If I lived a hundred years ago, I’d be viewing changes with anticipation. I’d have experienced the War Between the States (the Civil War to us); my life might be urban or rural, but there wouldn’t be a suburban choice, really.
If I lived in Ann Arbor, I would be able to ride a street car, an interurban, a train. Daringly, I might get into a car. I could have been really adventurous and learned to ride a bicycle, but odds are I’d know how to drive horses. Maybe a buggy, maybe a dogcart, but horses would have been the most rational motive power in my youth.
I wouldn’t be able to vote. And while such things are possible, it’s unlikely that I’d have attended college. Even with the University of Michigan here, college was not really available to people like me. I’d be fortunate to have finished high school.
I’d spend my summers preparing for winter, and my winters trying to stay warm. Much of my attention might focus on food preservation and food preparation. I’d probably make many of my own clothes, and wouldn’t be concerned about whether the chickens next door make noise: I’d just want some of the eggs. All of this assumes that I’d lived to my current maturity.
I wouldn’t know about the upcoming War to End All Wars (World War I) but I’d read about the news from Europe. I wouldn’t anticipate the influenza epidemic of 1918, but I’d have survived pneumonia, child birth, food poisoning, blood poisoning, and other illnesses. That’s assuming I survived past 60.
Thinking about the changes I’d have seen from the early years of Ann Arbor to 1912 makes me think about the changes I’ve seen since I moved to Ann Arbor almost 40 years ago.
I’m still struggling to think of houses as ‘older’ if they were built in 1990. To me, an older house was built in the 1930s, and my house is really old, since it was built about 100 years before that.