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10 Extinct Job Titles


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Pin Setter
These pin boys were photographed at 1 a.m. in 1910, setting up pins in a Brooklyn bowling alley for $2 or $3 a week. Lewis Hines/Library of Congress
These pin boys were photographed at 1 a.m. in 1910, setting up pins in a Brooklyn bowling alley for $2 or $3 a week. Lewis Hines/Library of Congress

Bowling is one of the top participatory sports in America. But no one likes resetting the pins after they've been struck by the ball. In the early 1900s, young men were hired to take care of this job. One former "pinboy" recalled handling four lanes per shift at a pay rate of 10 cents per game bowled. The job went like this: The bowler would roll his first ball. After it hit the pins, the pinboy would jump into the pit, clear the "deadwood" off the lane (the downed pins) and roll the ball back to the bowler. After the bowler's second roll, the pinboy would gather all of the pins as quickly as he could, step on a "pin bar" to raise small metal spikes that aligned the pins, then set them and, again, roll the ball back to the bowler. As you can guess, the job was tiring, low-paid and inefficient [source: Steel Cactus].

Gottfried "Fred" Schmidt eventually ended all this manual labor. He unveiled an Automatic Pinspotter to the public at an American Bowling Congress tournament in 1946. His contraption consisted of a cushion that stopped the bowling ball, a ball lift, a sweep that swept away the downed pins and a carpet that carried pins from the alley into an elevator, where they were delivered to a table and spotted for the next frame. That's pretty much still the mechanism used to day. By the early 1950s, the Pinspotter was well-established, and pin setters were obsolete [source: Oswald].


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