My mother had an old Underwood manual typewriter sitting in our kitchen, that she would type letters to my grandparents on. She was fast. After spending several years as the society editor of the Mineral Wells Index in the 1950’s, she could make the keys of that old typewriter sing. She let me hunt and peck out letters as well. I averaged one word a minute. If it was a one syllable word. After a few years, that old Underwood was relegated to the far end of the garage. By the doors. Sitting on a forgotten white enamel desk.
Because a new electric “Selectric” typewriter had taken it’s place. I didn’t trust that new improved typewriter. I missed the Underwood, and the smooth sound that the keys made when struck by an experienced typist. Whenever I was in the garage, I often lingered by the Underwood, my fingers trailing across forgotten dusty keys. And when no one was looking, I would push three keys at once, just to watch them stick together, raised in a mock salute. And then gently, I would disentangle them and let them fall back down to their rightful place. Not that anyone would have cared.
In high school, my mother enrolled me in a typing class. Because she thought I might have need of the skills used to become a secretary. Like I was secretary material. In my mind, I was “Miss America” material. But I guess we all need something to fall back on.
On the first day of class, I noticed that the typing room was outfitted with all manner of electric typewriters. This was the 1970’s after all. Nervously, I chose a typewriter that looked as close to my mother’s Selectric as I could. Because change is hard. I sat in the front row.
I had a very patient and lovely typing teacher, Mrs. Judy Burgess. She was tall and beautiful. When she laughed, she would throw back her head and her joy would fill the room. I found that I loved typing class. And the “A” that I earned looked awfully nice nestled among the rest of the “C’s” on my report card.
I must have needed to use my typing skills the next year, because I’m sure that I typed my term papers in college. I just have no memory of doing so. It’s possible that I owned a small electric typewriter of my own, because I’m certain that I never graced the library.
And I’ve documented on this blog about the two weeks I lasted in Computer Science class. Longest two weeks of my life.
I knew my way around the electric typewriter. That’s all I figure I would ever need. That computer business would never catch on, I reasoned. Who in their right mind would ever have one of those monstrosities outside of a classroom. A classroom meant for nothing but torture.
I managed to graduate from college on the 5 year plan. With a B.A. in B.S.
Mom. Dad. Money well spent.
I learned a few other keyboards in my illustrious career as an office worker in a department store. I ran credit reports, and rang up sales. A number of years later, through a series of odd circumstances, I found myself working as a Legal Secretary. With absolutely no experience. Except that I could type.
When computers did indeed find their way into America’s homes, I was a holdout. It wasn’t until the mid-90’s that finally broke down and bought a rebuilt PC. Only to experience the joys of e-mail. This was the time that Fiddledaddy was in my life. He was a self made computer expert. A Mac man.
After we were married, much to Fiddledaddy’s chagrin, my PC came with me. We were a package deal. Along with my 15 year old cat. Who hated him. I feared she would attempt to kill my new husband in his sleep, so she was barred from the bedroom. Which only made her more angry.
Another post for another time.
After a few years of wedded bliss, PC was replaced by my very first Mac. I protested. Loudly. Until Fiddledaddy showed me a picture of a very pretty lime green model. He was beginning to speak my language.
I began my blog on that Mac. And for years, he was a faithful computer. Even for one who is technically challenged. But a couple of months ago, Mac was slow to wake. And he would often just stop when the material was getting really good and drift off to sleep. Not unlike his owner.
I’ve been holding out on you, people. I’ve been typing from the comfort of my bed on a MacBook. A wireless MacBook. I know. I can’t even wrap my head around it. I’m not plugged into anything. And here’s where things get embarrassing. Up until a couple of months ago, I had no idea how this wireless business worked. I thought that you bloggers who post while at Panera’s simply plugged yourself into a phone jack, that Panera’s thoughtfully provided for it’s laptop patrons. I had no idea about WiFi. And it being free and all. (Except in McDonalds. Which is really unfortunate.) Fiddledaddy explained how it all worked. Slowly. So that my eyes didn’t roll back into my head before I would hit the floor in an unconscious heap . As is what usually happens when he tries to explain anything of a technical nature to me.
We’re a match made in techno-heaven.
I’ve come a long way, baby.
And yet, I still miss my mother’s old Underwood. And the sound of the roller when she would rip a piece of paper out unceremoniously in anger. You just don’t really get to experience that level of melodrama on a computer.
The other day, I saw a scene from the movie “All The President’s Men”. And it struck me how the sound of the scene in the newsroom would have been so much different if it were filled with computers.
Instead of manual typewriters.
It’s just the sound of time marching on across the keys of life.
Put that in your PC and smoke it.