This one came over the transom from the mil e-mail chain…

Imagine you were born in 1900.  Many would think that that was a pretty simple time of life. Then on your 14th birthday, World War I starts, and ends on your 18th birthday. 22 million people perish in that war, including many of your friends who volunteered to defend freedom in Europe. 

Later in the year, a Spanish Flu epidemic hits the planet and runs until your 20th birthday. 50 million people die from it in those two years. Yes, 50 million. On your 29th birthday, the Great Depression begins. Unemployment hits 25%, the World GDP drops 27%. That runs until you are 38. The country nearly collapses along with the world economy.   If you were lucky, you had a job that paid $300 a year, a dollar a day. 

When you turn 39, World War II starts. You aren’t even over the hill yet, but don’t try to catch your breath.  If you lived in London, England or most of continental Europe, bombing of your neighborhood, or invasion of your country by foreign soldiers along with their tank and artillery was a daily event.  Thousands of Canadian young men joined the army to defend liberty with their lives.  Between your 39th and 45th birthday, 75 million people perish in the war. 

At 50, the Korean War starts. 5 million perish. At 55 the Vietnam War begins and doesn’t end for 20 years. 4 million people perish in that conflict. On your 62nd birthday there is the Cuban Missile Crisis, a tipping point in the Cold War. Life on our planet, as we know it, could have ended.  Sensible leaders prevented that from happening. 

In 2020, we have the COVID-19 pandemic. Thousands have died; it feels pretty dangerous; and it is. Now think of everyone on the planet born in 1900. How do you think they survived all of the above?  When you were a kid in 1965, you didn’t think your 65-year-old grandparents understood how hard school was, and how mean that kid in your class was. Yet they survived through everything listed above. Perspective is an amazing art. Refined as time goes on, and very enlightening. So, let’s try and keep things in perspective.  Let’s be smart, we are all in this together.  Let’s help each other out, and we will get through all of this. 

My dad was born in 1896 and my mother in 1909, so both lived through this. I never saw them worried about much of anything… They shrugged and got on with life.


Perspective… — 24 Comments

  1. Square on the money there, NFO. We’ll get through this.

  2. You should add that in ’68, Hong Kong Flu happened. A million folks worldwide and a hundred thousand in the US.

    And no one cared.

  3. Nail on the head, there, sir. But the precious snowflakes born after 1970 or so don’t even know about all that stuff — most of them (excepting the choir here!) and all they care about is keeping their precious selves “safe”.

  4. That’s one good thing about reading lots of history – you can look at the WuFlu, then the Hong Kong flu (1960s), Spanish Flu (1920s), cholera (dates depend on where you are, Haiti and Peru the last internationally-significant outbreaks), Black Death 1443-48 World Tour, Plague of Justinian, Plague of Athens, and several in-between. Heck, if you really want grim, look at southern China between 1598-1640. 60% average population loss. Or Russia 1597-1604, which included three full years without a single crop of anything surviving.

    Mother Nature really does not like people, or anything else for that matter.

  5. Hey Old NFO;

    In the grand scheme of things, we will do fine. I am a history junkie and sure bad things have happened, but a lot of good things. You are right, Just keep it in perspective.

  6. My wife’s grandmother was born in 1900. Gram said the two killer diseases were the flu and pneumonia. She lived in Philly when the Spanish Flu hit and lost two family members. She said survival rate for pneumonia was about 50% when she was young

    Passed away at 99 years of age, still living on her own.

  7. Good post – Perspective and context are two useful concepts. Unfortunately, the historical perspective is not well taught to the youth of today, since the 80’s at least, maybe the 70’s. Much to the country’s detriment.
    My grandmothers were born in the 1880’s and saw both the diseases and technological advances that Ed mentioned. And my father and mother, born in 1910 and 1915, respectively, both had that ‘we’ll just deal with it’ attitude, as well as seeing the best in other people. Good folks, for sure.

  8. My grandparents were all born before the Wright Brothers’ first flight and 3 of them saw the moon landings. They went through 2 World Wars, a Great Depression, and many sickness outbreaks. The never complained, just went on (we could say they soldiered on, I guess) all their lives.

  9. All- Thanks for the comments! And yes, things ‘are’ being taught differently today…

    Posted from my iPhone.

  10. Or consider this.

    Diphtheria vaccine wasn’t created until 1923. Not widespread until the 1930’s.

    Cholera vaccine was created in the 1880’s, but not widespread until the 1930’s.

    Tuberculosis vaccine was created in 1929, but effective treatment of TB wasn’t until the late 50’s and early 60’s, and real treatment not till late 60’s.

    Polio vaccine, mid to late 1950’s.

    Smallpox vaccine, developed in the 1790’s, but not worldwide till 1958 and not ‘officially dead’ until 1977.

    Fortified Bread to combat malnutrition and niacin deficiency (a real thing, especially in Post-Reconstruction South) was introduced in 1938.

    I’ve had ancestors die of Cholera, Diphtheria, TB, Polio, Smallpox, and a host of other diseases. Whole branches of the family wiped out. My grandmother saw this whole thing. My parents only grew up in the Depression so they only saw some of the ravages of Mother Nature, but Polio, TB and malnutrition were the big ones they saw.

    A once-wide spreading family tree, pruned by disease and medical syndromes like malnutrition. Did my ancestors fight? Heck, yeah! And lived. Only to have so many fall from bugs and germs and disease.

    These modern snowflakes? They don’t understand anything. And they are much weakened by it.

  11. For my paternal grandfather born in 1900, add to that his dad died of pneumonia when he was 12. Then his mother died in 1921 of TB leaving him to finish raising the minor siblings. The youngest being 5.

    I was raised to just get on with it. You could acknowledge it wasn’t to your liking while you made adjustments and got on with life.

    • One of my grandaunts on my father’s side (sister to his father) lost her parents from Cholera. So all 7 children went to various orphanages. She, being the oldest, got out first, went to make money, and rescued each child one at a time.

      Though she survived the whole ordeal, it messed her up mentally. But she survived.

      Can’t see many snowflakes doing that in these enlightened times.

  12. And factor in Mumps, Measles and Rubella, all ‘Childhood Illnesses’ which translates as ‘Reapers of the Young.’

    Really, living to your teens was a difficult thing until the 50’s.

    • No internet, no social media, no ‘influencers’, no’reality stars’.

  13. I hate being the dissenting voice here because I love this blog, but these kinds of posts and comments really get my goat – and before you even go there, I am 65, not 25.

    Who are these “precious snowflakes” who don’t know about all that stuff?

    Are they the soldiers and sailors out on the front line in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting a never-ending war for…?? Do all they care about is keeping their precious selves “safe”? Are they those 20 something young folks just getting out of Nursing or EMT school, or the police academy – inexperienced – and yet going out on the front lines in *your* neighborhood?

    Just because someone is young and inexperienced doesn’t make them a snowflake. We were all young and stupid once. Weren’t we? (…and I would like to remind everyone once again that “generations” do NOT do anything – only individuals do. If it were not the case then us “boomers” would have a lot to answer for – probably every bit as much as any generation X, Y or Z does – probably *more* because we are a lot older and have had much more time to screw things up.)

    Look guys, *EVERY* generation catches some hell from the previous one because, well, ALL young people, regardless of generation are, wait for it, Inexperienced!

    You didn’t live through the great depression and WWII.
    YOU didn’t live through the War of Southern hubris/Northern aggression.
    YOU didn’t have to carve a homestead out of wilderness all while fighting the natives.
    YOU didn’t have to fight Napoleon’s hoards.
    YOU didn’t have to fight the 100 years war.
    YOU didn’t have to endure the Viking raids.
    YOU didn’t have to endure the Vandal raids.
    YOU didn’t have to deal with Caesars conquest of Gaul.
    … ad infinitum!

    And then consider that there are a lot of things that ARE a lot more difficult and different for them. For just one example: When I became an adult at 21, there were, literally, millions of decent paying jobs available in the manufacturing sector of this country, and you only needed a clear record and a HS education to land one of them. For someone who was “born in 1970”, that America is gone-with-the-wind. Now, most young folks have to enroll in “Snowflake U”, (run by boomers, I might add), just to get a credential so that they can be one of a thousand people applying for the same job.

    Give it a rest folks. There are sinners and saints in all generations and I, personally, think most of the young folks I know – are doing okay.

    But consider this before I kick the soapbox back into the corner… If you alienate the younger generations enough that they collectively turn their back on this country, who do you think it will hurt the most? A young guy in the prime of his life? (He can adjust to most anything.) Or the old geezers like you and I drooling in his Wheaties in the nursing home?

    Flame away…

    • What we refer to as ‘snowflakes’ are the people who can’t handle the store being out of their favorite brand of gourmet coffee in those little Kuerig cup thingyies.

      Or those that want their college loans paid for, while spending $100k to $400k for a degree in Wymyns’Study and Female Warriors of the late pre-Greek era.

      Or the ones that want men dressed as women to be able to go into the women’s bathroom.

      Or the ones who wear a pink hat with cat ears, or dress themselves up as female reproductive organs, or think guns are a symbol of masculinity and a representation of a male reproductive organ.

      Like the snowflakes in Antifa. Who have no idea that the fascists they are supposed to resist are, in fact, themselves.

      Like the snowflakes that can’t handle people wearing MAGA hats or shirts, or have a Trump 2020 sticker on their car, or a pro-Trump sign in their yard, or on their boat, or spent 3 days crying and wailing when their precious Hillary lost (muhahahahahaha, still enjoy looking at those videos.)

      Or the little snowflake girls who get peeved when us old fat gents open doors for them, or call them ‘Miss’ or ‘Ma’am’ or show them any sign of respect at all.

      Or the boys who dress up as girls or even call themselves girls who want the same respect as that mother of 4 whose husband is out of country serving in the armed forces.

      Or the people who bemoan our treatment of illegal aliens, or prisoners, or illegal alien prisoners, but live in gated communities with securty 24/7/365-366.

      We don’t call the young economics major wearing an ‘Enjoy Capitalism’ shirt a snowflake. We call the screeching harpy who’s pointing her finger at said young eco major like she was Donald Southerland in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”

      We don’t call most people in the military ‘snowflakes.’ But those like Bradley Manning? Snowflakes. And many snowflakes who should have spent most or the rest of their lives in Leavenworth.

      We don’t call the people who just get out and do things because they need to be done ‘snowflakes.’ The mothers, the kids, the fathers, boys, girls, men, women, whatevers who actually work for a living and who are working to pay off their debts and are struggling but keep moving on. The people who see trash and pick it up, not because they are getting paid, but because it’s the right thing to do. The ones that help little old or young ladies and men and children (of all ages) to change a tire because it’s the right thing to do.

      We call a specific class of individual a snowflake. Those that haven’t ever experienced bad things more worse than seeing blood in the meat package, or they can’t handle being called a loser (even if they come in last place) or can’t handle someone of color actually acting like a normal person rather than embracing their ‘minority culture.’ Or the idiots who freely and openly support radical islam. Or those tearing down statues and renaming buildings because the originator may have ‘owned’ a slave or fought for the Confederacy.

      Those people? Who get bent and butt-hurt and scared about a statue or a look or a name or an opinion (that differs from theirs) and screech and carry on like a spoiled 3yo denied a cookie. SNOWFLAKE.

      Seriously, the worst health scare since the late ’60s is, according to the MEDIA, AIDS/HIV, which had, until the late ’60s, was a regional illness in Africa. Who have never experienced a friend or sibling dying of a childhood illness or a genetic or birth defect that nowadays is treatable in the womb.


      Call me anything you want. Fatso. A-hole. Cracker. Bastige. Whatever. I will get unhappy and peeved but I won’t collapse in a pile of quivering goo and cry and pout and carry on because you hurt my feelings. Meh. I am not a snowflake.

      (That birth defect thingy? Simple hole in the heart between the two halves. Now able to be fixed in the womb using micro surgery. Back in 1960, it was a death sentence. Took my big sister, on December 28th, Holy Innocents’ Day. My parents and my older brother got over it. I never had to, as she was gone before I was born.)

      There are huge numbers of the younger generation who are capable and useful and able to handle the world. But we call the whiners and adult babies and useless fluff of the younger generations ‘snowflake.’ Because, like a snowflake, the least little ‘heat’ will melt them down.

      It’s nicer than calling them pussy (shortened word for pusillanimous, not a nasty word for a female organ.) And snowflake is so much easier to say than ‘whiny little crybaby.’

  14. Roy/Beans- You BOTH have good points. Yes, the truth is that the generalizations are wrong, it’s really about individuals. And ‘those’ individuals have existed in each generation. It just seems the prevalence of the internet/social media have given the current generation of ‘those’ individuals a platform to spew their garbage and exacerbate the current situation.

    Posted from my iPhone.