27 June 2012

A Summer Solstice Type-In

Summer Solstice at Stonehenge (England)

It was a fine if somewhat cloudy June 23rd in Madison, Wisconsin. I, brother Architect, niece Hoja, and friend Whimsey joined the Friends of Starkweather Creek SASY Neighborhood Association community as we all celebrated the Summer Solstice. The biannual event (they also do a Winter Solstice party) is a collection of picnicking, music, puppetry, playing, and, at the moment the sun sets, a bonfire -- all in a lovely setting on the shores of Lake Monona.

 Puppets being made before the event.  
For more pics and stories, see the Procession of the Species site here.

Thanks to my Head Roadie and Chief Grip (aka my Beloved Spousal Unit) the Type-In set and equipment were well-packed for the trip to Madison. 

Our section of the park was along the lakeside. We four -- Architect, Hoja, Whimsey, and myself -- set up in a line.  Hoja described it as a Utopian Strip Mall

Architect & Whimsey played an old timey photography team. Their set was a grandly painted canvas backdrop and a fanciful camera (designed & built by Architect). 

Schematic for backdrop                                           Painting of the backdrop

The event always includes a Grand Procession with many people in costumes and many large puppets. Their camera booth was hopping all afternoon.

The costumes, masks, and giant puppets were wonderful!  
I will post pics of the Procession of the Species soon.

Hoja hosted Mz. Mimsy's Tabernacle of Tea ("Potions, Portents & Perfumes"), a tent filled with pillows, good scents, and relaxation. The tent - with walls created with decorative fabrics - served up a variety of teas in fancy teacups accompanied by bikkies.  

She reported the traffic of visitors was good.  The festival had much action and noise.  People were glad to find this little oasis to take a respite from it all.

Professor Remington

I, in my persona du jour -- Professor Remington -- hosted a Type-In booth. This event was planned before I knew it was National Typewriter Day.  It was a perfect lead-in sentence, though, when people wandered up all curious about why I was doing this.

 (L) Decidiasus Canus (Latin trans: The Lazy Dog)
(R)  Vulpes Velox (Latin translation: The Quick Fox)

The previous week I'd designed and painted the Professor Remington billboard.  It proved the perfect advertisement for passersby.

Because I was going on the road with this for the first time, and because I didn't know precisely what the park site was going to be like, I created this schematic of how I hoped I'd be able to set things up.

As it was, time considerations and a rather gusty wind off the lake prevented me from putting up the tent.  No worries, though.  Things looked pretty grand as it was.

Thanks to Madame H, I had two wonderfully funky and old desk top machines which I staged at a separate table.  I set a copy of the Typewriter Insurgency Manifesto on the platen roll of each.


It didn't take long for the festival-goers to wander by.  There seemed to be four kinds of folks.

Parents and their Children.

The neat thing about the families that stopped by was the excitement of the parents as they showed their kids the machines they used before computers. I didn't have to do much there as the parents quite happily became the teachers. 

Teenagers and Young Adults.

Not surprisingly, the typewriters were total magnets for teens and 20-somethings.  A little shy most of them were, but once I persuaded them to sit down and showed them the basics of how the machines worked, their enjoyment was reflected by their serious intensity.

The Old Hands.

Then there were the much experienced typists.  When they saw the machines, they smiled and laughed. You knew them right away: they immediately placed their hands confidently on the keys -- fingers correctly positioned -- and, after a few false starts, muscle memory kicked in and they were typing away again as they always had.

The Soloists.

There were a few visitors that struck me by their quiet focus and delight.  They walked in almost invisibly and waited for a machine to become available.  Once seated, they became completely absorbed, undisturbed by the bustling action all around.

This lady below purposely chose one of the two machines with a black/red ribbon.  She typed for quite awhile.  At one point, she paused.  I happened to be standing there and, since that machine had been acting up, asked if all was well.  She just smiled and said very softly, "I am writing a love letter."

These two young lads (below) came back several times.  The one on the left was completely fascinated.  "I am going to get one of these." he told me.  So I gave him the business card I'd made up for the occasion with the link to the info I've created  for this blog.  And I took more time than I did with most of the kids to show him how to do a basic hands-on test of a machine to make sure everything was in working order.  

I made sure he tried all of the machines, telling him that he wanted one that "felt good" when he typed.  "You'll be tempted to buy the first one you see," I said.  "If it's a good one, then go for it.  But don't be afraid to wait and look a little more."  You'd think I'd been telling him how to trick a leprechaun out of his pot of gold, so intensely did he listen!

The display machines drew a lot of interest as well. One man was a photographer and was quite intrigued by the older Underwood.  He took pictures for at least 10 minutes. 

All told, the Summer Solstice Type-In welcomed 70-80 visitors.  They were excited and took lots of camera-phone pictures of each other typing. They came by before I finished setting up and stayed until the light faded five and a half hours later. As I was putting the machines back into their cases at the end, one young lass begged if she could "please type just a little more."  I put her at the far table with a machine and told her, "I'll put that one away last."

So, our little Utopian Strip Mall was just that for the afternoon. People rested in the Tea Tent; had their portraits taken with a fantastical camera in front of the beautiful backdrop; and discovered -- or rediscovered -- the wonders of typing.

Many thanks to 

Jennifer B. for the loan of the folding tables and rolling dolly; 
my sister Song for the use of the canopy tent; 
Madame H and her sister for the two display typewriters; 
brother Architect for the chairs; 
nephew Quicksilver and passerby Mr. D for helping me reload my car at day's end; 
-- and ever and always -- 
my Beloved Spousal Unit, who continues to find such entertainment in my creative projects. 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...