25 things vanishing in America, part 2: Kids to do odd jobs

In 1900, 34.5% of Americans were under 15 years of age; in 1960, 31.1%. Today only 21.4% fall into this group. This is only one reason why it's all but impossible to find a youngster to mow your yard or shovel your walk.

At one time, going door to door with a snow shovel or a willingness to do yard work was the first step a child took toward an entrepreneurial future. In the days before self-propelled mowers and snow blowers, these kids were a godsend to the elderly and infirm, who paid them a pittance but took comfort in knowing they had played a part in the teaching the kid the meaning of capitalism.

Today, however, many of us hire professionals to tend our lawns and plow our drives, because the pool of willing teenagers has dried up. Why? I see several reasons beyond demographics --