Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Ancient Arts

Saturday evening I attended an event at the Olympia Library about typewriters.  Jim Hair of Blue Moon Camera (they also deal in vintage typewriters) in Portland came up to talk about typewriters, their history and their (somewhat) renaissance.  I have a fondness for typewriters since it was the typing class I took in high school that landed me the company clerk job after five months humping the boonies as a rifleman in Vietnam.  Never mind my college degree--it didn't do diddly for me--but knowing how to type was literally a life saver.

People brought in their manual typewriters to show.  There were some pretty bizarre antique machines as well as more "modern" ones.  There was also a typing contest where contestants typed copy for three minutes.  The sound that was loosed in the building when 10 or so people all began to type was amazing.  I can't recall the last time I heard the clatter of keys like that.  I typed in the second round.  I managed 70 words with 21 errors.  The winner typed 108 words with fewer errors.

Since then I've been playing around with my 1941 Royal Quiet Deluxe.  The keys have a presence that you just don't get from a keyboard.

The event reminded me that I'd heard an orchestral piece that mimicked the sound of a typewriter at some point.  This being the internet age, I quickly found a few videos of  Leroy Anderson's "The Typewriter" only it was not a mimic--the piece features a real typewriter. 

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