Oh, Times They Sure Are A’Changing; When Was America So Great?

So Donald Trump wants to make America Great Again, huh?

When was America as “great” as the future President wants it to be once again?

Let’s look back and see how things were working “back then.”

How about if we go back 100 years? How about that?

Let’s make a few comparisons, shall we?

In 1915,  the average American life expectancy was 47 years.  In 2015 it was 78.8 years. Score one for now.

Back in 1915, more than 95 percent of all births in the United States took place at home. By comparison, in 2012, the percentage was below 2 percent. As a mom of three, I have to score this one as a win for the present, too.

A hundred years ago, most women washed their hair about once a month, using Borax or egg yolks. If you have hugged any woman, for any reason, in the past ten years, you’ll give this one a win for now, too.

OK, I’ll admit some things were much better 100 years ago. For example, the price of sugar was 4 cents a pound, and coffee was only 15 cents a pound. Sounds good, huh?

Except that if you make a comparison of salaries, maybe it wasn’t as great as it sounds. For example, a mechanical engineer made about $5,000 per year, and the average wage was 22 cents an hour.  I guess you couldn’t really buy that much coffee and sugar on that salary, could you?

On the other hand, back in 1915, you could buy marijuana, heroin and morphine over the counter at any local pharmacy. This was also the place to go to buy fuel for your automobile. Not sure which time wins this one…

So. Wow.

Was America really so great back then? Should we be yearning to go back to those glory days?

Let’s leave it with these thoughts.

The percentage of illiterate Americans was at about 20 percent. While the number is still far too high, the latest statistics are below 15 percent. Back then, only about six percent of American had graduated from High School. Now, the number is at about 81 percent.  A big win for NOW.


I guess “Make America Great Again” needs a little bit of clarification. “Great” as in, when? Huh?

You can see the whole comparison below.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons.


Karen is a retired elementary school teacher with many years of progressive activism behind her. She is the proud mother of three young adults who were all arrested with Occupy Wall Street. To see what she writes about in her spare time, check out her blog at "Empty Nest, Full Life"