The other day I got one from Bill Gulley of Corona del Mar, CA, giving me some statistics about 1907.
Sister Rosaleen Dickes sent Phyllis the same 1907 one before I did my own research for the year-end story.
"Oh, boy!" I fairly shouted. "That's what I'm looking for." I'd been doing some research on that particular year, and he gave me some facts which I needed for the story I was writing.
"It boggles my mind," he said in the e-mail. And it did mine, too – until I went to the box where I keep some of the editorial tidbits I'd found for future columns.
I located a copy of an e-mail I got last year, and it had all the statistics which were in the one I got from Bill – and Sister Rosaleen – only it was for 1906!
I tried to figure out what happened. Either the year was wrong, or somebody had just made up the facts to fool Bill, Sister Rosaleen and me.
In 1907 – exactly one hundred years ago – 8 percent of the homes in the U.S. had telephones, and 14 percent had bathtubs.
Could it be the same for 1906?
The person who sent the e-mail to Gully (and Sister Rosaleen) apparently had substituted 1907 for 1906 and sent it on, thinking nobody would know anyhow.
Were there only 144 miles of paved road in 1907? Or was it 1906?
Did Iowa, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee have more people than California in which year? I'm not sure now.
I try to keep my facts straight. My research showed that Teddy Roosevelt was president then. And in 1907 John Wayne, Kate Smith and Katharine Hepburn were born. The fact Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Hawaii and Alaska had not been admitted to the Union yet was correct in both e-mails. As was the sale of marijuana and opium products at the corner drug store.
There was no television; nobody thought of sending jobs overseas to find cheap labor. (It was just as inexpensive right here).
Bottled water was not for sale; computers and iPods were a long, long way away; and flights to the moon were stuff for science fiction.
Refrigerators were just ice boxes and Monday night football was unheard of. Cell phones weren't invented yet, and neither were electric razors. The year 1907 was a century ago, so no wonder it was featured – but the details of 1906 do not necessarily apply.
So, I am skeptical of e-mails that don't know the difference between 1906 and 1907 as far as facts are concerned. I'll just try my own research and thank Bill (and Sister Rosaleen) for forwarding the messages, although I wonder if they know of the 1906 version – which unfortunately came to me before theirs.
That's why I can't trust e-mails anymore!
© 2007 Robert F. Karolevitz