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More Startling Prophecies
The old lady talked fast now, often stopping for a minute or so to look at what appeared hieroglyphics on her memorandum papers:
“I told you that I was 86 years old and the period that I am talking to you about is just 86 years hence, so I am merely looking ahead 86 years instead of looking backward that length of time. Please do not confound my subject to the present time for all that I tell you is to take place in 1999 although I speak of it as having already occurred. My foresight is just as keen as my hindsight and all that I am telling you is a reality to me even if it has not actually taken place. But it will happen so, just as I relate it to you.
“I forgot to tell you that the doctors will be under the supervision of the City Commissioners. They will be paid from the city treasury and all fees accruing from the public for medical service will be paid into the municipal treasury. The doctors will be paid according to their ability and civil service examinations will be required ere a doctor will be allowed to practice.
“All lawyers will have their offices in the court house and will be assigned to cases as they come up in rotation. Each attorney must work for the best good of his client but all cases will have a preliminary examination before a board of three judges and unless, in their esteem, the case is a meritorious one, it will be summarily thrown out of court.
“Lawyers cannot collect fees from their clients but will receive a salary paid out of the common fund, their emoluments greatly depending on the value of their services, the number of cases each has won, etc. This state of affairs is much appreciated by both practitioner and client and works well.
“The ministers too come under the supervision of the City Commission, but as it is impossible for anyone to tell how many souls they save it has been decided that their emoluments must come from their clients who are the better judge of their minister's value.
“It was in the year 1950 that it became quite observable that corn, wheat, rye and other cereals entering in to the production of alcohol had lost the power to ferment and to be converted into beer, wine and whiskey. This was a startling announcement to the old topers but it was nevertheless a fact and the science of making alcohol has become a lost art.
“One would think that this would put the distilleries and breweries out of business, but man is very resourceful and immediately those in the liquor business began casting around for a substitute for their former product and a splendid one was discovered which more than filled all requirements and now, Weinhard's brewery still managed by Paul Wessinger the Fourth, and the Gambrinus brewery, with a Mr. George Leithoff, Jr., at the helm, are manufacturing a beverage which exhilarates but does not inebriate. Both of these institutions have grown to five times the size of the early part of the century and, inasmuch as there can be no law directed against the sale of their beverages, there is no license fee exacted by the city from the cafes or other resorts retailing their wares. W. J. Van Schuyver & Co., Rothschild Bros., Blumauer, Hoch & Co., Germanus, L. Coblentz & Co., still continue in business with new faces, the old names are still on the signs, but they, too, are selling a splendid substitute for alcoholic beverages.”
The old lady paused for a minute and with a laugh remarked, “I'd like to be able to give you of the present day the recipe for this substitute but it would affect the gift I possess of foreshadowing the future and I'll have to leave it a secret.
“The lighting of the city is done by one immense electric light suspended in the air at a height of several thousand feet which illuminates the city as bright as the brightest day. No deep black shadows are cast as was the case in former days, but a gentle, steady, pervading light is given and a person need not have gas fixtures or electric light fixtures in his home or place of business as the city light illumines exactly as does the sun.
“Heat is furnished by the city by a thorough pipe system and it is compulsory on all citizens to patronize the city's heat. No fuel in the shape of wood and coal is used and the loss by fire is nominal and by this reason the premium on fire insurance policies has been cut down to one quarter of the former cost. The working out of the idea has materially helped to beautify the city and has actually put the street cleaning department out of business.
“There being so very few horses raised the overplus of stock feed is used in the propagation of hogs and cattle and, as a consequence, the meat and milk product has greatly increased and the prices have been very much lessened.
“The disciples of Burbank, the once renowned horticulturist have been getting busy and as a result many new fruits and vegetables have been put on the market, their flavor and excellence outstripping anything known in the early twentieth century.
“We have now one universal, common language. The vocabulary is not very copious, the dictionary containing less than 8,000 words but it is capable of expressing every idea that the human mind may evolve. This innovation has made it easy, particularly for the young scholar and student. Latin and Greek, commonly known as the dead languages are now very dead, as even the churches have given up their usage.
“High above the clouds at Fort Stevens is erected a tower that pierces the sky to several thousand feet, and far above the cloud line. Here are half a dozen men constantly on watch with the latest improved telescopes. Their mission is to apprize the garrison below of the approach of an enemy by sea. From their lofty height and through the modern telescope, ships at a distance of 100 miles at sea can be distinctly sighted and the alarm given to the ever-watchful garrison.
“Signals between the watchers in the lighthouse and the officers indicate the exact location of the approaching enemy and an attack can be repelled and the greatest Dreadnaught blown out of the water at this long range at the will of the gunners. It is in this way that the entire Pacific Coast is defended, but it is pleasurable to state, that there has been no semblance of war for over 50 years and all the earth is at peace.
“Irrigation in Eastern Oregon and Washington has produced 10 times the amount of wheat formerly raised and wheat is shipped to all parts of the world from the numerous and well equipped elevators on the Willamette river.
“I must now tell you what I consider the greatest of all the world's inventions and it seems a pity that it has been bottled up so long merely to line the pockets of a few sordid railroad owners.
“The device was invented in 1925 by a young man named Wallace Going and it consisted of an apparatus which may be so applied to a balloon or other object suspended in midair, which when properly adjusted and at a certain height from the earth, will shake off or cast off the gravitation of the earth allowing it to suspend in space as an independent planet. The idea being one of quick transit, the balloonist after freeing his ship from the earth's attraction will hang in space till his destination rolls around to him. The earth moves from west to east, so that it will take a little more than 20 hours, at this latitude, to have New York roll around to you, but if you were in New York it would take but four hours to come to Portland, provided they are in exactly the same latitude. Do you understand me? Of course if you were in Los Angeles, you would touch some point in the southern states and if your destination happened to be New York City, you would have to take the cars to that point. This has become a favorite way to cross the continent. It is quick and absolutely without any danger so very few travel overland by the railroads, that mode of locomotion being used almost entirely for bulky and weighty merchandise.
“When young Wallace Going approached the President of the Transcontinental Railroad with his invention, he was laughed to scorn, but the young man gave a practical demonstration ascending in his balloon and allowing the earth to pass in review before him arriving at Portland again, or rather, rolling around to Portland again 23 hours 55 minutes later. A vast sum was paid young Going for his invention, but the railroad companies stuck to their privilege of bottling it up, fully realizing the revolution it would create in business once it was established. The patent ran out in 25 years when the device became public property and now it is in general use from Alaska on the north to Tierra del Fuego on the south and there have been very few mishaps to any of the carriers.
“You can see, therefore, how the number of railroads running north and south must have increased and how the traffic across the continent has diminished.
“And still the end of the wonders are not yet," and the interesting old lady stopped to consult her memorandum book.
“You will want to know, of course, who are in business in Portland at the time I am talking about, A. D. 1999, and I will gladly answer all your enquiries, as I have a city directory for the year 1998, but it will do for our use,” and the old lady took a ponderous book from her bag.