Thursday, May 19, 2011

My typewriter collection

I love typewriters. I have a vague memory of learning to type on one in elementary school before I got my first IBM when I was eight.  Even though I loved the games a floppy disk could provide (Frogger, Double Dare), there was something alluring about a typewriter.  Although I'm not one to notice sounds much, I'm pretty sure it's the way the keys clack.  (Side note- that's one thing I hate about a touch screen on the iPad.  No sounds of productivity.)

I bought my first typewriter in 2006 at an antique shop in Boise.  We even bought ink for it.  Even though I coveted the technological advances of the past thirty years, I was proud of my working typewriter.  Not that I actually used it!  I imagined all the things that might have been written with it, though it probably had just helped draft some legal documents or sat on a secretary's desk awaiting transcription. 

On Labor Day weekend two years later, I pulled that typewriter out of the rubble, something that was at least recognizable.  Our flash drive didn't survive the heat.  But the typewriter seemed somewhat indestructible, though the letters on the keys apparently were flammable.

Typewriters are not easily replaced as it turns out, particularly ones that have a little bit of character.  You can't just drive to Staples and purchase an antique typewriter.  Nine months after the fire, while in Bend, I finally found a replacement.  It didn't sit up quite as much, but it had a different kind of charm and looked like it could have been used in an accountant's office in the early 70s. 

I thought I only needed one typewriter, seeing that I don't actually use them for anything more than decoration.  And then my grandmother passed away, adding another Underwood to my collection.  The fact that you can clearly read the brand tells you how immaculately my grandmother cared for this, even after she transitioned to Windows XP.  I love it, even if it is "noiseless."

Last week I added another typewriter to my collection.  I'm pretty sure this is my new favorite.  It doesn't catch quite right making it potentially non-functional, not that I'm composing anything with a typewriter anyway.  I love how high it sits up.  And it's really, really heavy and also kind of dirty.  Who knew that's what I would find so charming.

I love that I'm at a place finally where I have a collection of something.  I find a bit of irony in the oldness of the collection, that I've found myself drawn to things that already have a story, even if I don't know what that arc looks like.  And most of all, I love that these typewriters have come to me organically.  After the fire I was in such a rush to replace, to rebuild.  But collections take time, are more deliberate, even if you start collecting the object by accident. 

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