June 23rd is the day to celebrate a thwacking, banging, dinging Steampunky masterpiece of engineering!
This analog computer for old people has contributed to the completion of many Great American Novels. It has made legible the wishes of many people with unreadable handwriting. And, most significantly, it has played a role in many of my fond childhood memories.
I’ve always loved typewriters.
I own two, a 1938 Royal Magic Margin and a 1928 Underwood, both so aggressively heavy I could become a bodybuilder by bench pressing them.
The Underwood originally belonged to my Uncle Jay who had it sitting on a shelf for as long as I can remember. I’d always stare at the thing whenever I visited his house. And, like everyone in the presence of a typewriter, I would absolutely need to press the keys. (They always jammed. Once upon a time someone had dropped it. Dropping an antique Underwood should be a crime, I think.)
That Underwood always stood out among Uncle Jay’s many possessions. Not only because I liked it so much, but also because it was so out of character. Uncle Jay was not a writer or a collector of antiques. Quite the opposite, really. He was a gadget guy. If something new hit the market that was state-of-the-art and/or techy, he would be the first in line to buy it. I believe Uncle Jay was the only person in the world to own a 3-D television—a technological marvel that was as awesome as it was useless.
Uncle Jay sensed I liked his Underwood by the subtle hints I would sometimes drop—like the way I would endlessly shout, “I really like your Underwood! I wish I had an Underwood! I always wanted an Underwood!” So when he and Auntie Susan decided to downsize and move to Florida (the legally mandated nesting place for New Jersey old people) he gave it to me.
I was ecstatic.
Because the keys are damaged, my Underwood is “for display purposes only,” which is regrettable. But old Underwoods are such beautiful machines that I almost don’t mind its lack of functionality. I like looking at it. I like the idea that I own one. And I especially like the idea that I have the option to get the thing refurbished. Which I will. Soon.
My Royal is a different animal entirely. It’s built like a Sherman tank and works like new. I found it in a thrift store and consider it the smartest purchase I’ve ever made. Where else can a $40 investment lead to decades of happy, satisfying, cathartic thwacking?
God, what a fun machine. It’s such a refreshing change of pace from the wimpy, whispery clickitaclickitas of my laptop keyboard. Writing is hard work, dangit! Bangs, whumps, and thumps from a good old fashioned manual typewriter makes it sound like you’re working!
Longtime readers of this blog know that this isn’t the first time I’ve delivered an ode to typewriters. This (typewritten) blog post below is from 2013 and I still agree with it–especially my views on Davy and Goliath. (Click to see larger.)
Long story short, I highly recommend that you peruse the secondhand
shops for a typewriter right now. One THWACK and you’ll be a convert for life.
Are there any typewriter fans out there? Do you prefer another (non-laptoppy) way to write down your ideas? Leave a comment! Let’s chat!