Did You Know?

Raymond Powell

What a difference a century can make in our lives and particularly in the prices of things. In 1918 the U.S. was in WWI with many of its young men in battle with their lives on the line while combating the Germans; but there was another enemy taking thousands of lives. This enemy was very similar to today’s Chinese Virus. Known as the Spanish Flu, this virus killed thousands of people all over the world. An uncle in WWI told of carrying bodies of the dead soldiers and stacking them by state on the railroad platform in New Jersey to be put in boxcars to be shipped to their homes for burial. It is very interesting to compare the difference in the attitude of this present virus and the few deaths experienced so far in comparison to the thousands of deaths due to a similar flu in 1918.

But let’s get back to the main emphasis of this article, which is the differences in the cost of things from 1918 to 2020. Here are some actual statistics for the year 1918:

Life expectancy for men was 47 years. Of course many lived longer but this was the average age expectancy of men. The women lived slightly longer.

Fuel for cars sold for 11 cents per gallon and was sold in drug stores not service stations. Kerosene (coal oil) used for lamps to provide light to study at night sold for 10 cents per gallon at hardware stores.. Each household had a small metal can and the store had a 50 gallon container with a little hand pump to fill your can.

Only 14 percent of the homes had a bathtub. Even some of these did not have running water but tubs were filled with buckets of water from the well or cistern.

Telephones were very rare with only 8 percent of the homes having them. Most calls went to a central operator who connected you to the person being called. This was about the time radios came into use with rural radios using three batteries for power. Only certain programs were turned on those probably being the news, Lum and Abner, & etc.

The maximum speed for automobiles in towns was 10 m.p.h. On rural roads the cars would stop and let the wagons pass by to prevent the mules from getting excited and running away.

The average U.S. worker made 22 cents per hour and farm labor was less or about $1.50 per day. A few years later when the C.C.C. program started in the 1930’s the boys got $11.00 a month and this was sent to his parents.

Sugar cost four cents a pound and coffee fifteen cents a pound. Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.

Surprising to most people today is that two out of every ten adults could read and write and only six percent had graduated from high school. Even more surprising only ten percent of doctors had a college and post training degree. More than 95 percent of all births took place at home.

But perhaps the strangest figure of all of these was that the population of Las Vegas, Nev. was only 30 people.

The above trivia doesn’t help us at the store today but it is interesting for reflection. Most of us will take today’s prices and be happy we are living in these modern times.

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