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Grey Collar Jobs

Local professional endure and thrive in 'forgotten' careers

By Cameron Knight · September 15th, 2010 · News

Keeping your money right is harder now than it's been for over half a century. In these tough economic times, people are always on the look out for new, innovative ways to make a living. But there are some among us who have decided to stop looking on Craigslist and instead find careers in the past.

Either by choice or by chance, these Cincinnatians are leading successful careers in jobs that even our Depression-era grandparents would have thought were old-timey. In the age of the digital revolution and constant market flux, it's reassuring to know that some jobs endure and remain fun, fulfilling and creative.

These are also the faces of those who took a different route, carving out their own niche in the world. In these professions, the downsizing took place years and, in some cases, centuries ago.

Ann Bain runs a calligraphy business from her home in Carlisle. One of her specialities is Quaker-style marriage certificates featuring intricate lettering and classic watercolor scenes. Decorative writing dates back thousands of years, but Western calligraphy traditions took root in the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D.

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Gus Miller operates Batsakes Hat Shop downtown. He creates his own fedoras and is a master at relining and blocking vintage hats. Batsakes has been in business for 103 years.

Batsakes is located at 1 W. Sixth Street in Downtown. The fedora was invented in the late 19th century and was mainly worn by women at first; men started wearing them in the early 1900s.

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Kimberly Ashcraft teaches Latin at Summit Country Day School. Under her watch, Summit has won the Ohio Junior Classical League Convention's “Overall Sweepstakes” trophy the past four years, ending the quarter-century reign of Stow-Munroe. Learn about Ashcraft's curriculum at www.summitcds.org/ashcraft/. Latin has been spoken, and presumably taught, for more than 2,700 years.

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Ray Boh owns Royal Typewriter on Reading Road. The bulk of his business comes from printer and copier maintenance, but he repairs a steady stream of typewriters for collectors and decorators. Royal Typerwriter is located at 3042 Reading Road in Avondale. Functional typewriters were invented around 1830 to speed up business communications.

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Scott Gregory creates custom horseshoes and offers other farrier services. He keeps his customer base engaged by using modern social media and web marketing techniques. Gregory is based out of Milford. Learn more about his craft and his services at farrierservices.net. The early history of the horseshoe is foggy at best, but horses have been shoed for at least 1,500 years.

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A Violin Maker's Workshop owner Jerrold Witkowski has taught music in Chicago and Honduras. He then attended the Chicago School of Violin Making and now has two shops in the Cincinnati area, one in Cheviot and one in Mason. You can see example of his work and get details about his services at www.aviolinmakersworkshop.com. The modern violin was invented in the mid-1500s, but bowed stringed instruments date back much farther.

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Tim Verdin is the sixth generation owner of The Verdin Company, which produces bells, clocks and carillons. The company has been casting bronze bells since 1842. Read about some of the projects they've completed at www.verdin.com. Bellfounding in Europe might have began as early as the 4th century A.D.

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