February 13, 1904 was the year my father, Cornelius Joseph Touhill, was born in St. Louis, Mo. It was the year of the St. Louis World’s Fair in which the ice cream cone was invented. Teddy Roosevelt was president. The average life span was 47 years. Cary Grant was born in 1904, along with such notables as J. Robert Oppenheimer, Pretty Boy Floyd, Glen Miller, and Dr. Seuss. Cy Young threw the first perfect game in 1904.
In 1904 the average wage was 22 cents per hour, happily coffee was only 15 cents per pound and eggs 14 cents a dozen. Only 6 percent of all American adults had graduated high school. Marijuana, heroin and morphine were available over the counter at neighborhood drugstores. According to one pharmacist, “Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health.” Yikes.
Certainly he grew up in a different life and culture. My father was 14 years old when the Spanish Flu (1918-1920) hit the United States, especially affecting young adults.(nearly half the deaths in the U.S. were ages 20-40 years old) It’s estimated that up to a 100 million people died throughout the world. Of course he experienced the depression, world wars, major technological changes… wow, it must have really been a scene. It’s difficult to imagine his life over his 52 years.
While he had many accomplishments over his too brief life as a medical doctor, I was especially happy to learn he was a righteous and holy man…that he was a member of the sodality in college and took care of the poor and religious priests and nuns. He was a good man, a just man.
Today, April 21st, is the 65th anniversary of his death. (April 21, 1956) So, while I pray for him every day, I especially pray for him on the anniversary of his passing. I hope to see him again. May God rest his soul.