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Monday, January 23, 2012

Grandma Sheets

Eileen Sheets 1909-2013

Eileen Sheets 1909-2013

Grandma Sheets was born 103 years ago on January 13,1909. It's astounding to think of all the changes in the world that have taken place in her lifetime. The first airplane flight at Kitty Hawk was only 6 years before her birth. The Model T was only one year old when she was born.

She grew up in a strict home where girls worked hard and weren't given the same opportunity as boys. Her father made her quit school after 8th grade so she could work more on the farm. She survived the Great Depression as a young woman and learned the lessons of thrift and savings.

Many things changed over her lifetime but she was rock solid. She stood on principle and faith and seldom wavered. Her upbringing shaped her into the strong woman she was. Strong but tender. She loved God and family in that order and always put them in front of herself.

I spent a lot of time with her and Grandpa when I was a young boy and learned many life lessons from them. Things like how to treat others no matter how mean they are to you. Tips on saving and lending money (do and don't in that order!). She always stressed the importance of good grooming and bought me my first razor when I was in high school. But most importantly, I saw how important Faith and Family was to her and was inspired to model those things in my life.

Three years ago she visited Beth and I at the farm for the first time during one of our fall open farm days. She got to see the alpacas we had been talking to her about for years. She felt like a farm goddess riding around in the Gator and sporting a pink John Deere cap. She had a great time, but it was even more important to me that she was there. I am deeply rooted in my Christian and agricultural heritage and her presence at the farm validated much of the work we had done establishing our alpaca program at Heritage Farm.

Grandma died this week at 103. She was an inspiration to me and I will miss her dearly but I am truly blessed for having her in my life.

Here are some facts from the year Grandma was born:

  • The average life expectancy was 47 years.
  • Only 14 percent of the homes had a bathtub.
  • Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.
  • There were only 8,000 cars and only 144 miles of paved roads.
  • The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.
  • The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower !
  • The average wage in 1909 was 22 cents per hour.
  • The average worker made between $200 and $400 per year.
  • A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year, a dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.
  • More than 95 percent of all births took place at HOME.
  • Ninety percent of all doctors had NO COLLEGE EDUCATION!
  • Sugar cost four cents a pound.
  • Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.
  • Coffee was fifteen cents a pound.
  • Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used Borax or egg yolks for shampoo.
  • The American flag had 45 stars.
  • The population of Las Vegas, Nevada, was only 30!!!
  • Two out of every 10 adults couldn’t read or write.
  • Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.
  • Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at the local corner drugstores. Back then pharmacists said, ‘Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health.’
  • There were about 230 reported murders in the ENTIRE! U.S.A.!
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