About 62 years ago, Kathleen’s mom went to the store–and came back with a brand new Royal Quiet De Luxe typewriter.
THE WORLD’S FIRST TRULY MODERN TYPEWRITER, boasted the manual–and hey, this machine had some clever features–a one-touch Magic Margin (Registered Trade Mark), “Finger Form Keys”, and Shift Freedom–the keys dropped down for caps–then a spring lifted them up again–boy, was that a nice feature. Kathleen used that machine for schoolwork, for classes when she had secretarial school, and for letters to friends and family. By and by, it was used less, but she always kept it in top shape, and stored it carefully in the basement when she stopped using it. She kept the manual and the brushes and the extra ribbon spools and even the price tag from the day it came home from the store.
Then the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Daily News wrote about an odd little gathering of people who still liked manual typewriters. The young girl was now a grown up lady. She’d been wondering what to do about her Royal, and had maybe even thought of giving it to a thrift shop or putting it out on the curb. She called up the bike shop mentioned in the typewriter story and asked for Mike (er, me) and explained about the Royal and that she didn’t want any money for it and said “I just want it to go to a good home.” So I drove out to Mayfair in Northeast Philadelphia and found her house easily (she gave perfect directions). It was the one right next to the Notre Dame football fan with a street sign in his front yard that said, “FIGHTING IRISH”.
The Royal was a bit heavy and so she had a neighbor tote it upstairs. We talked about how her mom bought it for her and some of the things she used it for, and I promised I’d make sure it would go to someone who would take good care of it. I took some pictures of her holding the typewriter–I hurried because it looked heavy.
Then I thanked her and put it in the car. I put it into the back seat instead of the trunk just because…. Then I drove it back to Trophy (that’s the name of the shop). Since the Type-IN, some of the mechanics have been getting excited about typewriters. TJ is one of them. He really wanted an older Remington I had, but well, I didn’t want to give it to him because I liked it, but also because it was kind of fragile and I think TJ wanted a machine to really write on a bit.
At the shop, there really wasn’t much needed for the Royal (it really had been taken good care of!) , so in between talking to customers, we used compressed air to blow any dust out of the machine, put in a new ribbon, and brushed the typefaces a little. It typed perfectly, with a really nice light touch. It looked different from all the other typewriters we’d seen lately; dark gray with even darker gray accents gave it a serious, almost West Point air.
When I left the shop, TJ was typing out labels for presents on the Royal Quiet De Luxe.
Thanks Royal. Thanks newspapers. And thank you Kathleen Murray for the typewriter–we’ll take good care of it.
Novelist Paul Auster has declared his allegiance to manual typewriting, and I recently finished one of his novels in which a main character is named Fanshawe–which is also the street that Ms. Murray lives on. Coincidence? Of course. But we’ll take it.