An Era Nearly Done


Have you ever had a conversation with someone born in the 1800s? I have, I’m sure of it, though I don’t remember any specifics. My great-grandparents on my father’s side were both born in the 1890s. They died in the 1980s, and though I remember very little about them, I’m sure I talked with them on many occasions.

I see from Wikipedia that there are, right now, eleven people alive who were born in the 19th century. That’s all. Just 11. The oldest of them was born in 1897, and likely remembers nothing of the 1800s. Just think about it. All the billions of people who were born in that century, and now only eleven remain.

Not only is the 19th century basically gone from human history, but I’ll wager that very few people under 40 have talked with anyone from that century. It’s odd and fascinating at vaguely humbling to realize that that part of our existence as a species is now almost totally beyond the reach of anyone living. Kind of sad, but kind of wonderful, too. Because while the past is a good place to visit, the future is where we will live, and I know which of the two I prefer.

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