Typewriters are back, and mine are gone


From the “this is why I will never be rich” file comes this discouraging piece of news. People are paying good money for typewriters.

Do I have any typewriters? 

Not any more.

In an Associated Press dispatch out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, we learn that people who are going back to “lo-tech” gather in a restaurant for a Smith Corona experience. It’s happening in Boston, too, and this summer there’s going to be a documentary film.

Typewriters, it seems, are cool again, a rebellion against smartphone typing and the dreaded “auto-correct.” With a typewriter, you actually have to go to the “correct” key. In fact, I think the demise of Western civilization as we know it was when all you had to do was hit “correct” and the typewriter brain knew to type the word you knew you wanted in a sentence.

When machines start thinking for us - telling us, “you are now at McDonalds” and there is McDonalds right across Hwy 76 - we are doomed. The AP dispatch says, in part:

“In the age of smartphones, social media and hacking fears, vintage typewriters that once gathered dust in attics and basements are attracting a new generation of fans across the U.S. From public "type-ins" at bars to street poets selling personalized, typewritten poems on the spot, typewriters have emerged as popular items with aficionados hunting for them in thrift stores, online auction sites and antique shops. Some buy antique Underwoods to add to a growing collection. Others search for a midcentury Royal Quiet De Luxe — like a model author Ernest Hemingway used — to work on that simmering novel.”

I can’t print the whole thing because it’s copyrighted. But, let’s just say the article made me sick. I used to have a bunch of typewriters. Not as many as my wife has owls, or angels, or Barbies, or Santa Clauses - but, several.

My family moved out of a big house into a smaller house - and all my typewriters went to the curb for the junk man. I couldn’t even watch - it was like part of me died. Showing my age, I started newpapering on a typewriter. Slowly it evolved, I left one job and took my typewriter with me. My parents gave me one to take to college. My in-laws had some and “upgraded” so I got them (typewriters, not in-laws). I probably found some in the back storeroom of some newspaper where I worked. It wasn’t a museum, but it was mine. Ii wasn’t even displayed, lots of them were in the attic. If I had only known ... people, actual smart people, are buying typewriters.

There’s a guy in Albuquerque who’s run a typewriter repair business - a profession kind of like “switchboard operator” - for the past four decades. He’s busier than he’s ever been.

There’s even a book - by Richard Polt, a Xavier University philosophy professor and author of "The Typewriter Revolution: A Typist's Companion for the 21st Century."
Actor Tom Hanks - one of his films was “You’ve Got Mail” - has 270 typewriters. Filmmaker Doug Nichol owns 85 typewriters. They are the “anti-e-mail” crowd, determined to guide the young people (because, today, isn’t everything about reaching the young people) out of the Twitter age and back into typed, personal notes.

I could have been on the cutting edge of this revolution. I could have take my typewriter collection to some rickety old repairman and gotten it all fixed up, or done it myself looking at the YouTube channel dedicated to all things typewriter and sold the whole she-bang for a small fortune. But, I didn’t. I threw them away - along with my future wealthy. They’re at the bottom of the Newberry landfill.

Hey. Who’s got a shovel?


(Vic MacDonald is Editor of The Clinton Chronicle and he typed this on a MacBook. Reach him at 833-1900 or sports@clintonchronicle.net or, better yet, drop him a typewritten note to: 513 North Broad St., Clinton, SC 29325.)

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