What A Year It Was

As the world flips the calendar over to a new year, we are also entering a new decade as well. Therefore, I feel it is appropriate to go back and review another year in history. Like the old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon show with Sherman and his genius dog Peabody, let’s enter their “way back” machine and take a trip way back to another year in our history. Let’s go back 100 years ago to the year 1920.

That was a pivotal year in our country’s history. It was a year that not only began a new decade, but a new era in history that was referred to as the “Roaring ‘20s”. But the one thing that defined that period in history began on January 16 1920, just as the new year began. That was when the Volstead Act became effective. That act was the enforcement arm of the 18th amendment to the constitution that was ratified in October 1919 making the consumption, manufacture and distribution of alcoholic beverages illegal across the United States. Otherwise known as Prohibition, that defined the decade as well as the era. Suddenly the United States was a “dry” country.

Times were changing in other ways as well. The new music known as jazz had been growing in popularity and suddenly hit all over the country. The 1920s became known as the “jazz age” as well. Jazz clubs and “speakeasies” sprang up where people could hear this new form of music as well as enjoy some now illegal adult beverages.

Another big change was the development of radio. Suddenly it seemed everyone had a radio in their living room that brought news as well as jazz music into the homes of America. The radio business really took off during the 1920s and stock in companies associated with radio were hot buys.

But perhaps the big event of 1920 was the presidential election. The world had changed. The “Great War” was over and there was a new world order. The current President, Woodrow Wilson was a feeble old man at 63 years of age. He had suffered a debilitating stroke in September 1919 and had become a recluse with his wife controlling access to the President. He made no public appearances after that stroke.

The election of 1920 pitted two men from Ohio as the candidates for President in 1920. The Democratic candidate was Ohio’s governor James Cox from Dayton. His running mate was a young man with a famous name who would make history later, Franklin D Roosevelt. The Republican candidate for President was a Senator from Marion Ohio, Warren G Harding. His running mate was a tight lipped governor of Massachusetts, Calvin Coolidge.

Another event that had a big influence on the election and the future of the country was the ratification of the 19th amendment to the constitution on August 26 1920 that gave women across the country the right to vote; just in time for the presidential election.

It was also a year of violence as well. On September 16 1920, anarchists set off a bomb on Wall Street that killed 38 people and wounded another 143. The bomb was in a horse carriage and consisted of sticks of dynamite that exploded at noon right outside the offices of the J. P. Morgan bank on Wall Street. The bombing was never solved, but it was believed that an Italian anarchist organization set it off in protest of the arrest earlier of two Italian immigrants, Sacco and Vanzetti in a sensational murder case that riveted the nation. That wasn’t called “domestic terrorism” then, but the death count and the number of injured was the greatest toll in a similar incident until the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.

In the sports world the year 1920 was full of news as well. The “black Sox” scandal involving the Chicago White Sox broke wide open in 1920. There had been rumors all along that the 1919 World Series between the heavily favored Chicago White Sox and the Cincinnati Reds was thrown by the White Sox for gambling interests. The owners got together and appointed a commissioner to oversee Major League Baseball. Then in the summer of 1920, after a trial where eight members of the White Sox were acquitted of throwing the series, the new commissioner kicked those eight ball players out of baseball for life. That was in the heat of a tight pennant race and it literally took the White Sox out of the race.

That was just one year. There will be more to follow next month.

Lee Kamps

Lee has been working with Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance since he began working at the Erie County Welfare Department in January 1973 where a major part of his job was determining eligibility for Medicaid. He went into the private insurance business in 1977 with Prudential Insurance Company and within a short time had become one of the company’s top sales agents. In 1982, he was promoted into management where he managed two field offices and as many as thirteen sales agents. After leaving Prudential in 1986, Lee decided to become more focused on health insurance and employee benefits. He has advised many local employers on how to have a more cost effective employee benefit program as well as conducted employee benefit meetings and enrollments for many area employers. The companies Lee has worked with ranged from small “mom and pop” businesses to local operations of large national companies. Lee received his B.S. degree from Kent State University where he has been active in the local alumni association. He has completed seven of the ten courses toward the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist designation. He has taught courses in employee benefits and insurance at Cleveland State University and local community colleges. In addition, Lee is an experienced and accomplished public speaker. He has been a member of Toastmasters International where he achieved the designation of “Able Toastmaster – Silver” in 1994. He has also served as a club president, Area Governor and District Public Relations Officer in Toastmasters as well as winning local speech contests. Lee has also been a member of the Greater Cleveland Growth Association’s Speaker’s Bureau where he was designated as one of the “official spokespeople for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” prior to the hall’s opening in 1995. He has given talks and presentations before many audiences including civic organizations, AARP chapters and many other community groups. With the implementation of the Medicare Modernization Act (Medicare drug bill) in 2006, Lee has shifted his focus to Medicare and helping Medicare beneficiaries navigate the often confusing array of choices and plans available. As an independent representative, Lee is not bound to any one specific company or plan, but he can offer a plan that suits an individual person’s needs and budget. In addition, Lee is well versed in the requirements and availability of various programs for assistance with Medicare part D as well as Medicaid. While he cannot make one eligible, he can assist in the process and steer one to where they may be able to receive assistance.

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Volume 12, Issue 1, Posted 1:50 PM, 01.01.2020