The Internet takes a look at the past

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 3, 2005

Back in the 1950s, the U.S. population was 150 million, less than half of today’s. But you knew more people then and you knew them better. The average annual salary was under $3,000, yet our parents could put some of it away for a rainy day and still live a decent life. That was good.

A loaf of bread cost 15 cents and it was safe for a five-year-old to roller skate to the store and buy one. Primetime meant &uot;I Love Lucy,&uot; &uot;Ozzie and Harriet,&uot; &uot;Gunsmoke,&uot; and &uot;Lassie.&uot; Nobody ever heard of ratings.

We didn’t have air conditioning so the windows stayed open and half a dozen mothers ran outside when you fell off your bicycle. Your teacher was either Miss Matthews or Mrs. Logan or Mr. Adkins, but not Ms. Becky or Mr. Dan, and that was good. The only hazardous material you knew about was a patch of grass burrs around the light pole at the corner.

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You loved to climb into a fresh bed because sheets were dried on the clothesline.

People generally lived in the same hometown with their relatives so &uot;childcare&uot; meant grandparents or aunts and uncles. Parents were respected and rules were laws, kids did not talk back. TV was black and white but all outdoors was in glorious color. Your dad knew how to adjust everybody’s carburetor and the dad next door knew how to adjust the TV knobs. Your grandma grew snap beans in the backyard and chickens behind the shed.

Just about the time you were about to do something really bad, chances were you’d run into your dad’s high school coach, or the lady from up the street, or your sister’s piano teacher. Worse, someone from church. All of them knew your parent’s phone number and your first name.

I’ll bet you know someone who can still remember Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, Laurel and Hardy, Abbot and Costello, Sky King, Little Lulu comics, Howdy Doody and the Peanut Gallery.

And The Lone Ranger, The Shadow Knows, Nellie Belle, Roy Rogers, Trigger and Buttermilk. And the sound of a reel mower cutting grass. And it was good.


This is an experiment you should try. If your brain is in order, you can read what follows almost as easily as you can read properly spelled words. Don’t duck it, just read it.

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was

rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid. Aoccdrnig to a

rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the


and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae.The rset

can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh? Yaeh and I awlyas thought slpeling was morantt!

I wus write, wasnt I, yu colud raed it. So who needs proof readers?


Last week I purchased a burger for $1.58. The counter girl took my $2 and I was digging for my change when I pulled eight cents from my pocket and gave it to her.

She stood there, holding the nickel and three pennies, while looking at the screen on her register. I sensed her discomfort and tried to tell her to just give me two quarters, but she hailed the manager for help.

While he tried to explain the transaction to her, she stood there and cried.

Why do I tell you this? Please read more about the &uot;history of teaching math&uot;:

Teaching Math In 1950: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?

Teaching Math In 1960: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?

Teaching Math In 1970: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80. Did he make a profit?

Teaching Math In 1980: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.

Teaching Math In 1990: By cutting down beautiful forest trees, the logger makes $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question:

How did the forest birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down the trees. (There are no wrong answers.)

Teaching Math In 2005: El hachero vende un camion carga por $100. La cuesta de production es.

And we wonder why jobs requiring intelligence are being outsourced?

Robert Pocklington is a regular columnist for the News-Herald. E-mail him at robert.