Typewriters are all but memories

By John Toth

I was watching an old travel documentary about Paris the other day when I noticed that a writer they featured was using a typewriter.

That movie must have been shot decades ago. Who types on a typewriter anymore? A generation has grown up without even seeing those gadgets.

For the benefit of my younger readers, a typewriter is an instrument that precedes the computer. It was used only for writing. It could not get on the Internet or play games. It was a mechanical and/or electric device used to write letters and notes, and in my case, term papers and articles for the college paper.

Now that everyone is up to date, my first typewriter was a portable Brother Charger 11. And, it was not made in China. Back in those days, the Japanese made stuff like that – and us, of course.

This little Japanese typewriter served me well through high school and college. I wrote a lot of English assignments on it, and typed all my stories for The Campus newspaper at City College of New York.

That’s an original name – The Campus. Wonder how long it took for someone to come up with that one? Let’s see, what should we name a weekly paper on a college campus? How about The Campus? Good choice.

My first article ever was published in The Campus. It was on why one of the doors at Sheppard Hall was locked. I got a running start on my college reporting career, right?

The door was locked because it was being repaired. Nobody wanted to do the story, so it got passed down to the new guy – me.

Maybe they could use the door right next to the door being repaired. I wrote about 10 inches on it and quoted three different maintenance guys. But, I felt like the story never really took off.

This little manual typewriter cost $99.99 exactly. It also typed all of my friends’ English assignments.

That was made possible through a combination of trust, business and community service. My high school counterparts were not as capable as your scribe when it came to tackling writing tasks.

For $10, I guaranteed an ‘A’. If they only got a ‘B,’ I refunded $5. That was fair.

To students who might be reading this, don’t get any ideas. You have to possess a high level of BS skills to do this, which you probably do not have. I did. You’re going to get caught, unlike me.

If that Brother could talk, it could tell some stories – good thing it doesn’t have a flash memory.
Back in the 1970s, we didn’t know what that was.

About that French guy on TV, I’d guess that he was just fake typing. Maybe not, but it looked fake.

The documentary didn’t make me want to go to Paris, but I did look in the deep crevices of my closet and found the old typewriter. It still works. Wait, the keys are jammed. Now the paper is not scrolling up. Needs a new ribbon. Back to the laptop. That’s better.

But the old Brother looks good for its age. I bought it 40 years ago this spring. I was 16.