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Do you have any idea how much research I have to do for this column? Any idea at all? Well, not very much, but -- and it’s a big BUT – before writing last week’s article about June weddings I actually did some serious Googling.
You wanna know what I found? – Any of you? Sheesh. – I found a list of 100-year-old predictions for what America would be like in 2011. The predictions were written by a John Elfreth Watkins, Jr., and appeared in a 1911 issue of Ladies Home Journal. Elfreth?
I would have found some predictions for 2013, but it would’ve taken more Googling than I cared to do. The 1911 thing just landed in my lap.
So, 102 years ago it was predicted that Nicaragua would be applying for statehood, automobiles would be cheaper than horses and there would be no city streetcars, because traffic in cities would be either underground or elevated. I call all of that remarkably canny.
In 2011 all cows were supposed to be hornless, and horses nearly extinct… thus making them more expensive than cars. No more mosquitoes, flies or roaches in 2011. Nor, wild animals in the U.S. That includes rats and mice. Nothing was mentioned about the fishes in our lakes and streams. Or birds. Knowing Watkins, he meant to kill ‘em off.
And, speaking of cold -- by 2011, cold and hot air will be released through spigots in our homes. Almost like central air and heat. Well, just like. Watkins was genius. Oh, and he thought college would be free to all citizens. That there would be no poor children. The poor kids would be afforded free clothing, meals, eyeglasses, dental work, and medical care. – Okay, genius status revoked.
In 2011 we would be able to get from to New York to San Francisco in 24 hours, due to the innovation of trains that travel 150 mph. And, we would be able to cross the Atlantic in two days aboard massive electric ships that travel on buoyant runners pushed slightly above the waves by “apertures” shooting jets of air beneath the boats.
Airships will be used mostly for war, because they will not be able to compete with our super fast ocean vessels in the public transportation industry. Nor can they apparently compete inside the country with our bullet train system. Watkins is falling apart here.
Phone lines will run everywhere. He said that in 2011 we would be able to call China, and it would be possible to telegraph photos over the wires. And, life expectancy in the U.S. would go up from 35 years to 50. Pneumatic tubes would deliver groceries, cooked meals and mail to each home. Watkins was obviously 200 years ahead of himself.
By 2011 the need for coal would all but cease. It would be replaced by a massive increase in the number of dams constructed throughout the nation. Electricity from hydro-electric plants would run this country.
On screens inside our homes, cameras would be able to project events taking place all over the world “…allowing us to view wars overseas just as they’re taking place” Watkins apparently thought that the greatest use for such technology was watching wars.
And, my favorite? By 2011, the letters C, Q and X would be eliminated from our alphabet due to lack of use. Spelling would be based exclusively on phonetics. “K” and “S” would apparently cause the death of “C.” I’d say that “Z” probably added to the superfluous nature of “X.” The word “X-ray” was likely not invented in 1911. And, “Q?” I’ve got nothing here. Google that if you want. I don’t really care.
Our new spelling scheme will greatly condense the English language. Books will be considerably thinner and newspapers less bulky.-- R u srs? (I did hafta do some research for that text message.)
The last one of his predictions seems the most bizarre. Watkins predicted that in 2011, strawberries would be as big as apples. Not grapes, or blackberries or cashews. Strawberries. Begging the question – Why?
So, what should we gather from this 100-year-old conjecture? You wanna know what I gather? Anyone? -- Sheesh! – I think Watkins did a lot better than I would’ve done. Question is, did he do better with his 100- year-old predictions than you will?
And that, boys and girls, is your assignment. I want you to come up with predictions for the U.S./Texas/Montgomery County/Portugal… wherever, 100 years from now. That’d be the year 2113, unless our calendars get changed.
E-mail your predictions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll come up with an article in about a month that will contain as many predictions as space allows. I’ll include your first name with your prediction(s).
Please, don’t leave me hanging. If I get nothing, I’m gonna make up a buncha stuff myself… including first names of the fictitious people who submitted it. Believe me, that’s more effort than I care to exert.
So, that’s your assignment. I suggest you get started right now ‘cause if not, you’ll forget. -- One hundred years from now. I don’t care if you’re srs or not. Just send me something. – Next time.
Again, send to email@example.com