Who’s Teaching Your Children?

The Book of the Week is “Who’s Teaching Your Children?” by Vivian Troen and Katherine C. Boles, published in 2003.

This book describes the ominous future of education in the United States.  There is a dire teacher shortage which is slated only to get worse.  A vicious cycle accounts for this trend.  The authors ask, is it not a contradiction that parents demand quality teachers in their children’s schools but discourage their children from becoming teachers?

A large percentage of graduates who enter the teaching profession are not good students.  The ones who are, take more lucrative, rewarding jobs.  The teachers-to-be receive poor training.  For the most part, during their careers, they are underpaid and underappreciated.  No wonder the good students enter fields other than education.

Many teacher-training schools are for-profit institutions that need to fill seats to stay in business.  Therefore, in order to attract customers (graduates) they need to make obtaining teaching certification sufficiently easy.  “Grade inflation” (awarding higher grades than customers truly deserve in order to pass some customers who would otherwise fail) is one way they do so.

The authors present a scenario of their imagination, named, “The Millennium School.”  It is an elementary school that doubles as a teacher-training school, with a structure completely different from the usual American school’s.  It would be a small school with small classes, consisting of chief instructors “who supervise professional teachers, who supervise the teachers and associate teachers, who participate in supervising interns and instructional aides.”

Everyone on the team would be accountable for each child’s success or failure. The personnel would conduct classes and hold meetings as teams.  The school would be linked to a college, which would allow the teacher-trainees to fulfill the student-teaching component of their training, in teams.

I think the authors make exaggerated claims of such a school’s possible success, although it is a nice idea.  I like the team-teaching part.  However, the whole point is that power is distributed among many educators– they are supposed to cooperate, share ideas, and be rewarded with higher pay, more responsibilities and supervisory duties when they display an interest in advancing their careers. However, to me, this smacks of a corporate ladder.  Human nature is such that the ladder would spur competition rather than cooperation.  That would defeat the whole goal.

In addition, a school is a different sort of entity because it is funded by taxpayers. The kinds of operations a private company might fund for itself would not be possible for a school, due to a limited budget. There is an exception to this situation– in certain areas of this country, schools receive private monies from wealthy donors, making distribution of resources hugely uneven among schools.  As for the well-endowed schools, the funders are not educators, so they may have misguided notions of where to spend their money.  The money might go toward additional standardized testing, resources that reward corporate partners and activities relating to public relations, rather than toward real improvement in education quality.

Further, the government supervises the school, so there are politics from above and within.  The authors acknowledge the Millennium School model would necessarily be more expensive, but they argue that this model would eliminate many non-teaching positions, such as “curriculum coordinators, staff developers, teaching coaches,” etc. The resulting reduced payroll expenses would compensate for the raises received by the teachers and supervisors.

I think raises in pay would be extremely controversial– who would receive how much.  Theoretically, employees who acquired additional experience would deserve more pay.  However, the expedient way to measure the increase in education quality due to that increased experience, would probably be through standardized tests– another extremely controversial aspect of teaching.

I would suggest that various criteria be used to determine additional compensation for supervisors and teachers, that could include tests, as well as qualitative evaluations of supervisors, completed by teachers and trainees, and interviews with students.  Although I give them an “A” for effort, the authors present too simplified a model of the ideal school.

This is an informative, yet depressing book.

60s

The Book of the Week is “60s!”– a book of pop cultural trivia, compiled by John and Gordon Javna, published in 1983.  Mostly happy topics are covered, such as American hobbies, cars, entertainment, and a bit of politics and drugs.  The book is visually appealing because it has plenty of black and white photos that show the youthful, revolutionary spirit of the era.  Interesting bits of trivia are interspersed with lists of things you didn’t know, and the decade’s “top tens” of each year.

In 1969, the 56-year old Richard Nixon received a father’s day gift of an inscribed surfboard from his daughters. He never used it.

Ford Motor Company had an electric car in the works, as car pollution was a concern.

Americans were wild about outer space, beauty contests, TV dinners, TV, secret agents, spies, comic books, The Beatles, rock and roll, monsters and trading cards.

New products included disposable diapers, fast typewriters, ready-to-eat cereals and prepared foods.

The Kennedy family was all the rage.  John aroused a national interest in reading, physical fitness, idealism, intellectualism, sex, youth, rocking chairs and antiques. He and Jackie were stylish, rich and glamorous.

One 60’s-era relic we consider ridiculous today– fallout shelters.

Some concepts became obsolete, such as the milkman and the rotary dial phone.

The 2000’s have ushered in a whole new slew of youthful, revolutionary pop cultural icons and sources of amusement.  Three decades from now, the current teenage generation will laugh at them.  Time will have rewritten every line.

To Kill A Tiger

The Book of the Week is the memoir, “To Kill a Tiger” by Jid Lee, published in 2010.  The author describes the extreme hardships (“tigers”) she endured growing up, due to the culture of her generation in South Korea.

After WWII, North Korean dictator Syngman Rhee and South Korean dictator Kim Il Sung both conducted witchhunts to root out political dissidents, torturing and killing them.  Kim was aided by the U.S. in his oppressive endeavors. The author’s father engaged in anti-government, pro-socialist activities as a college student, and as a consequence, was:  expelled from a prestigious university, tortured, imprisoned and forced to accept a lowly position teaching instead of “selling out” to become a high government official. Yes, this happened in South Korea.

The education system was based on rote learning. The author, born in 1955, unfortunately had trouble with memorization, and therefore did poorly in school.  Her two older brothers tutored her extensively to help her pass the admissions test that allowed her to attend a decent high school.  However, she failed her college admissions test– two eight-hour exam days– twice, and had to settle for a second-tier college a year later than her peers.

Since she was female, she was expected to help her mother with all the household chores in addition to attending school and studying, which meant she labored sixteen hours a day starting in middle school.  In her male-dominated world, during her teenage years, stress and anger were relieved through abuse heaped upon her by her father, older brothers, grandmother and mother.  She in turn rebelliously fought back against her mother and was mean to her younger sister.

There was extreme pressure for both genders to attend prestigious schools but the educational elitism for females merely served the purpose of “marrying well.” After college graduation, the daughters were supposed to enter into marriages arranged by their fathers, and be good wives and mothers.   Read the book to learn what has become of the author.

Sad Post

This message is for my Facebook friends:

Dear Facebook Friends,

I received the following email from Facebook:

“We have detected that your Facebook account is infected with a form of malware, or virus, called Koobface. You downloaded the virus after receiving a message from a friend, which invited you to view a video.”

I had not received any messages inviting me to view any videos. Regardless, FB then required me to take a quiz that was impossible to pass (to prove I was me), in order for me to log into my account again.

I have therefore decided to quit FB altogether.

You will be receiving personal messages from me via emails or through your websites.

If you wish to contact me, please leave comments here. I have been unable to receive all personal messages through FB in the past 2 days. If you have sent me any, please resend them through commenting here. Thank you very much. I am going to miss your posts.

Sincerely,

Sally

Walking on Walnuts

The Book of the Week is “Walking on Walnuts” by Nancy Ring, published in 1997.  This book is the career memoir of a pastry chef in New York City.  Ms. Ring discusses the uncertainty surrounding the fiercely competitive restaurant business in New York, and thus the attendant job insecurity of a pastry chef.  She discusses the details of the job– long hours, difficult bosses, hard work, and a hilarious episode in which The Fig Tree restaurant personnel were tipped off that a very influential restaurant reviewer, one Bette Brown, was to visit one night.

A woman fitting the reviewer’s description entered the eatery with her entourage.  She proceeded to complain about a draft at her table, then when moved, about being too close to the waiter’s station.  The bread basket caught fire from a candle on the table…  You can see where this is going– a long series of further mishaps, complaint-fodder for the fussy diner, “… who sarcastically asked Liz [the waitress] if she had graduated from high school.” Ms. Ring, who was also a waitress there at the time, witnessed Liz’s feisty temper flare as she finally told off the customer.

The supposed Ms. Brown confronted Carl, the restaurant owner, who, at the bar, was “… busy crying into his fourth double bourbon.” With the ‘don’t-you-know-who-I-am’ speech, she told off Carl, telling him her name.  It was not Bette Brown.  Carl was extremely relieved.  A good dining experience was had by the actual Bette Brown, who had been there earlier that evening.

This book contains not only entertaining anecdotes, but recipes, too.

BONUS POST

I am pleased to announce that my book:

“The Education and Deconstruction of Mr. Bloomberg, How the Mayor’s Education and Real Estate Development Policies Affected New Yorkers 2002-2009 Inclusive”

is out.

Please find below, the first page of the Table of Contents and a page of the Introduction. [Please excuse the wonky formatting]

Copyright © 2016 by Sally A. Friedman

CONTENTS

Introduction ……………………………………………………………………………….. 7

SECTION I

1 Education—Overview ……………………………………………………………….. 15

2 Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein …………………………………………………. 17

3 The Education Budget ……………………………………………………………… 21

4 Student Subgroups …………………………………………………………………. 42

5 What Did Your School Get? ………………………………………………………. 52

6 Propaganda ……………………………………………………………………………. 57

7 Reducing Class Sizes ……………………………………………………………….. 65

8 Small Schools …………………………………………………………………………. 73

9 Testing, Testing. One million. Two million. Testing, Testing. …………. 78

10 Unsafe At Any Rate . . . ………………………………………………………….. 87

11 Charter Schools and Culturally-Themed Schools………………………… 95

12 School Construction ……………………………………………………………… 109

13 Mayoral Control ……………………………………………………………………. 114

SECTION II

1 Rezoning and ULURP …………………………………………………………….. 121

2 Zoning Meetings ……………………………………………………………………. 127

3 Construction Woes …………………………………………………………………. 133

4 Self-Certification ……………………………………………………………………. 145

5 Deutsche Bank Building ………………………………………………………….. 148

6 Other Deadly Mishaps …………………………………………………………….. 153

7 Enforcement ………………………………………………………………………….. 160

8 Mr. Bloomberg’s Stadiums ……………………………………………………….. 167

9 Other Parks Projects ……………………………………………………………….. 176

10 Other Law-Skirting Projects ……………………………………………………. 182

11 Other Brooklyn Projects …………………………………………………………. 187

12 Atlantic Yards ………………………………………………………………………. 191

* * *

INTRODUCTION, p. 11

…making himself available to parents. The mayor performed the important tasks of negotiating with the unions, securing funding from the higher powers and making public relations appearances when there was good news to report.

I have observed that there were three recurring themes in Mr. Bloomberg’s modus operandi in both Education and Real Estate Development:

Theme 1: He was overly optimistic. As his various education initiatives and construction projects progressed, he routinely threw around and changed numbers on standardized test scores, graduation rates, school openings, school crime rates, construction costs, creation of jobs and affordable housing units, among others, and sometimes even distorted facts outright.

Theme 2: Time after time, Mr. Bloomberg asked for input from the community, or purported to, on new school openings and on construction of schools and other projects, but usually ended up hiring his cronies and ignored the community’s wishes.

Theme 3: He took advantage of legal loopholes or skirted around the law to forge ahead with his agendum.

His agendum was to acquire power. Why else did he take control of the schools and overturn term limits? It was not for the money. In November 2009, Mr. Bloomberg won his third-term election bid by a narrow margin, mostly because he was still viewed as a stronger candidate than the opposing one. His power and popularity were waning, however, rocked by various investigations in recent years, including a slush-fund scandal, and corruption and sloppiness in construction that led to fatal accidents, that resulted in the termination of decades-long unethical practices. Further, he was accused of being involved in various conflicts of interest and of being hypocritical on environmental and health issues.

Two farmyard clichés and one generic cliché also aptly describe many occurrences during the Bloomberg administration between 2002 and 2009:

Cliché 1: “Just another case of the fox guarding the henhouse”

Cliché 2: “Closing the barn door after the horses have already fled”

Cliché 3: “Do as I say, not as I do”

The above themes and clichés are so common in my text, that I refer to their generic names; i.e., I will use the blog style, for example, “File under Theme 1” or “File under Cliché 2” when providing evidence of same. Enjoy.


Copyright © 2016 by Sally A. Friedman

Bang the Keys

The Book of the Week is “Bang the Keys” by Jill Dearman, published in 2009.  This book tells writers how to identify the kind of writer they are, set goals and deadlines, find a writing partner, use writing journals, meditate, identify the type of story right for them and improve their writing through advice, exercises and sources of additional readings.

This book’s author is a writing instructor and a published writer herself. It has been her practice to pair up writers in her classes so that one serves as morale booster and advisor to the other.

Computers have changed the way writers write.  She cites Lee Siegel’s book, “Against the Machine:  Being Human in the Age of the Electronic Mob,” commenting that “Essentially, we are fast becoming a mean-spirited race of superficial idiots who are disconnected from each other and from ourselves, and can no long distinguish between gossip and news!”

Needless to say, finishing a piece of writing requires discipline.  Many modern writers become easily distracted by texting, emailing and surfing.  The author gives tips on marking goals on the calendar, setting aside writing time and imagining the kind of counsel one’s own favorite author would give about how to proceed and commit to a project.

The author provides a mnemonic device (P.L.O.T.W.I.C.H) to remind writers how to develop a strong plot:  Premise, Links, Obstacles, Transformation, Wants, Impediments, Conflict and Heat.  Overall, she discusses a general plan for writers denoted by the acronym B.A.N.G.:  Begin, Arrange, Nurture and Go. This is why she says, “Bang the Keys.”

Guilty Pleasures

The Book of the Week is “Guilty Pleasures” by Donald Barthelme, published in 1974; publisher – Farrar Straus and Giroux.  This is a collection of humorous essays.

In one essay, the author presents a whimsical scenario in which Amanda encounters her friend Hector playing all manner of board games simultaneously. He says, “…On the floor.  It was my move.  When I play alone, it is always my move.  That is reasonable.”  He tells Amanda that everyone is playing these games, including businessmen, military men and scientists. Amanda says she is tired of playing games.

Hector renews her enthusiasm by musing on various hypothetical games such as Contretemps, the Game of Social Embarrassment, and Hubris. He engages her in the verbal Game of Deathbed Utterances. She thinks the games are “marvelous… because they are so meaningless and boring, and trivial. These qualities, once regarded as less than desirable, are now everywhere enthroned as the key elements in our psychological lives, as reflected in the art of the period… ”

Then comes the title of this essay, “Games Are the Enemies of Beauty, Truth, and Sleep, Amanda Said.” Hector describes one last game, that of Ennui.  It requires “… No rules, no boards, no equipment… the absence of games… the modern world at its most vulnerable.”

Saving Schools

The Book of the Week is “Saving Schools” by Paul E. Peterson, published in 2010.  This book tells the history of education in the United States.  It presents some inconvenient facts many politicians and even education “professionals” do not want to acknowledge.

Sociologist James Coleman did extensive longitudinal studies on thousands of students in the early 1960’s.  He found that “within regions and types of communities (urban, suburban and rural), expenditures per pupil were about the same in black and white schools… students did not learn more just because more money was spent on their education.” Students’ reading ability was not affected by the following factors:  class sizes, teachers’ credentials, textbook newness, number of books in the school library, or any other “material resource of a school.” It was affected by the students’ home lives. Another interesting finding was that low-income African-Americans read better when placed in classes with higher-income Caucasians, but the latter did not do worse when placed in classes with the former.

During the era of desegregation of the schools, Caucasian families moved from cities to suburbs at a higher rate than did African-American families.  Suburban schools therefore became more segregated, and thus there occurred less integration than otherwise in all kinds of communities overall.

One of LBJ’s anti-poverty programs gave billions of federal dollars to schools to provide intensive tutoring to disadvantaged African American students.  Unfortunately, this singled the students out, and made them targets for bullying.  Besides, the tutors “often had less training” than regular classroom teachers.  Research has yet to prove that the tutoring was significantly helpful.

Some education reformers have called for hiring of teachers who lack a master’s degree, as extra schooling is no guarantee of better teaching. Teachers earned master’s degrees in droves in the 20th century only because they were paid more for earning one. Teacher-training schools and unions have vehemently opposed removing this teaching credential.

“…relative to other employees who hold college degrees, teachers today are not as well paid as they were in 1960.”

In 2008, federal education officials and a team at UCLA proposed national education standards.  However, the portrayal of the United States in historical accounts, and the selectivity of curricular contents turned out to be too controversial.

The book also exposes the flaws of George W. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” law.  It covers the pros and cons of school vouchers, and the system that has been widely implemented as an alternative to vouchers – charter schools.

The author obviously favors the use of technology with regard to education.  For, the table of contents bears the headings for parts 1, 2 and 3:  “The Rise,” “The Decline” and “Signs of Resurrection.”  The third part contains a chapter on technology.

The author speculates that the future of education will involve online learning for all students, even declaring: “Each student, each household, each family will pick and choose among the endless variety of options entrepreneurs can produce.”  The use of the word “entrepreneurs” is disturbing when used in the context of education.  The author makes other assertions with which I do not agree, but he does provide extensive documentation on matters of “fact.”

Four Books on History, Mostly NYC

(1) “McNamara’s Old Bronx” by John McNamara, published in 1989; (2) “Fifty Years on Fifth 1907-1957” by The Fifth Avenue Association, published in 1957; (3) “From Alley Pond to Rockefeller Center” by Henry Collins Brown, published in 1936, and (4) “Centenarians” by Bernard Edelman, published in 1999.

(1) This is a book of essays on Bronx history, dating from the 1950’s through the 1980’s. I relate the following trivia:

BATHHOUSES

At the bottom of 138th Street in Mott Haven, there were floating bathhouses. It was Ladies’ Night on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

One of the most majestic Public Baths opened in 1909 at Elton Avenue and E. 156th St. It boasted Roman architecture, with carved ornamentation and a copper roof. However, bathtubs in residences became widespread, and the baths have gone the way of many other businesses.

TRAGEDIES

There occurred many tragedies that are now just a blip in the annals of Bronx history.

In the mid-1850’s, it was trendy for rival steamboat lines to “drag race”. On July 28, 1852, two ships, the “Armenia” and the “Henry Clay” were having a drag race. The boilers of the Henry Clay exploded, causing a big fire, and passengers to be thrown off the boat. Many were trapped in the stern by smoke, so they jumped off the side and drowned. To add insult to injury, looters boated out to the scene and took whatever they could get from the flotsam, jetsam, victims, and finally the steamship itself. The criminal case involving the ship’s owners and officers was tried in Riverdale, then a part of the Bronx. They were acquitted. A few months later, the passing of the Steamboat Inspection Act outlawed racing.

In January 1882, the Tarrytown Express and the Atlantic Express trains crashed during a snowstorm. The reason is that someone pulled the emergency brake on the Atlantic, and it had to stop. There was no problem found. However, since it was exactly 13 minutes ahead of the Tarrytown, and going in the same direction, a brakeman was supposed to go out with signal lanterns to warn the Tarrytown. He was too late. Between 8 and 13 people died. People like to tell the story using 13, as other “13’s” pop up in the story, including the aforementioned 13 minutes, the fact that there were 13 cars on the Atlantic, and it was Friday the 13th. The brakeman and the conductor were indicted for, then vindicated of manslaughter.

On June 15, 1904, there was the General Slocum disaster, in which an excursion boat caught fire while in Bronx waters, and hundreds of women and children on a church outing drowned.  In 1914, just two years after the Titanic sank, Murray Haas made a movie in Hunts Point simulating the calamity. The film’s replica of the iceberg was made of wood and canvas. Night shooting was done with flares and arc-lights.

ENTERTAINMENT

In the late 1800’s, German bands used to play music on the streets of the Bronx. It was a way for Germans to remember their culture. Listeners would put a coin in the musicians’ basket. When the bands were in front of pork stores and bakeries, they created a bit of nostalgia for German housewives. The bands played German drinking songs to remind them of their school days when in front of athletic facilities. In those days, one could get free lunch with the purchase of a beer, but bands that played at saloons at lunchtime got free beer anyway.

BUSINESS

In the 1890’s single Chinese men started restaurants and laundromats in the Bronx. Some were from Cuba. The laundrymen sometimes gave sugar cane to delivery boys to suck on. Girls did not work for them, because they had heard (false) horror stories of white slavery. The Chinese actually had a very low crime rate.

In 1787, the Lorillard Brothers, who owned a snuff mill on the Bronx River, created the first ad campaign for their chewing tobacco, snuff and “segars”. They mailed cards of an Indian smoking a long clay pipe of “Best Virginia” to every postmaster in America, since at that time, post offices served as general stores and centers of social activity.

MISCELLANEOUS

In 1907, Van Cortlandt Park was used as a holding pen for buffalo for a number of months, before the buffalo were sent to the Wichita Mountains of Oklahoma. Buffalo were an endangered species at the time, and Congress was trying to beef up their numbers.

NAMING OF THE BRONX

There are a few theories as to how the Bronx was named. An unlikely story is that visitors to Jonas Bronck’s farm said they were “going to the Broncks”.

Another is that the first English settlers assumed the phrase “Bronck’s Land” to mean land of a certain nature, such as marsh or hills, and called it The Bronx, such as the way “Flatlands” or “New Lots” are sections of Brooklyn.

Still another is that people referred to specific regions, such as The Bronx River, or The Bronx Kills, by the short name “The Bronx” in the late 1700’s; this, according to Bronx Historian Dr. T. Kazimiroff.

*  *  *

(2) This book tells the history of the buildings and culture of Fifth Avenue, through the eyes of an association that has tried to maintain its high-class reputation through the years.

FIRES

In the 1800’s, construction materials were very flammable, electrical wiring was faulty, firefighting technology and infrastructure were poor, and hundreds of buildings were burned to the ground in hours:

In 1835, seven hundred buildings, including the Merchants Exchange were destroyed; 1858, it was the Crystal Palace; 1872, the Fifth Avenue Hotel; 1905, St. Thomas Church.

CENTRAL PARK

The area above 59th street was seedy until it was cleared for the creation of Central Park; in fact, it was named “Squatter’s Sovereignty”. The place was a shantytown of the homeless, an overgrown swamp.  Tracts of land sold to build the Park commanded tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in the 1850’s. The Park was finally finished in 1876.

In 1907, New York copied Paris, and introduced taxis. The taxis at that time were all different colors.

PAY TELEPHONES

There were telephone attendants in public phone booths from 1876 through the mid 1890’s. Coin-operated phones were introduced in 1896. They accepted all coins, from nickels to silver dollars. In 1910, nickels, dimes and quarters became the standard, but the caller still had to ring the operator to make a call. The rotary dial appeared on all phones in 1925. An organ maker and his lawyer started the Telephone Company of New York. Bell Telephone Company took it over in 1878.

* * *

(3) This book is an overview of the culture and landscape of various regions, including Queens (especially Flushing), Brooklyn, Bronx, Richmond (Staten Island) and a few bordering areas.

QUEENS

In 1683, Queens, named after Queen Catherine, was formed. The author complains that many of the borough’s old-world villages lost their rural quaintness and became citified. Such is the price of progress.

In the late 1800’s, there were a handful of police officers covering Flushing, New York.

TRANSPORTATION

The ways to get around used to include the straw-filled, horse-drawn car, then the cable and the trolley. The elevated trains replaced those. Surface cars, omnibuses and the subway have endured to this day.

BUSINESS

Industries such as steel, oil, tobacco, five-and-tens and railroads made many men rich from the late 1800’s to early 1900’s. Oil is still lucrative, but the other sectors have not fared as well, relatively speaking.

FORMATION OF “NEW YORK CITY”

At midnight on December 31, 1897, the five boroughs became united. Brooklyn was no longer a city. People used to play cricket in Staten Island. Cornelius Vanderbilt the First lived and died there. So did many sailors, who retired to the now landmark and arts center, Sailor’s Snug Harbor. Three famous architects, James W. Renwick, Frederick Law Olmstead and Arthur Gilman, lived there, too.

Riverdale, The Bronx, was a bird sanctuary for decades before it received other inhabitants.

*  *  *

(4)  This book presents an oral history of dozens of people, mostly white (and a few blacks), who, at its writing, claimed they were more than 100 years old. All were born in the mid to late 1890’s.

WAR/IMMIGRANTS

During WWII, Nazi minister Goebbels put out the propaganda that Germany had “successfully” invaded the Soviet Union. One West German man says he viewed that as good news, because he knew the Russians would fight back. Polish prisoners agreed. He came to America in 1942, where he discovered he could actually find a job. And talk to women unintroduced, without getting in trouble. There was even free night school.

One way a man was tested to determine his fitness for the air force during WWII, was to spin him around in a dentist’s chair. If he qualified, he might be sent to MIT for six weeks’ training.

UTILITIES/ENERGY

When telephones were first installed in residences, seven or eight families shared one line. The ring tone was different for each household; for example, one long and three short rings.

Some people had a coin-operated gas meter. The gas was pumped into light fixtures, which one could turn on by striking a match. When the electric company was invented, it tried to convert people from gas to electricity by giving away appliances and light bulbs. Some people did not welcome electricity, because they were scared of getting shocked. The early electricity meters were also coin-operated. Before the electric iron, females’ work was even harder, because ironing of clothing was done with irons in a fire that had to be constantly stoked.

HOLIDAYS

In Maryland, Christmas, never July 4th, was celebrated by setting off firecrackers. There were gifts of pickles made to the “Negroes”. The sound of a Revolutionary War cannon firing might be heard to herald the start of Christmas Day.

EDUCATION

About one hundred years ago, schools might have all grades one through eight in the same classroom. The teachers might be eighth grade graduates. There might be reading, spelling, arithmetic, penmanship, grammar, geography, history and physiology. But no gym, no art, no music. If a kid misbehaved in school, the teacher would punish him, and then his parents would, too. Students started each day by hearing a Bible passage, reciting the Lord’s Prayer, and singing a patriotic song. The kids were sick a lot with chicken pox, measles, scarlet fever, whooping cough, hepatitis and malaria, and they were infested with black lice. Fortunately there was poisonous mercurial salve to kill the lice, and quinine for the malaria. Fun.

TECHNOLOGY

Cobblestones were used on roads to prevent stick wagons from getting stuck in the mud. People had to shovel snow off the roads themselves. When cars were first introduced, drivers’ licenses were issued, but some people just taught themselves to drive, and never got caught for not having a license. People got flat tires all the time, but also had tire repair kits. Sometimes horses got scared by cars, because cars were very noisy, before getting mufflers. Gasoline was sold in grocery stores, if at all.

Procter & Gamble used to have a huge line of soap kettles, and it still took 7 days to make one bar of Ivory soap. A process was invented that cut the time to two hours. Pringles potato chips never spoil because they are packed on a bed of nitrogen in a cylinder. In the early 1960’s, P&G unwisely tested disposable diapers one hot summer in Dallas.

WAGES FOR WORKERS

sd’s – single digits

long – sunup to sundown, 6-7 days/week

Year Job Approx. Pay / Hours

1910’s cotton farmer 5 to ? cents a pound long

19 teens self-employed optometrist $500 a day

19 sd’s coyote killing $5 a head

19 teens drugstore clerk $1 a day long

1890’s laundress $1 a day long

1890’s outdoor manual laborer $1.50 a day long

1910’s lamplighter $24 a month short

1910’s railroad workshop 23 cents an hour long

1910’s motorcycle & bike repair 50 cent an hour

1910’s shoeshine stand $4-$80 a week

19 teens security guard $3 a week, free board

19 teens coat-button painter $8 a week

1920’s domestic servant for rich $15 a week, free board

1910’s restaurant cook $4 a week, free board long

19 sd’s factory nail-puller $6 a week

1910’s factory assembler $7 a week

19 teens ML baseball player $250-$450 a month long

1920 bicycle factory worker $25 a week

19 teens milkman $42.50 a week

1920’s banker $70 a month

19 teens pre-union coal miner 40 cents a ton long

pre-union coal miner $9 a week long

19 teens seamstress $7 a week

1918 certified teacher $90 a month 1918 teacher $64.35 a month

19 teens Navy yeomanette $2 a day, free board

1930’s coalmine paymaster $175 a month

19 teens train car factory worker $15 per unit