While her personal reminisces about behavior and social customs might be right on for someone who is 58,
Grandma is a little confused about when things came on the scene, or maybe she just
does not want to admit her real age. But she gives us a few hints about her true age when
she tells her grandson about things that came after her birthday. Lets see if we can figure
out just how old Grandma really is.
Seems like Grandma says she was born about 1948, so her claim that she was born before
credit cards seems true enough since the first credit card, Diners Club, was issued in
1950. So far she is still just 58.
She claims she was born before Frisbees. Well now she is cutting it thin, since Frisbees
were introduced in 1948. But of course she could have been born early in the year and
Frisbees came later. So she could still be just 58.
Ball Point pens were invented by Ladislo Biro in 1938 and first used by British RAF
pilots who needed a reliable writing instrument. Seems fountain pens did not work well
at high altitudes. If they thought to use a pencil perhaps we would still be staining our shirt
pockets with leaking pens. Oh wait; we still do that, only now we use uncapped markers.
The ballpoint pen was first launched commercially in 1945. So that makes Grandma
Grandma claims she was around before Penicillin. Well that depends on what her
definition of "before" is. Penicillin was discovered in 1928 but couldn't be made in
commercial quantities. This problem was solved in the late thirty's and by D-Day 1944
allied troops were being treated with the miracle drug. So we'll give Grandma some
leeway and consider she was born in early 1944. This would make her approaching 62
FM radio was invented in 1933. One of the first broadcasts was an experimental station,
W3XO, on 8/28/1939 in
Washington DC. The station went commercial as WINX-FM in 1943. Others quickly followed. Most stations broadcast classical music in those days,
due to the superior, static free quality of the reception. Not any more though. Now its
Hard-rock, Punk, Rap, and frequent commercial breaks. So much for superior reception.
But Grandma just aged another year. She is now at least 63.
Radar was successfully developed by the British just prior to WWII. They kept it secret
and the outnumbered RAF used it successfully against the numerically superior Luftwaff
during the Battle of Britain in 1940. The heroic action of the RAF fighter pilots is what
inspired Winston Churchill to remark "Never have so many owed so much to so few".
The British did eventually share it with us though, later in the war. (Probably a payment
of sorts against the lease part of the Lend-Lease Act.) By 1942 or so the word Radar had
entered common usage. Another year for Grandma. She's ready for Medicare now- 65.
The first working television was demonstrated in 1925. It was a mechanical monster
with perforated revolving disks at the transmitter and receiver that had to be kept in
perfect synchronization. But it worked. Two years later Philo T. Farnsworth invented an
electronic TV that did away with the spinning disks. It was demonstrated at the New
York Worlds Fair in 1939. WWII slowed commercial development, though there were a
few stations broadcasting a few hours a day. But Grandma says she was born before TV
(We'll give ol' Grandma a break and ignore the 1925 and 1927 demonstrations of TV.) so 1939
makes her at least 67.
Nescafe, developed instant coffee in 1938 as a solution to a Brazilian coffee surplus. And,
if you'll pardon the pun, it was an instant success. So if Grandma was around before
instant coffee she is 68 now.
Practical electric typewriters appeared in the
1920's. They became more common in the 1930's so lets give Grandma another break and pick 1935. This makes Grandma about
71 now. More or less.
Clarence Birdseye invented Frozen Food in 1930. I guess the trouble was few people had
refrigerator-freezers in their homes. So even if Grandma did not use frozen food, if she
pre-dated them she is almost 76 now.
The first home Air Conditioners were marketed in 1928. If Grandma means any Air
Conditioner she is even older. The first commercial use of a modern Air Conditioning
unit came in 1902, installed in a printshop to control the humidity that caused paper jams
and mis-registration. So we'll give the old lady a break again and use the home air
conditioner date. Grandma's now 78.
We should probably stop here. Grandma's old enough now and a woman does have the
right to lie about her age. I think it's in the Constitution or the Bible.
But just so you know, Grandma could be much, much older.
The Dishwasher was invented in 1893 by--no surprise here--a women. Josephine
Cochran started a company to manufacture and market her machine. That company
eventually became Kitchenaid. At first dishwashers were used mainly by hotels and
restaurants but shortly after WWII they began to become essential home appliances.
A patent for a clothes dryer was issued in 1892. By 1915 they were electrified and used
in laundries. It took a while for them to appear in any noticeable quantity in America's
homes. We have a lot of sun and a lot of clothesline.
Washing machines, dryers, and dishwashers were not that common in homes
around 1948 but they certainly were not unknown. You'll find them causing all kinds of problems
for Laurel & Hardy or the Three Stooges in comedies from the twenty's and thirty's.
So Grandma could hardly escape knowing such things were around. There is even an occasional small screen (big console) TV in some of the Stooges films
And lets not even consider yogurt. If we did we'd have to call her Grandmummy.
"A huge lie repeated often enough is soon accepted as truth."...Herr Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Propaganda Minister.