I get “fun” emails about the differences in today and yesteryear. Yesteryear is always portrayed as the idyllic life compared to today. To be sure, the past has much good stuff to remember, but check out these punishments for school kids. The graphics are marvelous, the punishments suggest kids were to be seen not heard. Obviously no one taught them much about socializing properly. It doesn’t say what they used as a lash. Not that it matters, they probably got treated more harshly at home.
Teachers were also expected to toe the line by rigid societal standards. Marriage for female teachers was unseemly conduct but not for men, of course. If you married, you had to quit your job. Not so long ago, either. I interviewed an “old maid” school teacher from Angels Camp, Bessie McGuiness, in the 1980′s. She affirmed that it was so, you could not marry, nor even be caught courting if you were a school teacher. The phrase “old maid school teacher” was the rule of the day.
And, a man’s honesty could be questioned if he got shaved in a barber shop. Must be where all the politicians hung out. You wouldn’t want your teacher to be tainted. And people are against unions? A 25 cent raise after five years of employment? Could any of us have made economic progress under such authoritarian rules?
And a hundred years ago animal control in Oakland, California, was pretty simple. Boys (not girls) got 25 cents for each cat skin, and 50 cents for each dog skin, they brought in to the back door of the city hall. Gross!
One hundred and thirty-five years ago, came this report from a local newspaper: “We have just learned that one of our mountaineers last winter, while fishing through a hole in the ice, caught a trout so large it could not be brought through the orifice. The fisherman gently played with his fish and with one hand, took out his Bowie knife and chopped ice with the other and enlarged the hole. Then, with a skillful jerk, he brought out a dead cat with a brick tied to its neck.”
It was meant to be humorous and it was. Just another common form of animal control.
“The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.” Horace Walpole, (1717-1797) A truer reflection of the past than the nostalgic emails I get. History is fascinating, and often a brutal read.