The comments on yesterday’s post have me remembering my very first typewriter, which I met when I was around Janie’s age.
I wasn’t often allowed to use Dad’s daisy-wheeled Selectric, which made such lovely sounds when I pressed the white keys. But I was allowed to use his backup whenever I wanted to.
It was a cantankerous manual, made out of at least forty pounds of steel—it’s a miracle I never dropped the thing on my foot as I lugged it around the house at knee level. If I put it in its case, which looked like a steel-belted bowling bag, I couldn’t lift it at all.
I did get stuck in it occasionally, because the keys were so stiff I couldn’t have touch typed even if I’d known what that was. The two finger method didn’t work, either, because it hurt too much.
So I typed with my thumbs.
I can still remember the acrid scent of the ink and the heavy smell of the oil that didn’t do much to loosen up the works. The tap-tap-ouch-tap-tap of the keys as they hit the crooked paper in the roller and the zing! of the carriage return. I remember the bruises on the tips of my thumbs, too—but it was so worth it at the time, to see the words in my head on paper.
The manual was eventually replaced by the Selectric, and then a series of ever-lighter word processors—no more Correctape or White Out! Woo-hoo!—desktop computers, and laptops. I learned how to touch type, sort of, and eventually to move lightly over keyboards that didn’t try to bite my fingers.
And here I am, posting the words in my head where people could choose to read them from wherever in the world they might be. Hey, stranger things have happened.
I’ve asked Dad to try to find his old Selectric for Janie to use. Even though she was born almost twenty years after the Internet changed everything, she’s as excited about using a real typewriter as I was, all those years ago. Tap-tap-tap.
Maybe I should ask Dad to look for his old manual, too, just for old times sake. I’d kind of like to smell the typewriter ink again, and I haven’t jammed my thumb in years.
Good times. Good, good times.