1915

I sometimes debate with myself when I would be alive besides now, if I could. When chosing such a date, I assume good health and strong teeth.

Several times, I have landed upon 1915. Although World War I was underway, we weren't yet involved. The innocence of the 19th century had not yet been entirely shattered by the unbelievable slaughters which were about to begin.

The horse population in the United States was at its peak. Cars were not yet common. The steam engine, a beautiful mode of power if there ever was one, was still ascendant over the infernal internal combustion engine.

No loudspeakers yet. The pipe organ was the instrument of choice to fill large auditoriums with music without the hassle and cost of hiring an entire orchestra. People made their own music at home. Towns had male choruses and brass bands. If they were horrible, and many claim they were, nobody knew better.

Radio wasn't up and running yet. Newspapers were still filled with good writing, even the small-town papers. There was no national media to speak of, save for Hearst.

Rural life in Minnesota was at its peak. Norman County, a very rural county, numbered 15,000 residents in 1915 compared to about 6,500 today. The number of churches, halls, lodges, bandstands and general stores was never greater in rural Minnesota than in 1915.

The local culture would still have had a strong immigrant flavor. Many people didn't know English. Accents must have been strong amongst those who did. Aunt Olla has a lot of fun recalling some of the phrases and misnomers of the poor immigrants.

The surviving Civil War veterans would have still been telling stories. Teddy Roosevelt was still on the scene, as was William Jennings Bryan. The excitement of automobiles and airplanes was just around the corner.

Country schools were going strong, many of them brand new. Although my Grandmother, a country school teacher, once told me, "not a lot of education happened in those schools," I think what education did happen was salubrious--in the best cases, (at least in schools taught by the schoolteachers I have met) peppered with music and games and theatrical productions and a healthy intermixing of the age groups.

So, for now, if I had to pick a time other than now to have been alive, it would be 1915.

But I am open to other suggestions and opinions!