Will the year 2000 be filled with flying cars or polluted air? Push-button lunches or the start of World War III? These were just some of the predictions made by fourth grade kids in 1976, who had trouble deciding if the future was going to be filled with high-tech gadgets or nuclear war. Or maybe both.
The July 4, 1976 edition of the Grand Prairie Daily News in Texas published letters written by fourth grade kids that were addressed to the year 2000. Getting American kids to write letters to the future in the mid-1970s was an incredibly popular exercise. These examples give us a peek at not only the tech-filled dreams of tomorrow, but a country struggling with unemployment, pollution, and political corruption.
Below are eighteen letters written by those fourth graders in Texas. All spelling errors have been retained due to adorableness.
Coming Soon: World War III
I am in th forth grade at Lamar Elementary.
Our homes have electricity now. Airplanes are coming by the weeks.
Our communication is getting better every day. Satilites are working fine. Pictures in color or black and white look fine with these things in space.
Our space and areo-space divisions are ready for World War III coming soon.
Shortages, Pollution, and Trash Everywhere
I don't know how it will be in twenty-four years, so I'll just guess.
There will probably be a shortage of everything, pollution in the air, trash on the streets and in yards by curbs everywhere. I hope not. I hope we all get together and clean up the world.
Meal Pills and "Lazor" Guns
In the year 2000 I think thay kids will be taught at home on their T.V. The army will be using lazor guns. Cars will be like spaceships and the strreetlights will be on long tall poles. Another means of transportation will be push buttons. Select where you want to go, push a button, step through a door, and you'll be where you wanted to be.
Food will be in tablet form, put on water on the tablet and your food will be on your plate.
Push-Button Meals and Snap-Finger Transportation
In the year 2000, when you go on a vacation, people will be going to all the planets. You can push a button and you've had your lunch. Same with breakfast and supper. Instead of walking people will be flying. You can also snap your fingers and be somewhere. Instead of children going to school, at home in your room, there is a large speaker to tell you your lessons. It's fun.
"Even 6 Year Olds Can Drive"
The year 2000 is going to be like this maybe— Instead of having cars, everybody will drive platforms called a aero-disc with with push button controls. Even 6 year olds can drive. When you want to eat push a button labeling what you want to eat. There will be no teachers, but we will still have to come to class. We will have TV's for teachers. A human teacher will be in a another room saying the words. And when we are bad out teacher psushes a little button and tells us to bend over and a arm with a board paddles us.
New Things, Different Things
It is the year 1976. In the past four years we have invented new things. We have ways of getting communicatio by what we call radios. Our radios send us news from other ciities. We also have a television that also gives us news.
We have many other things like newspapers, airplanes, watches, drills, hammers, saws, wrenches and other things.
In your years, you'll probably make inventions and have different things than we have.
Living on Pluto
Its a good year for everybody in 1976. I wonder if its a good year in 2000. 1976 is America's 200th birthday.
Here in Texas there is crazy weather so if you want to go crazy live in Texas. I'd like to know where you live because I'll never know now. Our schools are O.K. I guess. I wish I new how yours is. Oh and about where where you live you may even live on Pluto for all I know. Well have to be saying so long now. Goodbye.
Spaceships Instead of Cars
I think 1976 was a good year. I wish you could live in that time. I wish I could live in your time right now. I wonder what it is like to live in the year 2000? I wonder if there is spaceships instead of cars? I wonder if you can be able to live in space?
Bionic Limbs and No Gas
May I guess at what your life is like? In the year 2000, your doctors might discover a way to make bionic arms and legs so that if you have an accident and you lose an arm, or a leg the doctors can replace it with a new one.
There might not be any gas left in the world the way people are using it now. The only way to go somewhere would be to walk or ride a bike.
People will look different than we do now, and they will find a way to live on the moon. There won't be any pollution. The world will be a beautiful place to live, then everyone will be happy and go to churches and no one will be bad.
Travel to School by Rocketship
I hope you are enjoying your new house on Satrun. I am wondering what is it is like in the year 2000. But I've given it a lot of thought. I think they will go to school and everywhere in a rcocket ship. They won't eat food like we do. You will drink your food. You will live on the moon. There will be no violence, smoke and cars.
Football on Rocket Sleds
I would like to live in the year 2000 with you. I bet you play football on rocket sleds with bumpers. I bet cars can go at higher speeds and are controlled remotely so people can relax and travel at the same time. Cars will not run on gas but on air. You can probably live on Mercury, Pluto, Mars and Jupiter I bet efore you go to sleep you hook up to a machine and learn while you sleep. Well. I wish I could live with you in the year 2000.
School's Out Forever
I think that in the year 2000 children won't have to go to school. I think that they will have computers with a platform for someone to stand on so when you step in it and step out you know everything your supposed to learn in school. If this is so you must be lucky. I think instead of bicycles that they will have machines so that when you push a button you go somewhere and all you have to do is steer. I think that we will probably live on the moon, venus, mars, etc. You must have a lot of fun, but I like driving the way I do now with the people I love.
Nuclear Power Instead of Gas
I think in the year 2000 lots of problems we've had in the past will have been solved. I think that in the year 2000 instead of gas being used we'll probly be using nueclear power.
I hope that it will be just will be a better world.
I think in the year 2000 cars will be able to run into water and float like a boat. Boats, planes, cars and trains will run on air and we will heat homes with lignite coal. Machines will run on nuclear fuel. You will be able to push a button and you door will open and your work will be done for you.
Moving Sidewalks and Houses in the Sky
In the year 2000 1 think thai cars can fly in the air as fast as they want to without using gas. You can get whatever you want, including candy. Houses will be way up in the sky. You can have robots to do the housework for the mothers. Instead of walking, the the sidewalks will move for you.
Guaranteed Income From the Government
I think in the year 2000 the earth will be much more polluted than it is. I also think that we will have no more school, and cars can go as fast as they want without getting a ticket.
The government will pay every person as much as they want without them having to work. I also think that we will be out of energy for stores or anything that uses fuel in the year 2000.
Living Under the Ocean
How are you? Fine? 2000 might be living under the ocean. What might be happening in the year of 2000.Maybe they have horses instead of cars, trucks and airplanes.
They might ride horses to the groceries and by me food for them. They might have spaceships over there. What else might be happening in the year 2000. There is something else happening there than that. They might ride horses to work and go to restaurants over there when they are at. They might even have carts to go with horses.
"I Just Checked You Out On My New Computer"
How are you? Well that's a silly question because I just checked you out on my new computer. It says you are feeling O.K. It works almost as dads, and we have a convertible computer.
I push one button and my bath is ready. You should see our robot. He works on the computer and makes sure everything is going smooth have my own space coupe that goes at the speed of light. My dad has an electric paddle. All he has to do is push a button and I've had it. To make a long story short, living here is far out!
Being an American fourth grader in 1976 must've been weird. President Nixon had resigned just two years earlier, the horrors of the Vietnam War were still fresh in everyone's mind, and the environment was in really terrible shape.
All the while, people were trying to get excited for the American Bicentennial—a celebration done through gritted teeth by many people who were disillusioned with the direction of the country.
American kids historically have tended to be pretty optimistic. But when everything around you is turning to shit, it's hard not to feel like America's best days are behind us. Many of these kids were clearly trying to look on the bright side, but it's easy to see why their letters featured as much pessimism about the future of the country as they did rockets and lazors.
Illustration: by fourth grade student Lisa Gilvar in 1976 and scanned from the Tricentennial Report