San Francisco History

One Hundred Years Ago

One hundred years ago a man could not take a ride on a steamboat.
He could not go from Washington to New York in a few hours.
He had never heard of a Pullman palace car porter.
He had never seen an electric light or dreamed of an electric car.
He could not make a cake of ice as big as a lump of sugar.
He could not cool himself under an electric fan or warm himself at a steam radiator.
He could not send a telegram.
He could not talk through the telephone, and he had never heard of the hello girl.
He had never seen a shirt waist or a rainy-day skirt.
He could not ride a bicycle.
He could not call in a stenographer and dictate a letter.
He had never received a typewritten communication.
No matter how grave a crime he committed, he never could be electrocuted for it.
He had never heard of the germ theory or worried over bacilli and bacteria.
He had never looked pleasant before a photographer or had his picture taken.
He wouldn't have known a complex lens from a jinrickisha.
He had never heard of Neptune and Ceres.
He couldn't measure the distance between the stars.
He had heard of oxygen, but would not have understood an allusion to liquid air.
He had never heard of the molecular constitution of matter, or the conservation of energy, and did not know that he was descended from a monkey.
He could not predict a rain or announce the coming of a cold wave or a cyclone.
He was aware that there was such thing as electricity, but looked upon it as a germ.
He never heard a phonograph talk or saw a kinetoscope turn out a prize fight.
He never saw through a Webster's Unabridged Dictionary with the aid of a Roentgen ray.
He had never imagined such a thing a type-setting machine or a typewriter.
He had never used anything but a wooden plow.
He had never seen his wife using a sewing machine.
He had never struck a match on his pants or anything else.
He had never hung up against a gaspost.
He had never seen a searchlight or drunk a cocktail.
He couldn't take an anesthetic and have his leg cut off without feeling it.
He knew nothing of geology because geology knew nothing of itself.
He had never visited a free library.
He had never purchased a ten-cent magazine, which would have been regarded as a miracle of art.
He could not buy a newspaper for a nickel and learn everything that had happened the day before all over the world.
He had never crossed an iron bridge or traveled in a public omnibus.
He had never sailed through the Suez canal.
He had never used a deadly explosive or tried smokeless powder.
In short, there were several things that he could not do and several things he did not know.
Source: San Francisco Call. 1 January 1901. 6.

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