The Guilty Party

Friday, January 9, 2009

And LPs are making a comeback too.....

There is an article in the Mesa section of the Arizona Republic by reporter Art Thomason about a small shop in downtown Mesa called Mesa Typewriter Exchange where one can still purchase ribbon spools and even vintage typewriters. A big part of the business is typewriter repair. The third generation proprietor, Mr. Ray Wahl, allows that business is slower than it was twenty years ago, but he is quoted as saying "The last two years have seemed to maintain a steady course as other shops close." and "The young people that come in say they would rather type. I sold a half a dozen machines before Christmas to people who said they would give them to writers as gifts. And I'm talking about customers who were all in their 20s."

Several months ago, when it was becoming apparent to me that I was having a real problem just sitting down and writing, I took down the Royal typewriter that for the past couple of decades has served solely as a decoration but which in high school and even into college saw a lot of use, both for school work and my own writing, and thought perhaps I would try to put it back in the harness. Two problems came up right away. I had no fresh ribbons and the times when I was able to write were most often when others in the house were trying to sleep. The place isn't big enough to shut out the clattering and impact of the keys as they swing up and stamp their assigned letters on the paper. Lately my writing opportunities have come at more reasonable hours, but I had already put the Royal back on the bookcase next to the Brownie camera (620 film anyone?) and I just didn't think about it.

It is likely just a case of nostalgia, but there is something quite attractive to me about any tool that is decidedly not multifunctional. I do like my Compaq laptop and marvel at what I can accomplish with it. Without it there is so much I wouldn't know and so many people I would never have met. But sometimes it just seems like having that many options at ones fingertips is just too damned distracting.

So will I convert back to the clack, clack of the Royal? Probably not. It will be more satisfying to conquer my self-induced attention deficit disorder and retain the splendid conveniences of spellcheck and cut and paste. But I do think that next time I am in downtown Mesa I will stop by Mesa Typewriter Exchange and purchase a ribbon for the old Royal. I think the fingers would like the exercise and I know the ears would like the music.

Go Ye Forth and Do Likewise.


Cat said...

I have a friend who uses a laptop, but downloaded the typing sounds. When he types you hear a clack, clack, but not quite the sound of the good old typewriter, but close enough. The beauty of this is you can turn the sound off or on as you desire.

Timberati said...

From The Economist:
Martin Tytell, a man who loved typewriters, died on September 11th, aged 94

“ANYONE who had dealings with manual typewriters—the past tense, sadly, is necessary—knew that they were not mere machines. Eased heavily from the box, they would sit on the desk with an air of expectancy, like a concert grand once the lid is raised. On older models the keys, metal-rimmed with white inlay, invited the user to play forceful concertos on them, while the silvery type-bars rose and fell chittering and whispering from their beds. Such sounds once filled the offices of the world, and Martin Tytell’s life.”

Go here to read it all:
It’s well worth your time.

plumboz said...


Thanks for that link. It is a wonderful article. The Economist is a terrific magazine, one I wish I had the time to read on a regular basis. But at least now I am motivated to bookmark their website!


A Bit About Me

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I am a writer with a longtime interest in photography. I'm a dad, husband, photographer, and not very good guitarist. My first novel, Boomerang, is available in both paperback and ebook form at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and As a matter of fact, my second novel, The Baer Boys, can be found at exactly the same places.