Most Jobs Ever Done by Boy

most terrible jobs ever done by boys


Child labor still occurs today; we even wrote a list about it. But back in the history of Christianity (what we usually consider the West today), we see almost regularly using young men for the worst jobs we have to offer. Jobs for which adult men either don’t want or are not equipped in the same way (e.g., because they’re too big).


To this day, farming is still the work of children, most of their lives on family-owned farms, but in the past, children would work wherever they could and for whomever. Who they can. That means hours of hard labor under the blazing sun will pay off a great deal. With no governing parent, a little leniency is offered when a boy is sick or overwhelmed by work. This industry also hires many girls for less strenuous jobs like sorting fruits and vegetables.

Children provided extremely cheap (sometimes almost free) labor to low-margin farmers during difficult times. Not only the lowlands are raging, but the dust bowl is forming, and the world is reeling in the aftermath of the Great War. . . and prepare yourself, perhaps subconsciously, for the next one.

Child labor largely ended in the United States in 1938 as part of the Great Depression. It was believed that unemployed men could take on these jobs by prohibiting child labor. Combined with laws requiring higher pay and efforts to unite in certain industries, it had the desired effect, and children were allowed to be children for the first time.


Ludwig Bemelmans, the author of the Madeline children’s book series, describes the life of Picolos in the wonderful book When You Lunch with the Emperor. The book follows his youth as an immigrant from Austria working at the New York Ritz during the Depression. The book recounts the vivid and seed-filled stories from under the New York Ritz, where he worked as a young man during the Great Depression after emigrating from Austria-Hungary.

Picolo con is an institution in all European restaurants. His head barely touched the tabletop; His ears are red and prominent because people pull them. And when he was a man, he would still quickly pull his head to the side if anyone near him suddenly moved because he always did it to soften blows. They beat him mostly out of habit, from the master to the last valet. He went on to add: “[W]hen a man saw [. . . ] one of the old waiters [. . . . ] leaning against a chair, with his ugly lifeless eyes and face death full of pain and meanness, people are seeing that boy grow old, with his flat crippled legs he dragged most of his dead useless life into childhood.”

Picolo works from 6 am to 11 pm, and his job is to do all the unwanted things that no one wants to do. He wipes the ashtray. He scrapes old food off his plate. He folded the newspaper, washed the dishes, carried water, and bowed to the leader for half a day. Even so, picolo’s job, for a boy at the time, wasn’t the worst choice for him, as we’ll see.

The 1993 film King of the Hill (not related to the animated series) is based on the life of a young boy forced by circumstances to become a picolo. This is considered Steven Soderbergh’s most underrated photo, so it’s well worth a look.


Boy apprenticeships usually begin between the ages of 10 and 14. They were continuing the words of Ludwig Bemelmans above. “His picaro was seen as envy by the apprentices of plumbers and brewers. They also have red ears but aren’t enough to eat, and they don’t have cigarettes, drinks, or chips. “Considering that a boy had to pay to become an apprentice in the Middle Ages, it was something of a novelty that he would even be paid for work in the 19th and 20th centuries. 

However, it was hard work, and the men who traded these boys gave the punishments freely. However, unlike many other jobs on this list, there is at least a reasonable certainty that when you learn a competitive trade, a good job with a good salary awaits you. Such a prospect in such a time of poverty seems a real blessing to those boys who are “lucky enough” to be educated. I how the world has changed!

Canning worker

Working in canning plants means standing for hours in the cold Atlantic winter, chopping, packing, and shipping fish and other foods. Canning is still a relatively young business and, like many other jobs on this list, requires a large workforce of unskilled workers. The kids, like the boy above, nine years old, are paid up to 5 cents for each box they make.

Despite the dangers of working in such horrible conditions (terrible enough for grown men!), the boys were also required to handle extremely dangerous cutting tools and canning machines designed for cutting and sealing metal. One can only imagine the possible casualties from the shacks and boatyards where these boys worked.

Unfortunately, many industries that employ young men are run by good people. Men (and sometimes women) feel they provide a better life for their children by giving them labor. This reminds you of the famous quote by C.S. Lewis, who said, “Of all autocracies, the one that sincerely works for the benefit of its victims can be the most oppressive. It is better to live under robber bosses than under almighty moral busy people. The baron’s cruelty can sometimes lie dormant, and his cunning can sometimes be satirized, but those who torment us for our sake will torment us endlessly because they do so with the approval of their conscience. “

Bootblack (Shoebox)

There is an anecdote that Joe Kennedy (former President Kennedy’s father), when a shoe-shine boy advised him about the stock market, realized that if a child were to polish old dirty shoes for a living, he could trade stocks. Shares in the market, then maybe it’s time. To get out of it! He immediately sold all his stocks and avoided the market crash the next day, triggering the Great Depression.

Even so, bootblack’s job is a tough one. The boys involved frequently battle others in the same exchange for their corner, and you can imagine how bad that can be when children are starving to death. The job only generates enough money to live on, meaning it’s a gig seven days a week, rain or shine. However, for those who could afford the necessary expensive kits and polishes, it was a much better option than others at the time.

The first recorded image of a person is a man polishing his shoes with boots. The photo was taken in 1838. You can see it here — people in the lower left quadrant. At the time of the photo, Pope Gregory XVI was the Pope. He was the last Pope to become a simple priest when he was elected (he ordained a bishop four days after becoming Pope). He was the PopePope who condemned and banned participation in the Atlantic slave trade.

Another fact related to bootblack is that the character of the excellent TV series Boardwalk Empire Enoch “Nucky” Thompson acknowledges his rapid rise in reading a book for boys called Ragged Dick or Street. Boots Black and life in New York. Unlike the characters from the TV Series, the book is real and was written by Horatio Alger Jr. in 1867. It tells the story of young Dick, who begins life as a poor boy on the streets of New York, wearing black shoes and lifting himself. through perseverance, thrift, and ingenuity. [5]

Ragged Dick’s bildungsroman (a coming-of-age story) was extremely popular at the time of publication because it represented the good character all-boys seek to achieve. Books like these are the epitome of the American dream. I couldn’t recommend them enough — to modern teenage boys and adult men for the sheer joy of reading their books. You can buy them here. Advertising Astra Per Aspera!