Monday, September 7, 2009

The scents and sounds of an office

In the New York Times, former publishing exec Joni Evans recalls a lost material culture:

[I]t was our office archaeology that I remember the most. There was a primitive chaos to it all — the hybrid scent of tobacco and mimeograph ink, and the sounds of ringing phones, of typewriters zipping along until the warning bell pinged near the end of a line, and of the clack-clack-clack of the return handle as the carriage reset.
I like using a thrift-store rotary telephone in my office; the ring is startlingly loud and delightful, even though I should know by now to expect it. (Thanks for my phone, Rachel and Ben!) A diehard might bring back more lost sounds with the 1964 Folkways recording The Sounds of the Office (still available from Smithsonian Folkways). Alas, there’s no easy way to recapture the deep purple fragrance of fresh mimeographing.

A related post
In search of lost sound

comments: 2

mattthomas said...

I liked this article too. Thanks for linking to the Sounds of the Office recording. Hadn’t heard it before. Great stuff.

Michael Leddy said...

I'm thinking carefully about whether I really need to get it for my office.