Everybody’s talking about the World Series today, and i’m no exception. Despite the fact that I usually don’t watch sports on TV, I was glued to the screen last night from the eighth inning on. And when I finally went to bed, the thought in my mind was: “All is right in the world, at least for this moment.”
This morning, as Facebook is overrun with congratulatory messages and reminders that the Cubs had not won a World Series for 108 years, several people have commented that last night’s win was a “return to the good old days.” My historian’s mindset, however, has been reminding me to think about what the world was really like 108 years ago.
Now, as it happens, the book proof I sent off to the publisher this morning deals with exactly that question. My upcoming “Yankee Daughters,” due out in early December, covers the years from 1886 to 1920. And, with an apologetic shrug to the nine real women who inspired the story, it does not paint a pretty picture. Here’s the blurb that appears on the back cover:
How do you raise old-fashioned 19-century girls who must face the challenges of an unstable world:
-- natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes
-- institutional failures that cause economic panic and bank closures
-- the unthinkable disasters of assassination and the sinking of an unsinkable ship
-- worldwide conflict and the horrors of trench warfare
And how do you prepare them for the changes they will face in the 20 century:
--from dirt roads and horse-drawn wagons to highways, airplanes, and automobiles
--from political bosses to women’s suffrage and prohibition
--from one-room school houses to state-controlled public education
--from family farms to assembly lines and labor unions
--from geographic isolation to worldwide communications
As for the year 1908 itself, here’s what my story has to say about it:
Of course, the Grenville sisters would not have been following the 1908 World Series. If they had known about it at all, they would probably have been rooting for Detroit. Still, looking back, I can imagine that many baseball fans—then as now—really needed something to make them feel good about themselves for a little while.
So, thank you, Chicago Cubs, for once again providing the smiles on our faces.