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1910 tough for

While some of us wax nostalgic now and then, I don't think anyone wants to return to the conditions that existed at the turn of the century.

In 1910, the U.S. population was 92.4 million; currently, it's more than 303.8 million. The average woman in 1910 lived to the ripe old age of 51.8 years of age and men 48.4. Is it any wonder that people frequently married young? The average woman now lives to 80.1 years of age and men 74.8 years of age.

The average salary in 1910 was $750 a year; now the average annual income for Americans is $34,140. A twelve day vacation cruise cost $60; a similar cruise today, about $2,200. A gallon of milk cost 32 cents; now the average cost is over $3. Henry Ford's Model T cost $345 in 1914; the cost of a car now: just under $17,000. The divorce rate in 1910 was 1 in 1000, now, 4.95 in 1000.

Disease was rampant. Typhus and tuberculosis were a serious threat to many Americans. Many women and children perished during childbirth. Most children were birthed at home as opposed to hospitals.

In 1910, 60 percent of the population lived in a town of fewer than 2500 or less. There was no income tax, no social security, no unemployment insurance and no public housing for the elderly or the handicapped. About 33 percent of Americans were farmers or farm laborers. Today, that figure has fallen to just two percent.

The average work week in 1910 included six, twelve hour days. Only Sunday was reserved for worship and rest. There were few unions and working conditions in most factories were deplorable and decidedly unsafe.

Most factories and mines employed children at paltry wages in especially dangerous jobs. The phrase "grease monkey" described the job of climbing high above open running machinery to grease the open bearings of the day. Young children, adept at climbing were often employed in that capacity. Many became victims that were literally consumed by factory machinery below when they fell.

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