I approached the hateful thing and mentally stuck my tongue out at the old Royal manual typewriter that my teacher, Mrs. Surber, had assigned to me. It had balked at every new letter, especially the “p” and the quotation mark, which I prayed I’d never have to use. I knew one day I’d have to quote someone, though. Then I’d have to stand up, my red face tear-stained, and admit to my entire typing class that I could not type quotation marks.
I could see the mocking faces, hear the derisive laughter: Glenda Goodson, the best reader in the sixth grade, could not type quotation marks in the 11th grade. “Glenda! Get ready for timed drills! I declare, where is your mind today?”
Then, after I typed my way through college on a workship — which, ironically, depended on my ability to type on a manual typewriter — I was confronted with a new electric typewriter that corrected my mistakes. No more darkness at the top row of typewriter, which held the dreaded quotation marks — and “typewriting” became the musical-sounding “keyboarding.”
There still were many hills to climb and rivers to cross before I stopped learning all there is to know about my friend the keyboard. There are keyboards on watches, IPads, telephones, even on Alexa hidden on my handy-dandy take-along computer (that my typing teacher taught me how to use in 1959).
Glenda! Where is your mind today? On typing, 1959 and a very good idea that has been right under our noses for almost a century. Why not get out those tattered typewriting books (they were portrait-sized and stood tall, bound at
the top), find a Royal manual typewriters that can be cleaned by any typist and a can of “Dr. Scat,” and let’s have a typing class! It won’t be easy. You’ll get oily, your manicure will be a trainwreck because your fingers inevitably will get caught down in between the ribbon and whatever is oily in those old keys. But you’ll be able to take your machine apart, clean it and put it back together without help from customer service in a foreign land. You will have a warm feeling of having fixed it yourself.
Have you ever fixed anything? A meal? No, not a sling-it-in-the microwave, take it out at the tone and have supper in front of a decades old “Andy Griffith” meal, but a real one, homemade. Have you ever sewed a hem? It’s a glorious feeling!
Somebody over in Washington, D.C., got an idea last week. He must have caught a memory or smelled cornbread cooking, and all of a sudden he thought about home and all that implies. He thought of typewriters, being outside working on his car and Mama’s supper, and he got an idea. Maybe America could go back — not to 1959, but to men and women not having anything around that they couldn’t fix themselves. Not ever having “to call the man.”
Maybe we’ve gone too far, but there’s hope — ‘round town.
Glenda Byars is a correspondent for The Gadsden Times. Send submissions to email@example.com.