My friend Wilson Mixon – emeritus professor of economics at Berry College – sent to me today a newly produced complete replica of an 1897 Sears catalog. Thanks Wilson!
I’ll have great good fun learning in more detail about middle-class American living standards back then (exactly 100 years before the birth of my son, Thomas – and a mere three years before the birth of my oldest grandparent [who died at the age of 75 when I was 17]). I’ll share much of what I learn here at the Cafe.
Of course, almost no one argues that ordinary Americans in 2013 are not substantially better off materially than were ordinary Americans of 116 years ago. But my guess – and now, that’s all I have is a guess – is that we today cannot quite imagine just how much better off ordinary Americans are today compared to ordinary Americans at the dawn of the presidency of William McKinley.