Friday, October 20, 2017

The road to Herman's

It's time for the tenth annual typewriter collectors' meeting at Herman Price's amazing Chestnut Ridge Typewriter Museum, in his home in West Virginia. What began ten years ago as a little get-together for a few friends has ballooned into the legendary "Herman's." This year, about a hundred people are expected to attend. Herman's story about the last ten years of meetings will appear in the December ETCetera.

I always enjoy making the drive from Cincinnati (about 5 or 6 hours) through the colorful fall foliage of southern Ohio and central and northern West Virginia. Here are a few moments from today's trip.

The Parker House Hotel building in Hillsboro, Ohio, dates from 1807:

Only in rural America? ...

(Yes, that is the same Remington company that made the first Type Writer, although the typewriter business soon spun off from the arms business.)

Not everything out in the country has historic charm, but at least this strip mall has an amusing name...

The town of Bainbridge, Ohio, was having its annual fall festival. Hundreds of people were on the streets, and there were dozens of sales going on. Very few typewriters, though. In one ramshackle, moldy antique barn I spotted a Royal KMM for $45 and a Tom Thumb for $35. Both in rough condition. No, thanks.

Chillicothe, Ohio, has plenty of history and lots of antique shops. The following note was in a nice-looking tan Smith-Corona Silent-Super ($95). I like the note, but the price was too rich for me.

However, at another Chillicothe shop I struck paydirt: an Olympia SM3, needing a bit of work, for just $25. There was just enough room for it on top of the other typewriter cases in my trunk:

The rest of my car is also full of machines, mostly sold in advance to other attendees. I am shrinking my collection ... honest.

At Herman's, I found quite a crowd of people and cars assembled in the dimming light of evening. Shortly after my arrival, a Prius tried to park by the side of the road and didn't see the ditch. It was rescued by a combination of truck and muscles.

Most of us went to Cracker Barrel for dinner. It was fun to see old friends, put faces to names, and meet new people. Tomorrow will be an action-packed day.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Post-Paradigm postcards ready to be posted in the post

I just had a large batch of Typewriter Manifesto postcards printed up. They need somewhere to go! I would be glad to type an address on one of them and mail it to you or your friend. There might even be an interesting stamp and a signature. Simply send me the name and address.

By the way, the revolution belongs to everyone, so you are free to share this photo, retype the Manifesto, rewrite it, and post it wherever you please with my blessing.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

How to bewitch a middle-school kid

A former student of mine writes:

I have been teaching middle school, and I love to be with the students. ... I have dozens and dozens of stories from the year so far. It seems that at every moment of teaching, my attitude is either "I can't believe I get paid to do this," or, "you cannot possibly pay someone enough to do this." The challenges and joys together make it great.

As part of my personal desk setup in my classroom, I included, of course, the Brother typewriter that I acquired from you a couple of years ago. I was under the impression that it would be useful to me, and that it is also a good item to have on any serious instructor's desk.

What I did not foresee was just how fascinated all of the students would be by it.

The 6th graders have taken to keeping a collective, daily class journal on my typewriter. The physical sensation of the apparatus is all but bewitching for them. And the notes they type reflect a connectedness to their day that I don't think would be catalogued in a Word document. The amount of instances per day in which I hear the words, "Mr. P_____, can I type on the typewriter?" is higher than I could have possibly anticipated. It is downright delightful. Several students have also expressed to me that they are finally typing well on the computer precisely because of their practice on the more-difficult typewriter.

Attached is an image of a page of text that some of my students typed a few weeks ago--to give you an idea of what they've been using it for.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Correspondence from around the typosphere

I enjoy all the messages I get from around the typosphere. Forgive me if I'm slow to reply! Here are four that have arrived recently.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

From Richard G. in Ohio:

It's always good to know where our typewriters began their life. Olivetti had a worldwide network of typewriter factories. By the way, if you read Spanish, I highly recommend a recent post on Escrituras Mecánicas where a typewriter tells the story of its perilous life.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

From Klaus M. in Germany:

Can anyone advise Klaus? I think the reinked ribbon works pretty well. Ingenuity will keep our insurgency going!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Here's a handwritten communiqué (apparently, more advanced writing technology was unavailable), battered but unbroken, from Agent B. in Czechia:

It's true, this is my ancestral land (Polt was abbreviated from Pollatschek). I have been meaning to read Patočka. Those interested in Czech typewriters should consult ETCetera No. 79.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

Finally, a query from Abby H. in California:

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Erasure unachieved

I got to see "California Typewriter" for the third time in Chicago on Saturday and participate in a Q&A along with Martin Howard (, Eric Plattner (Poems While You Wait), and Arthur Wagner (Wagner Office Machines). Also attending: Ton S. (i dream lo-tech).

In the film, Silvi Alcivar (The Poetry Store) talks about how the words come when she's at the typewriter, and about being asked to write poems about intimate experiences. One man who had attempted suicide asked her for a poem about surviving.

I wondered what on earth I could come up with if I were given such a request. Back home, I sat at the Woodstock and tried a response. So here it is, for whatever it's worth.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

A Woodstock workhorse

Mid-1920s Woodstock catalogue, courtesy of Peter Weil


Writer Robert Bloch on his Woodstock:

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

“California Typewriter" event in Chicago 9/30

"California Typewriter" opens at Chicago's Music Box Theatre on Friday, Sept. 29. I'll be there on September 30 for the 4:15 show along with collector Martin Howard, poet Eric Plattner, and repairman Arthur Wagner. I'll have books to sign before and after the show, and you can win a Brother donated by Eric.

Be there, City of the Big Shoulders and Strong Fingers!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Caligraph complete

Remember my Caligraph?

I finally got back to it and completed the restoration process. It doesn't look like new, but it works, and it's clean. Here are some before and after pictures:

But no sooner has it been restored than it has left my collection and joined that of a fellow typospherian. I enjoyed finding it and fixing it — I learn so much by cleaning and repairing a typewriter. But with my limited display space, it makes sense for it to go to someone else now.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Hey Cleveland! This Friday! Be there!

Breaking news for typists in the Cleveland, Ohio area:

"California Typewriter" opens this Friday, September 22, at the Cedar Lee Theater at 2163 Lee Road in Cleveland Heights.

After the 7:15 show, I'll be there to take questions along with Clevelanders Will and Dave Davis. Will is the creator of an amazing set of typewriter websites that has been very influential in opening people's eyes to modern portables and other machines. He and his brother Dave are the authors of the blog Davis Typewriter Works, and Will recently started the blog On the Margin, about rebuilt typewriters.

I'll have signed copies of my book, The Typewriter Revolution, available at a good price.

I'm also bringing this Smith-Corona Silent-Super from my own collection. The theater is sponsoring a free sweepstakes with this machine as the prize. It will come with a typed, signed copy of The Typewriter Manifesto, and it has a very unusual Yes/No type slug. Enter the sweepstakes here by September 28. You will need to pick up the typewriter in Cleveland, of course.

And I'll be in Chicago the following weekend — more details on that event as they become available.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Berkeley, CA type-in on September 26

There's a type-in coming up at the real California Typewriter, in conjunction with the theatrical release of the film! Be there if you can, and please spread the word.