up.

    May you have a blessed New Year!


  30. #30 Rob
    on Dec 28th, 2015 at 10:38 pm

    Thanks, Marla. We really enjoyed seeing you too! Our trips up north having been taking us either to BG to see Mom or to the Detroit area to visit Megan and her family. We would enjoy getting together on a future trip.

  31. #31 Vikki
    on Dec 29th, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    I’ve read all of your posts over the years. They will definitely be missed. ;( Thanx for all the great postings, smiles and belly laughs!

  32. #32 Teri OConnor
    on Dec 29th, 2015 at 10:41 pm

    Ah, Rob…so many memories of working together in the store during the summers…your blogs and IV’s have kept those memories alive and brought such joy and so many chuckles….God Bless you in your new endeavors. And, thank you so much for the years of fun facts and laughter!


  33. #33 Jonathan
    on Dec 30th, 2015 at 5:31 am

    Appreciate all the great laughs. Especially all the LOL moments.

  34. #34 Rob
    on Dec 30th, 2015 at 7:50 am

    Vikki, Teri, and Jonathan, thanks for your comments. I will miss posting, but in some ways, I’ve been missing it a lot lately anyway. 🙂