Tuesday, April 3, 2018


After reading Diane Schirf’s thoughts about a Royal Sabre manual typewriter, I heard a voice: “Fool, look in thy heart and type.” No, not really: that was Sir Philip Sidney. But I did get out my manual, an Olympia SM, and typed an overdue letter, my second letter in two days. (I wrote the first with a fountain pen and brown ink.)

I was surprised by how quickly the mechanics of typing came back to me — even the delicate work of inserting a piece of correction tape to fix a typo. By the time I started the second page of my letter, I remembered to mark a bottom margin in pencil. What most surprised me was that without even thinking or looking I was hitting the margin-release key to fit extra characters at the end of a line. Typing on a typewriter must be the new riding a bicycle. Ding!

That bell belongs to a typewriter not a bicycle.

comments: 6

Unknown said...

Someone in my department brought in 3 manual typewriters and left them on the common table for student use. Students come in between at lunch and between classes and bang out short poems on index-card-sized scraps. It seems as fun for them as it evidently was for you. I'll try to remember to look tomorrow and report on the models, in case you are interested.

Michael Leddy said...

There’s something about typewriters and poetry, isn’t there? I used to bring mine to class to give students the chance to type “The Red Wheelbarrow.” The documentary California Typewriter has a poet who sets up a streetside poetry store, composing poems for people on her typewriter.

Sure, find out what they have. And if there’s a Smith-Corona Clipper, try to conceal it under your coat. :) It’s a beautiful model that appears in the movie.

Stefan said...

Alas, no S-C Clipper, Michael. but there is a Smith-Corona Classic 12. The other two are a Royal Quiet De Luxe (spelled as two words on the typewriter but as the everyday word "deluxe" on-line) and an Adler J5.

I wonder if the fellow who brought them got the idea for his "pop-up poetry" sessions from California Typewriter. His students occasionally set up a table outside the department and compose on-the-spot poems for anyone who desires one, just as you describe. It's a big improvement on the old Kissing Booth, I think.

Michael Leddy said...

If I remember correctly, the Royal Quiet is also in the movie. I think Tom Hanks demonstrates its virtues.

Yes, these days a kissing booth would not work so well on a college campus, or anywhere else.

Slywy said...

There's this: https://www.theawl.com/2013/09/i-am-an-object-of-internet-ridicule-ask-me-anything/

Michael Leddy said...

The anger in that piece is extraordinary. Jeez — live and let type!