Sunday, March 13, 2011
Here's to Annie
I read the obituaries. Yes, I know it’s morbid. But often as we all do, we lose track of friends and acquaintances that we’ve known. I also read them to be sure my name isn't among them! At least not yet. As Mark Twain once said, “the reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated."
I never met Annie personally. I only knew her through the eyes of someone who knew and worked with her, my friend Mim.
Early last week while reading the obits, I happened to see her’s at the very bottom of the page with less than a paragraph to mark her passing. She was 92 missing her 93rd birthday by about a week.When she was 80, she was still working and her co-workers wanted to celebrate this major milestone. So they threw her a party.
Mim shared with me something she’d written for the celebration. I didn’t get a chance to read it until much later and when I did I realized Annie had lived in a world, and at a time, we will never see again and the youth of today have no concept of. Here’s what it said.
Ann, the world has changed since you were born; and here are some of the things that have happened since your birth.
Woodrow Wilson was President. Our country was in the midst of World War I and it was also the year that a devastating influenza epidemic swept the country and the world. Twenty-one million people died in the world due to this flu (500,000 people in the USA). By the end of 1918, World War I claimed the lives of another 10 million people (53,000 from the USA).
George Cohen’s super hit, “Over There” became the World War I anthem. Other popular songs were “K.K.K. Katy,” “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows,” and Irving Berlin’s song, “Oh, How I Hate to Get up in the Morning.”
The Red Sox won the World Series from the Cubs in the sixth game.
Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Lillian Russell toured the country selling war bonds.
You were born before house husbands, computer-dating, dual careers and commuter marriages. Before day-care centers, group therapy and nursing homes. You never heard of television, tape decks, artificial hearts, word processors, frozen foods, and guys wearing earrings. For you, time-sharing meant togetherness – not computers or condominiums, a chip meant a piece of wood, hardware meant hardware and software wasn’t even a word!
You hit the scene when Woolworth’s 5 & 10, was a store where you bought things for five and ten cents. The drug store sold ice cream cones for a nickel, and for a dime you got a bag filled with penny candy. A pound loaf of bread cost 10 cents, a quart of milk 13 cents. For one nickel you could ride a trolley out to Willow Grove Park, make a phone call, buy a Pepsi or enough stamps to mail one letter and buy two postcards. The pop-up toaster was invented in 1918 and the nation’s first three-color traffic light (red, amber, and green) was installed in New York City. A house cost $3,821 and The Stanley Steamer was selling for $2,700 while the Model “T” cost less than $400, but who could afford one . . . a pity, too, because was 11 cents a gallon.
Jim Thorpe was the best known athlete at this time – an Olympic champion. He was the first premier attraction in pro football.
You share your birth year with Mickey Spillane, mystery writer; Ella Fitzgerald, American jazz singer; Ingmar Bergman, Swedish film director; Ted Williams, baseball great; and Spiro Agnew, who was vice president under President Nixon.
In 1918, a New York toy firm began manufacturing the Raggedy Ann doll; the doll soon grew into a $20 million a year business. There are some similarities between the two Ann’s. Both born in 1918, both have red hair, both have tremendous endurance, both are huggable and are so easy to love. Both are survivors.
Annie, while I didn’t know you I want to mark your passing. God speed.