A Story Worth Telling

Sorry I have not blogged in a while. I’ve been busy visiting relatives, vacationing, hanging with friends…. Wait. That’s just not true. While I thoroughly enjoy lying, I’m sure you will see through that one. Sigh.

Below is an article written by a sweet (more or less), kind (sure), talented (ubetcha), man with a wonderful wife (his redeeming trait), named Don Deline. His daughter gifted Don and his wife with Story Worth. It’s a super cool idea where you purchase a subscription and once a week, the site will send you a writing prompt. At the end of the year, they capture the stories and memories, and bind them up in a book like the ones you get on Shutterfly. https://www.storyworth.com/

I think Don did an exemplary job with the prompt below. Don—a retired, salty sea dog, lawyer from the Pentagon type, who may or may not know where all the bodies are buried—did his homework for this one. Match Don’s pour into his ever-present glass of brandy and enjoy a sample of his writing below.

Here’s to making beautiful memories.

How is life different today compared to when you were a child?

Don Deline, April 22, 2020

As you know, when we were kids there was a polio epidemic and mom and dad sent Pat and me to the lake to get us out of the city. Like the COVID19 pandemic we’re all in today, Polio was rampant and mainly in the cities. In 1952 when I was 9, 38,000 people contracted polio in America alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In 2012, there were fewer than 300 reported cases of polio in the entire world. For that matter, a flu pandemic (Spanish Flu) in 1918 infected 500 million people and killed well over 50 million according to a report I saw. In his book “The Great Influenza”, John Barry described the illness as if “someone were hammering a wedge into your skull just behind the eyes, and body aches so intense they felt like bones breaking.” Today, you can go to Safeway and get a flu shot. It costs $15 or less. You might feel a little poke.
    When I was a kid in 1950, life expectancy was 68, up from 39 in 1800. Today, they say we should expect to live to 79. I got two more years. YAH!
    In 1950, 23 people per 100,000 died in automobile crashes. We have millions of more cars today and they travel faster but because of things like seat belts and better control, there are only 11 people per 100,000 accidents that die today.
    In Popular Mechanics magazine in the 60s they made the bold prediction that someday a computer could weigh less than a ton. ipads now weigh .73 pounds.
    In 1900, J.P. Morgan was one of the first to install electricity in his home. In 1950 when I was 7, grandma didn’t have electricity at the lake and she was part of the 30% of American homes that had not been electrified. By 1970 virtually all homes had electricity.
    Relative to hourly wages, the cost of an average new car has fallen fourfold since 1915. That is amazing seeing as cars then sold for less than $750 in most instances.
    When we took a vacation, dad spent days before we left mapping out our route. He would write down every road and every turn. My mother would sit next to him and watch the map along with his directions and tell him each turn to make. We frequently went on side excursions even with all this information. TODAY Google Maps is free. If you think about this for a few moments, it’s really astounding. It’s probably the single most useful piece of software ever invented, and it’s free for anyone to use.
    People talk about how expensive college is today, but a century ago (1920) fewer than one in 20 Americans ever stepped foot in a university. College wasn’t an option at any price for some minorities because of segregation that your mother and I watched that went away in 1962.
    When my father was a little boy he used to follow the ice wagon pulled by a horse and beg for pieces of ice. Before he died, he owned multiple cars and used them to travel across the United States, thousands of miles. He flew across the Atlantic Ocean twice and back to visit is son, daughter-in-law and you, his granddaughter. He traveled by ship once along with my mother in complete comfort.
    Incomes have grown so much faster than food prices that the average American household now spends less than half as much of its income on food as it did in the 1950s. Relative to wages, the price of food has declined 90% in the last 100 years.
    More than 40% of adults smoked in 1965. By 2011, only 19% did.
    In 1900, 44% of all American jobs were in farming. Today, around 2% are, and yet we produce more than we can consume.
    In 1975, the average American car got 13 miles per gallon. By 2013, the average was 26 miles per gallon.
    The percentage of Americans age 65 and older who lived in poverty has dropped from nearly 30% in 1966 to 10% 2010. Not good enough but trending in the right direction.
    In 1900, 65% of men over age 65 were still in the labor force. By 2010, that figure was down to 22%. Half a century ago, most Americans worked until they died.
    More contemporary. The cost of solar panel has declined by 75% since 2008. Last I checked, the sun is still offering its services for free.
    As recently as 1950, nearly 40% of American homes didn’t have a telephone. Today, there are 500 million internet-connected devices in America, or enough for 5.7 per household.
    According to AT&T archives, and the Dallas Fed, a three-minute phone call from New York to San Francisco cost $341 in 1915 and $12.66 in 1960. Today, Republic Wireless offers unlimited talk, text and data for $5 a month.
    You need an annual income of $34,000 a year to be in the richest 1% of the world, according to World Bank economists in 2010. To be in the top half of the globe, you need to earn just $1,225 a year. For the top 20%, it’s $5,000 per year. Enter the top 10% with $12,000 a year. To be included in the top 0.1% requires an annual income of $70,000. America’s poorest are some of the world’s richest.
    I guess I am a little tired of the gloom and doom of politics and anti-American critics. We are going pretty well, thank you, and during the past 75 or 80 years, we have watched about 20 socialist countries end up in revolution and poverty. I believe we have the best of the best and should be proud of our country and our achievements. The changes I have seen in my short life, are unequaled in the history of the world.

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