Saturday, May 17, 2014

Typewriting Again


     As always, I read the last issue of Poets & Writers from cover to cover––stopping at some articles longer than others before dawdling over the Classifieds.
     In this May/June 2014 issue, Maria Mutch wrote an essay that especially caught my eye. Titled "Ghost in the Machine," the piece relates how she came to own a 1941 Remington 'Streamliner' typewriter, which carried much personal significance. Her remembrance of that particular model, and typewriters in general, resurfaced later in her life. The deep appreciation of it all resonates with me even as I write this.
     I COLLECT. I collect books, friends, fountain pens, plants, bees, wristwatches, Pinterest pins, and––drumroll, please!––manual typewriters. Now, truth be told, I'm early into the gathering of typewriters, and my collection doesn't measure one iota to what others have in their possession. I have to be careful here. There is not enough space in my home for one more bookcase (see Book Care), much less an inventory of manual typewriters (sigh!)––but to be in possession of a few, well now.
     I've been on a mission to find a manual typewriter for the last few years. I put word out on Facebook. Voila!––a writing group friend called to say she had one her father had bought for her when she studied typing/shorthand in school. She said, "I want for you to have it."
Royal 'Arrow' c. 1942
     I brought the Royal 'Arrow' home, and counted its fingers and toes as if it were a newborn. As I did this, I remembered Gloria's story about the meaning this typewriter held for her. Memories surfaced about the typewriters that wove the fabric of my past, and the desire to add a manual to my repertoire of writing instruments. In short order, I began to experience "...the kind of energy that is sometimes contained in things like boats or trees or grand pianos," as Mutch wrote about in her essay.
     I found Alan Business Machines in West Palm Beach. They told me they would be able to bring the 'Arrow' around to clean, oil, and install a new ribbon for me. I'm so pleased. Stay tuned.
Smith-Corona 'Sterling' c. 1935
     I wiled away time between other customer demands on a visit to their store. By chance, I found a treasure trove of vintage manual typewriters tucked away in cases or displayed on counters. I spotted a 1935 Smith-Corona 'Sterling'––rather, ahem! it spotted me. Musty odored nicked and bruised, dust balls rolling with breathing over its innards, letters twisted helter-skelter––but it still had wonderful action. It called to me, from its Art Deco design, for a second life, a forever home. Gotcha, honey! I'll retrieve you in another week or two.
Smith-Corona 'Classic 12' c. 1968

     Then, as if that might be too much for me (or you) to absorb, the universes totally aligned when three days later, in a Goodwill Resale store, I found a Smith-Corona 'Classic 12' in good condition. Guess what? Whoa––pay dirt! And do I need to tell you it was put to use pronto when I got home?
     Maria Mutch seemed content with her find of the typewriter she pursued. Perhaps she'll stay with just that one. As for me, what can I say. So far I've space for these three beauties. I pray addiction doesn't overcome me.
     I've written in the past on writers and the typewriters they've used but, of course, their choices were narrow––pen or typewriter? Please feel free to visit the Posts listed below. And do let me know if you are connected to a typewriter of memory.