While re-organizing the basement, B ran across the Smith-Corona manual typewriter he had used in college and brought it upstairs to show to daughter T.
There was still a sheet of corrasable bond paper in it.
The ribbon, which featured both black and red bands, was a bit dried out after 30-odd years of storage, but he was able to advance it enough to find a functional stretch of it.
We proceeded to show T the features. How to set the single, double, or triple space. The unmarked shift lock. That you used a lower case l for the numeral one. How to release the margin if you couldn’t hyphenate the word at the end of the line and needed a bit more space. The “ding” that signaled it was time to return the carriage – and that had us humming Leroy Anderson’s “The Typewriter.” How easy it was to do superscripts and subscripts, in case you were typing a paper with chemical formulas or footnotes. How to set and release the tabs. How you had to be careful not to type too fast or the type hammers would jamb into each other. How much force you needed to type and how it was helpful to have strong fingers so that some of the letters were not lighter than others.
T, who loves plants and elegant simplicity, was enamored and tried it out, typing stream-of-consciousness style, enjoying the physicality of using a mechanical device.
Although she is a child of the digital age, she has the soul of someone from an earlier era, when the rhythms of the natural world and of simple machines like levers were the most satisfying.
4 thoughts on “Smith-Corona”
This brought me back. My older sister had a typewriter. I can still remember having to really press on the keys and changing the pacing. I’m not sorry though to have a modern keyboard as it’s a lot easier and quicker, not to mention no tape.
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And the ability to edit and spellcheck and format and print a clean, correct copy which you can save and print as often as you want without carbon paper!
Amazing what we did without electricity. My dad still has one of these. I think he even types on it sometimes.
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Good for him! It did bring back memories of things that I hadn’t thought of for a long time, such as how one needed to apply pressure evenly to the keys and be much more accurate in one’s typing.