Life in 1905

In 1905, when Lloyd was born, life was very different than it is now:

  • There had not yet been a world war. The Civil War was a significantly more recent event at that time than World War II is now as this is written. Nuclear weapons were unknown. In fact, radioactivity had only just been discovered.

  • Stationary power typically came from a waterwheel, mobile power from a team of horses, heat from burning either wood or coal, and light from an oil or kerosene lamp. Steam power was available for large things like locomotives and ships, and electricity was available in urban areas for lighting and industrial uses, but neither of these had yet affected everyday life outside cities.

  • Plumbing inside the house was rare, and the flush toilet as it is now known had not yet been developed. Water was drawn from an outside well, and outhouses were where one took care of toilet duties.

  • The Wright brothers (no known relation) had only just had their first powered flight.

  • There were no broadcast radio stations (never mind television). The phonograph was in its infancy. (Lloyd says he was eleven or twelve years old the first time he heard recorded music. See “Tricks and Tragedies.”)

  • Automobiles were just beginning to appear, but the Ford Model T was still several years away.

  • There were no refrigerators and no freezers. At best, if natural or man-made ice were consistently available, one might have an ice box for keeping things cool. Otherwise, the best one could do was a cellar or basement as a cooler storage place in the summertime.

  • There were only silent movies.

  • There were no color photographs.

  • A primitive form of zipper had only recently been invented, but the modern zipper was years away, and its use on clothing even further away. Velcro® was many decades away.

  • Plastic? Nope—no synthetic plastics yet, and no cellophane, either.

The list could go on and on, of course. The purpose is not to summarize the history of the 20th century, but simply to mention a few of the ways that life then was different than today's experience. So many conveniences that are now taken entirely for granted did not exist when Lloyd was born. By today's standards, life then was very hard indeed. To take Abigail Adams out of context,

Posterity who are to reap the blessings will scarcely be able to conceive the hardships and sufferings of their ancestors.

The contrast between life in 1905 and life now also says something else, though. Lloyd lived during a remarkable period of history, both good and bad. And he followed with interest each new development, as his generation was taken from travel by horse and wagon and steam train to travel by automobile and jet airplane and even space flight, from war with horses and rifles and cannons to war with tanks and bombs and missles, from communication across town by telephone (if one was lucky) to communication around the world by cell phone and satellite and the Internet, … (again the list could grow very large). To the end of his life, Lloyd loved the adventure of trying new things.