On July 22, 1969,
my 5 month old son was propped up in front of a TV as Neil & Buzz
stepped onto the moon's surface. I recall that thoughts of his
great-great-grandfather passed briefly through my mind as I watched him
peering at the gritty images without comprehending them. Granddad had
passed away nearly eight years earlier but, before he went, he had seen
the world go from men on horseback to men in orbit. The United States went
from less that 50 million people in 37 states to over 180 million and 50
states. What would this kid, who would never really know a world without
space travel and instant communication between continents, see during his
The Florida trip
occurred near the mid point of my great-grandparents lives. The telephone
and electric light had already appeared; television and the atom bomb were
yet to come. A world war and a stock market crash were behind them and
another of each lay ahead. When Granny left Ohio, she was allowed to vote
but not to drink "intoxicating liquors". This list of events may
help place the trip in time:
Jan 27, 1875
Frank Robbins born.
May 16, 1876
Gertrude Fifer born.
Jun 25, 1876
Battle of Little Big Horn (Custer's Last Stand).
Aug 1, 1876
Colorado becomes 38th state.
Jan 27, 1880
Edison patents incandescent lamp.
Oct 6, 1881
Gunfight at the OK Corral. Billy the Kid was gunned down on July
14th. Jesse James is shot from behind on April 3, 1882.
Jun 5, 1893
Lizzie Borden trial opens.
Jun 27, 1893
Stock Market Crash.
Apr 14, 1898
Spain declares war on United States. Teddy Roosevelt & Rough
Riders at San Juan Hill on July 1st.
Dec 17, 1903
Wright brothers first flight at Kitty Hawk.
Apr 18, 1906
San Francisco earthquake.
Oct 1, 1908
First production Model T Ford assembled.
Jun 22, 1914
Archduke Ferdinand assassinated and a world war becomes a reality.
Nov 6, 1917
Start of Socialist Revolution in Russian.
Nov 11, 1918
The Great War (WWI) ends.
Jan 17, 1920
Prohibition goes into effect one year after ratification of the
18th amendment (Jan 16, 1919). It is repealed on December 5, 1933
with the 21st amendment.
Aug 18, 1920
19th amendment gives women the right to vote
Nov 2, 1920
Warren G. Harding elected President of the US. A first for both
women and radio. Results broadcast by KDKA in Pittsburgh.
Nov 4, 1920
Frank & Gertrude depart from Woodington.
Mar 4, 1921
Harding is first president to ride to his inauguration in an
automobile. Frank & Gertrude arrive home.
Jul 14, 1921
Sacco & Vanzetti trial ends.
Jul 18, 1921
Black Sox trial starts.
Nov 16, 1922
Door to the tomb of Tutankamen (King Tut) pierced.
Jul 10, 1925
Trial of John T. Scopes, on charges of teaching evolution, begins.
May 20, 1927
Lindbergh begins transatlantic flight.
Oct 24, 1929
Black Thursday. The great stock market crash.
Feb 18, 1930
The planet Pluto discovered.
Jul 2, 1937
Amelia Earhart vanishes.
Dec 7, 1941
Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor
Jun 6, 1944
Normandy invasion; D-Day
Aug 6, 1945
A-bomb dropped on Hiroshima
Oct 4, 1957
Sep 26, 1960
Gertrude Fifer Robbins dies
Apr 12, 1961
Yuri Gagarin in space for 1 orbit. Two Americans were also in
space during Frank's lifetime; Alan Shepard on May 5, 1961 and Gus
Grissom on July 21, 1961