1. Back in the 50s every choir had a designated “ball kicker.” Just in case a tenor was out sick, the ball kicker would stand by for crescendos. Whenever high parts arrived, specialized staff ran up and kicked a few altos in the balls, causing a marked increase in vocal range. The music and performance were stronger for it.
2. Mid-20th century coffee contained less caffeine, tasted blander, and smelled like if tired had an odor. To combat this and the fact many careers reeked of monotony, people hired what were known as hosers. This important job consisted of an individual holding a fire hose outside one’s front porch. As soon as a working stiff finished their ineffective morning brew and headed out the door, the hoser fired a full pressure blast at the unsuspecting homeowner.
Through the decades, the hoser singlehandedly de-zombified millions of working stiffs before their morning commutes, making them fresher, more effective workers and citizens. Hosers even worked overtime to dissuade “acting out” teenagers trying to sneak out their houses late at night to neck with their crushes or listen to KISS in a friend’s basement.
3. Hiccup scarer is another occupation gone by the wayside. These individuals were integral to the family unit and served as eagle-eyed monitors at soirees and social gatherings. Whenever someone developed hiccups after a spicy appetizer, acidic entrée, or over-olived cocktail, the hiccup scarer bided her time, following the person around, and popped out from blind corners or dark spaces to scare the bejesus out of them.
Nine out of ten times, this strategy cured the person’s hiccups, signifying true dedication from professional scarers. The job could be dangerous. Hiccupers would sometimes lash out after being scared, throwing punches and occasionally tackling the scarer to the ground. But there’s no doubt, hiccup scarers were appreciated. Most people didn’t want the esophageal spasm to persist all evening.
4. Like dog trainers, puppy wrestlers were go-to professionals who helped families deal with their untrained and tireless adolescent canines. Trained in safety and gentle techniques, puppy wrestlers’ duties were to wear out puppies so when nine-to-fivers and over-timers returned home from a hard day’s work, their little tail-waggers matched their exhaustion. This gave parents more energy to wrangle their toddler hordes during the baby boom. Meanwhile, puppy naptimes quadrupled.
5. A profession that morphed into the personal trainer of gym franchises, the rando backyard exerciser was hired to show up in your backyard and exercise at random. Bored homemakers and lazy careermen would notice this person performing calisthenics and feel inadequate. The result was people would get out of their houses and imitate the rando backyard exerciser’s routines.
Talking and lessons were kept to a minimum. The idea was to silently copy the lunges, jumping jacks, pushups, tacit precursor jazzercise techniques, and other exercises to get in shape without being directly told what to do or encouraged in any form. Because who needs feedback from a random stranger exercising in your backyard?
6. Another forgotten gem is blank postcard filler. It was bad enough receiving a postcard from someone on vacation when it could have been you suntanning in Key West or boating Lake Geneva. Making matters worse were those people so wrapped up in their luxurious time off they didn’t bother to write a single word on the blank space provided. They paid for the card. They paid for the stamp. The least they could do was write a simple “Bonjour!” opposite the Nat-Geo print of Nice beach.
To the rescue came blank postcard fillers. These were highly vetted, eloquent individuals who screened your mail, searching for unpenned postcards. On finding these, the blank postcard filler rushed the postcard to a local café with a view and composed exquisite accounts of fictional trips, detailing how someday the picturesque setting on the front would be seen firsthand by you, who were no longer envious but excited at the prospect of one day in the distant future finally taking that splurging vacation.
7. The dog poop relocator played a crucial role in neighborhood dynamics. This job addressed subtext of tense relationships between courteous, respectful homeowners and inhospitable, uncivil neighbors. When one neighbor held a grudge against another, whether they didn’t let them borrow sugar for baking, bug spray for an undiscovered basement wasp nest, or a smidgen of firewood during frigid winter blackouts, the dog poop relocator found the opportune time to take the family canine’s turds and place them on their enemy’s lawn.
The dog poop relocator is a relic of a bygone age, and like all these jobs it’s now sadly nonexistent. Today, more than ever, perhaps it is needed to restore balance in communities.
Nolan Yard is a former child actor and a ginger. His work appears in Points in Case, The Haven, Defenestration, Robot Butt, Little Old Lady, and others. He once referred to Jay Leno as Joe, while in front of Jay Leno.