Caldwell: What a difference 100 years makes

Published 9:01 am Saturday, May 6, 2017

Nothing stirs nostalgia quite like a stroll down Memory Lane, even more so when it becomes a long walk into the past.

The Sun staff has been working on a special publication to showcase how far Clark Regional Medical Center has come over the past 100 years as this vital community institution gears up to celebrate the milestone next week.

It raised the question: What was the world like a century ago?

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Here is a snapshot of American life in 1917.

The U.S. population was 103.3 million, compared to the 321.4 million today.

The average life expectancy for men was 48 with women living a little longer to 54. Insert whatever joke you prefer here.

Many houses included electricity and indoor plumbing, but both were still regarded as luxuries and many people in rural and impoverished areas didn’t have them.

Only 14 percent of homes had a bathtub. Only 8 percent had a telephone.

A house cost about $6,300. A new car would set you back $400.

A stamp cost 2 cents. A loaf of bread cost 9 cents, and you could buy sugar for 4 cents a pound.

You could make breakfast for a little more than a quarter as eggs were 14 cents a dozen. Coffee was 15 cents a pound.

Entertainment wasn’t a whole lot different, minus TV, the Internet and reality shows. That was the year magician Harry Houdini amazed audiences, performing his first buried alive feat and nearly dying.

The National Hockey League was formed. Baseball was extremely popular.

Movie tickets were 7 to 10 cents each. Popular films were Charlie Chaplin’s “Easy Street” and “The Adventurer.” Chaplin became the first actor to sign a $1 million deal, but that was nine films.

But there was turmoil, too.

World War I had been raging across Europe for three years. On April 2, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war on Germany.

About a month later, on May 18, the Selective Service Act was adopted by Congress, giving the president the power of conscription into the military.

On May 21, more than 70 blocks were destroyed in the Great Atlanta fire of 1917.

Clearly, lots of things have changed, Clark Regional Medical Center not the least of which.

The community will have a variety of chances to celebrate this coming week and wish the health care provider happy birthday.

Here’s to the next 100 years!

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Winchester Sun and Winchester Living magazine. He can be reached at (859) 759-0095 or by email at

About Whitney Leggett

Whitney Leggett is managing editor of The Winchester Sun and Winchester Living magazine. To contact her, email or call 859-759-0049.

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