I went for a walk this evening after the rain with my daughter and a friend. We strolled along Public Road in Old Lafayette, stopping here and there, chatting all the while, when we wandered into a small shop that offered an eclectic mix of new and vintage treasures. The owner, Z, was a fellow southerner, and quite pleasant to visit with. During our conversation, my daughter noticed an old typewriter sitting on a small writing table just inside the door. She caught my eye, and her interest was clear, so I asked her “Do you know what that is?” Surprisingly, she did, and Z offered up a few details about it. It was in pristine condition, and worked perfectly. A piece of paper was rolled into the machine already, so Z invited my daughter to give it a try. She pushed a few of the keys, taken back by how different typing on the relic from days gone by was from keyboarding on her laptop. Z then called my attention to a similar typewriter, an Underwood, circa 1908, that was prominently displayed in the window. This particular typewriter, unlike its counterpart that we were first introduced to had a bit of dust on it, and rust had begun to etch a pattern in the original chrome trim. The keys were worn, and the old machine was simply too tired to tell any more tales. Perfect! This typewriter had stories that were still untold, I could feel them, and there was still magic in its keys, even if they could no longer talk. It emitted a positive energy, and I imagined the previous owner, sitting in front of it, just him and the typewriter, complete absorbed in the story he was telling. It needed a good home, a final resting place, and I would provide the perfect spot. Z, sensing my delight in the find, made me a deal, and I paid for my new friend. As I walked out, it struck me that I had just briefly traveled back in time and been yanked back to the present the next instant. The 1908 Underwood, sitting on the counter while Z ran my card, and the 2013 Samsung Gallaxy, next to it, waiting for my signature to authorize payment, represented marvels of their respective eras. Three hundred years of history was sitting, for a moment, right there in front of me. History came home with me, and the profoundness of it is still fresh, for the fabulous typewriter, with all of its charm, is here on my desk. My laptop, splendid and modern, may make writing easier and more efficient, but the early twentieth-century Underwood, sitting close by, adds an extra dose of enchantment. Thank you, Z. Authors sometimes have sundry sentimental treasures that inspire their writing. What paraphernalia provides inspiration for you?
- Amazing Typewriter Types Out Art – Unique (oddstuffmagazine.com)
- The Story Behind the QWERTY Keyboard (blogs.smithsonianmag.com)
- Friday Fun Facts: Mark Twain and the Typewriter (plowingthefields.wordpress.com)
- Harold Robbins’ typewriter added to Soboroff collection (laobserved.com)