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"Back in the days before alarm clocks, people needed to be sure they didn’t miss the start of their shift at the mill or factory. Either the workers or sometimes the mill owner would hire a knocker-up (also called a knocker-upper), whose duty was to ensure people woke up. Usually armed with a large pole (though at least one used a pea shooter), he or she would rap repeatedly on the person’s bedroom window at the allotted time, not leaving until certain that the person was awake. In some areas, the knocker-up remained a common sight into the 1930s."
Contributed by Rachel Peterson