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What Was Life Like In 1922?

Happy New Year! 2022 is here and many of you are working on your resolutions for the new year. Before you get too busy making plans, let’s go back in time and take a look at what life was like in 1922.

• The population of the U.S. grew to 110 million. Our current population is now about 333 million, with one new person being added every 35 seconds.
• Men had a life expectancy of 58.4 years, and women lived an average of 61 years.
• In August of 1921, the Roaring Twenties began. The nation’s wealth more than doubled between 1920 and 1929, bringing widespread prosperity to the U.S.
• About 12.2 million motor vehicles were registered in the U.S. Today, we have over 289.5 million vehicles on the road.
• The price of a Model T Ford was lowered to $319! Ford manufactured over 1.3 million of these cars in 1922.
• 40 percent of the homes had electricity. Most of rural America would remain without electricity until the mid-1930s.
• About 35 percent of housing units had a telephone.
• On January 11, 1922, 14-year-old Leonard Thompson became the first person to receive an insulin injection for treatment of diabetes. Insulin was discovered, in July of 1921, by Canadian scientists Frederick Banting and Charles Best.
• On October 22, 1922, Amelia Earhart flew her Kinner Airster to over 14,000 feet and set the altitude record for female pilots. It is interesting to note that she took her first flying lesson at a Long Beach airport in January of 1921. For the next six months, she worked at several jobs, saved her money, and bought this $2,000 plane in July of 1921. She went on to set many records and became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.
• Union wages in New York city were:
– Bricklayers at $1.25 per hour
– Carpenters at $1.12 per hour
– Painters at $1.12 per hour
– Plumbers at $1.12 per hour
– Structural steel workers at $1.12 per hour
• American farm workers had an average pay of $37.24 per month, with board. Without board, their average pay was $48.25 per month.
• The minimum wage in California was $0.33 per hour.
• The labor participation rates were about 85% for men, and 23% for women. About 52% of young men, and 28% of young women (ages 14-19), also had jobs.
• The Hollywood Bowl officially opened on July 11, 1922, with a performance by conductor Alfred Hertz and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
• The number one movie of 1922 was “Robin Hood”. Douglas Fairbanks and Wallace Beery starred in this silent adventure film.
• The “Eskimo Pie” was patented by Christian Kent Nelson on January 24, 1922. It was America’s first chocolate-covered ice cream bar.
• Los Angeles radio station, KFI AM 640, began broadcasting on March 31, 1922. KNX AM 1070 began broadcasting on May 4th.
• The number one hit song was “My Man”, by Fanny Brice.
• The average prices for these items were:
– Round steak sold for 32 cents a pound
– Eggs were 44 cents a dozen
– Milk sold for 52 cents per gallon
– A loaf of bread costs 9 cents
– Coffee was 36 cents a pound
– A ten-pound bag of potatoes cost 28 cents
– Gasoline sold for 25 cents per gallon
– The price of a first-class postage stamp was 2 cents
– A movie ticket went for 7 cents
• On January 19, 1922, the Geological Survey said that the United States oil supply would be completely depleted in 15 to 20 years. Our oil wells were drying up, and we only had 9 billion barrels of oil left. They warned all Americans to conserve and not waste oil. Boy, were these doomsayers wrong! Today, the US has proven reserves of over 47 billion barrels, with a lot more to be found!
• September 13, 1922, a temperature of 136.4°F was recorded at El Azizia, Libya. This has been certified by the World Meteorological Organization as the hottest air temperature ever recorded on earth.
• The USS Langley was commissioned as the Navy’s first aircraft carrier, on March 20, 1922. The first airplane was launched from her decks on October 17th. It was a Vought VE-7, and this was the first time an airplane had taken off from a ship with an installed flight deck. This was a monumental event in the US Navy’s history.
• Only 16.8% of students graduated from high school.
• Rebecca Felton, of Georgia, became the first woman to be appointed to the US Senate, on October 3, 1922. She was sworn in on November 21st, and only served for 24 hours before her term in office ended.
• The first Thom McAn shoe store opened in New York city, on October 14th. They were the nation’s largest shoe retailer from the 1960s to the 1980s. The brand is still sold in Kmart and Sears stores.
• On October 28th, the first coast-to-coast college football game was broadcasted on radio. Princeton beat the University of Chicago, 21-8.
• The first use in America of skywriting for advertising was on November 28th. Captain Cyril Turner (RAF) flew his plane over Time’s Square and spelled out “HELLO USA, CALL VANDERBILT 7200”. The ad men on Madison Avenue were astounded when the hotel received 47,000 phone calls! By the 1930s, skywriting was the biggest thing in advertising. Chrysler, Ford, Lucky Strike, Pepsi Cola, and Sunoco, all got in on it.
• In the summer of 1922, Walgreens Drug Store introduce the malted milkshake.

As you can see, life in America has changed over the last 100 years. Can you even imagine living without electricity and your smart phone?