We've had several threads on items and phrases of the past. How about past institutions and services that have faded into history. Remember Fix-It shops? They used to be everywhere. Sort of a handyman shop that you brought just about anything to see if it could be fixed or patched instead of throwing it away or sending it to a service center. Anything from putting a new cord on an electric blanket to fixing that old toaster with the cloth covered cord your mom inherited from her mother made in 1936. Last one I remember probably closed in '68 or '69.
Remember the Umbrella man? He probably had been in business tucked into a corner or hole in an arcade downtown since before WW11. Just like his still surviving counterpart the shoe repairman who saved soles for a living, he fixed your otherwise thrown away umbrella. Every downtown had one somewhere.
Furrier storage? Hat repair and blockers? The TV repair shop is rapidly becoming the next casualty.
One thing we had here that may or may not have been an institution elsewhere was communal television. Usually found on an empty lot, a furniture store or appliance sales would sponsor a TV set set up on a small, stage each evening hooked up to a PA system. Folks from all around the surrounding neighborhood would gather each night and I'm not sure if they brought their own chairs or they were supplied to watch TV. I don't remember seeing these corner lot events after '63 or '64. Mostly older people that got out of the hot house for the evening.
Naturepats and Chiropractors that were grandfathered in to practice limited medicine rather then going to a Dr. Again, not many like that left after the 60's.
Are diaper services still around or did pampers put them all out of business?
Knife sharpeners? These were guys that drove around on a specially modified bicycle. They had a gimmick like an ice cream truck. The one in our neighborhood used to have a flute-like instrument that he'd play a musical sequence I still can hear in my head announcing he's on your block. There was some sort of mechanism that was connected to the rear wheel that when the bike was parked and raised, the pedals drove a sharpening wheel. These guys are still around here driving trucks, but rare.
Footmen? Maybe something we had. Another acade dweller, but not in the corners, somewhere out in the open complete with a mini stage that he'd do pitches for some patent medicine foot product he pushed. In between the pitches he had a special chair the weary shoppers would sit in or people that had minor foot problems would go see rather then a podiatrist. He could treat corns, bunions, callouses, ingrown nails, aching feet, custom fit your shoes with supports and inserts, some even practiced a sort of sanitized reflexology.
Real five and dimes. Not dollar stores. Neisner's, GC Murphy, Woolworths, Kress, and others and inependents. Maybe still around. I mean the full bore ones that sold a little bit of everything and kept the old ladies supplied with parakeets and canaries. They were like a Hallmark,toy store, pet shop,notion and sewing supply, candy store, craft store,and lunch counter rolled into one store. Then there was their close cousins the Sundry Store or Shop. You never knew what you'd find in one of those.
The world's changed dramatically in our lifetime just over a few years unlike yesterday when things pretty much remained the same for decades.