CLICKETY CLICKETY DING! CLICKETY CLICKETY DING!
If you thought my posts about Doctor Who were nerdy, better grab hold of something. You haven’t seen anything yet.
Here we go.
Recently, my brother-in-law surprised me with a rebuilt 1931 Smith Corona typewriter, the preferred typewriter of luminaries like T.S. Elliott. It’s very cool. Here it is:
He found an eighty-five-year-old guy who still knew how to fix typewriters to rebuild it and then drove it across country to give to me. It’s in great shape and types great, the keys striking with a satisfying, cat-terrifying, crack. The only oddity, which turns out not to be so odd, is that there is no numeral 1 key; there’s not even a spot for it. A quick Google search clarified manufacturers at one time didn’t want to waste materials or production time, so they’d leave out superfluous things like the number 1. Makes sense. It was the Depression Era after all. Can’t be throwing around expensive digits willy-nilly. “Rotten sob’s can just type a lower case ‘l”” they apparently thought. “Good enough for the peasants. They’ll make do with 2-9 and like it.” It’s sort of like how these days we choose Congress-people.
The greatest part about this new typewriter is that now I have for my other typewriter.
Oh, yes. I have another.
Settle down, ladies. I’m taken.
Years ago, I picked up at an antique store an old Underwood typewriter; a huge, heavy thing:
Some knobs are missing and some of the keys are wonky, but it’s charming nonetheless. I have not yet found an eighty-five-year-old dude to fix it.
I like typewriters. I don’t mean Tom Hanks-let’s build-an-app-that-sounds-like-a-typewriter like, but I do like them. I won’t be coming out with any Hanx Writer type apps. Would any of you give me $2.99 for an app that sounds like me typing blog posts?
I’m not alone in enjoying the soothing clicky-clicky of the typewriter keyboard. No less than the London Times has taken to piping the sound of people typing on typewriter keyboards to inspire and stimulate beleaguered reporters trying to file their stories.
I was a newspaper in a past life, writing for The Daily Iowan in college. I did enjoy walking into the newsroom. There was no haze of cigarette smoke or the bank of typewriter keys punctuated by the ding of the carriage return, but even the mellower sound of multiple computer keyboards was thrilling.
But they weren’t typewriters.
I was one of those kids in fourth-fifth grade, down in the basement using my mom’s old portable typewriter to bang out rip-offs of Encyclopedia Brown mysteries. The sound of the keys has stayed with me longer than the plots of most of the stories I
plagiarized wrote. Farting around with the new typewriter has given me that old familiar feeling.
I don’t know when I’ll use these typewriters. Or even if I ever will use them. But I like having them around.
Which is also sort of like how I feel about Congress. (Self-referential call back.)