13 April 2010

A Typewriter Replaced (Thrice)

In high school and college I typed all my papers on the typewriter my Dad used when he was in school: an Underwood desk top model.  It was black, tall, and elegant.  So writerly!  In grad school I found my own typer, a Royal Empress.  It was the color of a Navy battleship and about as heavy.  At some point, its innards did something to themselves and it no longer worked.  I stashed it away and stubbornly moved it several times to new homes, and finally gave it away in 2005. 

But I missed it and missed the joy of physically making words with a metal machine.  This Spring I searched The EBay, and my joy was returned to me!  I bid on a pretty little model, and lost.  So I bid on another, and lost again.  And a third time, lost.  Determined to get the model I wanted (nothing fancy, a Smith Corona portable with a metal housing - I'm a typer not a curator), I bid on two simultaneously.  No way, given my betting track record (read: cheap) was I likely to win both. Wrong! 


One was a Smith Corona Classic -- big and heavy, for all that it is a portable, and mustard-colored.  The second was a more compact Smith Corona Galaxie II, grey and ivory with a tidy footprint and responsive strike action.  I gave the Classic to a friend who, mirabile dictu, was herself inspired to type letters once again. 

The Galaxie II I have kept and, if I am true to form, will soon give a name to.  But the tale does not end.  For though I had two, loved the one and gave the other away, my lust for metal words was not satiated.  I wanted -- needed -- a smaller, sleeker creature; one I might take with me when travelling or when I visit Hoja, a friend who values words and their making. 


I returned to EBay and there my imagined machine sat -- without a single bid on it.  Would I be so fortunate as to win her?  Reader, I shall not keep you in suspense.  I did and now she is mine.  A dark-as-storm-clouds grey Royal Dart: made in Holland the snug-fitting case tells me.  She is nothing grand.  A collector's discussion list I frequent derides her plain visage and loud key strikes.  I care not, for she is dark and comely.

She is also, sadly, in the repair shop.  The ribbon-advance mechanism seems not to be working.  But I am assured  by the Magic Man who cures these ailments, that all will be well in a sevenday. 


The story does not end, however.  My in-laws, hearing of my interest, sent to me their electric Smith-Corona.  Also dark grey.  She reminds me of a Star Fleet shuttle craft (the TNG not TOS version).  Which makes me think that ner name is likely to be Galileo.  (The Dart has been named Mouse.)

So my word machine life has come full-circle. What I gave away has returned, as it were. And my happiness is great.

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Image credits:  The Underwood, Royal, and Smith-Corona pics are from the wonderful website, Machines of Loving Grace.  The pics of the Royal Dart are from the EBay seller's posting.  The electric Smith-Corona image is from this site.


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