Alex Kim

History 02
Dec. 12-18-03
Living life through the 1900’s
Since the 1900’s technology has been increasing rapidly, from washing
machines to automobiles, affecting the citizens of the U.S. dramatically;
now receiving increased pay checks and something they never have had
before. Leisure time, not only could people start affording more, but they
could also do more instead of work. The problem was finding what to do was
hard and now in the 21st century even harder. The average American teenage
complains of boredom quite often, and yet we’ve had so much more changing
from the 1900’s to 1929. Entertainment was starting to become a necessity
in life but the way it’s changed has differed profoundly from 1900 to 1929.

One of the first reasons that leisure time became widely available
was due to increase of job work and stability. When people could get jobs
and keep them, they usually got paid a fair amount and were able to do more
things with family in result. Business owners were starting to care for
their workers and wanted people to spend more time with their family and
become better acquainted with their sons or daughters. Stability was also
another factor, when Henry Ford started hiring people, he did good things
for them such as give them better wages, less work hours and he taught them
better values. Mr. Ford gave 5 dollars to workers with “Thrifty Habits”,
thrifty habits were “Workers who refused to learn English, rejected the
company detective’s advice, gambled, drank or pursued ‘any malicious
practice derogatory to…moral behavior did not get the raise. In 2 years,
three-quarters of Ford’s workers made $5 a day.” Mr. Ford’s thinking was
that by giving workers more money, they could buy more products of their
own such as “cars”.

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Transportation in the older days took much time out of any mans life.

Transportation was determined by either walking, which was the primary mode
of transportation of the poor or by carriage which was also more of an
upper class delight. When the Model T’s started getting pumped out by the
1000’s, and people were able to afford them then we started getting more
movement across the country. These cars were only at a measly $300 in 1927
while in 1903 the car had cost about a whooping $1000. “By 1923, there were
more then 2,120,898 automobiles on the roads of the U.S.”For vacation,
instead of riding a smelly horse taking hours upon hours to arrive to the
beach, it would take less than half the time provided there was no traffic.

Technology has had a tremendous effect on leisure time.

Automated objects were starting to become very popular, due to the
assembly line, things such as vacuum cleaners, washing machines, toasters,
and irons were being made in mass quantities. The vacuum cleaner which was
invented in 1921 decreased time spending cleaning and increased time with
children or leisure time. In the 1900’s the radio was also invented, to be
precise 1922 was the first time a station was created and from then on the
radio was a good source of information and entertainment not to mention
advertising. When people wanted thing’s sold, advertising would surely be a
sure fire way to make it sell, bill boards, signs, commercials, this
increased consumer purchasing thus stimulating the economy.

By the 1920’s instead of sitting by the fire and reading a good book
like the people of the 1900’s did, people went shopping. Chain stores such
as J.C. Penny, Sears, and Roebuck had about 29,000 stores but by 1929 there
were 160,000. With automobiles around, people could shop anywhere because
of the convenience of their Model T and could carry more. The chain stores
had become quite popular due to the fact that, since the stores had mass
amounts of items, they would be cheaper, have more in stock and most likely
in a more convenient place for their consumers. Now in our society we tend
to have women shop more often but back then, the rights of women were

World War I had made a profound effect on women’s right, before it,
women were arrested for smoking or cursing, and appearing at beaches
without stockings or indecent exposure. But this was before, and now it’s
strange to see a girl very covered up, the Journal of Commerce estimated
that “In the previous 15 years the average woman had stripped away 12.25
yards of material from her outfit, leaving only a scant 7 yards” As you can
see, women were changing and so was what they could and couldn’t do. Woman
now in their leisure time had more independence, they could have a smoke if
they wished too or go and wear make up. Going to the beach was a way to
show how women were becoming more independent, they wore brave and new swim
suits that showed off their body and loved it.

The next era was smoothly, flowing in, the jazz age that is. Starting
from the 1920’s America’s new hobby was watching movies. It was estimated
that Americans went once every week, and that really adds up. The movie
theaters brought so much into their lives, drama, action, comedy, and
people love using their leisure time, as well as their wealth to go to
these theaters. People admired these stars in the movies beyond belief,
just like now. If a star got a new hair cut, so did 20,000 other ladies
across the nation. We see how stars influence our lives but how about

Sports were just starting to become a spectator sport now that there
are no wars to worry about, the economy is becoming better and we’ve got so
much leisure time. People were starting to play more sports that before
were just for the wealthy like golf. The government was adding more
recreation centers like baseball diamonds and swimming pools. People were
also starting to appreciate sports more, especially the heroes of sports
like Babe Ruth. “In St. Louis, Missouri, 40,000 fans witnessed the fourth
game of baseball’s World Series. Millions more enthusiastic fans were
listening to popular announcer Graham McNamee as Babe Ruth came to bat”
People were starting to enjoy watching sports, imagining themselves as
those remarkable heroes.

In almost three decades, the U.S. has changed in many areas but
overall how leisure time was spent may be the most. People in the 1900’s
had no leisure time, all they had to do was work to live, now they were
starting to live to live! People shouldn’t waste their lives in a factory,
becoming machines and only doing what you’re told. People need free time of
their own to do what they want. The new inventions sped up work time, and
so did Mr. Ford, with these new ideals people can get through work and do
things they wanted like watch sports or movies. Without leisure time life
would be pointless, what was needed was a good relation to calm our mind
and our bodies.

Works Cited:
American Odyssey
Gary B. Nash
Published 1999, The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc


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