How Things were in the Past


Living in the Past: Then and Now | The Year 1903

Living in the Past: Then & Now
By: Candice Clarke

You have a big date this Saturday. Thank goodness Friday is payday! Every weekend it seems like dating puts a large dent in your wallet. A movie with popcorn and soda alone costs at least $30 these days (This was written in 2003, it costs more now!). Not to mention a bouquet of flowers or filling your tank to pick your date up in style. Have you ever wondered how the cost of dating has progressed over the years? Keep reading and check out the progression of costs over the decades.

1927 - Charles Lindbergh has taken flight and the Yankees have defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series. Robert and Mary have been "courting" for a few weeks now. He sent her a love letter with a two-cent stamp and bought her a new jazz record for 39 cents. Last Saturday they danced the night away at the ballroom after paying the $1 entrance fee. They won their money back and then some when they won $10 in the dance contest. Tonight they are planning on attending the first "talkie" film ever, The Jazz Singer starring Al Jolson, for 40 cents each. For such a big event Robert bought himself a new suit for $15.85 and Mary a $40 raccoon coat.


1952 - Television is all the rage, but right now they cost an expensive $99. The price is worth it to see Jackie Gleason and The Honeymooners. James saved up money from his summer painting job where he makes $15/day. He just bought a 1950 Ford Convertible for $1,400 and is planning on picking Linda up tonight to see the new musical, Singin' in the Rain. Linda was just paid $50 for the week as a counter girl and spent $17 on a new dress and shoes for their date tonight. James has the Ford filled with gas (42 cents/gallon), bought a pack of cigarettes for a quarter, and is ready to spend five dollars at the theatre so Linda can also get some popcorn.

1977 - It's been a monumental year. Elvis Presley died and Roots was shown on television. Things have also become a little more expensive. Stamps have shot up to 13 cents and gas is now $2/gallon. Michael is studying to be an accountant so he can make a hefty $15,000/year. His girlfriend, Jennifer, is working as a typist. She brings home close to $120 each week, which helps with their rent of $185 a month. Times have changed and they are happy that they can live together without causing too much of a fuss. Money is tight, but they were able to splurge $3 on movie tickets to see the new blockbusters, Saturday Night Fever and Star Wars.


This is interesting. Didn't realize the last 100+ years made such a difference.

It's 2003 (added in 2003) - Bob Hope just died at the age of 100. It's time to revisit where we were a century ago. This ought to boggle your mind.

The year is 1903, one hundred plus years ago... what a difference a century makes. Here are the U. S. statistics for 1903....

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

Only 14% of the homes in the U.S. had a BATHTUB.

Only 8% 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 10 mph.

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 populous state in the Union.

The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower.

The average wage in the U.S. was $0.22/hour.

The average US worker made between $200-$400/year.

A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000/year, a dentist $2,500/year, a veterinarian between $1,500-$4,000/year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000/year.

More than 95% of all BIRTHS in the U.S. took place at HOME.

90% 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 $0.04/pound. Eggs were $0.14/dozen.
Coffee cost $0.15/pound.


Most women only washed their HAIR once a month and 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 US were:
1. Pneumonia & influenza
2. Tuberculosis
3. Diarrhea
4. Heart disease
5. Stroke

The American flag had 45 stars. Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Hawaii and Alaska hadn't been admitted to the Union yet.

The population of Las Vegas, Nevada was 30.

Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and iced tea hadn't been invented.

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

One in ten U.S. adults couldn't read or write.

Only 6% of all Americans had graduated from HIGH SCHOOL.

Coca Cola actually contained cocaine.

Marijuana, heroin and morphine were all available over the counter at corner drugstores. 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."

18% 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 US.

Just think what it will be like in another 100 years.

It boggles the mind.

Added December 17, 2003, Addition (top) September 17, 2004

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