Something to be thankful for

So here we are, and it’s the day before Thanksgiving. I guess that means it’s time to talk about things we are thankful for.

Luckily, there are lots of things I can mention. Life, health, health insurance, doctors, modern medicine, my children, their schools, my husband, his job, my books – including Fortune’s Hero, which was released last week; yay! - my computer, my cell phone, my land line, Skype, toilet paper with Aloe Vera oil…

I could keep going, but I won’t. Much of it comes down to one thing: modern life. More specifically, technology. The technology that allows us to live long, fairly healthy lives of relative ease and comfort.

I’ve been toying with an idea for a historical mystery recently, and as a result I’ve given some thought to living in the past, specifically the American West a hundred, hundred and fifty years go. I’ve also spent some time revisiting episodes of a certain old TV-series that we all know I have a quite illicit passion for. It was called The Young Riders and debuted in 1989. Set in the American West in 1860, it dealt with a half dozen or so young men (and a girl in disguise) who delivered mail for the Pony Express.

The Young Riders never did become a huge hit, but it held its own for a few years, and spawned what I can only describe as a huge fangurrrl following. Given the eye candy factor, it wasn’t surprising. People still write fanfic about The Young Riders, and it’s more than twenty years later.

This post isn’t about the TV show, though. I’m fairly certainly I’ve covered that topic ad nauseum before. No, today I’d like to talk about the real Pony Express in the real 1860s, not the Hollywood version.

Did you know that each Pony Express rider rode up to 75 miles per day, changing horses every 15 miles or so?

Doesn’t sound like much, does it, when we can cover 75 miles in an hour or so, in a comfortable, air-conditioned car, on a smooth, paved highway?

It took a lot longer for them, and sometimes another rider wasn’t available at the next way station, so the first guy would have to keep going.

The Pony Express covered the distance between St. Joseph, Missouri, and San Francisco, California, in ten days. On horseback. Riding for the Pony Express was hard, dangerous work; just check out this advertisement.

“Wanted: young skinny wiry fellows not over 18. Must be expert riders, willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred. Wages: $25 per week.”

Apparently, $25 a week was enough for someone to risk death daily, back in 1860.

That year, the owners of the Pony Express, Russell, Majors and Waddell, used the 1860 presidential election as a way to promote the Pony Express and how fast it could deliver the U.S. Mail. On November 7, 1860, a Pony Express rider departed Fort Kearny, Nebraska Territory, with the election results.

Riders sped along the route, over snow-covered trails, and into Fort Churchill, Nevada Territory, and California’s newspapers received word of Lincoln’s election only seven days and seventeen hours after the East Coast papers, an unrivaled feat at the time.

A couple of weeks ago, there were elections held in the here and now. I don’t know about you guys, but in my house, the TV stayed on and hubby got the news as the votes were tallied. Could you imagine waiting seven days and seventeen hours to find out who won?

So let’s hear it for modern technology, shall we? News at our fingertips… the ability to pick up the telephone and talk to someone halfway across the country, or halfway across the world, at the press of a few buttons… not to mention the ability to see episodes of my favorite TV show twenty years after it went off the air just by signing up for a free trial with Netflix!

I wouldn’t have lasted a week in the Old West, and today, I’m thankful I don’t have to!

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About Jenna Bennett
NYT & USA Today bestselling author of the Do It Yourself home renovation mysteries, the Cutthroat Business mysteries, and a variety of romance, from contemporary to futuristic and from paranormal to romantic suspense. www.jennabennett.com

Comments

  1. Misa says:

    Now I really have to look for Young Riders! You’ve piqued my interest too many times not to.

    I’m with you on technology and 21st century development. Aside from the usual: family, friends, sustenance, etc, it is the convenience of modern life that I’m very thankful for. I can’t remember life pre-computer or pre-internet!

    And the Pony Express… so interesting! The line that sticks out to me is Orphans preferred. Sad, really, and yet that was progress.

    Happy Thanksgiving, Jenna!

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  2. Jenna says:

    I know! “Orphans preferred.” Very thought-provoking. And no one over 18. They were just kids, really. Buffalo Bill Cody apparently rode for the Pony Express, and he was 14 at the time. I look at my 13-year-old, and I think “No way in hell!”

    Happy Thanksgiving to you too! Enjoy your family!

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  3. Molly Cannon says:

    I’ll have to check out Young Riders, too! It sounds like my kind of show. I’m grateful for all my many blessings–including technology. But I always think it must have been easier to be a criminal back in the old days. Now days I don’t know how anyone gets away with anything. Not that I was considering it.

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  4. Kym Roberts says:

    I am thankful for my DVR! That piece of technology allows me to watch all my favorite shows on my schedule and to replay my favorite moments slow-mo, from sports to fight scenes, I love capturing the moment-and the stunt men and women!

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  5. Thank heavens we didn’t have to wait for Florida to figure out how to count huh? OTherwise we would have been waiting seven days (or longer) to know who was President.

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  6. So I’m super late to the party, but I’d like to be thankful more often, so here goes. I too can only just remember not being able to google anything, anytime, or maybe I’m just blanking it out. I’m thankful that the advances of modern technology have allowed me to say yes to so much. And I’m thankful for people like you who remind me to be thankful. Hope all your thanksgivings were fabo.

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