In 1908, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. They haven’t won since. Entire generations of Cubs fans have lived and died without seeing their precious team win the championship. That streak may end in 2015, if they can come back to beat the Mets, thus making Doc Brown’s prediction from Back to the Future II come true.
If that changes, then the old jokes about “The last time the Cubs won the World Series…” will finally cease. We mustn’t let that happen without documenting what life was the last time the Cubs won it all [by documenting, we mean “besides unpacking all of the horrifying racism, sexism, and homophobia that are implicit in any 1908 conversation”] :
Sliced Bread Was Two Decades Away From Being Invented
Prior to 1928, people were buying entire loaves of bread from the bakery like goddamn Neanderthals and slicing it at home themselves. Ridiculous! So a guy named Otto Rohwedder invented a cool machine that sliced a loaf of bread and wrapped it, which revolutionized the baking industry and made commercially sold bread a common staple in the American diet.
“Drug Stores” Were Way More Literal
Cocaine, heroin, and marijuana were all technically legal in 1908, but marijuana just wasn’t as popular or important as heroin or cocaine, both of which were considered medicinal, safe, miraculous, and sold over-the-counter at pharmacies. In related news: pharmacies where waaaaay more fun back then.
Reportedly, heroin was excellent at suppressing coughs, while cocaine was a numbing analgesic. Both of them were pretty good at making your face feel like it was melting off.
People Weren’t Completely Sold On The Whole “Cars” Thing
1908 was a year that would forever change history, because it marked the introduction of Henry Ford’s Model-T car and the invention of the assembly line. New technology takes a little while to catch on, and one of Ford’s cars cost a whopping $850 (which was more than the median yearly salary, at the time) so we can assume that when the Cubs last won the World Series, many people, if not most, were still using the ol’ horse and buggy route.
Teddy Roosevelt Was The Country’s Idea Of A Republican
Theodore Roosevelt was one of the most eccentric and interesting presidents in our history. It may not seem that long ago, except when you consider that Mount Rushmore (on which President Roosevelt’s face appears) was still almost two decades away from being started, four decades away from being completed, and a century away from tourists getting freaked out by Shia LaBeouf. And one of the most beloved children’s toys, the teddy bear, wasn’t popularized until his presidency (hence the name)! There have been 18 other presidents since Theodore Roosevelt left office.
Most surprising: the guy who called U.S. National Parks “America’s best idea” was a republican. See, there was a time when you could be a republican and still advocate for nature without being called a “tree hugger.”
There Were Only 46 States
You probably expected that Alaska and Hawaii weren’t part of our United States yet, but neither were New Mexico or Arizona. No Arizona? Where did people retire?
Both states joined the union in 1912. Oklahoma had only just joined that year.
Senators Were Elected By State Legislature
Prior to 1913, U.S. Senators were elected by the state legislatures. So if you were from Tennessee and wanted to be a senator, you’d just have to ask your politician buddy in Nashville to nominate you, and you were good to go. This system was obviously abused, so in in 1913 they changed it to allow voters to directly elect senators instead. However, women, Native Americans, African Americans, and people under age 21 were still either overtly or covertly prohibited from voting.
People Thought The Eiffel Tower Was Tall
These days, buildings like the Sears Tower (now known as the Willis Tower), the Empire State Building, Shanghai Tower, and Burj Khalifa laugh in the face of the Eiffel Tower, which stands at a puny 986 feet tall. But the Eiffel Tower held the “tallest building” title for over 40 years — from 1889 to 1930 — when the Chrysler Building was built. And also, did you know the French intellectuals originally hated the Eiffel Tower? Now it’s one of the most visited structures on the planet and is the thing most readily associated with France (acting snobby to U.S. tourists is No. 2).
We Still Had Carrier Pigeons
At one point, carrier/passenger pigeons accounted for almost a quarter of all American birds. Deforestation and hunting led to the species’ decline in the late 19th century. The last passenger pigeon, kept in captivity, died in 1914. Other animals that were alive in 1908 that are now extinct? The California grizzly bear, dozens of species of tigers, marsupials, and wolves, and the black rhinoceros.