There she was, that beauty of a black Royal, sitting there, dusty, keys barely visible.
Forty Dollars, the price tag said as it was marked down to it’s final lowest price at the consignment store I visit with my aunt when she treks down from Boston.
I quietly walked up to the black metal machine weighing in at what seemed like twenty pounds and placed my finger on a random key, maybe it was the H or the G or the A, irrelevant now. Click, like the sound of the hard snap of the tip of my tongue up against the roof of my mouth, I was brought back to a familiar time, but one I couldn’t quite recall just yet.
I firmly pressed my fingers on the keys with a much stronger touch than the laptop keyboard my fingers have grown accustomed to. I waited to hear the “ding,” hoping the warning bell to pay attention to my word choice of how many letters I have left still worked on this old beauty of a machine.
I was not disappointed.
Ding! And just like that I was brought back to my grandmother’s bedroom where she had always kept her typewriter for correspondence, recipes and anything else she needed to legibly communicate what her messy handwriting could not.
My aunt, who was shopping with me that day, confirmed what I couldn’t place at first sight.
Yes Alayne, dear, this was indeed the same type of typewriter Grandma had.
For some reason, at that exact moment, I felt a strange calling to rescue what I now fondly call, Dear Old Gal. And just like that, I became a collector of typewriters.
It is hard to believe that was a little over a year ago, but in one year’s time I have amassed thirty typewriters. YES- 30. I realize to the average person, this may seem excessive, but it occurred to me shortly after that first purchase of this 1940’s Royal, these gems are not being made anymore. Typewriters from the twentieth century, pre-electric, are the end of an era. They are glorious pieces of machinery all needing each part to make them their beautiful whole. The mechanisms are visible to the eye for the most part and their simplicity is a thing of the past. Our children and their children will only get to see them at museums and antique stores.
I am in love with the notion of using a typewriter. My heart is full when I open one from their portable case and set it up on my front porch to make my thoughts appear, mistakes and all, on the white paper I have rolled in. I am elated when I watch a child instinctively drawn to the keys and smile ear to ear realizing that they can create words that will not allow deletion. I am in my happy place when they ask, “Where is the exclamation point? (you have to make it with a period, backspace, apostrophe) Or the number 1?(it is the capital L) How do I erase a mistake? (you don’t) What is the ding for?”
My heart is in pure heaven when I can send a typed note on specialty 100% cotton paper I found from Germany to say thank you to someone who least expects to receive a typewritten note. Or to send my condolences to someone who has lost a loved one. Or just because.
There is something about typing. I can’t explain the feeling so instead of doing so, I do events and open my doors to let people in to feel what I mean. More than even the actual action of typing, typewriters invoke story after story from people every time they see one and even more when they hear one.
Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, all flavors. This is beauty to me. Sharing something from the past with people to engage and connect. In our new face down in the phone paradigms we seem to find ourselves in and our children in, I am finding it harder and harder to escape from this technology that has made us all think of as connection. What I have learned is that it is the exact opposite.
So I offer a new way to disconnect. This is why I type. Typewritingisbeauty. Enjoy them; they love their salvation.
Please join me on Saturday September 14th for The State Street Fair in Bristol, RI. I will be there with the typewriters. Stop by and type something, bring the kids, bring your smiles.