Does your newspaper publish weekly reminders of our past? Mine does. One week they tell us what happened 25 and 75 years ago. The next week they give us the latest from 50 and 100 years ago. (They’ve been in business a looong time!) It’s always entertaining, and often eye-opening.
Here’s a stunner for you. Only twenty-five years ago one of our local hospitals phased in a total smoking ban for all visitors, employees, physicians, and patients. Up until then, smoking had been allowed in the coffee shop, in employee and physicians lounges, and in patient rooms (by the patient). And, this was the first hospital in our county to issue such a ban. Wow! Now the smoking ban is almost universal.
It’s so easy to forget the time-line of our more recent history. Have we always had zip codes in our addresses? Nope, that began fifty years ago. Our county, along with the nation, began using the Zoning Improvement Plan (ZIP, or course) in 1963.
Seventy-five years ago state police were happy with their crack-down on speeders. They were so happy, they began thinking of doing the same for the slow-pokes who bottled up traffic. There was no law setting a minimum speed, but they thought thirty miles an hour on main roads would be about right. They experimented with loud-speakers to install in the six hundred patrol cars. They hoped to develop a speaker that could be heard several miles down the road “to break up those traffic jams caused by beetle drivers by barking to them to speed up or get off the highway.” Don’t think that ever happened!
One hundred years ago, the circus came to town. In 1913 the Hagerbeck-Wallace Circus was the second largest in America (the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus was number one). There was a large crowd in town brought by trolley cars filled with people. Many others came by steam roads (whatever that is‑a misprint maybe?) and drove in. The streets were lined with people. Elephants and camels walked. Horses pulled brightly-colored wagons. There were a dozen cages filled with wild animals. Six (count them) beautiful women rode prancing steeds. There were four bands, and (let’s mention this again), a large number of ladies. Performers on horseback, funny clowns, and a steam calliope rounded out the parade that took several hours to pass through the city streets. Way before my time. I’d have been right there sitting on the curb, dreaming of joining the circus. What a glorious life! (Yeah, as a kid I did dream of the circus. Can’t remember actually seeing one, but I practiced my skill for months. I’d be a champion ball-bouncer. Hey, I was a kid, a young kid.)
How about you? Did any of these news items from the past spark a memory, a desire, a giggle?