Recently I came across a list of occupations that some experts say will be obsolete in the next ten years. Occupations on the line include postal workers, farmers, ranchers (yikes, we’re talking cowboys here!), cooks and cashiers.
Self-service checkouts are slowly taking over the stores and restaurants in my area. You can even check out your own books at my local library, and meter readers have gone the way of the dinosaurs. All this got me to thinking about occupations from the past that no longer exist. Here are a few that caught my eye:
Rag and Boneman
Following the great buffalo slaughter of the 1800s, bleached bones covered the prairies. It didn’t take long for homesteaders to figure out what the real money crop was. Bones were used for cosmetics, glue, lubricants and sugar cane filters. During the height of the bone trade, eastern processing plants purchased an estimated billion-dollars’ worth of bones.
Icemen made daily rounds in wagons, carts or trucks delivering ice for ice boxes.
Knocker-Upper (it’s not what you think)
How did workers get to work on time before alarm clocks? A knocker-upper banged on doors or windows to wake people at the appointed time. Some used peashooters aimed at second story windows. It makes you wonder who woke the knocker-uppers?
This jobs sounds more fun than it was. Railroad workers or gandy dancers, as they were called, laid thousands of miles of railroad tracks across the U.S.
Bloodletting was a popular method by which to treat disease or infection. Doctors used millions of leeches during the 19th century and let’s face it; someone had to collect those suckers.
Shyster lawyer (some people might argue that this profession still exists)
These workers lit gas streetlights with the aid of a long pole. In some communities, the lamplighter also served as night watchman.
Lectors were hired by factories to educate workers and eradicate boredom. They did this by reading newspapers and even novels aloud. Should a lector read anything too radical or controversial, he could expect to be tossed out on his ear. Hmm. Sounds like some college campuses today.
Do any of you remember milkmen? What about gas station attendants who used to pump gas, clean windows and check the tires? It wasn’t that long ago that people came to the door selling encyclopedias and vacuum cleaners. Most of us could probably do without the salesmen, but wouldn’t it be nice to have someone fill our tanks on occasion? I would also miss not having my mail delivered, and can’t imagine a world without cowboys. What about you? What profession or occupation do you or will you miss?
Left at the Altar
Where tempers burn hot
Love runs deep
And a single marriage can unite a feuding town
…or tear it apart for good.