Predictions in the new year

By Joan Baxter

The huge lighted ball on Times Square fell and another year is history.

Each year on Jan. 1 or soon after, the newspapers and television media share what they consider are the most important events of the year just gone by.

Stories of people who have made news during the year, sporting events , disasters, amazing accomplishments and anything else which might be or interest is recalled.

Although it was not a New Year’s prediction, the cornerstone for the new (present) court house was being laid, so it was in a way, a new beginning for the county.

The Xenia Semi-Weekly Gazette and Torchlight of March 15, 1901 featured a prediction for the year 2001 written by one of the reporters. 2001 has come and gone but it is interesting to s ee how this reporter viewed Xenia a century after he wrote his report. Some of the predictions have been right on target, others, others are not even close.

He was sure Xenia would be a huge city with multi-storied skyscrapers throughout the city occupied by businessmen coming and going in their daily activities. The city would be so large that a photo taken from a 20-story building would show buildings as far as the eye could see. The city has grown, but a 20-story building is nowhere to be seen.

He maintains that the supply of wood would be nearly exhausted so homes would be of stone or other materials. At night, artificial lights would flash up in the sky, so there would be no darkness. The city manager would provide temperature control, making each day as balmy as spring or whatever temperature seemed to suit the majority of the residents. In some areas, electricity would still be used, but newer techniques were expected.

Flying machines were to be seen everywhere. He was certain that residents could have supper in their homes, and then fly to New York for an evening at the theater. “Entire families enter these models of elegance and sail slowly along, the passengers casting languid glances down at the busy towns and cities over which they are speeding. Races are held by those chariots or the air and thousands of persons float around and watch the swift and noiseless contests.” I expect he was thinking of the dirigible type of air ship which had been shown the previous year.

He tells of the Baldner automobile being in a museum somewhere and 2001 residents wondering how anyone could have gotten around in such a primitive vehicle. The interurban would have also been stored in a museum because the new (2001) trains would speed through the air with lightning speed.

Telephone service would be so greatly improved that wires would be placed under the sea in order that people on the two continents could talk with ease. He got that one partially correct.

His next prediction might have been a little “far out,” even for our reporter. He suggested that the wireless telegraph would enable the local folks to talk to people on other planets. Xenians were awaiting a means of transportation to those far-off planets, but he was convinced that “within the next few years” the moon would be visited by earthlings.

Another thought that hasn’t happened was that hens would no longer need to lay eggs. All eggs would be made in a manufacturing plant.

Another factory would produce vegetables on demand. If you visited the factory and asked for a bucket of strawberries, the person in charge would start his machine and your bucket would be filled quickly.

I wonder what he would have thought if he had lived long enough to see the cartoon character Dick Tracy talk on his wrist radio which at the time the cartoon was popular seemed like science-fiction to most of us.

He predicted that the Court House might not be standing, but the cornerstone, with the treasure of information would be recovered for all to see. His view was somewhat correct. The court house is still standing and should be for many more years, but the cornerstone was removed in 2001. He says “the curious crowd awaits eagerly while the sealed lid is being carefully removed.

Through a 100 years of darkness and silence, while mighty events have been transporting throughout the world, the contents of this small box have lain untouched and unseen and on a warm balmy day in spring in the year 2001, those old faded documents are brought forth into the light and sunshine. Men always handle each document with a certain awe and as they are carefully unfolded the crowd stands around in silence and looks eagerly at the old papers.”

That particular prediction did happen. It was opened with great care at the Greene County Commission meeting with a group of residents in attendance. As he predicted, each item was carefully taken out and examined. All the documents and photographs were removed and property stored for future generations at the Greene County Archives.

A new repository for remembering 2001 was designed and many items such as newspapers and documents along with pictures were stored for a future generation perhaps 100 years hence.

Men have landed on the moon, and space ships have even photographed Mars. Broken hips can be replaced and open heart surgery is done on a daily basis. I wonder how Xenia will look in 2117.

As we enter yet another year, my hope is that each reader will have a Happy New Year!

By Joan Baxter

Joan Baxter is a local resident and weekly historical columnist.

Joan Baxter is a local resident and weekly historical columnist.