© Cor Snabel
In the early days of Amsterdam the night watch patrolled the town with his attributes, the lantern, sword and rattle. Every half-hour he rattled, announced the correct (?) time and rattled again. They were not policemen, but their presents on the streets had a preventative character.
The job of night watchman was a job for the poor, so they tried to earn an extra penny. If someone had to get up early, the night watchman came knocking. Usually his patrol area was in the back streets of Amsterdam, where his knocking on one door did wake up at least one hundred persons. Maybe that's what caused his role as bogeyman; "Go to sleep or I'll give you to the rattleman".
A completely different trade was the "fire and water shop". Till not so very long ago it had a very important role in mostly the poor back streets. Beside a bucket of hot water or a hot coal for the stove, people could buy soap, detergents and even all kinds of candy here.
Stentor was one of the heroes from Greek mythology, who had the voice as strong as of fifty men. I don't think the announcer in Amsterdam needed a voice like that, because he used cymbals or a drum to draw attention. He was the newspaper, gazette and advertising agency. In cases of disasters, accidents, auctions, missing persons and announcements of executions one could hear him.
Like I told you in "Building in Amsterdam" the City Council decided to put lanterns on the bridges in 1579 in order to prevent people from falling into the canals. Every evening the lamp-lighters had to go along every lantern in town. Later the candles were replaced by lamp-posts with oil-lamps and every morning the lamp-lighters refilled the oil reservoirs and in the evening they followed the same route with their ladder to set fire to the fuses. The gas-light still needed them, but by the time electricity was introduced another trade was extinct.
The profession of porter still exists, but not in the form we knew him in the early days of Amsterdam. His job was comprehensive, he could deliver letters (the kind mom and dad must not find), he went for theatertickets, run errands, was a babysitter, escorted the ladies while shopping in order to carry their goods, so if he was not very discreet, he had to find himself another job.
A typical Amsterdam profession was "kar-ga-door" (car-go-on). Because the bridges in Amsterdam are very steep, handcars needed all the help they could get, in order to go over all these bridges. Equipped with a strong rope with a hook attached to it, strong man each had their own bridge and for a penny they would help everyone over "their" bridge. Especially if it had snowed or if the streets were slippery with ice, it was almost impossible to cross these bridges with heavily loaded handcars. The last "kar-ga-door" Chris Smit, better known as Kikkie the bridgepuller, said it had been enough at the age of 76 and hung his hook over the railing of his bridge. He died in February 1940, 81 years old.