The Writing Life
By Charles McKelvy
Some years back, certainly before June 2009, I purchased a refurbished Smith-Corona portable typewriter from Firme Office Supply in Michigan City, Indiana.
Because we were having one power failure after another back then, and we did not have a generator, and I was writing for three newspapers, and—well, it made sense to have a back-up writing machine that relied only on human power.
That’s what I told Natalie at the time, and she okayed the purchase, which I know was well under $100. Probably more like $50.
Anyway, I wanted that Smith-Corona portable at Firme Office Supply because I had had one just like it at Morgan Park High School in Chicago. That good, old Smith-Corona served me well enough to produce a letter-perfect term paper my senior year that won me an A in both English and Civics. I took that Smith-Corona to Illinois State University with me, and it continued to work its magic, even earning me a little drinking money by banging out last-minute papers for desperate fraternity brothers. As in: Hey, Goodtime (my nickname at the time), you’re an English major, and you got that fancy typewriter, how about making some easy money writing my paper on the sex lives of fruit flies that’s due tomorrow at 8 a.m. Of course, they had the nerve to complain when my caffeinated efforts got them only Cs and Ds, but my Smith-Corona and I were making our way through college with money to spare.
Yep. Been there, and done that with a Smith-Corona that, sadly, I gave away when fancy computers came of age.
So, of course, I wanted that Smith-Corona portable at Firme Office Supply, and, of course, I bought it and brought it home, and, yes, when we lost power for more than three days in June 2009 to a 90 mph wind shear, I broke out my new, used tool and banged out copy for the newspapers I was writing for at the time. I literally handed them copy that they were able to scan into their computers, and off we went.
We suffered more power outages in the meantime, and I have put that Smith-Corona back on my desk next to the dead computer and banged out copy the old-fashioned way. Took my fingers, hands and wrists and bit of conditioning, but they came around, and I got to writing up a storm on the old manual again.
And I still do, even though we had enough of power outages by installing a full-house generator in April 2016.
We’re never without power now, and the computer knows it.
But it also knows that there—under the desk upon which it sits all proud and gleaming—stands a Smith-Corona portable ready to go to work.
And go to work it does on a weekly basis when I write to some friends who don’t get out much the old-school way.
They enjoy the typed letters I send them, and I enjoy composing on my new, used Smith-Corona. I like the feel, the smell, and the bell that signals it’s time to hit the return bar and start a new line of type. All of it is so, so good.
So good, in fact, that I’ve come up with this crazy idea:
How about I start a page on this blog called Typing Writer and post weekly musings composed on my Smith-Corona.
Your typed responses will be greatly appreciated.