Friday, March 2, 2018

Knocker Up

Three jobs people used to do . . . 
one of which has refused to collapse in the face of technology. 
1- Knocker Up
A Knocker Up with a long pole rapping on an upper window. Knocker Up.
A knocker up rapping on an upper window. 
We had a knocker-up, 
and our knocker-up had a knocker-up  
And our knocker-up's knocker-up didn't knock our knocker up 
So our knocker-up didn't knock us up 
'Cos he's not up.
Knocker Up Granny Caroline Jane Cousins carrying her lantern and knocking on a window
Knocker up Granny Caroline Jane Cousins (1837-1927) 
The industrial revolution and subsequent spread of the time clock created an intolerance of a lackadaisical workforce. This was problematic for the turn of the century laborer who generally did not have a timepiece.
Knocker Up Mary Smith, in the East End wielding a pea shooter by photographer John Topham in 1931
Mary Smith, photographed by John Topham, demonstrating her peashooter, knocker up skills. East End, 1931  
knocker up or knocker upper walked through the industrial areas in England rapping on windows or doors to rouse those paying for the service.
Knocker up Mrs Bowers of Greenfield Terrace walking with her dog carrying her knocker up mallet. Knocker Up.
Mrs. Bowers of Greenfield Terrace 
walking with her dog while carrying her knocker up mallet.
Knocking up died out by the 1950s.

2 - Cigar Lector
Young cigar rollers. Photo by Lewis Hine
Young cigar rollers by Lewis Hine
In Havana, starting in the mid-1800's, cigar rollers who were adept at reading out loud, would take turns reading newspapers or literature from the factory floor. Cigar lectors became extremely popular and spread to other cigar factories including to factories in Puerto Rico and Florida. 
Cuban cigar factory early 1900s. A hired lector reader to cigar rollers
"Reader in Tobacco Factory"
Workers pooled funds to hire lectors. In some factories, they would elect a lector committee which auditioned readers, negotiated payment and suggested reading materials. Lectors who could translate English and Spanish, as well as those who were adept at playing characters, were in high demand.
- Cigar factory. A paid lector reads the news to the workers. Picture taken in 1909 by Lewis Hine
Cigar Factory, 1909 by Lewis Hine
So . . .  
in an era of low literacy and monotonous employment, a co-op of workers combined funds to improve working conditions and find out what was going on in the world . . .   
which you know this is going to lead to nothing good.
- A paid lector reads the newspaper to cigar rollers in Key West Florida. 1930s
Cigar rollers in Key West Florida
Employers became concerned. In an attempt to prevent their workforce from being introduced to ideas like class warfare and economic equality, they began to censor what was read.
The workforce retaliated with slowdowns and employers, in turn, banned lectors. Contention escalated to strikes, assaults, and incarcerations.
Female cigar rollers listen to a paid reader while they work c1930s.
Female cigar rollers listen to the daily news.
However, a death in 1903, resulted when two Tampa rollers arguing over a proposed novel. One felt the content was pornographic, particularly to the newly introduced female workforce.
Cigar roller listens to a reader at the factory while she smokes and works.
"This is the only job in Cuba that is democratically decided."
Eventually, literacy increased and radios were invented so leftist information (as well as titillating literature) could be explored outside work hours. Nevertheless, there are still 200 cigar lectors in Cuba.

3 - Ornamental Hermits
- Illustration of John Bigg the Dinton Hermit 1660s. Knocker Up.
John Bigg from Dinton (1629-16960),
an actual Hermit of some notoriety. 
Victorians were wild for revisionist historic revivals.
The British Museum. Photograph by Roger Fenton, 1857
The British Museum, an example of Greek Revival architecture, 
Photo by Roger Fenton, 1857
During the Greek Revival, to capture some of that Hellenistic magic, wealthy estate owners built follies . . . 
- The Royal Gardens at Highgrove. A folly in the Stumpery. Knocker Up.
A folly in the Stumpery at 
The Royal Gardens in the Highgrove 
Folly: a costly ornamental building with no practical purpose, especially a mock-Gothic ruin 
Root house Hermitage at Brocklesby Park, the Lincolnshire seat of the Pelham family. Knocker Up.
Root House Hermitage at Brocklesby Park, 
the Lincolnshire seat of the Pelham family. 
and faux hermitages. 
- Victorian era wanted ad. Ornamental hermit to occupy natural cave dwelling under waterfall.  Knocker Up.
 "Surely a hermit who takes a newspaper is not a hermit in whom one can have complete confidence."
- Lady Croom (dialogue from Arcadia)
The ultra-ostentatious estate owners went through additional steps and hired an ornamental hermit to live on the estate.  
Basically, some guy would dress in hermit-ish clothes and hang out, interacting with or ignoring guests, as the job dictated. 
- illustration "Where the hermit hangs his straw-clad cell" in the 1813 edition Gilbert White’s The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne
"Where the hermit hangs his straw-clad cell", 
an illustration from Gilbert White’s The Natural History of Selborne

In the mid-1700's,  Reverend Henry White was a hermit for his brother Gilbert. The White Brothers, both naturalists, offered estate guests the faux hermit experience and became a desirable invitation. 
Postcard of The Belvedere Castle in Central Park in 1905. Knocker Up.
The Belvedere Castle in Central Park, 
the Victorian-style folly was built in 1869

Ultimately, it was decided that placing hermit-ey items around the folly, indicating a hermit in residence without an actual hermit in residence, was just as alluring. 

#History #Jobs #Work

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