OK but WHY????

A few years ago I found my old typewriter in the shed. It was a graduation gift (high school) from my mom who had dreams of my becoming an international news correspondent and traveling the world with a typewriter.


My typewriter and I didn’t travel the world but we did have a few adventures — lots of homework during my undergrad years, editorial columns for theΒ Western Graphic — the newspaper of Colorado Womans College (one of which got me thrown out of the school), my senior thesis at the university of Colorado, tons of papers in grad school Β but NOT (thanks be to the powers) my masters thesis. By then I had a clerical job, a nice big desk and an IBM Selectric II with a cool little white ribbon that would correct my mistakes if I told it to. OK, I had to hang out at the office a lot, but so what?

I learned at about the same time that people collect old typewriters and use them as “decor.” What? They’re not easy to keep clean. Their little arms with the letters on them get greasy and dusty. I learned that people even use them to TYPE ON!!!! How precious is THAT?

I remember thinking it had to be a response to a perverse atavistic urge to learn to live with one’s mistakes because, well, every single paper I typed on mine ended up with the words:

“Good ideas! Proofread!!!



20 thoughts on “OK but WHY????

  1. lol I remember those typewriters. I had a variety over the years. Remember the ones in school you had to pound on the keys??? Then they became easier to tap. I remember typing 130 wpm and my boss decided he didn’t need a tape machine since I could type as fast as he could talk. lol. Those were the days! I still prefer the new keys I have to say and no ribbons to change πŸ™‚

  2. I remember those typewriters. In our commercial class at school it was the last year before we left.I did not carrying on studying at school, but did the commercial course with shorthand typing, accounts and all the rest. We had about 20 different typewriters from Olympia to Adler and Remington and of course Olivetti. They were all good machines and supplied free for the school, all in the name of Public Relations. They were my first steps of typing and I was good at it: the only one in the class to get a first class certificate. Of course I was then 55 years younger, but you never forget it.

  3. There is something satisfying about the sound a manual typewriter makes and hitting the return bar at the end of each sentence!! I don’t know about anyone else, but I would like to see that article that got you kicked out of school – LOL

      • Yep. By the time I was done with my typewriter life I was typing more than 100 wpm which is a lucky thing for me. It meant $$ when there were no other options πŸ˜€ And now for me as a writer, it means I can type as fast as I think. Sometimes faster :p

    • The article was suggesting that health services offer birth control counseling and free condoms to students. It was an all girl’s college sponsored by the American Baptist Convention. The president called me in to his office to talk to him and two of the trustees. I had a full ride. They explained that to the donors it appeared the school was advocating promiscuity. I said, “No, but if people are having unprotected sex they can get pregnant or get VD. I won’t retract it.” They retracted my financial aid and that was that. It was stupid of me not to retract the article. It was a great school with opportunities I never had again. AND considering that the debate continues almost 50 years later, my little statement was negligible except in consequences to me. But we don’t know that when we’re 19 and believe the world is just WAITING for us to say our say. πŸ™‚

      • I think it says a lot about you that you stood by what you know is right. These things shape who we are. Did it become harder for you? Sounds like it. Did you create life experiences that make you a richer person? Probably. I think you should be proud of your stance! I was never, never, never that brave. I still struggle. I see the worst atrocities – such as separating immigrant families and I am still so *polite* on social media, afraid to piss someone off. – Whew – Sorry for vent.

  4. I adopted computers ENTIRELY because of “cut and paste” done electronically. No more white-out! No more of that tape (remember the rolls of white tape and then typing over them?) and layers of copies with inky sheets between them. Computers were imperfect, but anything, where I could edit on the original page and move a piece around without tape and paste, was fine by me!

  5. I think typing (7th grade required of ALL students who were thought likely to attend college!) was the single MOST useful skill I got in school. Thank you, New York city schools!

  6. I still wish I hadn’t sold mine at a yard sale years ago. My college age son has an old one (the kind you have to manually slide for a new line) and he says that some of his stories have to be told on a typewriter. Obviously, he’ll be a literary novelist.

  7. The old typewriters do look rather funky. But heavens, the cleaning would put me off quite quickly! Your post brought back memories of typing drills – ssss llll ssll etc. The keys would stick all the time. Or perhaps that was my dreadful typing.

  8. I received a typewriter when I graduated 8th grade. Portable typewriter complete with carrying case. Like I was gonna carry that thing around with me! My fingers were probably so strong from pounding those darn keys. I did love the sound of them, though, and that little bell when you came to the end of your tabbed line.

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