I recently awoke in the "middle of the night" and glanced at the clock to see what time it was. Through the grogginess I saw the red digital numbers staring back at me and couldn't believe my eyes. The clock read 1941 -- or so it appeared.
I spent the rest of the night thinking about what it would have been like to be 58 years old in 1941. What would the world have looked like? What would I have witnessed in my lifetime leading up to 1941?
I would have been six when A.E.E. Eiffel completed his famous tower in 1889, and nine when Tchaikovsky completed The Nutcracker and Henry Ford produced his first automobile 1892. It probably wouldn't have mattered to me at the time as much as it did when I was raising my own kids, but when I was 11 Rudyard would be putting the finishing touches on The Jungle Book. A year later, Marconi invented radio telegraphy and Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen discovered X-rays.
I would have turned 15 when the Spanish-American War started in 1898, and 16 when Scott Joplin wrote the Maple Leaf Rag a year later.
Two major happenings on the world political front would have stolen the headlines in 1901 as Queen Victoria of England dies and President McKinley was assassinated. That's the same year Marconi transmitted the first trans-Atlantic radio message, so news would have been spreading faster than before.
In literature, Beatrix Potter would complete The Tale of Peter Rabbit in 1902, and a year later Jack London would publish The Call of the Wild. Oh yeah, that same year, 1903, is when we would have all been excited about soaring on the wind as the Wright Brothers would complete the first successful flight.
In 1905 we would have seen publication of Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity, and a year later San Francisco would experience that great earthquake.
In 1912 the Titanic sank and 1,513 people drowned. 1913 saw several newsworthy events as the first Income Tax was instituted, Charlie Chaplin made his first movie, and Henry Ford opened his first "assembly line."
War would be in the news again in 1914 as World War I started. 1917 saw the Russian Revolution change the face of Eastern Europe. In 1918, World War I ended, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was dismantled, and America adopted Daylight Saving Time.
1920 saw the opening of the first radio station, KDKA, in Pittsburgh, and the year I would have turned 41, 1924, J. Edgar Hoover was appointed Director of the FBI and the world witnessed the first Winter Olympics. Two years later A.A. Milne published Winnie-the-Pooh. Then in 1927 America found a couple of new heroes as Charles Lindberg flew non-stop from New York to Paris and Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs. The next year, Amelia Earhart would complete her own trans-Atlantic flight.
Jumping ahead -- around the time I would have turned 50 years old - Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor in Germany in 1933 and a year later Joseph Stalin would begin his purge of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union.
In 1936 Margaret Mitchell writes Gone with the Wind. Jesse Owens wins four Olympic gold medals. Later, in 1939, Hitler would sign a non-aggression pact with Stalin, and soon after, World War II would begin. That same year John Steinbeck would publish The Grapes of Wrath.
In my 57th year, 1940, Winston Churchill became prime minister of the UK and F.D.R. elected to third term. And then in 1941 -- the year I would have turned 58 - Germany invaded the Soviet Union and the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.
But I wasn't born in 1883, I was born in 1957. I didn't turn 58 in 1941, but in 2015. And as you well know if you are reading this, I've seen my share of history being made.