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Friday, March 23, 2012


Photo from c. 1940 of gas for 20.5 cents a gallon.  Apparently the station owner was receiving flack about his price so he broke it down so customers knew he made only 4 cents a gallon!

I received some photos of the past this week from reader FD in northern Arizona.  They are great relics and illustrate how life used to be in the good old USA.

It begs the question:  “What was life like in the US of the past?"  Unfortunately, a lot of people simply don’t know or care.  However, I’m sure many of them know how to text while driving a car and can recite the last two episodes of “Jersey Shore” or “The Kardashians.”

That’s fine (except for the texting which is stupid) but shouldn’t everyone know something about the history of their country?  I hear that American History is not taught much anymore in some schools.  Maybe that is why, along with the political stances of some teachers, so many kids and young adults don’t know the simplest answers to questions about the past.

Here are some questions Jay Leno has asked students over the years in his “Jaywalking” segment of the “Tonight Show.”  The answers are so ridiculous that they are funny but at the same time are sad because it shows the lack of history being taught today.

1.  Jay shows a kid a picture of Thomas Jefferson and asks him who it is.  His answer?  “Jefferson!”  Very good until the next question:  “What is Jefferson’s first name?”  answer:  “George?”  Oops!

2.  Jay asks:  “When is Independence Day?”  Answer:  “July 4.”  Very good.  Who did we win independence from?  Answer:  “Mexico?”  Whoops!

3.  “In what war was the Battle of Gettysburg?”  Answer:  “World  War II?”  That is, of course, wrong but I’ll give a hooyah to the kid for at least knowing that there was a World War II.

4.  “Who won the Civil War?”  Answer:  “Unfortunately, the South.”  HUH?  Jeez, she had a 50-50- chance and still muffed it!

5.  “What happened at Pearl Harbor during World War II?”  Answer:  “It was bombed?” CORRECT!  "Who bombed it?”  "Uh….Hawaii?”  Ouch!

These are just some mild examples of the things people don’t know about their own country.   History is important; it tells why we did what we did in the past and how it affects us today.  It should be taught as a serious subject in schools.

This photo from World War II shows women (all wearing dresses!) at a meat counter.  The sign on the meat case in the foreground says:  "Save waste fats for explosives."  Meat along with sugar,  butter, and other staples were rationed during wartime and NOTHING was thrown away.

World War II  was a time when Americans banded together saving anything for use in the war effort.  It was also the time when women stepped up to the challenge and worked in war plants by night while running a household during the day often with precious little sleep.

Post World war II America saw women gaining more independence and leaving the pre-war expectations of getting married, having children, and running a household.

Many women who worked in the plants liked getting a paycheck and wanted to continue doing it after the war ended.  It was the beginning of women's lib!

(For more information about WWII on the home front, google "WWII Victory gardens" and "WWII Scrap metal drives.")


Glo said...

#5: What a bimbo! Everyone knows the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor - ask Bluto!

Jim McAllister said...

From Joe Finnerty, 10:20 pm, 3-24

Your belief that many Americans are uninformed about our history should not rely upon the ignorant responses that aired on segments of the Jay Leno show. Those episodes may well have been staged. TV is known to use many ploys to hype ratings and this might be one of them.

If young people know less about American history today, perhaps it’s because there is so much more to know about the subject. Over seventy years have passed since I entered eighth grade. Granted, knowing the names of our Founding Fathers would seem to be something most students should have learned and remembered if they were taught any elementary course in the subject.

While in grade school, I memorized names and dates but my text books rarely provided an accurate historical perspective of why certain events unfolded. As an example, little attention was paid to Spain’s role in dominating South America and founding Franciscan Missions as far north as California a full century before the Pilgrims made their landing at Plymouth Rock.

Topics such as slavery and the Indian’s resistance to western settlers were not presented with much accuracy.

Ask yourself some easy questions. Who were Lewis and Clark, Mason and Dixon, Abbot and Costello? Answer two correctly and you may win a trip to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, but only if you know for whom it was named. Hint: He was not an American.

During World War II, citizens were urged to collect old, worn out rubber tires for the war effort. At the time this program was announced, the Government had no particular need for them, nor did any ever surface. It just occurred to some Washington bureaucrat that it might help build morale. And it did. In fact, we won the war. More history some folks never learned

midnightsstaff said...

Most people's concept of history begins at their own birth...
I guess that's why we as a society demand to do exactly the same things that others have tried and failed at as tho there is some reason to believe that which has never worked before will somehow work this time.
To be fair tho Jimmy, sometimes the answer just doesn't come when you are nose to jaw with Jay Leno asking questions on history..
I'll be sad to see the end of spring training, not the games or anything like that but every night just before ten they put on a great fireworks display at the Cincinnati Indians multiplex..
I get a freebie light show off my balcony... I'm on a real good roll lately...

Jim McAllister said...


Good old Bluto! There are probably plenty out there who believe the Germans bombed Pearl. Oh well, at least they picked a country that was in the war and had some fore power. That's more than we can say for the poor Hawaiians whose military probably consisted of one catapult that flung pineapples.


Some of the stuff you mentioned is pretty obscure and I wouldn't expect the average person to know it (that's interesting about the tires). But, the stuff Leno asks is pretty elementary and one would think most people would know it.

One girl thought John Wayne really did fight at the Alamo even though she only missed the battle by one year saying it was in 1837 instead of 1836.

I don't think this stuff is staged. I really don't think a lot of people are familiar with a lot of dates, people, places, etc. involving history, in particular American History. It's nerds like me who love that stuff; many others yawn and say "So what?"

Leno asked one guy where the Panama Canal is and he answered "China." Yikes!

Jim McAllister said...


I have met some of those people who believe history begins when they are born. One person in particular is a friend of Barbs. She and her husband went to see "Citizen Kane" once after it had been at that theater on Scottsdale Road where they showed old films. "Kane" has been recognized as the best film ever made by the American Film Institute and many other organizations.

After this gal went, I asked her how she liked it. She said they walked out in the middle because "It wasn't even in color." I told her that black and white conveyed the mood of the film and that being in color would have destroyed that feel. I also told her it was made in 1941 when a lot of films were still in black and white anyway. Her reply? "1941? I wasn't born until 1950 so I wouldn't know anything about that."

I gave her a smirk and walked away shaking my head! LOL

Only about one more week of free fireworks. Enjoy!

Jim McAllister said...

From FD,

The history blog was good. I especially liked the comment about the women wearing dresses. Do kids today even know what a housedress is? And now, having said that, I gotta go back and look at that meat market picture and see if any of 'em are wearing aprons.


I think the last time I heard the term "house dresses" was in the movie from 1997 "As Good as it Gets" with Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt.

They go to a fancy restaurant and they tell him he needs to have on a coat and tie. He leaves and comes back dressed properly and says, "They make me leave to get a coat and tie and you wear a house dress and they say nothing!"

By the way, there was a gas station scene in that film and gas was $1.13. I didn't think I would ever think of 1997 as the good old days. $1.13 is not as good as 20.5 but it looks pretty good today.

FD said...

Hm.m.mmmmm? $1.13-a-gallon gas in 1997, huh? We're goin' off-topic here but the pre-Katrina per gallon price at the pump along the Gulf Coast was 93 cents for unleaded regular. We're being manipulated into the poor house. I cannot help but wonder who will be in your shoes looking back at this time in history years from now and what the end result of all the skrew-yer-buddy manipulation will be?

No aprons on the housewives before the meat counter, by the way. There was an e-mail circulating years ago about memories about mom and her apron and the various things the device was put to use for. I'll see if I can't resurrect that. You'll love it.

Jim McAllister said...


The scene with the $1.13 gas was supposedly in 1997 Baltimore and the station looked like a major one, maybe Esso.

Gas prices have fluctuated so much in recent years, I can't keep up with them. My greatest gas memories were in the late 60s in Warrensburg, Missouri where the station up the street sold it consistently for 20.9 to 25.9. I always bought gas from the independents for those prices. The big guys were about a nickel higher and being a student and veteran at that time, that was a bit rich for my blood!

Barb still uses an apron occasionally but isn't in dresses so much anymore. I love the meat counter photo; it's a great throwback piece. I wish I could still get cube steak for 43 cents a pound like on that sign. Housewives were genuises in those wartime years inventing ways to save. I was pretty young then but I can remember my mom using ration stamps while telling me that that horrible oleo was "white butter."

Mike Slater said...

Jim, I bought my first car in 1969when I was 17. At that time in Phoenix gas was about 25 cents a gallon. My dad worked for the City of Phoenix and they had a station that if you had a card you could get it for 22 cents a gallon.

It is sad how little people know about American history. I listen to Sean Hannity and he has a man on the street segment where they ask people about government and history and most have no clue about it and yet they vote.

Jim McAllister said...


I see gas around town today over $4 a gallon. When I was in Warrensburg, Mo. in the 60s. I could fill my tank for about that amount, 20 gallon tank.

Google some of those Jay Leno "Jaywalking" segments. They are like Hannity's. It's hard to believe these people are SO DUMB. Everyone should at least be able to list all the presidents in the 20th century.

Rick Kepple said...

Oil pumped from the ground is cheap, but strip mining oil is every expensive. It costs thirty dollars a barrel using natural gas to heat the water and recover only 75 percent of the oil in that asphalt like substance. In fact, it's possible that one day our government will convince us that it's cheaper to replace roads with concrete and squeeze every drop of oil from the asphalt pavement. We are nearing the bottom of the oil barrel.

Rick Kepple said...

I had a university consultant on the farm one day and he said that the biggest mistake that Washington ever did was to make oil into a commodity along with food. It is true that fossil fuels are used to make fertilizers, pesticides and it takes fuel to farm our food, but our entire way of life is dependent on oil, propane, natural gas and coal. In just one short century, our world went from a horse and carriage to space exploration. I wonder, when the oil is gone, what miracles will the oil companies magically create to keep from going on Food Stamps? If it's true that they buy up alternative patents for fuel sources, then it's very possible they already have those answers. The alternative is that we go back to horse travel and everything, even the computer you're looking at, is made from fossil fuels. Sure, grain makes good plastics, but it takes fossil fuels to grow and harvest that grain. With 7 billion population in the world, I guarantee it will lead to world war, because rich people will never choose to be poor. Historically, all wars are started over wealth of some kind. History shows that our future is grim.

Jim McAllister said...


Good points. With wind and solar seeming pretty far down the road, it could get interesting.

Rick Kepple said...

Life is surreal lately. It's American history in the making. It's coffee ice cream with an espresso chaser with whipped cream on top.

Jim McAllister said...

Rick, It sounds like things are going well for you; glad to hear it. Maybe it is the effect of springtime in the beautiful Ozarks.

I love coffee ice cream.

Rick Kepple said...

American history being made in the Supreme Court and the Republicans REALLY screwed up BIG TIME! The crux of the argument before the Supreme Court is that the government can't mandate a "Product" (insurance) to the people, but home insurance and car insurance are mandated all the time! I gave the topic to a newspaper reporter and she's checking into why it's bad to mandate health insurance, but good to mandate flood insurance and car insurance. If the Republicans win their argument, it could make any mandated insurance unConstitutional. Now, if you consider that insurance is fatwa in Islam, it's possible that both parties staged this to force the issue of mandated insurance and get rid of it. However, if Obama wins the argument based on home insurance and car insurance already being mandated, it will further the G20 in their creation of Global Governance. There are fines for not having home insurance and there are fines for not having car insurance. So why is this issue even before the Supreme Court? Unless there is a greater agenda afoot. It's possible that either way this goes, Islam wins.

Jim McAllister said...


Not a bad point, we shall see. It looks at the moment like Obama will lose this one 5-4 with Kennedy being the decisive vote.

As far as the mandate, I think the argument is whether the FEDERAL government can issue a mandate that would cross state lines. Car and home insurance are more local mandates.

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