what i did with my saturday.

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:

typewriterfleet

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.

9 thoughts on “what i did with my saturday.

  1. anonymous says:

    A day wonderfully spent and one that you will likely hold in your heart and mind to call up and comfort you in your dotage. Don’t laugh; I was having similar outings with my son just a few years ago, but in some kind of strange time warpage, more than two decades have suddenly passed.

    Your affinity for those particular mechanical works of art is certainly apropos of your chosen vocation, but is of course also an appreciation of the history and workmanship represented by these machines, as well as vintage firearms, and in my case, mechanical watches.

    I hope I’m wrong, but it does seem that part of our attraction is that they represent a dedication, ability, and perhaps a state of mind that no longer exists, or exists only in a rarified way.

    Just as you find your vintage machines equal or superior to the high-tech that has supplanted them , I wear and depend on my 50’s self-wind Omega Seamaster wristwatch, and my Colt snubbie of the same vintage, every day.

    In many ways and as you have recently said, the future and its accoutrement is awesome. But it is hard to envision that fifty to a hundred years from now, there will be people using, collecting, appreciating -even channeling- the workmanship, craftsmanship, and soul that is embodied in your typewriters, my watches, and our guns…anything that is being manufactured today in the same way.

    And that makes me sad. But as I wrote this, it occurred to me that what you do, what you write, might very well be in the hands of, and enter the minds of, our children and grandchildren’s generations, when you are my age and beyond.
    And based on much of what you have written and I have read, that makes me glad.

    I guess in the end, it is what we make with our minds, more so than what we make with our hands, that is our real legacy.

    Al Terego

  2. perlhaqr says:

    I bent some steel tubing in a controlled manner. It even looks significantly like the computer model I made beforehand. Hurrah!

  3. Jay G. says:

    I shot an evil black rifle with not one but two lasers.

    It was a good day…

  4. MarkHB says:

    I took the copilot seat in a Citation Mustang.

    It was fun.*

    *this is a very big understatement.

  5. NYEMT says:

    I played with fire trucks. It’s how I spend lots of my weekends.

    I like your fleet. I have a Remington which is a little younger than your two Royals, and a little older than the other three. I’ve never researched it, but I’m guessing it dates to the ’40s somwhere. It came to me from my dad, and I typed a lot of reports on it in middle school and high school while my more privileged classmates were using IBM Selectrics and such. I moved on to a Tandy 1000EX in 12th grade or thereabouts, which was when they came out.

    Guess I’ll have to dig the old girl out of the attic and see just what it is now. 🙂

  6. LittleRed1 says:

    I went and heard a symphony for fiddle and orchestra, and understand why the devil plays the fiddle – it’s a rare mortal who can make wood, wire and horsehair do all that. Wow! ‘Dat boy can play!

  7. emdfl says:

    I’ve got a friend who has a Royal(I think) that looks like your ’35. I think he is going to deep six it. If you want it I’ll see if I can score it for you .

  8. […] Marko now has five typewriters in good working order, and guess where he keeps them? 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. […]

  9. Windy Wilson says:

    Umm, yard work.
    Last weekend I went to Death Valley for four days.
    Missed the rain by a few days, so it was pleasantly warm yet fresh, with minimal dust on the dirt roads. Nothing was blooming yet, that’ll be in about three to four weeks. Saw Scotty’s Castle (aka Death Vally Ranch, depending on whether it was Walter Scott or Albert Johnson talking about the place), Zabriske Point, Furnace Creek, Stovepipe Wells, some abandoned borax works, and Badwater. Mosaic Canyon was interesting, with a remarkable assortment of rock walls in about a quarter mile of canyon.

    “I’ve come to believe that the biggest drain on productivity is writing with (or near) a device that can connect to the Internet.”

    Truer words were never spoken.

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