Written by Christy Trent:
Another year has come and gone. The older I get the quicker the years appear to pass! It seems like just yesterday we inaugurated a new President, we followed the terrifying and then hoax filled story of the balloon boy, we watched stocks collapse and rebound, and we've tracked our local Bengal’s Pro football team to a winning season and on to the play offs. There have been so many world and life changing events in just a year.
When the year 2000 closed out and 2001 began we embarked on a new century. It's hard to believe we are already into the 10th year of that era. A look back into the 20th century helps us to see how far our country has come and how far we still have to go. The book, America's Century: Year by year from 1900 to 2000, by DK Books, is a historical map of the good, the bad and the ugly events of that time frame.
To start off the century, in 1900 a flood of immigrants streamed through Ellis Island at a rate of 100 an hour. Immigration reform was widely called for even back then due to lack of jobs and health care issues. 8,000 automobiles cruised the nation's roads and over 4 billion cigarettes were rolled for American smokers.
In the early 1900's Henry Ford sold his first Model A car for $850, film producers were told to clean up their act with a movie, The Widow Jones, for showing a 20-second kiss, and International Paper Company produced disposable wax cups known as Dixie cups.
The 1920’s saw the organization of a new company, I.B.M., that made computations by using a card with holes punched in it. Mae West was arrested for “moving her navel up and down” in a play and a small money-losing radio company was purchased and renamed CBS.
The years to follow were much harder for our country. Unemployment was at an all time high of 4 to 5 million. President Hoover called for a $500 million emergency reconstruction program to help rebuild businesses. The Social Security Act was signed by President Roosevelt in the latter part of the 1930’s.
On the lighter side, in 1935 the Cincinnati Reds were the first major league team to host a night game. In 1936 Shirley Temple was the box-office queen at the age of 8 and Bugs Bunny made his debut in 1940.
History continued to repeat itself over the following decades. Presidents were elected. Wars were fought. Movie stars died. Technology grew by leaps and bounds starting with the new computer in 1946 that weighed 30 tons! Sports continued to break records and boundaries with Jackie
Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball in 1947. Elvis, whom critics called “unspeakably untalented and vulgar,” rocked America in the 1950’s and kids in the US went crazy for hula hoops.
It seems our fairly young country has seen it all and then some. How exciting it is to think there is still so much more to discover in the century stretching ahead of us. Head over to your local library and pick up this book or others describing our past in this great country we call home.
Free lance writer and employee of the Dayton Metro Library.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org