James Fenlon of Des Moines, Iowa started working as a traveling salesman at the age of 17. Seventy-two years later, age 89, he was still working as a "traveler," earning him the title of World's Oldest Traveling Salesman. His specialty was selling windmills to farmers. He sold over 57,000 of them.
Toward the end of his life, his boss tried to get him to take it easy, telling him he could stay on the payroll as long as he lived, even if he never knocked on another door. But Fenlon insisted on continuing to work. He died on Aug 7, 1916. The cause was said to be a combination of hot weather and age. There's a brief bio of him here
Shown is Judd Harris, the gravedigger in Cordova, Alaska circa 1940. He became a gravedigger because it was more certain work than prospecting for gold, though not easier because of the rock and frozen ground. He made $15 to $18 a grave, but averaged only eighteen graves a year... "and some bad years there are hardly a dozen."
You can read about Judd Harris and other Alaskan characters of the mid-twentieth century in Harry Franck's The Lure of Alaska
I don't know about you but I've been looking for a new job lately and have not had much luck. But I got excited when I saw this article today - a company in Britain is going to start streaming video feeds from surveillance cameras in the hopes that "armchair cops" can help catch thieves in the act. Participants can earn up to $1,000 pounds when offenders are caught. Of course there has been some criticism about the scheme. You can read more about it here.
While it might seem quaint to walk through the woods to find and pick mushrooms, apparently it can be quite deadly. Authorities in northern Italy say
that at least 18 people have died recently while hunting for the tasty fungi. Avid seekers are growing careless and ignoring safety procedures because the weather for the month of August has lead to a surge in mushroom growth. Most of those who have died fell off the slippery mountain slopes. Now, I realize that truffles can be worth more per ounce than gold, but I don't think it's worth a person's life.
UK tourist attraction Wookey Hole, a theme park built around a large hole in the ground, is advertising for a live-in witch. The job also requires that the person taking it teach witchcraft and magic to the tourists, cackle, and not be allergic to cats. You are also expected to provide your own "magical accoutrements", though no mention is made on whether you can claim back the broom as a travel expense. Because of anti-discrimination laws in Britain, both women and
men can apply for the position, which pays £50k ($80k) pro-rata (BBC News
A UK school has banned students from including bananas in their lunchboxes, because one teacher has a severe allergy to them. The teacher from the Plymouth school is said to have a "potentially fatal" reaction to bananas (so is presumably also unable to visit supermarkets or parks), causing her council employers to recommend the fruit be excluded from her work environment (Mirror
Somewhere that teacher may want to cross off her list of holiday destinations is Wilmington, Ohio as the town has just held its 15th annual Banana Split Festival in honour of the supposed invention of the dish, in Wilmington, in 1907. The festival also features the "Banana Split Master’s Competition", now in it's 5th year, won this year by Pete Kramme for his "Sweet and Salty Banana Split", which adds cream cheese and pretzels to the traditional recipe (Wilmington News Journal
Speaking of odd flavours, here's a two-fer. First up, the Double-Down Saloon is offering two-for-the-price-of-one on it's 'eye watering' bacon-vodka martini on Jun 19th, in celebration of National Martini Day (Examiner
). Also, a UK barman hopes to beat the credit-crisis this summer by selling beer flavoured ice-cream. The barman, David Wardleworth, is keeping the exact recipe a secret beyond saying that is does include "Thwaites Original" British cask ale. Despite a historic reputation for liking their beer warm, the ice-cream is apparently proving popular with the British public (Burnley Express
And it turns out weird flavours are not the only way the recession is impacting the world of ice-cream. The poor economy, combined with lower gas prices, has apparently fuelled a boom in ice-cream trucks, whose drivers stand to make from $100 to $200 a day. And it's not just the money and the lure of being your own boss that drivers find rewarding, according to driver John Jones "You get to see a lot of happy people, you get a lot of smiles." (Wichita Eagle
And the ice-cream business certainly looks about to boom in Linden, NJ, where police are preparing to hand out tickets for free ice-cream to any kids they see wearing a helmet when cycling; the tickets will also include information about a recent law change, that makes helmets compulsory for under-17s. Even better, no child will be left out as the Brain Injury Association of New Jersey is supplying free cycling helmets for children, also available from those friendly boys in blue (My Central Jersey
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There are some very specific things you shouldn't say to your co-workers. Offensive things. Questions and comments that could lead to a lawsuit, or getting fired. But how do you know exactly what those things are? Aside from using your common sense, the Delaware Department of Transportation was kind enough to make this brochure.
They also issued an apology
when, surprise!, people found the brochure to be offensive.
From the Aug 1929
issue of Popular Science
If you dislike to wash dishes, you won't envy the job of Wilhelm Nauer of Pittsburgh, Pa. He washes twenty trays, all day long, every day in the week. Nauer is a "scientific dishwasher" employed by the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Co., to test a new kind of tray made with a paper base upon which a resin composition is baked.
Every three and a half minutes, Nauer finishes scrubbing and wiping a tray. He will keep this up, month after month, until the tray wears out. The purpose of the unusual experiment is to determine the wearing quality of the new product.
I wonder if it made his job any more bearable to be called a Scientific Dishwasher rather than a Scrub Boy?
As we all prepare for our imminent minimum-wage jobs during the economic meltdown, let us study how to perform them to the best of our abilities, with a cheerful smile. Consider the job of "supermarket checker," circa 1965.