The Typewriter: An epistolary conversation with my father

The following has been edited slightly for names, sigs, and addresses—and illustrated. Otherwise, it’s verbatim.

***********

To: Dad
From: Sarah
Subject: Electric Typewriter for Janie?

Dad,

Do you still have that old electric typewriter of yours? I’m thinking it might encourage Janie to write some of her stories and plays down. It worked for me!

You know, I just found out that kid has been adapting stories into puppet shows and putting them on for the kindergarteners? Who knew?

Love, Sarah

***

To: Sarah
From: Dad
Subject: Re: Electric Typewriter for Janie?

Sarah,

I have it, Janie is welcome to it, I’ll see if I can get it reconditioned and some new ribbon cartridges for it. There is still a typewriter shop in Clifton. Be a bit patient. Right now is a busy time.

I’m not sure how we can send it but we could bring it to the Bix* if that is soon enough. Let me know.

Dad

***

To: Dad
From: Sarah
Subject: Re: Electric Typewriter for Janie?

Thanks, Dad! I certainly wasn’t expecting overnight FexEx delivery, or even an immediate answer–I know you’re busy! Please don’t put a rush on it or anything—the Bix will be more than fine, or she can bring it back with her when she comes home.

While you’re in a generous mood. . . I don’t suppose you still have that old manual around someplace? I’m feeling nostalgic for that cranky hunk of steel, though I’m sure it will pass. Would you believe the last company in the world that still made manual typewriters stopped manufacture in April?

Thanks again! Love you!

Sarah

***

To: Sarah
From: Dad
Subject: What about . . .

Sarah, Wow, are you ever an ideal repository for some junk I have been wondering what to do with for several years. I think we have two portable manual typewriters in addition to the electric. Want both? Dad.

***

To: Dad
From: Sarah
Subject: Re: What about . . .

Now, hold on!  🙂

I was thinking of the steel gray typewriter that weighed four tons. I don’t remember the other one—unless it was beige?
Sarah

***

To: Sarah
From: Dad
Subject: Re: What about . . .

Sarah, The only four ton one is the electric. The two manual ones are portable. If you won’t take them I’ll just send them to the Smithsonian.

Be a REAL Episcopalian, ie, “What do you mean throw it out, this typewriter belonged to my grandmother!!!”

Love, Dad

***

To: Dad
From: Sarah
Subject: Get Thee Behind Me

Heck, I was only a little older than Janie the last time I lugged that steel-belted manual typewriter around, and it sure felt like it weighed fifty pounds to me! Just because an object has a carrying case (that weighed about as much as the typewriter, as I recall) doesn’t mean it’s portable to everyone.

I want the gray manual and the electric typewriters. I’ll negotiate ownership of the other manual one, if you can supply provenance for it, and a definite connection to the grandmother in question. Otherwise, please believe me when I say that your son-in-law will threaten divorce for bringing in extraneous stuff into our house.

Then again, he’d probably take half of it in the settlement . . .

***

To: Sarah
From: Dad
Subject: Re: Get Thee Behind Me

Listen to your husband!!!! Don’t bring stuff into the house just because it might be useful someday! You’ll be buried alive!

***

To: Dad
From: Sarah
Subject: Re: Get Thee Behind Me

I thought I was supposed to honor my father and mother, who want me to take all their old junk two manual typewriters off their hands?

***

To: Sarah
From: Dad
Subject: Resist Everything But Temptation

That is different. You’ll inherit it all anyway.

***

To: Dad
From: Sarah
Subject: Re: Resist Everything But Temptation

I do have a sister, you know—and she lives about seven hours closer.

***

To: Sarah
From: Dad
Subject: Re: Resist Everything But Temptation

She doesn’t have room.

***

To: Dad
From: Sarah
Subject: Oh, please

She doesn’t have room?!  We’ve got two more people over here.  And a cat.

***

To: Sarah
From: Dad

Subject: Sharper than a serpent’s tooth

Yes, but she doesn’t answer the door if I pull up in the truck.

***

To: Dad
From: Sarah
Subject: Re:  Sharper than a serpent’s tooth

Use your key next time, and cutters on the chain.

I don’t think [my MIL] isn’t going to like it if I have to store your things under her bed.

***

To: Sarah
From: Dad
Subject: Electric Typewriter for Sunny?

Wouldn’t Sunny want her own typewriter, once she saw Janie’s?

***

To: Dad
From: Sarah
Subject: I surrender

You win.

__________________________________________
*The Bix is an annual seven-mile foot race that takes place across and slightly down the river near the end of July. My parents stay with us every summer and walk it while they’re here, while the rest of the family does the two-mile fun walk. Afterwards, they usually take Janie home with them for a week.

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12 thoughts on “The Typewriter: An epistolary conversation with my father

  1. Don’t bring stuff into the house just because it might be useful someday!

    (that should have been posted at betsy’s yesterday! best advice i’ve heard in a longtime.

    • I’d like to mention that he doesn’t exactly practice what he preaches on that one — but he’s fully aware of it and therefore loses no points. 🙂

  2. When you said ‘the Bix’, my mind automatically went to music, not exercise. (No, my priorities are NOT skewed, thank you very much ; P )

    • Exactly right! The race is coordinated with (but not technically part of) the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival.

      And I think your priorities are just fine! 🙂

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