Once Upon a Job

Nick Woodward / Maine Public

Since they first discovered the patterns of the sun and the moon, human beings have searched for more accurate methods of keeping time. Clockmaking developed into something of a fine art in the 18th and 19th centuries, but by the 1980s, the quartz clock movement rendered much of that mechanical knowledge a thing of the past.

Nick Woodward / Maine Public

If you’re in the market for a length of steel chain, a hatchet or a decorative wrought iron fence, you just head over to the hardware store. But there was a time when crafted metal pieces could only be ordered at a dimly lit, blazing hot workroom known as the blacksmith’s shop — and a few real blacksmiths still exist in Maine.

Jennifer Mitchell / Maine Public

Our next installment of Once Upon A Job takes us into a world of glass eyes, antlers, and hides. Taxidermy had its heyday during the Victorian era, when animals were hunted and made into parlor ornaments.

But in the 20th century, changing sensibilities, among other factors, led the profession into decline.  Now though, the craft is experiencing something of a Renaissance.

Jennifer Mitchell / Maine Public

These days, when people say they're sending a document to the printer, they usually mean they're zapping it over to the Xerox machine.  It's never been easier to duplicate a stack of signs, letters, or notices.  But that's a relatively new development. 

Nick Woodward / Maine Public

These days, a “Cooper” might refer to a brand of cheese or a compact car. But a hundred years ago, a cooper was commonly known as person who built wooden casks to store wine, whiskey or other consumables — and the craft is still alive.

Jennifer Mitchell / Maine Public

For most of the 20th century, secretaries were at the heart of every office, and it was one of the few career paths widely open to women.

Nick Woodward / Maine Public

Church bells still summon the faithful to the start of worship, and you can still hear them ring out on special occasions in certain town squares. But these days, the dulcet tones of handmade bells and chimes are increasingly being drowned out by electronic gadgets.

Jennifer Mitchell / Maine Public

When April rolls around this man from Wiscasset is one of the busiest guys you’re likely to meet.

Nick Woodward / Maine Public

According to an Oxford University study, nearly half the jobs considered indispensable today, from loan officers and paralegals to baristas and waiters, will disappear over the next 30 years.