RobertMendelson.As we welcome in the new year this January, it’s an ideal time to reflect on how the world has changed. Let’s take a trip back in time to 1914:

An unknown actor, Charlie Chaplin, without speaking a word, burst on the screen that year and introduced what would become his most famous character, the Little Tramp. In Major League Baseball, America’s undisputed national pastime, a player by the name of Babe Ruth made his major league debut with the Boston Red Sox, but it was another baseball team from Boston, the Braves, which won the World Series. There was no National Football League champion that year because the league wouldn’t be founded until 1920. For that matter, there were no Pulitzer Awards until 1917, no Academy Awards until 1929, no Emmy Awards until 1949, no Grammy Awards until 1959.

The Nobel Prize did exist, beginning in 1901. In 1914, recipients were named in chemistry, medicine, and physics, but no peace prize was awarded that year, which was fitting given that 1914 marked the start of the Great War (WWI).

In 1914, it would still be six years before women could vote in the United States. Television broadcasting was 14 years away. Telephones were around, but callers were still a year away from the possibility of making a call from the East Coast to the West Coast, which became a reality only after thousands of miles of copper wire was hung on more than 130,000 telephone poles.

Kitchens, meanwhile, wouldn’t have refrigerators until the 1930s. Instead, homes in 1914 had iceboxes, and icemen made door-to-door deliveries of blocks of ice, often in horse-drawn wagons, which kept the icebox cool (as the ice slowly melted) until the next delivery. The earliest seeds of rush-hour traffic were planted, thanks to Ford’s Model T, which had just begun to be mass-produced with the first conveyor-belt-based assembly line. As for air travel, the first commercial flight in history occurred on January 1, 1914—in Florida, between Tampa and St. Petersburg. But not until the 1940s would air travel become common.

For about $1, moms in 1914 could prepare quite an all-American family breakfast with a dozen eggs ($0.35), a quart of milk ($0.08), a one-pound sirloin steak ($0.25), and a pound of coffee ($0.30).

It was in that world of Charlie Chaplin, iceboxes, and Model Ts that the doors opened to Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama. So much has changed in the ensuing 100 years, but I imagine the hopes and dreams of those incoming 1914 students were not much different than the hopes and dreams of today’s undergraduate drama student Benjamin Mathews. In this issue’s aptly titled cover story, “What’s Past Is Prologue” (thank you, William Shakespeare), read about how Ben’s experience personifies what the School of Drama has meant to so many students during the past 100 years.


And, as you reflect on the year ahead, please find time to read the rest of the issue, as well, because some remarkable endeavors are chronicled. For me, and I hope you, too, they offer reassurance that the world is in good hands. Happy New Year. 


Robert Mendelson
   Executive Editor
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