Tag Archives: 19th Century

My Kingdom for an Asprin

(animated stereo) Bismarck, Dakota Territory (...

Bismarck, Dakota Territory (9/3/1883) (Photo credit: Thiophene_Guy)

Have you ever heard someone say, “I wish I had been born back in the Old West!”? Let’s examine some of the pros and cons of this statement.

Let’s go back 150 years. For my part, this notion could begin and end with two words: Air conditioning. But we will delve deeper.

We’ll start with something as simple as a scratch. Today, this could be cured with an antiseptic ointment and a band-aid. In 1862 however, this could potentially become a life-threatening ailment. This simple scratch could become infected and lead to death. Of course, there was always the option of amputation. But thanks to unsanitary surgical equipment, additional suffering was a nice little side-dish on your heaping plate of death.

Skipping to the world of dentistry, a simple tooth extraction in today’s world would require no more that a needle full of a local anesthetic. The tooth would be painlessly removed and the patient would be ushered out of the office, no more the worse off.

The same procedure 150 years earlier would require one bottle of “anesthesia” (re: liquor), “restraints” (re: four large men), and a dirty pair of pliers wielded by the same man that would cut your hair.

A headache. What to do, what to do? I’ll let you figure that one out.

Today, a trip to the grocery store supplies the household with a week’s worth of groceries. Back then, a trip into the woods may or may not yield food for that evening’s dinner.

Here is another no-brainer. The average lifespan in the 1860s was 45 years.

I’ll have to give you one thing: Riding around on a horse wearing cool clothes and holstered six-shooters would certainly have been cool. But that’s about as far as I can take it.

To finish this post, imagine having to write using an 1860s typewriter, as opposed to the computers we are blessed with today.

‘Nuff said.

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