Monday, September 3, 2018

Celebrating Labor Day

Gossips observes Labor Day by recalling a few jobs that no longer exist.

Photo: Lewis Hine
Pinsetters cleared fallen pins, reset pins, and returned bowling balls to players.

Switchboard Operator
Switchboard operators connected calls by inserting phone plugs into the appropriate jacks.

Ice Man
Photo: New York Public Library
Before there were refrigerators, ice men delivered blocks of ice for ice boxes, where food was kept cold.

Linotype Operator
Photo: Library of Congress
Linotype was the method of setting type and making up the pages of newspapers used from the 1880s until computers took over a hundred or so years later.

Bobbin Boy
Bobbin boys worked in textile mills. Their job was to bring bobbins to the women at the looms and to collect full bobbins of spun cotton and wool thread from the spinning machines. They were also expected to fix minor problems with the machines.

Factory Lector
Photo: Library of Congress
Factory lectors were employed primarily in cigar factories to read books and newspapers aloud to the workers, to entertain them while they performed the monotonous task of rolling cigars.


  1. Super post. Never heard of a factory lector! How is it that cigar factories were so thoughtful?

    1. Nor had I. It's actually a practice that started in Cuba, and American cigar factories in Florida and New York followed suit.

    2. In Tampa Florida Ybor City was the cigar rolling district . the lectors read the newspaper , novels and revolutionary papers . the workers were part of 'clubs' the Cuban Club and the Italian clubs the Centro Asturiano all in Ybor . they had health care , in a communial system and the entire community took care of one another . Wow we have come a long way baby . And yes they listened to a real person reading during their workday ..

  2. To bad we cant eliminate so of the quasi Hudson city government bodies and the know it all committees. The HDC is top of my list

  3. My great-uncle Willis Wells, an MIT-trained engineer, designed the automatic pin-spotting machine that replaced those guys in the bowling alley.