“15 Archaic Jobs That No Longer Exist”

Four of these are not so ancient. They still existed when I was a kid, along with “hat-check girl,” which was not mentioned.

My parents’ house had a milkbox, and we got a daily visit from the milkman of DeRyke Dairy (except Sunday). (By that time the deliveries were made in trucks, not the horse-drawn wagon you see in the picture.)

My best friend worked his summer job at a local alley as a pinsetter. (It was about the only option for kids who wanted a summer job. Mike was about 11, and the bowling proprietor paid in cash.)

The pre-digital world was filled with typesetters and switchboard operators.

16 thoughts on ““15 Archaic Jobs That No Longer Exist”

  1. Other occupations that used to be ubiquitous to every community, large or small, but not so much anymore:
    -Shoe repairman
    -Coal delivery
    -Telegraph operator
    -TV/appliance repairman
    -Live bands for restaurants
    -Local Coca-Cola bottlers (also beer–they’d deliver it to homes, just like milk)
    -Ice delivery
    -“full service” gas station attendant (and don’t forget your green stamps)

    1. Shoe repairman aka “cobbler”
      Last time I ever heard this term used in a non-food contemporary sense was at the end of a ’65(?) single called Steppin Out byPaul Revere and the Raiders, which the band I was in used to do.
      The song is about someone who had had to leave town “because of Uncle Sam’s deal”, came back, and found his girl had been cheating with just about everybody. At the end the singer is going through the list of co-cheaters and the ultimate indignity is “and you’ve been steppin’ out with THE COBBLER”.

  2. Fewer hobos every year, too. Though that’s not really what you’d call a job, more of an occupation.

  3. What about the converse, where you run across someone and find out they do a job that you can’t believe is still around? For example, my aging parents still use a travel agent for big trips (even though they have no problem booking stuff online).

    I just flew out of SFO and was shocked that they still have someone in the terminal that shines shoes.

  4. Growing up in St. Louis (late 50s, early 60s) there was a guy who rolled a two-wheel cart down the block barking “Pots and pans fixed! Knives sharpened!” …I think the generic names was “Tinker”

    1. I never saw one of those, but we did occasionally see an organ grinder, either busking in a downtown street, or as a wandering performer at a local amusement park. I never saw one with a monkey, except in TV and films.

      1. I can never hear “organ grinder” without reverting to my 12 year old self reading the definition in Playboy’s unabashed dictionary

  5. Hand-rolling cigars. In the late 1800’s/early 1900’s, cigar making was one of America’s biggest cottage industries; there were over 1,800 such places just on the island of Manhattan–many of them fueled by child labor–and around a quarter of a million nationwide.

        1. I’m aware there are still a few such places scattered hither and yon. But cigar-rolling isn’t the universal, if-all-else-fails career option it used to be. In my little upstate NY hometown of 5,000, there were once five cigar factories, lined up along Main Street like ducks in a row. I think the last one closed around 80 years ago. (We do, however, have one of the few remaining single-screen movie theaters still in operation. No movie ushers, though–another occupation more or less down the toilet.)

          1. There are several single screen movie houses still in existence in and around the Portland OR metro area. The Mount Hood Theater in the city of Gresham (just east of Portland though its basically attached) has been in continuous operation since 1948.

          2. We had a glorious one in DC, the Uptown, in Cleveland Park down Conn. Ave. a bit from my digs. It closed in March 2020 (lease, not the virus). There are talks going on about re-leasing and reopening. Was the only place in town to see BIG movies.

  6. They forgot “video rental store clerk”. Also “bootlegger” (liquor variety).

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