(Source – The Odebolt Chronicle Progress Edition, October 29, 1953, Volume 65, Number 44)
Reviewing the progress of Odebolt during the last fifteen or twenty years has been the paramount assignment at the Chronicle office for several weeks. The compiling of data on this subject has shown that the progress here is only in line with and a part of the progress throughout the nation.
In retrospection it is well to go back to the turn of the century and note general conditions that have been undergoing a change in the advance of progress.
The U. S. family of 1900 lived in much the same way as the U. S. family of 1875. In sharp, vivid, exciting contrast, the U. S. family of 1925 was to live a life which 1900 would have regarded as utterly fantastic, and the family of 1953 has advanced to a still more improved and satisfactory way of life.
Most conspicuous was the change brought by that automobile. Once “Duco” topped the hurdle that had slowed production the new cars reshaped social patterns as rapidly as they created traffic problems. Registration rose from 3-million to 20-million between 1918 and 1928. In metropolitan areas suburban developments sprang up. This was the simple effect of transportation: people no longer had to live close to their jobs. And no longer did they lunch at home, so that new restaurants, plant cafeterias and that particular institution, the drug store lunch counter, rose everywhere.
What happened was that technology had at last outstripped the necessities of the growing population, and was providing real dividends in better living. This was happening in laboratories, producing improvements in everything from rayon to gasolines. And it was happening in factories, where more efficient equipment and techniques were multiplying production and reducing hours of labor. It had been a miracle when Henry Ford turned out his first million cars in seven years; the ten million took 132 days, with employees working far less time.
With added leisure, resulting from greater industrial output, came further changes where were felt and appreciated in Odebolt and throughout the nation. One was the motion picture; theatres doubled the number of seats for sale in 10 years. Both film and auto changed fashions; a lady kicking a self-starter needed her skirt short; under the influence of Miss Clara Bow she wanted it bright and glamorous. With so many roads to explore, beaches to visit, radio programs to listen to, and stadiums to jam, people appreciated easy living and easy shopping. They demanded food that could be prepared quickly; self-service and new cellophane wrappings proved popular.
The family vacation underwent sharp change; quick trips by auto, rather than extended pilgrimages, became the vogue. Week-end summer cottages with those intriguing names of Uneeda Rest, Dew-Drop-In, Stumble-In, and Don’t Stay Long, sprang up on thousands of rivers and lakes, now that they were accessible by road. There was more money for parks and playgrounds, for recreation, golf courses spread everywhere, and in a more sober vein, for hospitals and medical research. The rush to the country, plus the new school bus, brought the consolidated school, with facilities greatly beyond those of local communities.
Thoughtful men pondered these changes. Some deplored them, but most saw that higher living standards were essential to community and national progress. There were editors, lecturers and churchmen who worried about increasing materialism, but they had lost sight of broad cultural gains. Mid-twenties saw great number of significant literary works, far exceeding the earlier periods. Among them: Arrowsmith, The Sun Also Rises, Manhattan Transfer, John Brown’s Body, A Lost Lady, and Look Homeward Angel. Education opportunities were broadening and more young people, especially girls, were going to college. College endowments, almost a billion in 1925, had more than doubled by 1951.
Progress in Odebolt and throughout the nation was hindered by World War Ii and the Korean War. Each period was and will be followed by a post-war expansion. Industrial organizations had their staffs scattered and had to build again. Post-war America had and will have again new needs and must meet new demands. Now the country is settling down to the enjoyment of a new entertainment and educational disseminator—The Television, which has not as yet reached the point of saturation in the homes of the country, although the number that have television far exceeds those without. This has resulted in a change in the habits of the householders. Families are not so prone to go various ways in search of entertainment. The nation-wide television programs have entered the home, bringing the faces and personalities of individuals who, heretofore, were only voices. Old days are being revamped into TV skits, all kind of music is being presented by world famous bands and noted singers. The effect on night clubs and picture shows has been disastrous. In the centers of large population served by hundreds of movies attendance reached such a low stage that numerous theatres have been darkened, and in rural areas it has become a question of existence.
New Ways of Life have come to the rural areas. Agriculture has not stood still and the effect of its progress has been felt on Odebolt and every country town in the nation. The tractor has replaced the horses and permitted the farmer to operate larger farms. This has brought the abandonment of many farmsteads, while the centralized farm home with its many acres has been modernized. Rural electricity has removed the drudgery and replaced many hours of work with the refrigerator, food freezer, washing and drying units in the farm home and bringing the radio and television for entertainment.
The tractor has also brought to the farmer modern farm tools. He picks his corn by machinery, he mows his hay and picks it up in bales with another machine, his wheat, oats and beans are harvested and threshed in one continuous operation with only one or two men compared to many in the days of horses. Electricity milks the cows and separates the milk. Tilling tools have improved with scientific agricultural progress.
New Ways of Life have come into the towns, hills and valleys and all persons, everywhere, are affected by it.
(Transcribed by B. Ekse)
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