Jobs and Occupations

The Making of An American

The immigrant's story: twas ever thus.

Posted By: Paul - Sun Mar 19, 2023 - Comments ()
Category: Emigrants, Immigrants and Borders, Ethnic Groupings, Jobs and Occupations, Languages, PSA’s, 1920s


For only $3 a night, Colin White would rent out one of the drunks from his pub to liven up a party.

White explains that when people are worried about their parties getting off to a slow start, they call up and say: "Oh, Mr. White, I wonder whether you could send us around a drunk about 8:30 p.m.?"

So his employees could legitimately claim to be professional drunks.

Asbury Park Press - Nov 26, 1971

Posted By: Alex - Wed Jan 11, 2023 - Comments (3)
Category: Business, Inebriation and Intoxicants, Jobs and Occupations, 1970s

Miss Wisconsin Cheese

Marvene Fischer won the title of Miss Wisconsin in 1948. The Armour food company then decided to name a brand of cheese 'Miss Wisconsin' in her honor. It simultaneously hired her to serve as the traveling ambassador for the brand. In this position, she became known as Miss Wisconsin Cheese.

She ended up working for nine years as Miss Wisconsin Cheese. During this time she reportedly traveled more than two million miles in 48 states, visited more than a thousand towns, and distributed over 15 tons of cheese samples in more than 8000 food stores.

Binghamton Press and Sun-Bulleting - June 6, 1951

Here are some more details about her job from the Portage Daily Register (Dec 21, 1953):

Miss Fischer's carefully planned visit to a town usually sets off a varied series of events, most of which are reported in the press and over radio and TV broadcasts.

She is greeted by mayors, governors, senators, congressmen, movie stars, chiefs of police, food editors, currently reigning local beauty queens, and other assorted celebrities.

Most of these meetings are highlighted by a formal presentation of a basket of cheese by Miss Fischer in exchange for a gift symbolic of the city being visited. She has received roses, posies, rhododendrons, wine, fruit, foam rubber pillows, cake, and Indian headdress, and any number of giant keys of the city. In St. Joseph, Mo., she was made a deputy sheriff. At the Rockingham Park race track, Miss Wisconsin Day was proclaimed in her honor. In San Francisco, she toured a submarine, and the event was officially publicized by the U.S. Navy.

Miss Fischer takes all this gracefully, in fact gives a continuous impression that it's all a lot of fun. Actually, a lot of good hard salesmanship is involved.

Miss Fischer does most of her traveling by air and prefers to travel alone. She says she has no need for a chaperone. "Why I have about 65,000 chaperones — all Armour employees," she says.

Glamour may be fleeting, figures Miss Fischer, but cheese is here to stay.

Unfortunately I haven't been able to find many details about what became of Marvene Fischer after her time as Miss Wisconsin Cheese. The only info I came across was a listing for a Marvene Fischer, age 94, living in Wisconsin. About the right age, and living in the right state — so I'm guessing it's her.

Miss Wisconsin Cheese in Denver, 1949

Posted By: Alex - Sun Aug 21, 2022 - Comments (3)
Category: Awards, Prizes, Competitions and Contests, Food, Jobs and Occupations, 1940s

Steel Mill Archery

My mother's family lived in the Pittsburgh area, and a lot of them (including my great-grandfather) worked in the steel mills. But I hadn't known that the mills employed archers to ignite the gas coming out of the tall bleeder stacks.

Shenandoah Evening Herald - Dec 29, 1975

Posted By: Alex - Fri May 27, 2022 - Comments (1)
Category: Jobs and Occupations, Industry, Factories and Manufacturing, 1970s

45 Jobs in 45 States

In January 1939, Lyra Ferguson of Missouri left her job as a church secretary and took off on a tour of the United States. Her goal was to spend a week working in all 48 states. Alaska and Hawaii weren't yet states, so she didn't have to worry about those. She was equipped with only "a new automobile, a small wardrobe, a little pistol and $200." I'm not sure of her exact age, but news reports said she was "over 40."

She made advance plans to secure a job in a handful of states, but mostly she just arrived and tried to find employment. She also tried to find jobs in industries that seemed representative of each state.

Ultimately she managed to find one-week jobs in 45 states but failed to get work in New York, Nevada, or Arizona.

Her plan had been to write a book about her adventures, but in a later interview she said her attempt at a book was "terrible." So that plan fell through.

However, she did take film footage of her entire journey and later edited this together into a movie which she showed to various groups. Unfortunately I can't find any evidence that this movie still exists.

Below is a list of her jobs in 42 states. I couldn't find any info about her jobs in Arkansas, Colorado, or West Virginia.

  • Alabama: performed at the assembly exercises of the Tuskegee Institute
  • California: worked for an overall company at the San Francisco fair
  • Connecticut: typewriter factory
  • Delaware: tanned kid skins in a tannery
  • Florida: packed oranges
  • Georgia: cafeteria
  • Idaho: dug potatoes
  • Illinois: made wax fruits and flowers
  • Indiana: manufactured refrigerators
  • Iowa: pen factory
  • Kansas: packed dog food
  • Kentucky: ironed shirts in a laundromat
  • Louisiana: packed shrimp
  • Maine: helped out in a lighthouse
  • Maryland: tea packing factory
  • Massachusetts: served as attendant in an insane asylum
  • Michigan: maid on a Great Lakes steamer during tulip festival
  • Minnesota: sewed buttons on suits
  • Mississippi: shucked oysters
  • Missouri: social hostess at a hotel
  • Montana: cooked on a dude ranch
  • Nebraska: booked well-known artists for an agency
  • New Hampshire: paper factory
  • New Jersey: cosmetics factory
  • New Mexico: sewed labels on ties made by Native Americans
  • North Carolina: weaved homespun suiting
  • North Dakota: picked chickens
  • Ohio: worked in the printing room of a newspaper
  • Oklahoma: wiped windshields at a gas station
  • Oregon: packed salmon
  • Pennsylvania: made chocolate candy at Hersheys
  • Rhode Island: baking powder factory
  • South Carolina: textile industry
  • South Dakota: took pictures of the Black Hills for the association of commerce
  • Tennessee: washed turnip greens
  • Texas: delivered packages during the Christmas holidays
  • Utah: wove blankets in a woolen mill
  • Vermont: helped make maple syrup
  • Virginia: weighed peanuts
  • Washington: worked at a general store in a logging camp
  • Wisconsin: milked cows for a dairy
  • Wyoming: worked at Yellowstone

Pittsburgh Press - Dec 24, 1939

Weekly Kansas City Star - May 8, 1940

Sedalia Democrat - Sep 23, 1941

The only follow-up info I can find about her was that in 1956 she had just returned home from a world tour during which she collected souvenirs from the countries she visited. She obviously really liked to travel!

Posted By: Alex - Sun Jan 23, 2022 - Comments (9)
Category: Jobs and Occupations, Travel, Tourists and Tourism, 1930s

Wrinkle Chaser

Unusual job: A wrinkle chaser uses a hot-air jet to 'chase' wrinkles out of leather boots and shoes. This is done using a wrinkle chaser machine.

Tacoma News Tribune - Jan 6, 1957

Posted By: Alex - Sun Aug 15, 2021 - Comments (1)
Category: Jobs and Occupations, Shoes

Paul Kim v. IRS

2013: Paul Chulhie Kim filed suit against the IRS for $20 million in damages, alleging that he had been waiting 24 years for them to get back to him about his job application. On account of this long wait, he said, he had suffered various health problems including "starvation, heart attacks, heart failure, kidney failure, liver failure, pneumonia, seizures, cancer [and] mental illness." It seems that he never bothered to try to get a different job. He wanted the $20 million to "restore [his] trust in the American people and restore confidence in [his] natural United States citizenship."

The judge noted that Kim appeared to be hinting that some kind of employment discrimination had occurred, without stating this explicitly. But even so, because Kim had waited so long to file his case, the statute of limitations had long since expired. So the judge dismissed the case.

Kim appealed the decision, but the appeals court affirmed the District Court's decision.

More info: Penn Record,

Posted By: Alex - Fri Dec 04, 2020 - Comments (1)
Category: Jobs and Occupations, Lawsuits

Organoleptic analysis

Odd job: the FDA employs people to smell fish in order to determine if it's decomposed. They refer to this as "organoleptic analysis".

There are four categories with fish. "The first is fresh. That's the way fish are right after they are caught. Then there is number one. That's the commercial grade. Most seafood should be number one. It may not smell fresh, but it's not decomposed.
"The next is number two. That means slight decomposition. Whether the fish is all right depends on the product. The criteria are based on percentages. And last is number three, the really bad ones. Definitely decomposed. Number three is so putrid and stinky you wouldn't want to eat it."

The article I'm getting the info from was published in 1978, but I'm assuming the FDA must still employ people to smell fish. Unless they've got a fancy gadget to do it now.

Detroit Free Press - Jul 18, 1978

Posted By: Alex - Tue Nov 24, 2020 - Comments (1)
Category: Jobs and Occupations, Fish, Smells and Odors

The Right To Be Lazy

Happy Labor Day!

What better way to spend this annual celebration of work than by reading Paul Lafargue's 1883 treatise The Right To Be Lazy, in which he made a case for the virtues of idleness.

Some info about Lafargue and The Right To Be Lazy from

A lifelong revolutionary, Lafargue was husband to Laura Marx (Karl’s daughter) and friend to Friedrich Engels. He founded the French Workers Party; he was the first socialist elected to a French parliament. He was, in other words, a serious figure, not some louche provocateur or drawing room contrarian, and while there’s an undeniably utopian element to his work, The Right to be Lazy is written as an immediate political intervention, not an exercise in whimsy.

Much of the book consists of a contrast between ideas about work in Lafargue’s day and the very different attitudes held in earlier societies, particularly in classical antiquity. Ancient Greek philosophers regarded work as an activity fit only for slaves. So where others hailed the arrival of modern industry as progress, Lafargue saw regression.

Longtime WU readers might remember that we've posted about Lafargue before. He made headlines back in 1911 for his unique retirement plan, which consisted of divvying up all he had for ten years of good living and then killing himself when the money ran out.

Posted By: Alex - Mon Sep 07, 2020 - Comments ()
Category: Jobs and Occupations, Utopias and Dystopias, Books, Nineteenth Century

Page 1 of 6 pages  1 2 3 >  Last ›

weird universe thumbnail
Who We Are
Alex Boese
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction, science-themed books such as Elephants on Acid and Psychedelic Apes.

Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.

Contact Us
Monthly Archives
May 2023 •  April 2023 •  March 2023 •  February 2023 •  January 2023

December 2022 •  November 2022 •  October 2022 •  September 2022 •  August 2022 •  July 2022 •  June 2022 •  May 2022 •  April 2022 •  March 2022 •  February 2022 •  January 2022

December 2021 •  November 2021 •  October 2021 •  September 2021 •  August 2021 •  July 2021 •  June 2021 •  May 2021 •  April 2021 •  March 2021 •  February 2021 •  January 2021

December 2020 •  November 2020 •  October 2020 •  September 2020 •  August 2020 •  July 2020 •  June 2020 •  May 2020 •  April 2020 •  March 2020 •  February 2020 •  January 2020

December 2019 •  November 2019 •  October 2019 •  September 2019 •  August 2019 •  July 2019 •  June 2019 •  May 2019 •  April 2019 •  March 2019 •  February 2019 •  January 2019

December 2018 •  November 2018 •  October 2018 •  September 2018 •  August 2018 •  July 2018 •  June 2018 •  May 2018 •  April 2018 •  March 2018 •  February 2018 •  January 2018

December 2017 •  November 2017 •  October 2017 •  September 2017 •  August 2017 •  July 2017 •  June 2017 •  May 2017 •  April 2017 •  March 2017 •  February 2017 •  January 2017

December 2016 •  November 2016 •  October 2016 •  September 2016 •  August 2016 •  July 2016 •  June 2016 •  May 2016 •  April 2016 •  March 2016 •  February 2016 •  January 2016

December 2015 •  November 2015 •  October 2015 •  September 2015 •  August 2015 •  July 2015 •  June 2015 •  May 2015 •  April 2015 •  March 2015 •  February 2015 •  January 2015

December 2014 •  November 2014 •  October 2014 •  September 2014 •  August 2014 •  July 2014 •  June 2014 •  May 2014 •  April 2014 •  March 2014 •  February 2014 •  January 2014

December 2013 •  November 2013 •  October 2013 •  September 2013 •  August 2013 •  July 2013 •  June 2013 •  May 2013 •  April 2013 •  March 2013 •  February 2013 •  January 2013

December 2012 •  November 2012 •  October 2012 •  September 2012 •  August 2012 •  July 2012 •  June 2012 •  May 2012 •  April 2012 •  March 2012 •  February 2012 •  January 2012

December 2011 •  November 2011 •  October 2011 •  September 2011 •  August 2011 •  July 2011 •  June 2011 •  May 2011 •  April 2011 •  March 2011 •  February 2011 •  January 2011

December 2010 •  November 2010 •  October 2010 •  September 2010 •  August 2010 •  July 2010 •  June 2010 •  May 2010 •  April 2010 •  March 2010 •  February 2010 •  January 2010

December 2009 •  November 2009 •  October 2009 •  September 2009 •  August 2009 •  July 2009 •  June 2009 •  May 2009 •  April 2009 •  March 2009 •  February 2009 •  January 2009

December 2008 •  November 2008 •  October 2008 •  September 2008 •  August 2008 •  July 2008 •