I was out of town in July and missed the Berkeley type-in – I was so disappointed. I decided that I would have my own type-in of sorts at my neighborhood block party.
Every year my street has an end-of-summer party. Traditionally, we block off the ends of the street, and the neighbors come out with chairs and barbecues. Someone rents a jumpy house, and the kids ride their bikes and scooters up and down in the middle of the street. It’s a nice neighborly gathering. It’s sort of like our version of Burning Man but with less dust and less nudity.
I decided to pull out six of my most reliable typewriters and set them up for hands-on fun. Participating this year: 1965 Olympia SG3, 1948 Remington Rand KMC, 1952 SC Skyriter, 1952 Olivetti Lexikon 80, 1957 Torpedo 18a, and 1921 LC Smith No. 8.
Pictures from the Playa:
It starts: the SG3’s gravitational force pulled these two neighbors into orbit:
The LC Smith No. 8 was a surprise hit. I brought it out half-dismantled to display the inner workings. People loved the feel of the machine’s ball bearings at all frictional points. It was a favorite of many of the the typists.
Looking under the hood:
A suitable pastime for young ladies of gentle breeding:
Typing through adversity – the broken arm is not slowing her down:
I believe the children are our future:
The kids gave all the typewriters a lot of love.
The Lexikon 80 never looked or felt better:
A neighbor showed me the image on her business card (she’s a Twitter / social media consultant)
She got her calling cards at Felix Doolittle – beautiful stationery there.
At the beginning of the block party, I set up the typewriters, retreated and observed. If I saw easy prey, I would go over and talk typewriters until my victims edged away nervously. Seriously though, people seemed to want to talk typewriters – typewriters from childhood, high school typing class, Wite-Out, Mom’s Selectric, desktop publishing with a typewriter and scissors – it all came out in a pent-up rush.
Typewriters are perfect for a community event like this: they’re fun to use, they’re interesting to look at and they tap deep wells of nostalgia and start conversations. I am glad that I brought them out and will do it again next year. Typewriters really do build community.