Copyright 2018 by Leonard Dawson
Earp and Neil Armstrong have in common? Born in 1881, the year the
Earp brothers faced the Clantons in a gunfight at the O. K. Corral,
my great-grandmother Alice Sapp lived to see Neil Armstrong set foot
on the moon in 1969.
spanned the industrial, nuclear, and space ages, itís not the
number of years she lived that made her life special, but the range
and depth of the changes her generation experienced. People can argue
that change is dizzyingly rapid these days, but her generation saw
more people, events, discoveries and inventions than any other did.
grew up in
a house with no plumbing, no electricity and no telephone. To talk to
a friend she had to saddle up a horse, hitch up the buckboard, or
walk. Long distance overland travel meant taking a steam train or
bible was the
only book most families owned in 1881, the year she was born, and
coincidently the same year Billy
the Kid died.
People sat near a wood fire or coal stove to keep warm, and used a
candle, a gas light, or a whale oil lamp to read by. As a young girl,
Alice could have met a cowboy fresh off a cattle drive, or gone to
see Annie Oakley or Buffalo Bill perform in his Wild
told me that
as a teenager she read dime novels about outlaws like Billy the Kid
and Jesse James and newspaper accounts of men like Butch Cassidy. She
was in her late teens when San Francisco was destroyed by an
earthquake, and still in her teens when Teddy Roosevelt led the Rough
Riders up San Juan Hill during our war with Spain in Cuba.
Alice married a widower twenty plus years her senior who had run away
when he was twelve to be a drummer boy in the Civil War. She was just
entering her thirties when the Titanic struck an iceberg. A few years
later the Panama Canal opened. Living through the second decade of
the new century, one of humanityís darkest; she had witnessed
the outbreak of World War I, the Influenza Pandemic, and the Russian
she lived through the Roaring Twenties and Prohibition. Newspapers,
movie shorts, and radio broadcasts followed the exploits of gangsters
like Al Capone and criminals like Bonnie and Clyde.
approaching fifty when Wall Street crashed in 1929, ushering in
another dark period in our past. In the next six years she lived
through the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, World War II, and the
advent of the nuclear age.
have the right to vote until 1920 when Alice turned thirty-nine. She
lived through the Civil Rights movement in her late eighties. She saw
the enactment of Social Security, and the creation of the FBI, the
CIA, NATO and the United Nations. Nearly all of the vaccines and
antibiotics that we take for granted were discovered during Aliceís
lifetime. For better or worse, she also saw the advent of mail order
catalogues, fast food, shopping malls, and chain stores.
born, twelve of our fifty states hadnít been admitted to the
union yet, and Israel wouldnít exist as an independent state
for another 67 years. The Brooklyn Bridge was considered an
engineering marvel. Skyscrapers were a new phenomenon made possible
by the invention of the elevator, and exploration meant conquering
the North and South poles.
Alice was a
young girl people communicated by letter or telegraph, cooked with
wood or coal, cleaned house with a broom, and washed clothes with a
hand operated wringer washer. If they were lucky, they preserved
their food in an icebox that had a real block of ice in it.
were a few
experimental cars around when she was growing up, but no airplanes,
helicopters, jets, rockets, refrigerators, washer-dryers, microwave
ovens, vacuum cleaners, cameras, radios, televisions, VCRs, stereos,
electric fans, air conditioners, or computers.
people who influenced her generation for better or worse, included
(in no particular order): Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Sigmund Freud,
Charles Darwin, Madam Curie, Charles Lindberg, Albert Einstein,
Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, Karl Marx, Frank
Lloyd Wright, Babe Ruth, Mohammed Ali, Mahatma Ghandi and Mother
Theresa. And thatís just a few of them.
a sad note,
presidents James Garfield, William McKinley and John Kennedy were all
assassinated during her lifetime, as were Robert Kennedy and Martin
an industry didnít exist when Alice was born. Twenty years
later she could listen to records by turning the crank on a Victrola.
She saw the advent of silent films, assuming she had the five cents
for admission. Alice may have seen Gone with the Wind,
the Wizard of OZ, or the first Disney cartoon, when
out in theaters. She could have read To Kill a Mockingbird the
year it was published.
Impressionism was popular, she lived to see Art Deco, Op art, and
Modern art. She may have danced the Charleston to the music of a Big
Band. She would have heard the birth of every American music genre on
the radio, including Swing, American Folk, Blues, Jazz, and Rock and
Roll. As a Southerner, she may have been one of the first people to
hear Elvis Presley on the radio, and was alive when the Beatles
appeared on the Ed Sullivan show.
independent, American spirit, Alice was the embodiment of her
generation. After her husband died she lived alone on a modest rural
homestead, remaining self-sufficient by raising her own chickens and
growing her own vegetables until she passed away in 1972 at the age
27 years working as a computer analyst and have a degree in
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
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