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Do you know which old job involved looking for valuables in the sewer? Have you ever seen a war tuba? In this episode of The List Show, Erin (@erincmccarthy) breaks down 22 weird jobs from 100 years ago.

Bored projectionists and human computers will want to watch. You’ll learn why teenage boys didn’t last as switchboard operators and the critical role big sticks played in the turn-of-the-century economy.

In case you forgot, The List Show is a trivia-tastic, fact-filled show for curious people. Subscribe here for new List Show episodes the first and third Wednesday of each month: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpZ5qUqpW4hW4zdfuBxMSJA?sub_confirmation=1

For more weird old jobs, check out our article, 10 Odd Jobs of Yesteryear: http://mentalfloss.com/article/61850/10-odd-jobs-yesteryear

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Did you know that factories used to have people who would read stories out loud in order to keep workers entertained?

Hi, I'm Erin McCarthy, editor-in-chief of Mental Floss.com. This practice, of hiring lectores, appeared in Cuban cigar factories in the 1860s.

The lectores would audition for workers, and once hired would read what those workers wanted to hear—usually a combination of the news and literature. And that's the first of many weird old jobs from a hundred years ago that I'm going to share with you today. Being a lector wasn't the only job that required public speaking skills.

You had to be pretty comfortable in front of a crowd to be a town crier. They would stand around and shout announcements, like court orders. While they were extremely common for centuries before losing their importance, there are still town criers today.

Some places include them in parades and ceremonies. There are even town crier competitions, for the real experts. This year's international town crier competition took place in Holland, Michigan.

Participants were judged on things like clarity, sustained volume and demeanor. John Webster, who hails from Ontario, took first place. Another profession that peaked around the 19th century but can still be found today is lamp lighting.

In cities, people would use long sticks to light gas street lamps at night then put the flames out in the mornings. To this day London still has five lamplighters who manage 1,500 gas lamps. Clearly, they love lamp.

And now for another profession requiring a long stick. Before iPhone alarms, people still had to wake up for work. And even though mechanical alarm clocks were invented in the late 18th century, they weren't cheap.

Starting around the Industrial Revolution, a person called a knocker up or a knocker upper would use a long stick to tap windows in the mornings to wake up residents. This was primarily a job in Britain in Ireland, and in some towns it didn't phase out until the 1970s. Thanks to Joshua Pong, among others, who suggested that job in a comment on our last episode.

We couldn't resist a job title like knocker upper. He wasn't the only one on top of his old jobs, though. A lot of the submissions were for jobs we already had in the script, but we appreciate you all, too.

Stay tuned til the end of the video to find out what kind of facts we're crowd-sourcing for the next episode. People who have seen Hidden Figures will be familiar with human computers, people who were hired to do mathematical calculations by hand. Probably the first great moment in human computing occurred in 1757, when French mathematician Alexis Claude Clairaut had a few people help calculate when Halley's Comet would be visible from Earth.

Machine computing wouldn't fully supplant humans until around the 1970s. Human computers were used during both world wars, as were dispatch riders. These were people who used motorcycles or other means of conveyance, like camels and horses, to transport important messages across the front lines.

Another surprising World War One and Two job was cavalryman, a soldier who fights while on horseback. Despite technology like guns, tanks and cars becoming more common, every major army that fought in World. War One had a cavalry, and World War Two had a substantial cavalry charge in the.

Soviet Union. But that was probably the last major one in history. And before radar was a thing people in the military still needed to know when enemy planes were nearby.

This became a job, too: aircraft listener. The British especially had acoustic mirrors that enhanced hearing and helped determine where an airplane was coming from. Some of these mirrors still exist and are even being restored.

The Japanese, meanwhile, used war tubas. And yes, they're exactly what they sound like. Starting in the 19th century soda jerk became a popular job.

These are people who created and served drinks like malts, milkshakes and, of course, sodas. Before cocaine became a controlled substance in 1914, it wasn't unusual for soda fountains to dole out syrup with cocaine and caffeine in it. Luckily, soda was good enough that even after removing the cocaine, people still wanted to visit their local soda jerk.

During the 1930s and 40s half a million people had this job in the US, but the rise of fast food and drive-ins, along with some other factors, ended the era of the soda jerk. But speaking of people who provided milk: milkman was once a job all over the world. It's much rarer now.

In the 1920s most people had milk delivered directly to their doors. In 2005, just point four percent of milk consumers used a service like this, though since some grocery stores offer at home delivery we are reportedly seeing an uptick in milk delivery once again. Until the early 20th century, most ice was made naturally by cutting into frozen lakes, which led to a very cold job: ice cutter.

People did collect and store ice during the winter time in ancient Greece, Rome, Persia and China, and then use it during the warmer months, but the ice cutting industry really ramped up in the early 19th century. Ice cutters would find spots on frozen water where there was ice buildup, cut it out, and then move it along to the storage and delivery stages. But as cooling technology like refrigeration got better, there was less and less need for manual ice cutting.

For this next job we have to go back to Victorian England, which was a little over 100 years ago. But we can't not talk about toshers, who spent their days (and sometimes their nights) going through the sewers to look for anything that could be sold for money, like coins or silver spoons. Toshers carried big sticks—really??

Another job with a big stick?? But these were used to sort through sewage stuff to find shiny objects they were looking for. Which leads me to my movie pitch: the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles go back in time, end up in Victorian England, and team up with the toshers to save the world.

Hey! That's another profession that uses a big stick: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Where there were no sewers there were night soil men, or jake's farmers.

These were people who emptied toilets, often at night, because the waste couldn't just be conveniently flushed away. The modern era of sewage systems in the U. S. began around the mid-1800s.

A very small number of people could have had a job as a sagar maker's bottom knocker. Basically, a sagar maker was a skilled pottery maker. They could make adjustments to the pottery while it was in the sagger, a vessel that held the pottery while it was in the kiln.

But the sagar maker's bottom knocker was responsible for putting clay through metal loops to create the bottom of the sagger. Not many places made saggers. This job was most common in Staffordshire, England.

Sagger maker's bottom knocker sagger maker's *Devolves into gibberish* If you were good with technology there were a couple of job options in the early 20th century. A telegraphist was the person who operated a telegraph to get messages from senders to recipients. Linotype machines changed the print world by making it much easier to create newspapers, and this led to a new profession: linotype operator.

The linotype machine contained mouds for all of the letters of the alphabet. As the linotype operator typed, the letters would be assembled into a line. The machine then used hot metal to create a strip of metal that basically looked like a stamp of that line.

When you put a bunch of these lines together you could create a whole newspaper page. But it was important for the linotype operator to type each line perfectly into the machine, or else a mistake would be copied onto every paper. After the telephone became more popular than the telegraph, telegraphists were increasingly replaced by switchboard operators, who connected callers to the telephone line of the person they wanted to talk to.

At first the job was done by teenage boys, but apparently they had bad manners so someone had the idea to hire women. Emma Nutt is generally considered to have been the first female switchboard operator, earning $10 monthly for 54-hour work weeks after she was hired in 1878. Switchboard operator wasn't the only job that children held during this time.

In the U. S., slobber doffers were children who changed the bobbins in textile mills. Some kids swept mill floors and some even became spinners themselves.

Textile mill accidents resulting in death weren't uncommon, and these children were also more at risk of respiratory and other diseases. Then, in the 1930s, the U. S. passed child labor laws at the federal level.

Before bowling alleys had machines to reset the pins after someone's turn, that was the responsibility of a pin setter or pin boy. Former pin boy Paul Retseck described the job to Scientific American like this, quote, "You really had to work fast or the bowlers would yell at you, 'Hey! Get moving!" The machine started appearing in the first half of the 20th century, but that didn't stop people from yelling in bowling alleys.

Another job that has largely been replaced by a machine: elevator operator. Before elevators had buttons, a human needed to run them with a lever, making sure they stopped at the right places. They were also responsible for opening and shutting the doors.

In 1900, the passenger- operated elevator was invented, and by 1950 they had become commonplace. And no one would blame projectionists for having a beef with machines, either. Films used to arrive at movie theaters in multiple reels.

The projectionists had to watch the film each time it played, changing over the reels when they saw the cues, like a circle in the corner of the screen. Nowadays, digital projection is primarily used, meaning a single projectionist can go from theater to theater simply pressing play and moving on. And according to a projectionist interviewed by NPR, they often only need to come in one day of the week for an entire multiplex.

Finally, a signalman had several roles to keep railways running smoothly. One famous signalman was Jack the Baboon, who worked at a train station in South Africa. His owner, James Edwin Wide, was a signalman, but Jack eventually learned how to pull the levers himself based on the toots of approaching trains.

He kept his job for nine years and it's said that he never made a mistake. Our next episode is about ways school was different a hundred years ago. We had a ton of fun reading your suggestions for old jobs—even the ones we didn't have time to fact-check—and we'd love to hear your favorite facts about school around the turn of the century.

We'll incorporate one of those facts into that episode, coming out September 4th. Share your favorite facts in the comments, and make sure you subscribe here so you don't miss the episode. We'll see you then!