This was a new age in a world of constant and exciting change but not like today. There were not cable tvs, cell phones and computers. There were no digital cameras, printers, DVDs, and the liastcan go on and on. There was also no heating, air conditioning and electric appliances like we know today.
Wood was burned in a fireplace for heat as well as coal stoves. When it became dark, kerosene lamps were lit that cast dinghy shadows on the walls. People sat on front porches to catch a cool breeze during the summers since that was the only relief they would receive from the heat of their homes. Even electric fans did not exist so many would swish paper fans to cool them
There may not have been SUV’s but Henry Ford from Dearborn, Michigan did create the first automobile and the Wright Brothers from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina made their first airplane flight. However, the simple horse and buggy attached was still the most popular form of transportation especially in the country. Bicycles were also a form of transportation.
Families spent their quality time in a room called the parlor. This was like a family room. Mom would knit or sew during the evenings and play the piano for guests which was common entertainment. Dad would read the newspaper while the children would play. Boys would play with metal cars and trucks . They would construct log cabins out of Lincoln logs which still exist today. Girls would take care of their dolls like their mothers. Dolls ranged from beautiful porcelain or china faces decorated in ruffles and lace. Other dolls would be homemade from scraps of material their mothers used during their sewing sessions.
There were not refrigerators but some kitchens had an ice box that would hold fresh ice. My grandfather remembers the ice buggy who brought ice to homes most days and he also remembers chasing it down the street to chip a bit off the large blocks at the the back of the cart. Especially during hot, summer days. Most did not have running water so water was brought in from a well outside. Toilets were outside contained in out houses and baths were usually taken once a week since it was a challenge to fill the metal tub with water from a well.
So what was so great about this era that many called the “Age of Optimism”
Well, besides the car and plane, the telephone was a new invention and though expensive to make calls, you could listen in to other peoples conversation if you were bored and had nothing else to do. Sewing machines were the new thing along with the vacuum cleaner. Many “dust-removing machines had been experimented but didn’t work finally Cecil Booth developed one that did work though it was large and weighed over 95 pounds.
In 1879, Thomas Edison perfected the light bulb and in 1882 a developer lit up a home with an electric arc light powered by a generator so electricity was a part of our culture before the turn of the century. Power plants such as American Electric Co, Brush Electric and Edison Electric began to install lights on streets and businesses and then eventually homes. General Electric was established and the only company listed today in the Dow Jones Index.
Plants provided a network of wires and generators that created new appliances and had transformed American life. But it was slow, however, by 1930 the average home had been transformed by electric light.