This story about a typewriter rescue was submitted by Jennifer Morell. (Though The Typewriter book won't have personal stories like this, I do enjoy hearing them and sharing them with our readers.)
The weight of the keys, the deliberation of action, the satisfying tap tap tap, the charming ding: typewriters have always fascinated me. Despite the fact that my family owned an old Commodore computer, I found my grandmother's antique typewriter much more intriguing. It was a simple process: insert paper and reveal my secrets, stories, and wishes.
I don't know what happened to that old typewriter, but I spent much of my teenage years trying to find one of my own. EBay was too cost prohibitive, so I took to the streets, since it always seemed perfectly reasonable to scour my neighbors' curbside offerings for hidden treasures.
I learned from the best—my father often coming home with random finds of varying degrees of usefulness. The old type tray? Why thank you, that will make the most perfect million-room miniature dollhouse. The discarded rolling coat rack? While I too was initially drawn to it, it was ultimately sent back to the curb.
"If you ever find a typewriter, I want it," I said, saying a silent prayer and wish to the gods that control my neighbors whims of housekeeping.
And then, there it was. "Jenny," I heard him yell from the backyard. "Come outside."
It was filthy and glorious. And eventually, with a lot of care and cleaning, it finally worked. I hauled it up to my attic bedroom, nearly tumbling down the stairs under its weight. I finally had a typewriter of my own. And now, I just wanted more.
My second typewriter find came while I was wandering around the Upper East Side between college classes. The September sun was still blazing and I was weighed down by a backpack that I had been assured would not occur in college. It was then that I spotted the gleam of keys: overall it was dirty, possibly broken, and definitely heavy. I was thrilled.
The conversation that I had been engaged in with friends moments before abruptly ended, as I felt no compunction about diving into the garbage pile to rescue the treasure. "Um," they shifted uncomfortably as I pushed aside a black garbage bag that was strained to burst on the hot pavement. "Jen, it's probably broken," they pleaded, eyes shifting around to see if I had drawn attention, "and how will you get it home?"
"The subway," I replied, as I tried to lift it. It was heavy. "Can you help me?" We struggled with it, backpacks shifting shoulders, as we made our way to the train. They went as far as they could with me, and soon I was on my own, making my way back to Queens: a girl and a rescued typewriter.
Once the train left the tunnel, I was on the phone with my less-than-thrilled mother. I asked her to pick me up, since I didn't think that I would be able to manage with it on the bus and then the long walk home
"It's probably broken," she said, repeating the negativity of my friends. I imagined us in some kind of ambulance, rushing home to see if the patient would make it.
My dad took one look at it. "It's missing pieces. It's not going to work." And he hauled the typewriter down to the basement, along with so many other broken curbside dreams in need of "just one more part."
Despite the fact that my typewriter rescue mission was unsuccessful, I would do it again. Because, what if it had worked?
Please visit Jennifer's blog and follow along on her current adventures.