Category Archives: strikethru.net
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.
Typewriters were famous for
15 minutes 4 hours yesterday!
The first Philly Type-IN was scheduled to start at 1 p.m. at Bridgewater’s Pub…. and….
At 1:07, the first few attendees were trundling in with their manual typewriters…. already waiting were:
The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Michael Vitez–with their top photographer, Akira Suwa; Liz Spikol from the new Latino-geek monthly, Tek Lado; Peter Crimmins from WHYY, KYW reporter Suzanne Monaghan, two TV camera men from NBC and local news (6, I think) and a tech-site blogger** who interviewed me on a Flip, oh–and Associated Press reporter Ron Todt. Knew I should have made a PowerPoint!
So in between the art of typewriter arranging, had to try and come up with varied, yet coherent quotes to all sorts of variations on this question: why typewriters? and why now, in 2010?
Tried desperately to answer that, and they seemed satisfied–at any rate, what they wrote/video’d about the Type-IN is all over the place–here are some links:
Major style points to Inky reporter Michael Vitez–he commandeered my Olympia SM9 and banged out the first draft of his story on the spot. Er, wish he hadn’t overheard me saying, “But what a body…” about an Olivetti Valentine typewriter… but they are a cool design, no bones about it, and I can’t really blame Jenn Yuan for not selling it to me! BTW –if you see any print stories picked up in other papers, can you let me know?
Serious thanks to young Matt Cidoni, who trekked down from central N.J. (60 miles) with four typewriters and was put straight to work–typing up the guest list (
now missing FOUND!), matching people with typewriters, popping in ribbons, and giving great quote to a stack of reporters like a pro.
Matt also schooled the assembled multitude in speed typing–he finished ahead of Carey Bergsma with 55 WPM in the Typing Competition. He went back to NJ with a nice Hermes Rocket from the 1950s–for which he swapped me a Royal Multi-Touch with glass keys and a dangerously mint paint job. We both think we got over, heh.
Big surprise–Philadelphia’s dean of synth/sound design, Charles Cohen, showed up with a Hermes 3000 and grabbed third place.
Also a great surprise– typewriter repairman Michael Ardito and his brother Robert trekked all the way down from Long Island. They had their hands full from the moment they arrived–checking out a variety of typers. Sadly, they confirmed that my mint Olivetti Lettera 32 needs a new mainspring. So now for a parts search or buying a more beat up L-32 to salvage a mainspring from. But seriously, thanks guys– and note that Mr. Ardito can be reached at Hometown Business Machines–718.982.6876.
If you came out, some notes:
1) did you find a list of names and emails in your typewriter or lying about?
I think we left it in someone’s typer. If you took any photos videos, could you bounce us some or let us know where to find them online? Don’t worry–found it!
3) Thanks so much for coming out and taking part in an experiment which felt like a success. Please post to this site if you feel like it, and we look forward to another Type-IN in 2011–quite possibly outdoors. In the meantime, we may just have some smaller Type-OUTS, where we just show up at a (willing and forewarned) cafe or pub to do a bit of collegial clicking.
4) As noted elsewhere on this site–I am struggling whether to make a New Year’s Resolution to be a DTer in 2011. A Daily Typer, that is. If anyone would like to take that pledge, I may post a list and create a subgroup on this blog to keep the pressure on to Commit Daily Typing.
cheers and here’s a to 2011 filled with courier, elite, pica and a bit of cursive!
— Michael McGettigan