Gwendolyn Brooks' typewriter keys, on display at the American Writers Museum in Chicago

AWM Story of the Week

Every week, the AWM is excited to bring you stories written by our visitors in our Story of the Day exhibit, which features typewriters that visitors can interact with directly. Check back weekly for new stories, and visit the Museum to try out our typewriters and possibly be featured here! This week includes 2 love letters to manual typewriters. Of course, the visitors take different tones when it comes to their delivery. Read on for more…

The Joy of Typewriters

There is a joy in writing on a typewriter that cannot be replicated nor approached by any other machine. Not a Mac nor a PC, not a laptop or smartphone. The typewriter is a tool meant for one thing: to write! This exhibit of hands on typeweri typewriters inspired me to buy two manual typewriters of my own and relearn how to write with the sheer joy of working on a machine like this. I own two manuals: a Royal Quiet DeLuxe and a S mim a Smith-Corona Skywriter. Manuals only: they require a little harder work on the writer’s part in pushing down the keys. It is a purse ex pure experience between writer, brain, fingers, and machine, plus paper. Nothing to distrub the process of writing like Facebook or crushing candy.

Three bits of advice: learn to touchtype (you’ll thank me later), stick to the manuals, and never EVER use white out. It flakes when dry and gums up the machine when wet. Ultimately, white out screws up the mechanical aspects of your typewriter. Make a mistake? Do what I do. Use lots of XXXXXXX over the mistake and get back to cases!

PS. You can scan your typewritten pages into an MS word doc for editing and rewriting. Typewriter to computer: the new definition (MY definition) of “write drunk; edit sober.”

The (Good?) Old Days

You kids these days. Back in my day, we didn’t have laptop computers with fancy voice recognition with wireless printers. No, consarnit. We had to load our old dadgum paper and inkribbon into a machine like this, and we were lucky if the typewriter had an erase feature. No, we had to backspace and use the strikethrough key ourselves. Like this.

And maybe we didn’t have Facebook or Instacart or whatever you kids are using to play Fortmine these days, but we weren’t always looking at a typewriter in our hands, either. Or playing Pokewhat Go. No sir, our parents threw us out of the house at 8 a.m. and didn’t want to hear from us until dark. As long as we weren’t dead or running afoul of John Law, we were fine. We built forts and played flashlight tag, by gum.

And we traded baseball cards and ate stale gum and got Big Gulps and comic books from the 7-11 for fun. And Global Warming? Hah. We all worried that the Soviets were going to nuke us. You kids have it easy.

OK, maybe spell check and the delete key are improvements. Tom Wolfe is great, but this old timey keyboard is just. The. Worst.


(Shakes fist at cloud)

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