280. Al Opdenweyer’s Birth Year

My sister Joan sent this to me this morning and, even though she may have sent it to you already, or even though you may have seen it somewhere else, I want to post it on the blog just because it’s so astounding.

To April (my youngest granddaughter), what you’re reading below may seem like it was part of life back in the Stone Age, but, trust me, when you’re going on 80, some of it still seems vaguely familiar.

Another thing I like about the list Joan sent is that it reminds me of how, in many ways, much of the “Good Old Days” have been out-performed by “Today’s Days”.

Most of all, though, this reminded me of the father of one of our producers at Ford Video, Linda Lewis.  Her dad, Al Opdenweyer, is one of those super-powers we all wish we could be. You’ll be hearing more about him on this blog because he’s going to be 100 years old this summer.



According to Joan, this is the way it was in the country the year Al was born:


The year is 1911  — One hundred years ago. What a difference a century makes! Here are some statistics for the Year 1911:


The average life expectancy for men was 47 years.
Fuel for this car was sold in drug stores only.
Only 14 percent of the homes had a bathtub.
Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.
There were only 8,000 cars and only 144 miles of paved roads.
The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.
The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower !
The average US wage in 1910 was 22 cents per hour.
The average US worker made between $200 and $400 per year.
A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year, a dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.

More than 95 percent of all births took place at home.

Ninety percent of all Doctors had NO COLLEGE EDUCATION! Instead, they attended so-called medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press and the government as “substandard.”Sugar cost four cents a pound.

Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.
Coffee was fifteen cents a pound.
Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used Borax or egg yolks for shampoo.

Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from entering into their country for any reason.

The Five leading causes of death were:
1. Pneumonia and influenza
2. Tuberculosis
3. Diarrhea
4. Heart disease
5. Stroke

The American flag had 45 stars.
The population of Las Vegas , Nevada was only 30 people.
Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and iced tea hadn’t been invented yet.
There was neither a Mother’s Day nor a Father’s Day.

Two out of every 10 adults couldn’t read or write and only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.

Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at the local corner drugstores.

Back then pharmacists said, “Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind,regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health!” (Shocking?)

Eighteen percent of households had at least one full-time servant or domestic help.

There were about 230 reported murders in the ENTIRE USA !

Al, try to imagine what it may be like in another 100 years! 

Please try to stick around for many more!

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One Response to 280. Al Opdenweyer’s Birth Year

  1. keytimer says:

    Hi Pat! What a surprise to see Dad’s pix! He’s doing really well, loving his new place with a view of the Willamette River and a koi pond with water fall. He will be surprised to see your blog. He goes on to his computer every day. It was not unusual to see your spelling of his name. His name is Dutch and is spelled Op den weyer. (No spaces) It means the ‘Weyers’ up by the lake. We are excited about the three hour video taping you and Suzy made interviewing him. Editing it down to 20 minutes is not easy. He has led and is still leading such a full life.
    It was surprising how few bath tubs there were with all the home births. Dad was born in Louisana, at home, but moved to Portland when he was 1. He weighed 14 pounds!! He was the first in his family to get a colllege degree. He was the youngest of 9 kids, with only four brothers living a full life. He expects to live longer and when asked about what it feels like to be 100, he said, “No different than any other year.”

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