Tappity, tappity, tappity...


Thanks to my friend David Blake I now have a picture to show of my very first typewriter.

One time when I was seven or eight years old I remember seeing a Mickey Mouse typewriter in our local department store. I loved that typewriter instantly!! I knew that very second that I wasn't leaving the store without it. The fact that it was red and had a plastic Mickey Mouse head on it only served to sweeten the deal.

Did I know then at seven or eight years old that I wanted to write? Ummm...no. I just wanted something to tear up and a red Mickey Mouse typewriter seemed to be just the thing. I remember the struggle to get it was epic. I asked. I pleaded. I begged. I threw a fit-and that was just the warm up! The more adamant that mom and dad became about me NOT getting it, the more I wanted it. Well, several fits later I walked out of the store proudly carrying my cheap, plastic toy typewriter. Mom and dad walked behind me. I could feel their stares and imagine their puckered faces glaring holes into the back of my head. It was of no consequence! I had what I wanted and that was what was important. The ride home was unnervingly quiet, though. Maybe, I thought, they weren't gonna forget this as quickly as I hoped. When we got out of the car I made sure to follow close to mom. Sure, she was mad at me but dad was always madder. Best to stay close to mom! Once inside the door dad jabbed a finger towards my room. "NOW!" is all he said and I didn't waste any time lingering around.

Once in my room, I regained my nerve. What was the big deal?? So it cost money! Mom and dad had lots of money! They even had a checkbook with LOTS of checks in it. I'd seen them myself! Well, I was just gonna have to straighten them out a bit. I tore a piece of paper out of a spiral notebook and began pecking on the keys. I got a couple of words into my little opus when I discovered I needed some spelling help. I went to my door and yelled for mom. I knew I didn't dare go back in the front room when dad had that certain look. When he looked like that I was about to get a speech and a spanking!
Me: "MooooM!"
Mom: (Icy) "What?!"
Me: "I'm writing you a letter. How do you spell circle?"
Mom: "You're what??"
Me: "I'm writing you a letter. How do you spell circle??"
Mom: "C-I-R-C-L-E!"
Me: "Wait....! Ok, I found 'C'...spell the rest of it again..."
It didn't take much of that for dad to step in and suggest that I just spelled circle any ol' way I wanted to as long as I shut up. Dads. Sometimes they're no fun.

After lots of thought and effort my first typed letter was ready for delivery. I folded my letter and marched resolutely into the front room. Dad still didn't look very happy. Good thing mom was on the couch and closer to me than dad was. I handed mom my letter. "Read this," I said, and scampered back to my room.

As close as I can remember the letter said:

Deer mom and dad
I am mad at you are you mad at me? Do you love me? cirkl yes or no love brown.

A few days later I was taken with the idea of how Mickey Mouse looked like a pilot. I decided to throw my typewriter as hard as I could to see if it could glide! Then Mickey really would be a pilot.

Apparently, my typewriter made a much better typewriter than glider. It smashed against the wall and...well, that was that!

I've looked all over for a picture of that typewriter on the net and I just can't find one!

When I was 16-17 I remember going past my dads little study and hearing him busily pecking away on an old typewriter that looked a great deal like the picture above, only it had black keys If I remember correctly. Sometimes I'd go in and watch him type for a while. I liked the sound of the keys smacking against the page. The way my dad pecked at it it almost had a rhythm.

Sometimes when dad was at work or busy elsewhere I'd go in his study and play on the typewriter. I'd type up copies of my poems or write a few pen pal letters. I never stayed with it for long though. The keys were hard to press and sometimes they would stick or gob up. Besides that, if you made a mistake you were just screwed. Still...I liked the feel of pressing the keys and hearing the tapping sounds and I was sure if I knew how to type without looking at the keys it would be much easier and faster.

One day I casually mentioned to a friend that I would like to take typing class the next semester. My friend stared at me like I had suddenly started speaking a foreign language. "Tyyyping??" he said, rubbing his chin. "That's just...weird. I mean, what-? Are you planning to become a secretary or something?" I laughed and did the only thing I could think of: I lied. "Just joking, man!" I said.

The next semester of my sophomore year found me sitting in Mrs. Combs typing class. I was one of two guys in the room. The rest were girls. I felt right away like this was a baaad idea. My friend would walk by the room from time to time so he could wave and wink at me if the door was open. God, I hated that!

I learned to type on an electric typewriter very much like the picture above.

I was the slowest typist in class. I just couldn't get my short fat fingers to move like they were supposed to-not without looking while I was typing anyways.

I finished my high school typing class one point from a "B". It was the hardest "C" I ever made!

My senior year in high school I took an Office Practices class where I learned (but have since completely forgotten) shorthand, dictation, adding machines, and MORE typing. It was fun. I got an A that time.

When I got out of High School I was writing all of the time. Poems, stories, plays...it was always something. I asked my mom and dad to help me get my own typewriter. I came home one day from somewhere and found the most GI-NORMOUS typewriter I'd ever seen sitting in my room. It weighed a ton! I had to buy a card table to set it on. Dad bought it at an office store for me. God only knows how much they paid for that monstrosity. The picture above isn't quite like what I had...mine was much bigger, bulkier...when I turned that sucker on, I swear the lights dimmed! :) I didn't have the heart to say, "Uhhmmmm....noooo, this isn't quite what I had in mind so I thanked them profusely and used it for a very long time.

One day in 1990 I was walking around the video section of the grocery store. Back then, it seemed like no matter how big or how small the store was, there was always a video section in it. In this particular grocery store, not only were there videos you could rent but you could also rent to own popular electronics like televisions, Vcrs, and....this! When I saw the Panasonic W1510 word processor I knew I wasn't leaving the store without it. Now, in 1990 I had ZERO interest in computers but a word processor, well, that was different. That was something I understood! I could type my stories, chop them up, rearrange them, spell check them, store them on disk...all before I even printed them out. I was in LOVE!

I had many, many, many fun hours of use out of that word processor. I literally wore it out! Some of my most pleasurable memories of writing stories and poems and what not are from sitting in front of the black and green glow of that little unit.

Three years later my mom visited our local Radio Shack store and came home with one of the biggest, coolest Christmas presents I had ever gotten up to that time....My first real computer....

A Leading Edge 486 SLC! 4 megs of ram! A 120 meg hard drive! That day a new, typewriter-less era was ushered into my life.

I enjoy all that computers can do so much! But, I look back on my typewriter days with much fondness and nostalgia. Thanks for all the memories! You were great in your day.

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CAROL said...

Charlie, i really enjoyed reading the above story!! It was funny ,interesting and kept my attention the entire time. It was very well written!! I could envision the whole story as i read it. VERY GOOD WRITING!!! Aunt Carol

deblake60 said...

Once you go PC you don't go back! Okay, there was a couple of time I had to "go back" and it sucked! It's like going from High Speed Internet back to dial up!

I can't see me not "de-evolving". How about you?

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