Down With Computers! Up With Typewriters!

I’m only 37 years old, but since becoming a parent, I find myself telling my sons stories that begin with “When I was your age…”.  One of my favorites is “When I was your age, I didn’t have a computer”.  The problem is that I usually tell this to my 6 year old while he is engrossed in some computer game, thus my remark is totally ignored.  But when his game is over, we share some special mother-son time as I explain how my childhood was not spent in front of a computer – it was spent in front of a typewriter. 

“Mom, what’s a typewriter?”

Yes, kids today have no clue what a typewriter is.  Our family typewriter was one of my favorite “toys” as a child.  It wasn’t a mainstream electric typewriter, it was a classic manual one.  It was so old, it didn’t even have a self-correcting ribbon. If you made a mistake you had to use corrective tape strips. For instance, if a wrong letter was typed, I would have to hit the backspace key, place the corrective tape strip in front of the letter to be corrected, hit that letter key, remove the correcting strip, hit backspace again and then type the correct letter.  That was a pain in the ass  took a lot of effort, so I really tried to avoid making mistakes.  But I loved the tappity-tap of the keys and I loved how I could express my creativity with the typewriter.  Sometimes I would imagine that I was a newspaper reporter and I would create and type up phony newspapers.  Other times I would pretend I was an author and I would type out stories I made up.

When I was going through some of my old junk at my dad’s house, I actually found one of my childhood typewritten stories.  The story was from 1980.  How do I know this?  It’s because I have an amazing memory.  No, I’m lying (I really should stop doing that). The story was typed on the back side of an old company memo dated 1980 – my dad used to bring home scrap paper from work for us to play with.  (He was so far ahead of his time – back then he was chided for being cheap but now he would be applauded for being green).   When my friends came over to play, they were often subjected to my typewriter obsession, whether they liked it or not. This story was authored by myself and a friend.

(Please  ignore any spelling or grammar mistakes. My apologies to Strunk and White)  

The Spies  By Lori and Lori’s friend (who shall remain nameless for fear that [1] she may sue me for publishing this without her permission and [2] when a  publisher stumbles upon this story, publishes it and it becomes a world famous children’s book, she may sue me for royalties)

One day Sara and her friend Jill were playing together. They were bored!  They tried playing Barbies.  And even stickers were boring!  They asked mommy if they could bake but she said later.  Then they saw their enemy, Mary Sugarpie, skipping happily down the street with her dog Muffy. Sara and Jill quickly hid behind a plant.  “Let’s play detective.” said Sara. “Ok. Let’s spy on Mary,” said Jill. Sara and Jill went to the store and bought a detective kit.  In their detective costumes they went to Mary’s house.  They found an old sock and brought it home to examine.  Sara said, “This sock could have been trimmed with diamonds. Mary could have stolen this sock from a rich old lady and kept the diamonds but not the sock.”  “You’re right,”said Jill, “we better tell Mrs. Sugarpie.”  Sara and Jill went to Mary’s house.  They rang the doorbell and Mrs. Sugarpie answered. The girls told her what Mary had done. “I threw that sock in the garbage last week. Muffy must have taken it out.”  The girls went home and decided to bake a big cake.

Wow, what a literary masterpiece. But wait, there’s more! I also held on to one of the typewritten newspapers I created.  This particular newspaper was dubbed THE YELLOW PAPER and it was  typed on a 5 x 7  piece of yellow paper. 

(Again, please ignore any spelling or grammar mistakes.  And ignore the fact that it may not be politically correct.)

*****************THE YELLOW PAPER ******************* 1.00

Our Motto Is: GET IN THE YELLOW!!!!!!!! (Shhh! I think that was also the motto for the Yellow Pages. I must have been absent that day in school when copyright infringement was discussed)

BIG PAW, ON THE LOOSE  Big Paw the bear broke out of the Lincoln Park Zoo and is now in the busy streets of Chicago. Reporters say he is now very happy and is heading toward the Sears Tower.

REAGAN IN CRASH Ronald Reagan was on a DC 10 when it crashed. Reagan was killed but the pilot and co pilot were in ok condition. People will light torchs tonight remembering the president.

PIG AND FROG GETTING MARRIED Today Kermit the Frog proposed to Miss Piggy. Miss Piggy said, “yes” but the wedding will not be until April 1, 1983. It will be at the Froghog Church. The honeymoon will be at the FIRST RATE FROGGY SWAMP RESORT. Kermit always picks the finest.

A NEW RECORD Ching Lo from China broke a world’s record. He threw a ball from China to Northbrook to New York to Kansas and back to China.

MRS. REAGAN ROBBED BY LEX LUTHOR Lex Luthor robbed Mrs. Reagan today. Mrs. Reagan was terrified but then out of the sky…Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it was Superman! Superman saved the day by putting Lex Luthor in jail.

Reading this old material sure has made me nostalgic. I think I’ll head over to my dad’s house and steal borrow the old typewriter.  And while I’m there I’ll be sure to look for my other favorite childhood “toy” – the tape recorder!  (Now if I can only remember where I put that audio cassette of our mock radio show starring “The Glockenspiel Family” – that would be a great blog post)

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3 Responses to “Down With Computers! Up With Typewriters!”

  1. lifeinbetween Says:

    Your timing is impeccable, seeing as I spent the weekend at my dad’s going through old stuff. The 2 typewriters I grew up on are gone, but I DID find some old papers from the era. I was about as fascinating a writer as you. I think you had a slight edge, seeing as you had Ronald Reagan, Nancy Reagan and Lex Luthor (not to mention a bear) in yours.

  2. debra Says:

    I LOVE old typewriters. I taught myself to type one summer when I was 6 or 7 on an old manual typewriter. I took all of the recipes that my mom had thrown in a shoe box (scribbled on the backs of envelopes, napkins, and other scraps of paper) and typed them all on recipe cards for her. My fingers were sporting great muscles after all that key pushing. 🙂

  3. allyse Says:

    this story is very familiar….


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