The Retro Express by Jack Joseph de Roco - HTML preview

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The Retro Express All Aboard!!!!

Painless history for Young Minds and the “Young at Heart” by Mr. Jack Joseph de Roco

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Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome aboard the Retro Express! My name is “Ramblin” I will be your guide on this trip, and if you have any questions along the way, feel free to ask. If I do not know the answer I will make something up. OK? ( I hope everybody laughs) Also I want to introduce you to our Master computer, “Reggie” Say hello to the people “Reggie”!

Hello to all of you! and my name is “Reginald” not “Reggie” just for the record. I am prepared to answer all your questions correctly.

Now if all of you will fasten your seat belts, we will be on our way. This particular trip will take about 10 seconds. I know that seems like a long time in this day and age, but if you stop to think about it our destination is not just around the corner. (come on people, smile!!)

Mr. Ramblin!! Yes!

Why is it your shoes do not touch the floor like everybody else’s ? These are special shoes dear lady, they are magnetic. That is they have magnetic soles, and since the Retro Express is powered by positive magnetic power, and positive electric magnetic power is channeled all through the floor of the Retro Express, and my shoes are positively charged, they never touch the floor. Actually, it is very comfortable after you wear them for a while.

But Mr. Ramblin, that still does not explain why they………?

I am sorry Ms. I failed to mention that positive and negative magnetic forces attract each other, and if two fields of magnetic force are both positive, or both negative, they will repel each other. Since my shoes are positive, like the floor, my shoes repel against the floor, and it looks like I am suspended in air. Which I am!

OK, Today all of you have requested that we go back only 100 years!! Since it is now the year 2008, 10 seconds from when we leave, all of you will be able to observe what it was like in 1908. I want to remind you not to get up from your seats until we arrive at our destination. Once we are there feel free to get up and look out the windows, and if you need to use the bathroom there is one on each end of the Retro Express cabin. Information about 1908 will automatically be piped into the listening device that you have in your ear, and as I said, any questions you have just ask. Each of you has an individual direct line into master computer, “Reginald”. “Reggie” is programmed to answer what ever you ask. Your voice will activate “Reggie”….

Really Ramblin, please!!!!…….

Sorry “Reginald”, ah!where was I? Oh yes, via the little lapel pin each of you were given when you entered the Retro Express. OK ! In a few moments the shields on the windows will close, and we will be in complete darkness for the 10 seconds it takes for us to arrive at our destination, the year 1908. You will feel a vibration beneath your seats, but do not be alarmed, it will only last for 10 seconds, and your seat belts will hold you in your seat until we get there.

Alright? OK “ Reginald”, close the shields!
While Reginald takes care of the shields which are closing slowly now, for many of you it will be the first time in your life you have a chance to experience what complete, total, darkness is like. When there is no light there are no shadows, and no points of reference…………
Ladies and gentleman this is how the world looks to a blind person!.................. For all of you it will only last for the 10 seconds it takes us to arrive at our destination……….. 5 seconds more and we will be there……………
The shields are lifting now. Welcome to the year 1908!

Reginald speaking “Good People”, here is where I take over for Ramblin. The American flag this year 1908, has only 45 stars. Okalahoma was made a State in November of last year, but there is no star yet on the flag, and New Mexico, Arizona, Alaska and Hawaii were not States yet.

The population in 1908 is estimated to be a little less than 89 million people. Where you come from in 2008 the population of the USA is a little less than 274 million. One thing to take note of is that people at this time in history are not taxed, whereas in the year 2008 there are 40 different taxes right now. If you remember, the reason people left England and came to America in the early days was to escape taxes.

It is estimated that in 2008 there are 250 million cars on the road in the USA . Here in 1908 the figure for the entire country is 8000. As we move around the country you will notice that almost all the roads are still dirt, and people driving the cars are wearing what were called “dusters”, a kind of light weight overcoat with hats and goggles. Most of the cars are open without windows, as you can see, although some have what they called “Isinglass curtains” that you can roll down in case of rain, attached to the cloth tops that people would wax to keep out rain.

Note that in the entire country people boasted that there were now 144 miles of paved roads, paved with cobble stones, and they were worried because of the high speed limit, which was 10 miles per hour.

See that thin man over there on your right? Is he Henry Ford senior??



That is right Ramblin. This year he turned out his first assembly line car, the model T Ford. You could buy one for $850.00. Finally the middle class people could afford a car. He also paid his workers $5.00 a day for a 12 hour day, which was a good wage. Most jobs paid 22 cents an hour or $2.64 for 12 hours work.

What was the average life span in 1908 Reginald?

The average life span in this year is 47 years. Where all of you are from it is now 77.2 years.
You might be interested to know that here in 1908, only 14% of the population have bathtubs! A new innovation is the telephone, and only 8% of the population have telephones. All you ladies might be interested to know that most women washed their hair once a month with rain water that they had accumulated in a barrel when it rained, and used Borax or egg yolks for shampoo, and they wore their hair long, and brushed it every night before going to bed. Sugar cost four cents a pound, eggs were 14 cents a dozen, coffee was 15 cents a pound. There was no Mother’s day or Father’s day, and ice tea, canned beer, along with cross word puzzles had not been invented.

What is happening on our left Reginald?



You mean that crowd of people on our left, and what appears to be a big kite flying above them? We are now in the State of Virginia and that “kite” is being flown by a man called Wilber Wright to demonstrate to the Army how an Airplane could be used. Yes, that is what was known as an Airplane in this year.

This is also the year that a man called DeForrest was able to transmit voice and music over 500 miles from the Eiffel Tower in Paris France for the first time. The result of which caused Amateur interest in radio, and many magazines were being published such as Modern Electronics, Electrician and Mechanic, explaining about radio waves. It was predicted that “RADIO” was the wave of the future.


Folks! we are not going there this trip, but in Messina Italy you should know that there was a major earthquake in December of this year, killing from 70 to 100 people.

00008.jpg00009.jpgHow about education Reginald?



Two out of every ten people could not read or write. It was estimated that only six percent of all Americans managed to graduate from High School, and ninety percent of all of the doctors had no College Education. The lack of education and general knowledge was a problem for sure. Can you imagine you could buy Marijuana, heroin, and Morphine over the counter at any drug store? In fact many pharmacists believed that Heroin would clear your complexion, help your mind, and regulate your stomach and bowels. Because doctors did not know how to treat many illnesses in 1908, many people died of Pneumonia, influenza, and diarrhea.

Ladies and Gentlemen as we travel around you will notice that for the most part you see many horses and buggies, and the clothing that people are wearing is a little different. Both men and women for the most part wear hats for one thing.


As we go through the rural areas you will notice that you do not see tractors to do the work in the fields. They will not appear for a couple of years from now. What you see is men plowing the fields with horses, and women for the most part, are taking care of the rustic houses and the children. Life was not so easy for many in 1908. However you could buy a home from Sears Homes for $782 like this one.

00014.jpgPresident Theodore Roosevelt, is trying to get a bill through the congress and the senate to help the rural areas.


Well folks, it is time to think about what you have seen, and about time to fasten your seat belts once more for our return to the year 2008.

One more thing before we leave Ramblin, this is the year that a big meteorite, or what was thought to be a meteorite, landed in Russia in a remote part of Siberia, northwest of Lake Baikal on the 30th June 1908. The event released as much energy as fifteen one-megaton atomic bombs,,as well as blasting an enormous amount of dust into the atmosphere, felling 60 million trees over an area of more than 2000 square kilometres.(120,000 square miles). Shaidurov, a Russian scientist, suggests that this explosion would have caused "considerable stirring of the high layers of atmosphere and change its structure." Such a meteoric disruption was the trigger for the subsequent rise in global temperatures, not what man is doing in 2008. I thought that might be interesting for all of you.


Thanks Reginald. OK folks, get into your seat, and fasten your seat belts please…….. Everybody ready?.......... The shields are closing, and in a few moments we will return to 2008. Total blackness once more, and here we go !.............

As the shields open, I hope all of you have found this short trip informative. Reginald and myself wish you good day, and would like to remind you how much we in 2008 have progressed. For example; We now have air pollution somewhat due to the many cars we now have, somewhere near 251 million. We have a problem with noise pollution in our cities. Many more people die in car accidents now than in the past. The cost of living is now many times greater than in 1908 in general, and we have problems with pesticides contaminating our food now, where with horses that was not a problem. We have telephones that many feel are contaminating our air and causing cancer, and very loud music to blast our ears. We no longer need to worry about our memory, because we have a thing called a “computer”, and we have a thing they did not have in 1908 called “Alzheimer’s”, which at that time was simply an older person losing their memory because of age, and something they did not worry about then, called “stress”.

For sure, we have improved a lot in 100 years. (smile)

Chapter 2

Good Morning Reginald!


Good Morning, Ramblin.


Are you all set for today? Are all your data banks loaded and ready for the Nineteen Twenties?


I am way ahead of you Ramblin. I noted also we only have nine passengers today instead of ten.


That’s true, so we have one less than our normal group.


We have a few minutes Ramblin, and I would like to know if you like poetry?


Poetry??? Don´t tell me you like poetry Reginald?

The fact is, I enjoy the cadence and rhythm of verse. If a verse flows well, my data banks seem to enjoy it. Why do you feel I could not enjoy verse? I have been programmed to evaluate??

Well, that is true! I just had not thought of you enjoying something.


Really Ramblin!!

We will have to talk more about poetry Reginald. But right now, the people are beginning to arrive………….
Good Morning everyone! Please find a seat, and buckle up you seat belts. I want to welcome you to the Retro Express! My name is “Ramblin”. I will be your guide on today’s trip to the 1920s. Do all of you have the little lapel pins? Please pin them on yourself. Fine!! Now, just sit back and relax and we will be under way in just a few moments.

I wish to also wish you “Good Morning, Ladies and Gentlemen”, I am Reginald, the Main Frame computer on the Retro Express. My data banks are prepared to answer any questions you might have when we arrive in the era of the 1920s, individually, with the use of the listening devices and the lapel pins given you when you entered the Retro Express. I have been programmed to receive 10 different sources at the same time. So feel free to ask what ever you wish to know. I will respond individually. I will also be narrating about the 1920s over the loud speakers in the Retro Express.

Thank you Reggie! If all of you have your seatbelts fastened? Reginald and I want to assure you that no harm will come to you when you are in the 10 seconds of complete darkness necessary for our journey. For your information during the 10 seconds of complete darkness you will have an idea of how the world looks to a blind person.

Ok Reginald, lower the shields! While the shields are being lowered, note the music that has begun. It is called the “Charleston”. The dance that goes with this music is called the “Charleston” also. It is a happy music and expresses the need for something joyful after World War One. It first came out in 1924 and is associated with flying beads, knocking-knees, and crossing hands all in time to the music. It became the music of the twenties. It was first heard in an African-American Revue called “Runnin Wild”.

I would like to add Ramblin that the “Tango”, and dances called “The Camel Walk” and the “Fox Trot” were very popular also, along with the “Black Bottom” and the “Shimmy”.

Thanks Reginald, and now in just three seconds we will be in the 1920s…………………OK! The shields are going up, the music is becoming softer……… and “Welcome to the Roaring Twenties”!!

Ladies and gentlemen I would like to give you a little basic background information about this ten year period, the 1920s. The term “the Roaring Twenties” was first used in England, after World War One which ended in 1918. During this ten year period it seemed as if everybody suddenly decided to break the bonds of normality, after being bound so tightly during the war. Thus the term “Roaring”! and “ROAR” they did! The cosmetic industry boomed! The women suddenly discovered lipstick, powder, rouge, eyebrow pencil and shadow, and colored nails once again.


I do not want to interrupt Reginald, but I thought the people might like to see what the Charleston really looked like! See those two young girls on the left?, they are practicing the Charleston. Notice their hair is cut short in what was

00018.jpg00019.jpgCalled a “Bob” and fur coats were all the rage.

Getting back to the basic information RAMBLIN, the population has increased since 1908 from 89 million to almost 107 million, and the life span has increased from the expectation of 47 years to 53.6 for men, and 54.6 for women. Also that from the 1908 period, roads that were paved across the country, 144 miles, increased to 387,000 miles during the 1920s.

Look at that man on the right side of the Retro Express! He is wearing what was called a Raccoon Coat!! These long coats were very popular. That lady across the street from him is Margaret Gorman, the very first Miss America, she was only 16 years old when she won the contest, and at the time, just for the records, her measurements were 30-25-32.


Very good Ramblin!! Our passengers should know also that automobiles during the 1920s were increasing in number everywhere. Henry Ford because of his assembly line, was now producing what the public called the “Tin Lissie” for $290.00. competition in the auto industry was very strong.


A man named Chysler in 1924 came out with what was a luxury car. If you look out of the left windows you can see him with his new Chysler car.


As we travel around the corner see that sporty looking car over there? That is a racing car built by Mercedes in Germany. In 1924 racing was a very popular sport. This supercharged Mercedes racer owed its success in Italy to its color! Red !! It seems that the Italian bystanders of this road race in 1924 had a tendency to drive their goats onto the road when they saw a car painted in the colors of a rival country approaching. By painting his number 10 car Italian red, German driver Christian Werner enjoyed open roads and won the race.


One of the things that happened in the 1920s that opened the doors to crime was Prohibition, which made even one half of an ounce of alcohol against the law to drink. It went into law in January or 1920.

That’s right Reginald, and if you folks will look out of the right side of the Retro Express you will see what was called at that time a “Speakeasy” !



San Francisco was notorious for the number of Speakeasies. They were all behind closed Iron doors, and you needed a password to enter them. There was one at that time called “Coffee Dan’s” that is still functioning in San Francisco California. Although now Alcohol of course, is no longer illegal in 2008.

00026.jpgCoffee Dan´s

It was the era of Gangs and Gangsters also. See that man who looks like a very nice guy on your left? That is Al Capone! He and a man called Dutch Schultz controlled the liquor business. They were called “bootleggers”


Moving along, on your right is the famous Regent Theatre. It was built in 1916 and is still operating in 2008.


Here another very famous man called Harry Houdini performed. His escapes and became world famous.


Then there was the 1929 Stock Crash, when the stock market became


Many people lost fortunes, and “bread lines” formed around the USA. Businesses closed, and people struggled to have food on the table. Let us hope that the year all of you are from, 2008, never gets as bad as it was in 1929. Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover were the two presidents during the 1920s.


Calvin Coolidge Herbert Hoover
Well Ladies and Gentlemen it is time to return to 2008. If you will take your seats and fasten your seatbelts once more, we will be on our way. Thank You!!!................

As the shields start to close we sincerely hope you have enjoyed your glimpse of the 1920s. As you have seen up until 1929 it really was a “Roaring Time” in the USA.

In just three seconds………in fact right now the shields are lifting indicating we are back to 2008. Please watch your step as you leave the Retro Express, and we hope we have the pleasure of having all of you with us again soon.

Good Day everyone!!...........................


Well Reginald that is it for today.


Good Night Ramblin.

Good night Reginald. Tomorrow and Tuesday we will have a little rest Reginald. My supervisor informed me that they are going to make a complete check of the Retro Express systems. So I will see you on Wednesday. See you then!!

Enjoy your rest Ramblin. I will be ready to continue on Wednesday.


Sleep tight! Don´t let the fleas bite! (HA!HA!HA!)


Really Ramblin!! There are no fleas on the Retro Express!! (HA!HA!HA!) Never mind Reggie. HA!HA!HA!