7 Jobs That Went the Way of the Dodo
Goodbye gandy dancers and knocker-up men
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 9, 2014 9:39 AM CDT
Making a phone call took a little longer way back when.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – The modern age has a way of turning jobs obsolete in a hurry. At the San Francisco Chronicle, Katie Dowd picks out some of the more unusual casualties through history. A sampling:

  • Newspaper readers: The title is no joke. Decades ago, factories sometimes employed official readers to stand on a platform and read to workers.
  • Low-tech alarms: Long before the days of smartphones, people who had to be up in the morning paid "knocker-up" men and women to tap on their windows, using long poles if necessary. (The source link has a photo of one such expert in action in London.)
  • Bowling-pin setters: Yes, actual humans had to reset pins between shots before automation took over.
  • Switchboard operators: Back in the day, cities and towns employed long rows of these operators to manually connect every phone call.
  • Leech collectors: This was actually a booming business in the mid-19th century, when doctors needed the slimy creatures for their state-of-the-art bloodletting.
  • Ice cutters: Because refrigeration wasn't always as easy as it is today.
  • Gandy dancers: These awesomely named workers laid railroad tracks during the heyday of the industry's expansion, generally singing all the while.
Click for the full list of 14.

 

My Take on This Story
Show results without voting  |  
9%
64%
7%
12%
2%
6%