Heyday of the American mechanic

While we worry about losing jobs to robots, back in the 1960s a new kind of job opportunity was rising. Repairmen or mechanics were needed for the millions of electrical appliances finding their way into American homes. This ad from August 1963 claims the average American home had at least 18 electrical appliances. “Who will repair them?” it asked while offering to train “mechanically inclined” men through its manuals.

“There are over 55,000,000 (that’s 55 million, or 5.5 crore in India) families in the United States. They average 18, 22 or more electrical appliances,” the copy starts.

What were these appliances? “Lamps, refrigerators, washing machines, irons, toasters, percolators, radios, vacuum cleaners, etc.” And more were arriving every year: “Television sets, electric blankets, automatic dryers, humidifying cleaners.”


So, if you liked working with your hands, you wrote to Christy Trades School in Chicago for learning kits that let you build, test and repair.

The ad also claimed electricians charged $5-$6 an hour “for making ordinary repairs.” That was at least four times the federal minimum wage of $1.25 an hour at the time. If you still had doubts, they reminded you: “The electrical appliance technician is his own boss.”

The courses were popular, of course.


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