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.

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Showing 3 of 44 comments
Mar 11, 2014 10:34 PM CDT
In the 1950s TYPING was for girls who aspired to became secretaries> Little did anyone know with advent of PC, secretarial jobs mostly disappeared since office workers and engrs did their own cut & paste w/o benefit of a rough draft. As internet balloons into the way we buy items, most brick & mortar stores will go away Already items that used to be manufactured in USA have left the country for elsewhere Knew a man who's business was making windshield wipers- Had to move operations to Mexico when NAFTA came into being or he got NO ORDERS.
Chuck Roast
Mar 10, 2014 11:20 AM CDT
US Congress persons that represent the people....
Mar 10, 2014 9:26 AM CDT
Milk men.