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Win, Lose or Draw: First jobs of animation sensations

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Think of the golden age of American animation, and the mind tends to go back to the days of Walt Disney and Steamboat Willie.

David Silverman, director nominated for Animated Short Film for “Maggie Simpson In The Longest Daycare” and Matt Groening (R) arrive at the 85th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California February 24, 2013 REUTERS/Adrees Latif

Yet with computer animation and the advent of storytelling powerhouses like Pixar, animators now are turning out some of the greatest works of art the field has even seen.

With that in mind, for the latest in Reuters’ “First Jobs” series, we talked to some of America’s best cartoonists and animators about entering the workforce – and it was not always at a drawing board.

Bob Mankoff

Cartoon editor; “Esquire”; former cartoon editor, “The New Yorker”

First job: Teaching speed reading

Back in the 1960s, there was a speed-reading craze. The idea was that we usually read one word at a time, but our eyes can actually see much more than that.

They even had a whole machine for it, with a dial and a bar that went down the page at a certain speed. You could actually train yourself to read faster. So I became a teacher at a school called Evelyn Wood, and had to schlep these horrible machines all around town.

I taught at a Catholic girls’ school. My standard joke was, ‘Read faster or you’ll burn in hell!’ But the worst thing I ever did was that when I wanted to stop teaching, I lied and told my bosses I had stomach cancer. That sure stopped the conversation. That was it, and I was out.

Marc Ceccarelli

Co-executive producer (with Vince Waller) of “SpongeBob SquarePants”

First job: Making Halloween masks

My first actual job was working at a mask company in North Hollywood. We made Halloween products, mostly masks and props. I got the job because I had made a sculpture of a rat standing on its hind legs.

Every year we would go to Halloween product conventions, and five of us had to figure out new ways of sculpting the usual masks like witches, skulls and Frankensteins. There are only so many different monsters you can do. But we also had licensed products, so we got to sculpt Star Wars masks like Yoda.

It was a very toxic job, because there are a lot of chemicals and resins and foam and fiberglass and clay dust. Unfortunately, this job set off my allergies, so I had snot pouring out of my nose every day.

That job did teach me about deadlines, though. You have to get things done by a certain time, and that is how you keep working in Hollywood. If you can handle deadlines in this business, then people will give you more work.

David Silverman

Director of 24 “The Simpsons” episodes and “The Simpsons Movie”

First job: L.A. Times cartoonist

In 1979 I started working for Pulitzer Prize-winning music critic Martin Bernheimer of the L.A. Times. He did little vignette stories of things that were happening in the world of music, and they wanted a cartoonist who had a feeling for musicians.

That led to other freelance work, like a line of piano books for Alfred’s Publishing. I did drawings related to the lessons, which I believe are still in existence. They would let me do pretty wacko stuff.

I didn’t get lot of money for those things, but it wasn’t really about how much they were paying me. I would still really go for it and try my best. Eventually I caught the eye of Disney animators. So looking back on my career, I wouldn’t have done anything different. It was all kind of happenstance.

Lee Unkrich

Director of multiple Pixar films including “Toy Story 3” and “Coco”

First job: Country club busboy

When I was 16, I worked briefly as a busboy at a fancy country club in northeast Ohio. Basically my job was to fill water glasses, put the butter pats out, and help serve the buffet.

The only reason I took the job was that I had just got a car, a ‘63 Plymouth Valiant given to me by my Great Aunt Betty. I was a huge fan of Stanley Kubrick’s movie “The Shining,” and all I wanted in life was to own vanity plates that said ‘Redrum’. I thought it would be funny for drivers to look in their rear-view mirror and see ‘Murder’ approaching.

The day my plates came in the mail, I quit. That was my first and last time in the service industry. I drove away with my Redrum plates and never looked back.

Editing by Lauren Young; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

What Were Popular Jobs in the 1960s?

Popular jobs in the 1960s were doctor, lawyer and pilot for men, and teacher, nurse and secretary for women. Race car driver, soldier, fashion model and stewardess were popular fantasy careers for young boys and girls.

In the early 1960’s, some women were interested in jobs traditionally held by men, such as doctor and lawyer. Women were allowed to attend college and become doctors or lawyers, but they still had a tough time finding a job. Society had certain ideas about gender roles and challenging those ideas became a major theme of the decade. As the 1960s progressed, more men became interested in jobs traditionally held by women such as teacher, nurse and secretary. Men were not usually held back from obtaining these jobs. Conversely, women who wished to become fire fighters or police officers were held back by gender in almost every case. The subsequent protests throughout the 1960s gave young boys and girls freedom to pursue more diverse occupations. There is a marked difference in popular jobs of the early decade as opposed to which jobs were popular as the 1970s approached. The occupational landscape changed drastically during the 1960s, so by the end of the decade, women and men enjoyed more options than ever before.

Females in the 1960s and 1970s had plenty of job opportunities at their fingertips – magazines were chock full of ads for low-wage, low-skill positions. Want a career in aviation? No problem. You can be a stewardess or travel agent. Want to work in the exciting world of business? That’s easy too. There are ads for secretaries and bookkeepers. For 1960s-70s women, the world was their oyster -well, maybe not quite….

You’ll note they mention “communications, passenger service, operations, reservations, ticketing, travel agent”… but leave out pilot.

Again, you can’t help but notice that being a pilot is the one position that’s off the table for the ladies.

“Bookkeeping is one of the great professions for women because they can progress just as fast as men… and the pay is just as good!” (1977)

“I used to be an ordinary secretary – like a zillion other girls – but I wanted something better, some responsibility and independence. So when I saw a LaSalle ad about the exciting career opportunities in Stenotype, I decided to do something about it….. Now I can make more money even in part time than some secretaries make full time. I’m out of that old 9 to 5 rut and I love it!”

Sarah Coventry – “Fashion Show Director” jobs

Bookkeeping and fashion show direction maybe a little too high-stakes? You can always just make donuts.

Look at all the great opportunities for women! Bay State Junior College of Business offers these amazing careers: “Fashion Coordinator, Legal Secretary, Airline Hostess, Interior Designer, Medical Secretary” and even (drum roll please) “Diplomatic Executive Secretary”.

Patricia Stevens will get you on the right path to success having you learn “techniques of make up, hairstyling, wardrobe, figure control,… and modelling.”

If a career in the field of medicine is what you’re after – you can enjoy steady pay as a nurse.

The disparity between male and female job opportunities was readily apparent in The Gold Key Comics “Your Future” series…

In the field of medicine, boys can aspire to work in the “most respected position in the world”, while girls can dream of being Florence Nightingale. A guy can be a geologist and the girl can operate a typewriter.

In the end, this article isn’t meant to look back in scorn at the narrow career options made available to women. Nor is it to look down on these positions – all of them honorable and honest ways to make a living. Rather, it’s just an interesting look back to how different things were – and it should make us feel positive at what a long, long way things have come! Cheers.

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What Were the Popular Jobs in 1920?

The 1920s were an era of prosperity and economic boom. Manufacturing jobs were popular, especially in the automotive industry. The advancement of the automobile industry spurred growth in other industries, such as steel production, highway building, motels and gas stations. In addition, women held jobs as teachers, nurses, librarians and maids. Men commonly worked as farmers, doctors, lawyers and bankers.

In the beginning of the 1920s, many people worked as farmers and in the service industry. As the 1920s continued, manufacturing jobs became increasingly common to meet the demand for electrical appliances. Radio sales went from $60 million in 1922 to $843 million in 1929. Refrigerators, washing machines, vacuums and telephones also sold in large numbers. Many companies hired new workers to help manufacture, sell and distribute the appliances. Most notably, the automotive industry employed many workers. The three main companies were Ford, Chrysler and General Motors.

In addition to creating new jobs, the motor industry also changed the way people worked. In the 1910s, Ford created an assembly-line production model that became the industry standard. Ford’s model enabled companies to hire cheap, unskilled laborers to save money. Thus, many companies hired women who worked at cheaper rates. For the first time in history, women were being hired in large numbers to do jobs that were traditionally male jobs. The manufacturing boom of the 1920s helped to redefine work for the modern era.

Occupation Change, 1920-2010

Every year the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) releases new data about occupations and employment in America. They estimate how many jobs there are for doctors and actors, how many jobs there are in manufacturing and real estate, how many jobs there are in a multitude of other occupations and industries. And every two years they make projections for the future, giving us an idea of which occupations will be growing and adding more jobs and which will be shrinking and perhaps even disappearing. Despite all the work that goes into these estimates and projections, from year to year the data look pretty much the same. Some occupations outpace their neighbors in growth, but rarely by much; the 7th largest occupation last year might be the sixth largest this year, but we rarely see dramatic yearly changes. So why is all this work important?

While it’s true that from 2010 to 2011, the occupation data look pretty similar, over time incremental differences really start to add up. Small yearly changes can bring big changes over the course of a decade. And several decades will bring dramatic changes to our entire occupational system, as technological and economic forces fundamentally change the nature of work in America. One of the reasons that the BLS does these employment projections is to help educators and education planners to foresee the occupational landscape that students will be moving into as they graduate, and to develop programs that meet the demands of the future instead of the demands of the past.

It can be difficult to take the necessary wrenching steps to prepare for the future, but looking back at the past may help us to see how important these steps are. The graphic below depicts how occupational employment has changed in America since 1920. Students entering the workforce today face a dramatically different landscape of jobs than their parents did in the 1980s or their grandparents in the 1950s. And the work world that their great-grandparents entered in the 1920s is almost unrecognizable.

Back then, about 25 percent of jobs were in agriculture and 40 percent were in manufacturing and other blue collar fields. Today, fewer than one percent of jobs are agricultural and only about 20 percent are blue collar.

In the 1920s, only about 5 percent of workers held professional jobs. This has exploded over the last 90 years and today about 35 percent of workers have professional jobs. Rapidly advancing technology has not only automated and eliminated many jobs that once provided manufacturing, blue collar, and agricultural employment for millions of Americans, but it has also increased demand for professionals who create, manage, and explain this technology, many of them working in occupations that were unimaginable 90 years ago.

The accompanying table lists the occupations classified as “Professional Service” in the 1920 Census. The list is not long and the Census list of “Semi-professional” occupations is not longer and consists mainly of assistants and apprentices to the professionals. Notice that there there were more artists and more photographers in 1920 than architects, chemists or college professors.

Gainful Workers 10 Years Old and Over, 1920 Census
Professional Service Occupations Employment
Actors 28,361
Architects 18,185
Artists, sculptors and teachers of art 35,402
Authors 6,668
Chemists, assayers, and metalurgists 32,941
Clergymen 127,270
College presidents and professors 33,407
Dentists 56,152
Designers 15,410
Draftsmen 52,865
Editors and reporters 34,197
Inventors 2,376
Lawyers, judges, and justices 122,519
Librarians 15,279
Musicians and teachers of music 130,265
Osteopaths 5,030
Photographers 34,259
Physicians and surgeons 144,977
Showmen 19,811
Teachers (athletics, dancing,etc) 9,711
Teachers (school) 752,055
Technical engineers 136,121
Trained nurses 149,128
Veterinary surgeons 13,494
Other occupations 18,409

In the 1920 Census, data was collected on just four kinds of “technical engineers:” civil, electrical, mechanical, and mining. In 2010, the BLS reports employment numbers for 17 kinds of engineers: aerospace, agriculture, biomedical, chemical, civil, computer hardware, electrical, electronics, environmental, industrial, health and safety, marine, materials, mechanical, mining, nuclear, and petroleum.

In 1920, the Census counted just 10 health sciences occupations: dentists, osteopaths, physicians and surgeons, trained nurses, chiropractors, healers, dental assistants, physician assistants, midwifes and untrained assistants. Today, over 50 health science occupations are recorded by the BLS, many of them including sub-specialties of their own. Many of these occupations had not even been contemplated in 1920, including speech-language pathologists, nuclear medicine technologists, and prosthodontists.

Although the professional occupations have seen the most growth, they’re not the only ones to have changed. Every occupational arena today includes a range of occupations unimagined in the 1920s, from CNC machinists to telemarketers to multimedia artists. And every arena has seen jobs disappear. It’s not just the buggy whip makers who are gone. The 1920 census reported 28,000 newsboys; 15,000 bootblacks; 113,000 messenger, errand, and office boys and girls; 221,000 blacksmiths; 19,000 coopers; 73,000 milliners; 79,000 shoemakers; and 19,000 hostlers and stable hands.

Comparing occupations over time: It’s not easy to compare the distribution of occupations over long periods of time. Our employment landscape has changed so much that the occupations studied by the Census Bureau in 1920s, and the summary occupational groups that resulted, don’t match the groups of today. For example, in the 1920 census, “bankers, brokers and money lenders” were considered to be in “trade” and grouped together with occupations such as “retail dealers,” “salesmen” and “store clerks” that today are classified into the broad category “sales.” As a result, the graph accompanying this post only approximates the changes that have taken place.

Tagged with → data • employment • history • occupation

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Top Jobs In The 1970s: Working 9 To 5

Culture | August 2, 2018

Although unemployment rose slightly in the 1970s over the previous two decades, companies still demanded skilled and responsible workers to keep the country humming along. The seventies was a unique time for jobs. The women’s lib movement was in full force, yet we still saw jobs divided by genders. The push for more workers’ rights, better working conditions, and better pay meant some industries were plagued by workers’ strikes in the 1970s. And the decade saw a shift from labor and services to technology-based jobs. Take a glimpse into the top jobs of the 1970s.

Men’s Jobs and Women’s Jobs

The results of the women’s rights movement were not readily apparent in the top jobs for men and women in the 1970s. During this time, it seemed, women still gravitated to jobs that were traditionally ‘women’s jobs’ while men held the traditionally male jobs. For women in the seventies, the top jobs were secretaries, teachers, bookkeepers, waitresses and nurses. For men, that list included managers, truck drivers, production workers, carpenters and farmers. It was still an oddity to see a female truck driver, for instance, or a male nurse.

The Seventies Were a Time of Workers’ Strikes

During the 1970s, several industries were hit with workers’ strikes resulting from labor disputes and unemployment increases. Truck drivers, postal workers and miners were often involved in strikes as a way to draw attention to the working conditions. A ten-day strike by truck drivers in 1979 threatened to cripple commerce and, in 1970, more than 200,000 post office workers walked off the job and onto the picket lines.

New Jobs in Emerging Fields

A shift occurred in the 1970s which moved jobs away from fields like agriculture and production and opened up jobs in the technology sector. Microprocessors, VCR, home computers and video gaming systems all meant that jobs in previously-unknown sectors were opening up for American workers. With the increase in tech jobs came an increase in basic educational requirements for employees. A high school diploma was no longer enough to secure a good paying job in a new and emerging field. Workers needed a college education more than ever before.

Jobs on the Decline

During the 1970s, some jobs saw a noticeable decline, such as coal mining, telephone operators, farming, and construction. Unemployment was highest in these sectors. Less and less people were employed in jobs that produced goods, like factory jobs, as automation took over.

Pop Culture Glamorized Some Jobs

TV shows that showcased specific jobs helped to glamorize certain fields of work in the 1970s. Several trucking movies and shows, such as “BJ and the Bear”, painted the long-haul trucker as a modern-day gypsy. Everyone wanted to be a paramedic after watching “Emergency” and TV’s “Alice” made working as a waitress in a diner seem like a great career choice. Of course, watching “The Love Boat” made more people aware of job opportunities on cruise ships.

A Lot of Work for a Little Pay

In the first few years of the 1970s, the average American earned about $7,500 per year. By the end of the decade, that amount rose to about $11,500. Today’s workers average nearly five times that. The blue collar jobs that, today, earn significantly less than white collar jobs, were more competitive.

Tags: Popular Lists Of Everything From The Groovy Era | The 1970s | The USA

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Karen Harris


Karen left the world of academic, quitting her job as a college professor to write full-time. She spends her days with her firefighter husband and four daughters on a hobby farm with an assortment of animals, including a goat named Atticus, a turkey named Gravy, and a chicken named Chickaletta.

Britain: Occupations in the 1970s

Plessey (Alexandria). Just over a month into the UCS work-in, a second occupation occurred, a few miles away at the marine engineering factory of Plessey’s. Here 200 engineering workers staged an occupation to prevent the removal of plant, stock and machinery and the planned closure of the factory.

River Don Steel Workers (Sheffield). In November 1971, with upwards of 4,500 jobs under threat, the workers at River Don staged a “work-in”. Redundant workers were employed on campaigning work and their wages came from a hardship fund drawn from a 50p per week levy on the still-employed workforce.

Snow Engineering. Within two days of the announcement of the River Don work-in, another Sheffield occupation took place — at a small engineering works, in defence of jobs. After only two days the workers started going home at night, just occupying the factory during the day. Inevitably after only 9 days of the occupation the workers turned up one morning to find they had been locked out.

Co-operative Insurance Society. At the end of November 1971 white collar workers at the CIS office in Manchester threatened sit-in action as part of a campaign over pay and conditions. In the event, at least a half-day sit in was staged. The occupation had now begun to be directed to other trade union ends.

On 3 January 1972 150 engineers of the Allis Chalmers engineering works in Flintshire staged the first of over 100 occupations that were to occur in 1972.

Occupations now began to mushroom, spreading from industry to industry and from town to town, and across a range of trade unions and different sections of workers.

In January alone the tactic was used by engineering workers in Liverpool (Fisher Bendix) and Manchester (Dawson-Barfos/William Crosland); by chemical industry workers in Stockport (Sim-Chem); and by textile workers in Flintshire (Courtlands).

In February, a second pay occupation occurred when 28 members of SLADE, the print union, sat-in their print firm (Leicester Photograph & Lithos Services) in pursuit of a wage claim.

By the end of 1972 more than 69,000 workers had taken part in occupations (16,000 in 1971 and 53,000 in 1972). In 1973 over 22,000 workers took part in more than 31 occupations, with roughly the same number taking part in around 24 occupations the following year. In 1975 there were at least 44 occupations, involving 21,500 workers, bringing the total for the period July 1971 to December 1975 to nearly 150,000 workers taking part in over 200 occupations.

issues and experiences

The measure of the success of any occupation to survive more than a few days was closely tied to its ability to win broad support.

In this respect the Propytex occupation in Hartlepool was remarkable. Whole sections of the community were behind the work-in and from trade union branches around the country. The occupation did things such as organise a family day. Time off from school was arranged for the children and the families were brought to an open day at the factory.

There was a wide variance in the age and experience of the shop stewards playing any major role. For instance, at the Bainbridge (clothing company) sit-in, thirty women machinists were led by two women shop stewards, new trade union members, one in her mid-20s, the other in her mid-30s. On the other hand the Coles Cranes (Sunderland) occupation was led by men with years of experience in the trade union movement.

There are 14 major examples where companies had a number of their plants occupied. In all of these cases, initial occupations in one of the plants could hope to draw on support and experience from workers at other plants. Occupations were also able to draw on support from other sections of the town, union or industry. At the height of the sit-ins in Manchester, the AEUW’s own head office was occupied by their clerical workers who were angry over a procedural agreement issue!

Within the construction industry there were a number of occupations both before and after the successful building workers’ strike of July 1972.

In May 1972 women engineers at Plessey’s Gerrard plan in Swindon sat-in, demanding that they be allowed to take their holiday week at the same time as their husbands, many of whom worked for British Rail. This was conceded. A few weeks later, encouraged by the success of this sit-in, British Rail Workshop engineers sat-in to prevent work from being diverted.

There were of course many threats to the general picture of unity. At Imperial Typewriters, workers at the Hull factory occupied to stop job losses. Earlier, Asian workers at the Leicester plant had faced racist abuse from their fellow workers when they struck. The same reactionary elements denounced the Hull workers when they occupied.

Apart from the Manchester pay sit-ins involving a number of women, women were reported to have been involved in at least 33 other occupations, playing substantial or leading roles in two-thirds of them. Six of these involved women alone.

Christine Brazil was a steward at Briants. She said, “Most people are under the impression that women are conservative in their attitudes and are not interested in unions and militant struggle. There has never been any problem here. All the women are active union members. They are not the sort to grouse when others go on strike.”

All the pay disputes were sit-ins. Among the perceived benefits of this kind of action were that it was warmer being inside the workplace, than picketing outside. It was a more effective method of involving large number of the workforce and a way of preventing scab labour. In many cases the choice was forced on the workers as a way of preventing a threatened lock-out.

At Warmsley, Wigan (September 1972) the police took a hand. They were demanding a reduction in the numbers on the picket line, so the workers decided a sit-in would avoid any confrontation.

In a few cases pay sit-ins lasted a matter of hours. The majority of pay sit-ins lasted at least 24 hours.

There were a number of sit-ins in response to management disciplinary action. At Cubitt’s building site, Chelsea (February 1973) shop stewards were victimised and the workforce locked out. A UCATT member occupied a crane in response.

Briants and the Sextons leatherworks in Fakenham were probably the only two fully fledged work-ins as they took on a substantial amount of new work. Work-ins were not possible unless essential supplies were available.

Workers’ Cooperatives were the end result of about six sit-ins.

All the occupations were supported by the union involved to one degree or another, apart from Sextons. At Briant’s, the print union NATSOPA did not recognise the dispute for the first three months, and then paid out £20 a week dispute benefit to its members for the next three months. Then it stopped, in order to put the members under pressure.

The print unions involved then found a buyer for Briants. Although the workers did not trust the buyer, they felt obliged to their union to accept the deal. Within six months the works was closed again, and the workers locked out.

. Clive Jeninks of ASTMS gave his full support to the NVT occupation in Wolverhampton, riding around on one of the new bikes produced during the occupation, to publicise the potential of the factory!

In 1975 the TUC voted for legal immunity for occupations.

Legal action was taken by employers in only a few cases. This reflected widespread sympathy with the actions of occupiers.

On the other hand the eviction of large groups of workers would have sparked off large confrontations with the police.

With the defeat of the Conservatives in 1974, the new Labour Government took a different approach — up to a point. This took the form of fianancing workers’ co-operatives, but not all.

Occupations then occurred at plants where the government held partial or majority ownership — at British Leyland and Cammell Laird shipyard. At Cammell Laird the government did not intervene when in August 1975 a mass picket of the yard was forcibly broken up by 80 police.

Apart from the more obvious material gains obtained in occupations there were a number of other gains for workers, in their confidence, in their ability and willingness to tackle various organisational tasks and changes in political thinking.

In the words of one woman carton worker at Tillotsons, “In the old days, before the union, you were afraid to open your mouth because you were afraid of losing your job. But now we are much more confident. We’ve got the union.”

Life and Work: What Was It Really Like for Women in the 1970s?

Chicago Tribune Magazine (May 13, 1973)

Are you fascinated with the Mad Men era? Do you ever wonder what it was really like to be a woman at this juncture in American history?

Women and Work in the 1970s

The 1960s and ‘70s were a transformative time for women and work. Thanks to a host of new and amended laws (the 1963 Equal Pay Act, 1964 Civil Rights Act, 1972 Title IX of the Education Amendments, and 1979 Pregnancy Discrimination Act) and influential advocacy (e.g., the publication of Betty Friedan’s Feminist Mystique in 1963; development of the National Organization for Women in 1966; and launch of the first feminist periodical, Ms. Magazine, in 1971 by Gloria Steinem and others) the workplace doors began to creak open for women. In addition, women were now able to apply for higher paying jobs that once were available only to men, continue working when they became pregnant, and even attend professional schools. This resulted in a substantial increase in the percentage of women, particularly those with children, working outside of the home: from 27% in 1960 to 54% in 1980 to 70% in 2012 (according to the U.S. Department of Labor).

Clueless as a 1970s Child

I often marvel that I was born in the midst of the women’s movement in 1973, and yet did not have a clue. Perhaps this was the case for most children, who generally are less aware of their greater world. Or maybe it was because my parents did not actively partake in the movement or discuss it (at least to my knowledge). Even so, my mother was one of the few women in our neighborhood who worked outside of the home (as a nurse), my parents demonstrated a pro-female attitude, and they instilled a belief in my sister and me that we could do anything as adults.

Oblivious as I was during my childhood, I know that the world has greatly advanced for women since that time. So I wonder, what was it really like for the “fairer sex” in the ‘70s? Were women aware of the evolving changes? What were people’s attitudes toward them? How did they handle this transitional time?

A Few Clues: Old Newspapers and Magazines

Recently while I was visiting my parents, my mother produced two dusty, worn boxes from the storage unit with my name on them. I could have sworn she already shipped all my childhood memorabilia to me years ago, which involved six gigantic boxes and occupied half of our storage space. What forgotten treasures did these parcels hold?

You can imagine my excitement when I discovered in one box a stack of old newspapers and magazines from around the time my sister and I were born, covering the years from 1972 to 1976. The 12 news sources in the musty container included issues of the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune (we lived in the suburbs of Chicago during my childhood), and Time magazine. During this point in time, these publications most likely leaned toward the moderate to conservative side, which of course dictates what is printed. I wondered if they covered much about the women’s movement and its resulting transformations?

Traveling Back in Time

To my surprise, there were hardly any articles focused on women and only one brief mention in an interview about the women’s movement (which involved a female interviewee discounting “women libbers”). Perhaps this absence was due in part to the dramatic presidential events unfolding in 1973 and 1974, including Watergate, Nixon’s resignation, and Ford stepping up as President. Ms. Magazine’s website also points out that the media around this period typically either “denigrated or dismissed” the women’s movement, or didn’t mention it at all.

But even the media must talk about women on Mother’s Day. Thankfully, two of the news sources I had on hand were printed on this very date in 1973, and thus provide a particularly insightful account of women and mothers at the time.

Below is a small sampling of the articles, ads, and cartoons that I came across in these publications, allowing a window into women’s lives during the early 1970s, even if the view is mostly from the kitchen sink. (Click on the photos to enlarge them).

Signs of Change

1. New Freedom

A sign of the times: even maxi pads were changing. This Kotex ad reads: “A napkin that holds itself in place! No pins, no belts, no doubts!” I was astonished by the “no pins, no belts” bit, but I also wondered, was “New Freedom” referring to more than one type of freedom for women?

Chicago Tribune Magazine (May 13, 1973)

2. Divorce

The woman in this cartoon states “I’m sorry, Ralph, but I couldn’t possibly marry a man who doesn’t believe in divorce.” In 1969, CA was the first state to adopt a no-fault divorce law, which allowed couples to divorce without needing to prove spousal wrongdoing (previously women legally had a particularly difficult time initiating this process).

Wall Street Journal (August 9, 1974)

3. Separate Help

In 1973, the Supreme Court ruled to prohibit sex-segregated help wanted ads in newspapers. While the help wanted ads in this 1974 edition did not include a gender separation, one listing called for “men and women”.

Chicago Tribune (August 11, 1974)

4. Jewel Gets It

This ad reads as if it could have been written today (almost): “It used to be that Mother’s Day made everyone think of a sweet little old lady in a lavender dress, crocheting antimacassars for the horsehair sofa. Well, times have changed. Moms still work harder than anyone else. But now, in addition to being the heart and soul of the home, they work in industry, on term papers, for volunteer organizations. They pass out political leaflets, pass along recipes, and pass up second desserts.”

Well, times have continued to change…I have never head of “antimacassars” and horsehair sofas. And what is with the “pass up second desserts”?

Chicago Tribune (May 13, 1973)

Signs of Slow (or No) Change

5. Women Are Still Seen as the Homemakers

This ad states “Our Thursday Food Guide is for you. Because you’re the smartest homemaker around.” Enough said.

Chicago Tribune (May 13, 1973)

6. She’ll Be Happy If You Give Her an Oven

Here she is dutifully and joyfully in the kitchen serving her guests (and her man at the head of the table).

Chicago Tribune Magazine (May 13, 1973)

7. Back in the Kitchen

For Sale – an apron that states: “For this I spent 4 years in college?” Many women attended college to get their M.R.S. degrees (and hence ended up in the kitchen cooking for her man). The description below the apron-clad female reads: “So that’s how you feel? Say it – you’ll feel better.”

Time Magazine (August 28, 1972)

8. You Can Grill Instead

The man in this cartoon declares “No wife of mine is going to spend Mother’s Day in the kitchen. Use the outdoor grill.” It is as if he is saying: Sure, women can take on the jobs that only men handle, but don’t forget your other female duties, such as cooking for me.

Chicago Tribune (May 13, 1973)

But Can They Really Do a Man’s Job?

9. Chicago’s New Traffic Cops

Unfortunately I do not have the remainder of this article, but it is intriguing that this headline was placed prominently on the front page. It reads, “‘They should be behind the kitchen sink, not on the streets,’ grumbles one veteran cab driver. He’s talking about the school crossing guards who were hired this summer to help direct traffic in the Loop.”

Chicago Tribune (August 11, 1974)

10. Can a Mom Do As Well as a Dad?

On Mother’s Day in 1973, Margaret Court, a top women’s professional tennis player, played a match with Bobby Riggs, a former Wimbledon champion. Riggs believed “women’s tennis is so far beneath men’s tennis”, and thus challenged Court to the first co-ed tennis match ever, or “The Battle of the Sexes”. Unfortunately she did not win, but four months later Billie Jean did, declaring to the world that women can play just like men.

Chicago Tribune (May 13, 1973)

11. Are They Successful?

This is an eye-opening, full-page ad that was in Time Magazine. It reads “Ever buy life insurance from a woman? Some of the best in the business represent New York Life. Many people still think all life insurance Agents are men. Well, we have a few facts that should surprise them. And maybe you, too.” A paragraph or so later, the ad gets to a key question, “Are they successful? Remarkably so.” Who knew?

Time Magazine (May 21, 1973)

12. Why Are Pedestals for Women So Illusory?

This is probably the most provocative article (published on Mother’s Day) that I came across in my sample, written by a female Chicago Tribune reporter, Cornelia Honchar. I wonder how many women of the time felt the same as Cornelia? Here are a few excerpts:

“Every May the candy and card companies rake in a fortune in Mother’s Day specials. It is that time of the year when we celebrate motherhood in specific and women in general—those creatures perched on precarious pedestals.

But when it comes to the real pedestals of society, the ones that bring in money, power, and status, we find somebody is already there—in fact, he’s been there for 5,000 years.

Equal pay for equal work is still a dream in thousands of offices. Few women sit on the pedestals of the business or government world. How many women are judges, lawyers, doctors, university professors, bank presidents, foreign ambassadors, or corporate directors?

When the man of the house, sometimes still referred to in society as “the master of the household,” gets home, what’s waiting for him but dinner, the paper, the television tuned to his favorite station? He comes to relax from a hard day at the office, probably leaving his secretary still typing away at her desk.

The little woman at home has cooked the dinner, put the kids to bed, or fed them and sent them off to do their homework. During the day she’s done the shopping, cleaning, taken his suits to the cleaners, emptied the garbage, gotten his shoes fixed, and walked the dog. This is a pedestal?

But what would happen to society if women went on strike—no more children, no more housekeeping, cooking, typing, filing, no more dirty work.”

Chicago Tribune (May 13, 1973)

Conflicted in the 1970s

From this small collection of newspapers and magazines, it seems that society (or at least the media) in the early 1970s was conflicted about what women should be, what roles they should play, and how they should be valued. Some progress was made, and women took steps forward. But in other cases society appeared to hold on tightly to the old ways and views.

It is interesting that some of the issues mentioned in the ads, articles, and cartoons are the same problems we talk about today, 40 years later. These social changes have been unfolding slowly over time, although some experts feel they have stalled since the 1990s. As historian and professor Stephanie Coontz stated in a recent article celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, “Women have come a long way, but still have far to go.”

Are you surprised by any of these ads, articles, and cartoons? Which is most shocking to you?

Plenty of odd jobs exist today that didn’t exist 10, 20 or 30 years ago – social media analyst, app developer, etc. – but we’re not exactly awash with career ideas, either. So what happened to all of those old, interesting jobs? This list of pictures will go over a few weirdest and best jobs that have gone the way of the dinosaur.

The disappearance of the majority of these ways to make money can simply be attributed to technological advances. Modern bowling alleys have elaborate systems that collect balls and pins, so pinsetters are no longer necessary. With the spread of proper refrigeration, the cool job of ice cutters became a thing of the past.

While the world’s hordes of unemployed students may disagree, it’s probably a good thing that most of these jobs are gone. Some of these lines of work were very dangerous, and some even employed children. For a better look at child labor, check out our post on historical child labor in the U.S. (via: sharenator)

Now, scroll down below to check our list of jobs from the past!

1. Bowling Alley Pinsetter

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Bowling alley pinsetters were young boys employed at bowling alleys to set up the pins for clients. (Image credits:

2. Human Alarm Clock

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Knocker-uppers were essentially alarm clocks – they were hired to ensure that people would wake up on time for their own jobs. They would use sticks, clubs or pebbles to knock on clients’ windows and doors. (Image credits:

3. Ice Cutter

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Before modern refrigeration techniques became widespread, ice cutters would saw up the ice on frozen lakes for people to use in their cellars and refrigerators. It was a dangerous job often done in extreme conditions. (Image credits:

4. Pre-radar Listener For Enemy Aircraft

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Before radar, troops used acoustic mirrors and listening devices like these to focus and detect the sound of engines from approaching aircraft. (Image credits:

5. Rat Catcher

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Rat catchers were employed in Europe to control rat populations. They ran high risks of suffering bights and infections, but helped prevent these from spreading to the public. (Image credits: Michael von Graffenried)

6. Lamplighter

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Lamplighters used long poles to light, extinguish and refuel street lamps – until electric lamps were introduced. (Image credits:

7. Log Driver

Before the technology or infrastructure was available to transport logs by truck, log drivers would float and guide them down rivers from logging sites to processing areas. (Image credits:

8. Switchboard Operator

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Switchboard operators were integral parts of a telephone network’s operation before modern technology rendered them obsolete. They would connect long-distance calls and do other things that are now done digitally. (Image credits:

9. Resurrectionist

Resurrectionists, or “body snatchers,” were hired in the 19th century to remove corpses from graves for universities to use as cadavers. Cadavers from legal means were rare and difficult to obtain, so universities had to resort to other means to procure cadavers for their students. (Image credits:

10. Lector Who Entertained Factory Workers

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Broadly speaking, a lector is simply someone who reads. However, they were often hired with money pooled from workers to read to large rooms full of manual laborers to keep them entertained. Some read left-leaning or union publications to the workers. (Image credits:

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8 cool jobs that no longer exist

In honour of “Pretend to be a Time Traveler” day, we’re going back in time to look at some of the coolest jobs that no longer exist.

Here are eight jobs you’re not likely to see a job posting for any time soon – unless, of course, you travel back in time…

Town crier

Time period to travel to: The eighth century to the start of the 20th century

The gig: Ring a bell and make public announcements in the streets, with a “Hear ye” or “Oyez, oyez” thrown in now and then for good measure. Depending on the time period and location, announcements could be everything from local news announcements, to a reminder not to urinate in the river when it was being drawn for brewing beer. Some town criers still exist, though more for ceremonial purposes than actual information dissemination.

What killed it: Literacy


Time period to travel to: The 1800s

The gig: Calling all early birds: these workers, primarily in England and Ireland, would earn a (albeit meager) living by simply waking people up, especially in industrial towns where workers did shift work and needed to be woken up at irregular times. You would use simply a stick or baton to knock on their sleeping clients’ doors or windows until they successfully woke up (hence the name). Granted, this position routinely comes up on lists of worst jobs in history – but for an enterprising morning person, this could be a good opportunity.

What killed it: The alarm clock becoming less expensive (and more reliable)

(Image via La Boite Verte)


Time period to travel to: The late 1800s

The gig: This might be our favourite: employees doing monotonous labour (especially cigar rollers in Cuba) would pool their money to hire a lector, who would sit on an elevated platform and read aloud to the workers while they did their work. You’d need some pretty amazing oratorical skills, and ideally some acting chops be able to do various voices, but if you won out in the audition, you’d be able to spend your days reading everything from the newspaper to literature like The Count of Monte Cristo.

What killed it: The radio

(Photo via Mashable)

Elevator operator

Time period to travel to: The late 1800s to the mid 1900s.

The gig: Just open and close the elevator doors, hand-operate the speed and direction, and take passengers to various floors. You were also expected to be the friendly face of the businesses you worked for – so much so that at Marshall Field’s Chicago department store, all the elevator operators were young women who had to complete “charm school.”

What killed it: Automatic elevators (though it took passengers a while to get used to stepping into an elevator without an attendant)

(Photo via Quite Continental)

Switchboard operator

Time period to travel to: The late 1800s to the 1960s

The gig: Connect a caller to the person they wanted to reach by inserting phone plugs into jacks or liaising with other offices for long distance calls. Operators were primarily women, because they were found to be more courteous to callers, and were cheaper to employ. Gossip lovers rejoice: before privacy issues started to arise in the 1920s, switchboard operators could listen in on pretty much any conversation they connected.

What killed it: Automatic exchanges and direct-dial extensions


Time period to travel to: The late 1800s to the 1970s

The gig: Think less iMacs and more Hidden Figures. These human computers, mostly women, would calculate complex equations by hand. The pay wasn’t great, you had to endure less favourable conditions than your male colleagues, and you were more or less hidden from public view, but you played a part in some of the biggest scientific achievements of the 19th and 20th centuries.

What killed it: Computers, ironically.

(Image via NASA)

Bowling alley pinsetter

Time period to travel to: The early 1900s

The gig: Reset bowling pins, clear fallen pins, and return balls to players. The job was often low-paying part time night work, and usually done by young boys – but at least you got to spend your nights where the action was.

What killed it: The mechanical pinsetter (and, to a lesser degree, child labour laws)

(Image via Library of Congress)


Time period to travel to: The 1950s and 1960s

The gig: Deliver milk daily from a truck (or, earlier still, a horse-drawn wagon). Ingratiate yourself with your clientele, and you may enjoy the occasional tip, cigarette, or even shot of whiskey.

What killed it: Some say the rise of refrigeration in homes. Some say the discounted three-quart glass jug at supermarkets. Others say the prevalence of cars, which made it easier to get milk when you needed it.

(Image via The Telegraph)

See also:
QUIZ: What job would you have had in Canada in 1867?
What was it like working in Canada when the Cubs last won a World Series?

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10 Jobs That No Longer Exist

5. Lamplighter

Electricity sure did change a lot of things, including the way we lit our streets at night! Before light bulbs, the common means of illuminating the dark sky were by candle, oil, or gas. These lights needed to be manually lit, hence the lamplighter. Most lamplighters used a giant pole to reach the light and would come back in the early hours of the morning to extinguish it.

From Klearchos Kapoutsis via Wiki Commons

4. MilkMen

OK, so here’s another profession that might technically still exist, but not in the way we remember it! Growing up, there was nothing better than waking up to a bottle of fresh milk waiting on your doorstep. The milkman was always friendly, wearing that trademark uniform and ready to deliver the day’s fresh milk. Sure, there are still services that will deliver milk to your door, but it’s just not the same.

Before the mechanical refrigerator, we had the icebox. In order to keep an icebox cool, you needed ice (who’da thunk it, right?). In the colder parts of the country, ice cutters would travel out onto the frozen bodies of water and cut out large blocks of ice to be used in the warmer months. While some ice cutting was seen as a chore for farmers, some operations were quite large, containing a crew of several dozens of men and harvesting up to 1500 tons of ice a day.

From the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration via Wiki Commons