Ghosts of typewriters past

Galaxie Deluxe grn
One day I found an old Smith Corona typewriter buried in our attic, sort of an archaeological discovery, probably one used by my mother when she was a student back in her college days. It was a manual monster; no electricity or wires. There was even a black case for lugging it around to class, though that must have made for a pretty hefty laptop.

When I opened the case, it smelled like oil and rubber and lost correction tape inside.

Keys stuck together, letters would type over the wrong lines, and—infuriating my inner perfectionist—there was no backspace button, but otherwise it chattered like a champ. The spooled ribbon, practically thirty years old, had some magic supply of endless ink. At the end of the ribbon, the spools could be flipped over easily and re-used.

I think there was some saying back in the early days of journalism about “pounding the keys.” They were not kidding. For a child born in the digital age, it was quite a workout for my hands. I could only imagine my predecessors as having arms like Popeye the Sailor.

When I finally ran out of typing paper, fingers numb, I soon realized that pretty much anything would serve as a substitute typing surface. I would rip pages out of magazines and never miss a beat, rat-a-tat-tat. The rattling carriage became a familiar companion.

Live long enough, and old becomes new again. My grandkids will probably say to me, “Tell us about paper again, grandpa!”

I would think about all the papers that my mom must have typed with this very same machine, papers for literature classes that would eventually become her lifelong passion. Somewhere in our attic, like an ancient papyrus, her very first novel is still sitting in a dusty box waiting to be exhumed.

Sometimes recycling is just another word for remembering.

Photo credit:
Smith-Corona Galaxie DeLuxe


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