Amuse residents with this list of professions that are vanishing or no longer exist. Start by saying the profession and waiting to see if anyone can guess what this was for. I'm sure they can think of others to add to the list!
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Amuse residents with this list of professions that no longer exist or are scarce in modern times. Start by saying the profession and then wait to see if anyone can guess what this was for.

Switchboard Operator:
Telephone assistant to help callers reach the person they are calling.
Very rare these days, the milkman sold or delivered milk door to door in glass bottles.
Wet Nurse:
Wet nurses were hired when the mother of a baby was unable or chose not to nurse the child herself.
A person who reads aloud to others; newspapers or scripture passages in a Church service.
A woman who made her living by sewing clothes for others.
A compositor or a 'type setter' was the person that set the written material into type.
Carriage drivers:
Before cars, it was the main form of transportation in big cities. They were a lot like today's taxi drivers.
Radio Actors:
Very popular before television. Musicals and dramas were played over the wireless to the delight of many.
Elevator operators:
Men in charge of the safety of elevator the passengers.
In the early 1900s, pinsetters were young boys that would reset the pins in the bowling alleys for very low wages.
A woman employed to teach children in a private household.
Major cities of the world had hundreds of lighting men. They had to carry a ladder with them to reach the lamps.
A man employed as a servant to wait on tables, attend the door and run errands.
Coal stokers:
A dangerous and challenging job. The boiler room on large ships needed stokers to get going. (The Titanic had men stoking the coal around the clock to keep it in motion).
This occupation involved polishing shoes with shoe polish. It was traditionally the role of a male child, or 'shoeshine boy'.
Gas/Petrol Station attendants:
People hired to attend customers at gas stations, their jobs included: filling up your car, wiping your windshield, checking oil, checking transmission and cranking up your car to get it started if necessary.
Children Chimney Sweeps:
This age old profession was sure to cover the person in soot and ash by the end of the day. In Europe, at the turn of the century people used children as chimney sweeps because they were small enough to fit inside the tiny chimneys. Chimney sweeps still exist however the profession is now carried out in a much safer way than in the past.

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Peg 7th Sep 2018 Retired/caregiver
Telephone booths. Drive in theaters. Tea room restaurants in department stores.
Talita 8th Sep 2018
Good ones! I think another installment of this activity is in order!
Onnolee 19th Aug 2017 Activities Director
Many of these are still jobs in the USA. I rode in an elevator with an operator in NYC last week. My uncle is a Lector. I work part time as a seamstress and know of many full time seamstresses. A chimney sweep was at our house last fall. And in Oregon, it is required that an attendant pumps your gas, etc.
Talita 20th Aug 2017
Hi Onnolee, you are quite right, many still do exist they are just more scarce these days (in some countries, anyway!).
Barbara 29th Aug 2017 Recreation Coordinator
Yup! At New Jersey gas stations, they must pump your gas. One of the reasons is so you don't top off and cause a spillage (which I saw last week while the lady in front of me wasn't paying attention and the gas came squirting out!).
Talita 23rd Jun 2017
Thanks for the feedback everyone! Yes as you have pointed out some of these professions on this list do in fact still exist although they are more scarce these days. An interesting subject for reminiscence! We will add some of your other suggestions in the comments to the list.
Deborah 23rd Jun 2017 Activities Coordinator
I think my residents will enjoy talking about this past/former jobs - but I know in the Dallas area there are still some people who have a chimney sweep business - and they tend to be in high demand as there are so few, but a lot of people have fire places and chimneys that need to be cleaned once a year or so. Also on seamstress - I think that one still applies but just as a tailor/alterations - I know several by me will also custom sew an article of clothing.
Satomi 29th Dec 2015 Carer / Activity Coordinator
Hi, just to add FYI. I live in Adelaide Hills and there are a quite few chimney sweepers as most houses are using open or combustion fire place. I lived in Sydney, Bendigo, Canberra, Sunshine Coast and this is the first time to use a combustion fire place and gas from a gus bottle. I would like to know whether other places in rural Australia use the fire place or gas bottle. Thanks, Satomi.
Susan 29th Dec 2015 Freelance Activity Co-ordinator
In the UK some of these are still going. We still have the milkman, switchboard operator, seamstress, chimney sweep, radio actors, footman and governess. The last 2 mainly working with royalty or very high class families.
Very interesting subject though that will be great to do with my residents.
Deborah 19th Aug 2014 A.I.N
Great stuff.brought back memories for me......we use to get bottle milk at school for recess. Pink.brown.yellow. those were the days.
Jessie 8th Apr 2013 Support Care Worker
All good subjects for our reminiscing time. Golly, it was only 20 years ago at my wee(no pun intended) country cottage that I had an outside dunny with a nightman emptying it once a week. Thank the gods for septic toilets.
Debbie 3rd Apr 2013 Carer
Windmill mechanics are a dying breed. Nippers working on railway gangs and firemen on the railway. What about the men who would collect and empty the dunny cans in everyones backyard thunderbox?
Solange 26th Apr 2012 Diversional Therapist
Thank you Wendy; feedback is always welcome!I will add it to the quiz.
Wendy 26th Apr 2012 Diversional Therapist
Shoe shine boys.- ( Men/boys who polished and shined your work shoes) Paper boys - (stood on the corners and sold the afternoon paper)
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