Just read a thread about cutting -vs- ripping fabric. Had a flashback after reading it. Our local 5 & 10 cent store had fabric in the basement. The way they measured it was to pull the fabric through this metal gizmo that was attached toand elevated a little above the counter. On the top of the gizmo was a gauge with numbered increments and a hand on it similar to a clock. The hand would spin and tell the clerk how much fabric had passed through it. When she got to the yardage requested, she'd pull down a lever that notched the fabric. If memory serves me right, she would either rip the fabric if it was light weight cotton, or use scissors if she was dealing with corduroy or the heavier fabrics.
Does any one else remember this? Any idea of what the gizmo was called?