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The Dead Job Pool

The Dead Job Pool by Eva PascoSha na na na, sha na na na na…Yip yip yip yip yip yip yip yip …Mum mum mum mum mum mum…”Get a job!”   (Silhouettes, 1957) 

Don’t be a soda jerk!  Technological advances and societal changes have rendered jobs that once loitered in the Sixties, obsolete. They’re either fast disappearing or—in the dead pool, asleep with the fishes like Luca Brasi.  Paying my last respects to the bygone soda jerk at Marieville Pharmacy who jerked the soda fountain to make a vanilla ice cream soda I slurped and spooned while spinning on one of the counter stools…

Jobs of Extinction: 

The ice man no longer cometh since the 1940s when most ice boxes were replaced by electric refrigerators. As most of those in the business had a well-developed delivery system, some averted a meltdown by keeping their cool and adapting to start home heating oil delivery companies which kept Boomers warm.  

Switchboard Operator:  In the early days of phones, all calls had to be routed through switchboards.  By the time the 1980s dialed a complete rotary, switchboard operators were mainly used for long distance calling, and taking down phone numbers if all circuits were busy.  Demonstrating on the job performance --obnoxious circuit breaker, Ernestine (Lily Tomlin, Laugh-In, late 60s). “One ringy dingy!” Nowadays—automation, automation, automation! 

Though we’ll always have “working girls,” they’ve come a long way from the Sixties, baby!  The typist pool gives off a shimmery reflection from the dead pool, their typewriters sinking to the bottom, be they manual or electric, their bells no longer ringing at the end of the line. Leader of the cat pack, the executive secretary has left the building, no longer perched on her chauvinistic boss’s desk swinging a shapely leg while taking dictation in shorthand, and transcribing it in a flawlessly typed and spatially adjusted letter.  Even those who dictated memos and letters using a Dictaphone for their gal Friday to type what she heard, soon discarded all that red tape in favor of programs which transcribe automatically. No more Xerox or copy machines either.  Let’s see-- that leaves corporate head honchos hitting on female subordinates striving to climb the corporate ladder by taking the “easy” way up.  Of all the office relics, the water cooler remains for gossip gatherings.

Earning a living as an elevator operator may have had its ups and downs in an otherwise uplifting job of manually operating levers to move and land an elevator on the correct floor. Even after buttons became the rigueur of the day, an operator was still required as those buttons didn’t allow for extra stops.  Now, we press our own buttons to rise above the ground floor.  Endangered, but not yet extinct, some monuments such as the Space Needle in Seattle, and the Empire State Building in Manhattan,  still employ EOs as an integral part of conducting tours or helping to direct crowd traffic.

Newspapers striving to stay afloat despite an increase in Web readership, have nevertheless written their own obituaries. Used to be when reports came out of the teletype machines from the news wire services, copy boys would take the information, sort it, and deliver.  Then, when a story was done, the copy boys collected the article and took it to the editor. Now this gets done via document sharing and e-mail.  Newspaper typesetters who placed individual pieces of type in printing presses to create newspaper pages are gone too, replaced by computers which automate the process to do the layout more quickly.

Baby, you can drive my logs--a dangerous job to find yourself up a creek without a paddle! Log drivers moved logs over long distances, guiding them down river, by standing on moving logs and running from one to another.  Some moved ahead of the logs to remove obstructions, while others freed stuck logs from a jam.  Agile and brawny, many a plaid Paul Bunyan lost his life in a crush.  The use of trucks on logging roads along with changes wrought by environmental legislation in the 1970s put an end to most log rolling.

Esau Wood sawed wood. Esau Wood would saw wood. All the wood Esau Wood saw, Esau Wood would saw.  Wouldn’t you know, it had gotten so a sawyer couldn’t see the forest for the trees. Nowadays if you need lumber to build a fence, furniture, or tool shed, you can head to the nearest Home Depot.

So many former jobs of the Sixties have become extinct.  Many more endangered occupations are well on their way to oblivion. Taps for cobblers losing their sole purpose.  Time is winding down for watch repairers. The car mechanic in greasy Mayberry coveralls with an oil rag hanging out of his back pocket no longer checks your oil or monkeys around with a wrench under the hood—service diagnosticians, they are now, reliant on computers to pinpoint the problem.  The bon-bon dipper will soon take a dive into the dead pool.  Other jobs of dubious distinction headed for termination: globe mounter, hogshead mat inspector, cement rougher, sponge diver, dope dry house operator… 

Out with the old, in with the new—chief blogging officer.  Stonyfield Farms is now hiring senior executives to write company blogs. The Royal typewriter bell tolls for thee.

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Underlying Notes by Eva Pasco  An E. Quiche by Eva Pasco



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