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July 12, 2002

From Kit Norman Froebel, ‘way down yonder in the heart of Texas, here are some things to ponder, all under the general heading of “What a Difference a Century Makes.” These are some U.S. statistics from 1902:

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

Only 14 percent of the homes in the U.S. had a bathtub.

Only 9 percent of the homes had a telephone. A three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost $11.

There were only 8,000 cars in the U.S. and only 144 miles of paved roads.

The maximum speed limit in most cities was ten miles per hour.

Alabama, Mississippi, Iowa and Tennessee were each more heavily populated than California. With a mere 1.4 million residents, California was only the 21st most populated state in the nation.

The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower.

The average wage in the U.S. was 22 cents an hour.

The average U.S. worker made between $200 and $400 per year.

A competent accountant could expect to earn $2,000 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 in the U.S. took place at home.

Ninety percent of all U.S. physicians had no college education. Instead, they attended medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press and by the government as “substandard.”

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

Most women only washed their hair once a month and they used borax or egg yolks for shampoo.

Canada passed a law prohibiting poor people from entering the country for any reason.

The five leading causes of death in the U.S. were: (1) pneumonia and influenza; (2) tuberculosis; (3) diarrhea; (4) heart disease; and (5) stroke.

The U.S. flag had 45 states. Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Hawaii and Alaska had not yet been admitted to the Union.

The population of Las Vegas, Nevada, was 60.

Crossword puzzles, canned beer and iced tea had not been invented.

There were no Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.

One in ten U.S. adults could not 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 corner drug stores. According to one pharmacist, “Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and the bowels and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health.”

Eighteen percent of households in the U.S. had at least one full-time servant or domestic.

There were only about 230 reported murders in the entire U.S.