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Capitalism = Innovationism

111 years ago today my paternal grandfather, Adrian J. Boudreaux, was born in the swamps of south Louisiana, in a town called Franklin (although I don’t believe that it was called “Franklin” when “Paw” – as I called him – was born).  It’s southeast of New Iberia, LA, about halfway from there to Houma, LA.

He was the youngest son of Alcide Boudreaux (1864-1962) and (omigosh! I’ve forgotten my great-grandmother’s name).  Paw dropped out of school in fourth grade.  He ran away from home at the age of 15 to New Orleans – where he polished his English (as cajun French was his native language).  At the age of 19 he married Teresa Flanagan.  They had two children: Donald (1924-2008) and Adrian Jr. (my father, 1935-2009).  After working a few odd jobs, Paw drove a street car in New Orleans and, later, a bus.  He retired in 1965.  “Maw” died in 1967 and Paw and died in 1975.  Paw smoked three packs of unfiltered Camels daily.  When he drank (which wasn’t often) he drank Dixie beer or Schwegmann’s beer.  His skin was leathery.  He never traveled farther west than east Texas, never farther north than north Louisiana, and never farther east than Mobile, Alabama.

I remember sitting many hours with him watching his favorite t.v. show, Gunsmoke.

When Paw was born, life expectancy at birth in America was 47 years.  He beat that by 28 years.

How immensely and wondrously the world has changed since Paw was born!  (And even since he died!)

To get a sense of just how poor life was just 111 years ago even for middle-class Londoners, you can’t do better than to watch the 1999 BBC program “1900 House.”  (I believe that pretty much all of this series is available on YouTube.)  One of my favorite scenes from “1900 House” is when the hired maid reveals her sudden realization that women were liberated not so much by political activitism as by appliances such as the vacuum cleaner.