Hello, Internet. How was your Saturday? Mine was fine, thanks for asking.
I took Quinn down for a little road trip back to Cambridge Typewriter in Boston, where I picked up the two machines the owner serviced and fixed for me. On the way back home, I had lunch with the kid, and then took him to Toys ‘R Us in Manchester, where they have about eleven hundred running feet of Thomas the Tank Engine merchandise shelves. Quinn scored two new trains, Daddy has two fixed typewriters, and we had a nice drive through an unseasonably warm New Hampshire. (It was 50 degrees in Manchester today.)
Typewriters tend to multiply, by the way. Here’s the current fleet:
Going from top to bottom and left to right, we have:
- A green Olympia SM4, made in 1960, with wide carriage and Typestyle 69 cursive typeface. This one always reminds me of a 1960s Mercedes Benz, with its sparse chrome trim and top-notch construction. It makes the most satisfying “snick” sound when you smack down a key.
- A battleship-gray Smith-Corona Galaxie Twelve, probably from the late 1960s. Not much to look at, but it has a great feel to it—sharp, precise, and responsive.
- A Royal KHM, circa 1935, given to me by my lovely wife for my 36th birthday back in 2007. This was one of the machines I took down to Cambridge Typewriter as it needed some TLC, but it’s fit as a fiddle now. It’s a big, heavy tank of a typewriter, a desktop model without any concessions to portability, and a rock-solid typer.
- A white Olympia SM9, the Writer’s Typewriter. Sheet-metal cover that lifts up like the hood of a car, basket shift, and bulletproof construction. Of all the machines I own, this is probably the one I’d pick if I had to pound out a million words in a year. The SM9 was made in 1966.
- A Royal DeLuxe Portable made in 1936, a lovely little machine I inherited from a good friend who passed away over a year ago. It’s small, but substantial, and almost as smooth as its desktop counterpart. This one had a slightly sticky Y key, and a few other minor issues, and its heirloom status meant that it got to go on the trip to Cambridge Typewriter as well.
Those all live in Analog City, the office on the other end of the house where the WiFi won’t reach, and the only computer (Apple eMac) is only for transcription duties and doesn’t even have a wireless network card fitted. I use them for different things as the mood strikes, mostly short stories. The single-purpose typewriter is a help when it comes to priming the creative pump because—like the fountain pen—it can only be used for creating new material, not research or other distracting business. I’ve come to believe that the biggest drain on productivity is writing with (or near) a device that can connect to the Internet.
All five of those machines were made before I was born, and two of them were made almost ten years before my father was born. That’s not a bad record for durability and longevity. In contrast, the computer on which I am typing this is just a few months old, and will be in a landfill before the end of this decade.
Now it’s time to give the kids a bath, and then we’ll seamlessly transition to the part of the evening where we consume some Parenting Juice and kill stuff for profit and experience in World of Warcraft. I hope you folks are having a pleasant weekend, too.