We are at that pivotal moment in the year when the children return to school, the caregiving parent ensconces into the home routine to propel the family forward, and the providing parent returns to the job routine–all with a vengeance. Have you ever heard anyone say at work, when something very bad happens, “Don’t worry too much about it, in a hundred years who’ll care?”
On the lighter side of Labor Day, here are some jobs that no longer exist, a hundred or more years later. I don’t offer these to diminish or relativize our work today, but to give perspective, even before we need it. Someone said, “American worship their work, work at their play, and play at their worship.” Maybe we shouldn’t worship our work. Maybe we should relax more into our play. Maybe this is the time to get more serious about attending worship. Here goes…
- An “eyer” was someone who carved out the eyes of wooden sewing needles.
- A “knocker-up” tapped on windows to get people up before reliable alarm clocks.
- A “papaya” man dealt in trade with New Guinea (the name is derived from Papua).
- A “tasseler” made tassels for furnishings (I recall Illinois’ detasselers working cornfields.)
- A “puddler” waterproofed channels, canals, and banks by dredging and piling the mud.
- “Puddlers” worked next to “slubbers” clearing drainage channels (“slub” means ooze).
- A “ballad-monger” made his living selling printed music throughout the city streets.
- An “abecedarian” specialized in teaching children and illiterates the alphabet, of course.
- A “hankeyman” was a magician who travelled about Victorian and Edwardian England.
- A “bloodletter” opened veins or used leeches to let “sick blood” out of people’s bodies.
- A “fear-nothing” wove wool into cloth fabrics called “fearnought” and “dreadnought”.
I am thankful for our jobs. Those without work truly suffer. On even my worst days as a pastor, I am glad to work in a job that has been around for 2,000 years and will be here for 2,000 more.