Thursday, October 14, 2010

That old, cranky, manual typewriter of mine...

 I began writing when I was 8 years old, first by hand, then by a manual typewriter. The Smith-Corolla was an unexpected gift from my mom and one of her friends. We lived in Italy at the time, and the friend went to Germany for his son's operation. When they returned, they brought back the manual typewrite in a hard, black plastic case. I put it to work immediately on a series of stories. Of course, I used whatever paper I could find, which usually was college-ruled, narrow lined notebook paper. Both sides. Neatness didn't really count on first drafts, and I wasn't picky.

That Smith-Carolla saw a lot of use and abuse in the next several years. These were the days before word processors, before the internet, before laptops, before cell phones and iPads. Two wheels of ink; the ribbon split into black on the top half and red on the bottom half. You used liquid white out to mark out mistakes, but it was messy and dried in a gunk, or correction tape that left powdery residue on your fingers. The only other alternative was to rip the paper out of the carriage and start all over again.

Dried ink in the keys was a problem, especially with letters and numbers whose type include nooks and crannies, like "p", "q", "o", "s", and (my nemesis), "B". Water, rubbing alcohol, soap (as long as the ink ribbon was removed first, of course), with a fine toothbrush or if I was desperate, a handy toothpick to get ink out of the middle of "O" and "P".

Eventually, I moved on to my sister's word processor, and by the time I went away to college, I haunted the computer labs to type and print out papers and projects. The manual typewriter was relegated to the attic over the garage. Even if I wanted to use it for old times' sake, typewriter ribbons were hard to find. Computers were becoming more user-friendly and convenient, and with the advent of the Internet, MySpace, Facebook and Twitter, the era of the of the manual typewriter was over.

But I still have it, and I'm sure my kids will look at this nobly ancient relic and be amazed there is no screen, no power button, and no way to play games on it. It does have one thing, though.


All original writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2010

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