Thursday, September 6, 2007

My Typewriters

I was having a conversation via private messages with someone from one of the message boards I frequent recently, and somehow the topic of conversation moved over to talking about typewriters. This got me reminiscing about days gone by.

My very first typewriter was a kids' typewriter, about a foot square in dimensions. It came with its own light blue plastic carrying case which latched and had a handle. Good thing too as I used to take that thing around everywhere I went (this would have been the later part of my elementary school years, around 1975 or so). No doubt I got it for my birthday or Christmas, after seeing one in the Sears Wishbook or Montgomery Wards catalog. Naturally, I didn't know how to really type them - so I mostly did the hunt-and-peck with index fingers. While that typewriter is long long gone, I think I might still have a few of the stories I typed up back then on it (using lined filler paper sheets).

Since I got so much use out of that working toy one, my parents eventually upgraded me to a more full sized manual typewriter. They actually got it from a friend of the family ('Uncle' Dan) who was upgrading the machines in his insurance office and offered one of the older models to my parents for me. Of course, this was all metal and much much heavier, so my days of portable typing were put to an end (for now). This baby sat square on my desk in my bedroom where I used it quite extensively. I remember that this one had the two-color ribbon (black and red) so it added some variations that the old toy one couldn't cover. This manual typewriter lasted me through my junior high school days and into the start of high school.

When I did get into high school, I took advantage of the opportunity early on to sign up for the typing class. Now, mostly the class consisted of girls who were thinking they might go the secretarial route someday. The guys in the classes usually were those thinking about college and thus could put good typing skills to use to do papers. Yup, this was the late 70's/early 80's and things were narrow minded like that. What can I say? Anyway, I remember my teacher well - Mr. Odebralwski, who also was the teacher for bookkeeping (I had him for that class the following year). He made the class a lot of fun, and in no time I was flying through two-handed typing at over 35 words a minute.

As a result, my parents got me for my birthday (either my 15th or 16th) a brand new electric typewriter. I remember this one very well - it was a black Silver Reed model, not nearly as tall or as heavy as the older portable I had before it. The ribbons it used had both black in as well as corrective while strips (but the corrective often wore out faster so I used other corrective means in the meantime). It came with a think plastic cover so I could keep dust off of it when it was on my desk. It also came with a very thick plastic carrying case with a handle so that I could take it places if need be. Yes, I was back to mobile typing again! (okay, not as much but still...)

My Silver Reed served me well all through high school and college. All my academic research papers and a lot of fiction were written up on that typewriter - a number of which I still have in my filing cabinets in my 'cave' in the house today. It travelled me back and forth to college in Rochester each semester. It also came with me when I worked my co-ops in Dover, NJ, and Kingston, NY. I used it pretty extensively for over a decade until we got our first home computer in the early 90's.

It wasn't until our second to last move, when I was getting this out of the attic, that I ran across this typewriter again. Seeing it again brought back memories that one would get of finding their old two-wheeler in the back of the garage at their parents' house after they had grown up and moved away. It was still solid and powered up just fine. The ribbon had long since dried up, and I hadn't picked up replacements in years so likely finding one would have been impossible. By this point too (2003) we were so entrenched in the computer-printer age that keeping around a typewriter that we never used didn't make sense. It was just something else to gather dust. So, with a heavy heart, I got rid of it.

Still, I have the memories and some of the pieces I type on it. Those are momento enough I guess.

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