Back When Tattoos Cost A Nickel and Steam Was King

The historic, drought-busting nature of this year’s World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians has even my old friend Mike Maehle - not generally a sports fan - uncharacteristically interested. The last time I heard him talk about baseball was.... well, never. But, as a knowledgeable student of history he was talking about it today and we got to kidding around about how unimaginably long ago 1908 was, and how vastly different the world was when the Cubs last won a championship that very year. As a friend of Mike's once put it about the distant past, "Tattoos were only a nickel and steam was still king!." Teddy Roosevelt was President, though in the last year of his second term. Keeping a promise not to seek a third term that November, Roosevelt persuaded the Republicans to nominate William Howard Taft, while William Jennings Bryan was the Democratic candidate for the third straight time that autumn. Yes, that’s right - it was so long ago, the Bible-thumpers were Democrats instead of Republicans, and Presidential candidates had desirable qualities like integrity, dignity and a grasp of the English language. Not to mention statesmanship, considerable oratorical skill, manners, and other refinements. It was clearly another planet, though some things remained the same - as recently, there was trouble in Serbia, Herzegovina and Macedonia. But World War One was still six years away and nobody had a clue who the hell Archduke Franz Ferdinand was yet, more [...]