When she was born, the end of the Civil War was only 30 years old. Surely her parents and grandparents were still discussing it, bitching at the dining room table about the loss of Uncle Ned or Cousin Tim, and doing all this complaining while sitting in the dim light of gas lamps, because the light bulb was still a novelty, as was the automobile, the ballpoint pen, and the machine gun.
The Wright Brothers flew the first airplane when she was only 8 years old, yet it may have taken weeks for her family to learn of this event since radio use would not become widespread for another 15 years or so.
In her late teens, she was witness to the War to End All Wars – World War I with its 20 million dead. A few years later another 50 million or so died of the Spanish Flu. Bad times to raise a family.
And things didn’t get much better. In her thirties, The Great Depression, and then Roosevelt and the New Deal (I wish we could get a New Deal now, instead of the same old shit we currently have coming from Washington).
She was 41 years old when Adolf Hitler announced the start of the Olympic Games on the new invention called television, and just a few years passed before this same madman started World War II and the slaughter of the Jews and the loss of 60 million others. At the end of it, she was left with the Atomic Bomb, Stalin, and the Baby Boom.
The 50s? Maybe this was a golden time for her, surely the past five decades had been a real pain in the ass, who knows, but still there was the Korean War, the Ed Sullivan Show, and Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat. But just around the corner lay the Sixties and the world was speeding up: the Civil Rights Movement, Red Sputnik, Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs and the near-miss of World War III, thousands killed in the far off jungles of Vietnam, the Apollo Missions, Jefferson Airplane, the Beatles, the Stones.
The 70s brought the Space Shuttle, disco, pocket calculators, Rubik’s Cube, Tricky Dick and Watergate. Maybe she, like millions of other Americans, voted for him.
The 80s brought us the IBM PC, Exxon Valdez, HIV, forget it. And you can also forget the 90s, all they brought was bad music. And all the rest since then? Well, most of you were there to see it as well, so I’ll end by saying that she was planning her 115th birthday when she died last week. Happy Birthday, Mary Josephine Ray. It was a good ride.