I started to write a blog about my typewriter collection but ironically my computer froze and then the wireless capability wouldn’t work. I tried another computer but somehow the text got lost in transition. When an error message – complete with ominous exclamation points – flashed onto my screen, I shut off the laptop and picked up paper and pen. At least the pen wouldn’t talk back and the paper wouldn’t delete my paragraphs.
Sometimes I miss the simplicity of a manual typewriter. I appreciate hearing the click, clack of the keys, the zip of the return, and the ding of the bell. The round keys feel comfortable beneath my fingers, unlike the square blocks I press on my modern computers. And, best of all, my typewriters worked as long as I had a fresh ribbon. No batteries, electricity, modems, or reboot required.
I own five antique machines, starting with a 1905 Underwood #5. It was the IPhone 5 of its day because the advanced features included 84 characters instead of the typical 76. Next is a Remington Portable from 1930. It could be compared to a modern laptop because it was lightweight and came with a handy carrying case. The third typewriter is a Remington Rand from 1933. Early advertisements for this machine touted its noiseless features and claimed to allow secretaries to type faster because the advanced mechanisms reduced paper jams.
My last two old typewriters are Royals that my mother owned in 1940 and 1950. When I was a little girl, my father was a long-haul truck driver and would be gone for weeks at a time. For income, my mother babysat other children during the day while taking care of her own kids, and then at night she typed bulletins for the local church and business reports for Bradshaw Honey Plant in Wendell. I vaguely remember falling to sleep while listening to the syncopated sounds as she typed. Her work back then paid for food and rent until my father returned.
I took a manual typewriter to college and used it for all my term papers. Those were the days of messy carbon paper, round erasers, and little brushes to clean away the erased mistakes. There weren’t any spellcheck, copy, save, or cut and paste features. I still have some of those papers with the faint words typed on watermarked parchment paper. No museum has yet asked for them.
My vintage typewriters sit silently in my office, keeping me company as I maneuver on various computers that are equipped with the latest technology but often crash on a whim. I can edit as I type, check the spelling and grammar, move paragraphs around, insert photographs, research online for facts, link to the World Wide Web, and instantly publish my blog to various websites. But, my computers last only a few years and then become obsolete. My1905 Underwood is worth more than $500 and I can still use it to type a letter. Sometimes being a reliable vintage isn’t so bad.
Today’s blog was fueled by a 2012 Vivacious Viognier from 3 Horse Ranch Vineyards in Caldwell. The Idaho-grown Viognier and Roussanne grapes produce a balanced blend that is tasty, dry, and lightly oaked. If you can’t have a Cabernet, try this instead.