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A Century Ago – Feature by John Christian Hopkins

A Century Ago – Feature by John Christian Hopkins
January 10
10:04 2022

By John Christian Hopkins

If you have a time machine, we can go back to 1922 and have us a grand old time.

That’s because $100 in today’s money would be equal to an $1,654.45 a century ago. Imagine if you could go back to 1922 and invest $100 in Bitcoin or buy an NFT (whatever that is!). Why you could be rich now!

In 1922, you’d be among the very first water skiiers! Illustration courtesy of Merio, from Pixabay.

Or, if you had $1 (and a time machine) you could bring a date with you to 1922 and treat him or her to a movie. But you couldn’t buy any snacks. That’s because a single 1922 dollar would be equal to $16.54 today – barely enough to cover two movie tickets. Or not. The national average for movie tickets in 2020 was $9.16.

Nineteen-twenty-two was a different world. The main source of entertainment was the radio. If you preferred something quieter, there were moving pictures. You see, they were all silent at the time. The first talkie – “The Jazz Singer” – was still five years away.

You might not recognize many of the 1922 movie stars – like Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford or Harold Lloyd; but you know some of them, such as Charlie Chaplin and John Barrymore. Yes, Barrymore – Drew’s grandfather.

Dreaming of owning your own home? You could buy one in 1922 for $6,296. That would equal about $77.339 today; or enough for a half a house? Or maybe a really cool tent in Central Park.

How about some steak and eggs for breakfast? In 1922 a dozen eggs would set you back 47-cents. But a pound of steak would cost you another 40-cents. So, 87-cents for steak and eggs? That’s not too bad, right? Of course, in today’s money that same steak and a dozen eggs would add up to $11.22.

Oh, 1922 seems so long ago. But if you stop and think about it, Old West lawman Bat Masterson died in 1921 – at his typewriter. His pal Wyatt Earp was still alive and General Custer‘s wife, Elizabeth, had nearly a dozen more years to live.

Want to take in some sports? You might recognize the names of baseball immortals like Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb, but other stars – like Walter Johnson, Rogers Hornsby and George Sisler – would be foreign to you.

While some things have changed for the better, other changes are not so pleasant.

A hundred years ago there was no Betty White in the world. This year, for the first time in nearly a century, we can say that again.

(Header image courtesy of Pete Linforth on Pixabay)

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