THOMAS/Looking back, looking forward

THOMAS/Looking back, looking forward


At the end of the year, we hear predictions about the future, many of which have been proven wrong – from the end of the world due to climate change, to the telephone is just a toy. (There is a story, probably apocryphal, that in 1876, the President of Western Union, William Orton, dismissed phones as a “toy” when Alexander Graham Bell offered to sell him the patent for $100,000).

The past is a better teacher if we will pay attention to successes and mistakes that we might avoid one and embrace the other.

A hundred years ago, the ’20s were roaring and President Calvin Coolidge did things the current president and Congress would do well to emulate. Coolidge won a landslide victory running on a platform of limited government, reduced taxes, and less regulation. He followed through on all three, creating an economic boom. (Where have you gone, Silent Cal, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you).

Coolidge also signed an immigration law that regulated the number of foreigners who could come to America. Asian people were especially targeted, but one must understand the challenges of the time which involved civil war in China and growing unrest in Japan. According to Densho Encyclopedia, the announced motivation of the legislation was the “ widespread fear of radicalism that contributed to anti-foreign sentiment and exclusionist demands. Supporters of immigration legislation stressed recurring themes: Anglo-Saxon superiority and foreigners as threats to jobs and wages.” Sound familiar?

A lot happened in 1924.

Vladimir Lenin died at 53 from a stroke. Lenin’s body was embalmed and put on display in Red Square for public viewing. He seems to have been reincarnated as Vladimir Putin.

Adolf Hitler is sentenced to five years in prison for his role in the Beer Hall Putsch. He is released after just nine months, but uses his time while incarcerated to write “Mein Kampf,” which, among other things, describes how he became antisemitic. His poison still infects us.

J. Edgar Hoover is named head of the FBI.

George H.W. Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts. Woodrow Wilson dies.

Jimmy Carter was born in Plains, Georgia.

Actor Marlon Brando, who would change the way many actors performed, was born in Omaha, Nebraska.

Also born this year is American novelist and playwright James Baldwin in Harlem, New York, as is Truman Capote.

The comic strip “Little Orphan Annie” debuts in the New York Daily News. In the 1970s it would become a hit musical on Broadway and a movie.

The first newsreel pictures of American presidential candidates are taken, forecasting the age of television and its use during election campaigns.

The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is held in New York.

In sports, Dallas Cowboys head coach Tom Landry was born, and the Washington Senators won their first World Series. It would be 95 years until they win another one under a different name (Washington Nationals).

Johnny Weissmuller sets the 100-meter world freestyle record at 57.4 seconds. His fame would increase when he played Tarzan in the movies.

Carol Taylor invents the ice cream cone rolling machine. Yum.

The first crossword puzzle is published, offering distractions from daily concerns to millions of people over several generations.

At the end of 1924, Judy Garland made her acting debut as a 2-½-year-old.

As with any other year, 1924 contained the good, the bad and the ugly, but it also contained lessons we should learn, because we sometimes repeat too many of the bad ones.

May those good lessons lead us to a happier, peaceful and prosperous 2024.

Readers may email Cal Thomas at Look for Cal Thomas’ latest book “A Watchman in the Night: What I've Seen Over 50 Years Reporting on America" (HumanixBooks).

Powered by Creative Circle Media Solutions