There were two things I remember wanting so badly I thought I would die when I was a little girl. The first was in the fifth grade. I wanted a tape recorder. I had to have it in order to tape the music from each week’s episode of The Partridge Family. And I got it, for Christmas. No it wasn’t the best way to get music, but I was ten okay, and yes in the background you could hear my little brother making car noises and the sound of my mother vacuuming, but I didn’t care, I could record music.
A year later my sixth grade class had a two week typing mini course, it was followed by two weeks of Gregg shorthand. I wanted to type so badly I could die. I loved books, I loved to read, but I took most of my allowance to the student store to buy pencils and pads to write on. Typing became an obsession with me. We didn’t have a typewriter at home, but I practiced on a cardboard keyboard the school had provided. I told everyone I knew I was learning to type, and when Rosalie, our neighbor across the street found out, she offered to loan me her portable typewriter to use for practice. I typed all of my homework, stories from books, pages from the dictionary. I was painfully slow, but I didn’t care. When I was watching television, or sitting in the car listening to my parents talk, I would ‘type’ whatever was being said on my lap, on the carpet, or the back of the car seat. I still do this, usually on my leg or with my hands in my pockets… sometimes on Hunky Hubby’s leg or arm, I don’t mean to do it, it’s become a habit, one of my charming little quirks.
Anyway, it was 1973 and I was eleven. I wanted a typewriter more than I wanted to meet Bobby Sherman (who I was sure would wait for me and marry me someday when I grew up). It was after Christmas, months until my birthday and I knew I would die if I didn’t get a typewriter. I know I was a weird kid, but hey back then a tablet was, well… a pad of paper and you wrote on it with pencils or ink pens, so a typewriter was cool. Okay, it probably wasn’t cool even then, but we had no sidewalks for skateboarding, and my parents didn’t think girls should play the drums.
I knew it would take me forever to save enough for a typewriter with my allowance of 50 cents a week, but I started saving anyway. About that time a babysitting job fell in my lap. It was my first regular job, babysitting after school every day. I couldn’t believe I was getting paid to play!
So I saved every dollar I earned. This was easier back then. I lived in a small town with no stores, no fast food restaurants, we didn’t have eBay or Etsy so I stuffed my money in my little pink jewelry box with the dancing ballerina and watched it grow. When the lid would no longer shut on my jewelry box I took it downstairs to my mother who was sitting on our gold crushed velvet sofa, which rested on the avocado green carpet, that matched the avocado green flocked gold wallpaper in the dining room, are you sensing a theme here? And, I asked to go shopping. We went to Sears. I bought an avocado green Sears Newport. I think I paid sixty dollars for it, but who knows, I mean I was eleven at the time, how do you expect me to remember what I paid for a typewriter.
I typed every story, poem, report and speech that I wrote through middle school and high school on that typewriter. I have no idea when I got rid of it, or how. Perhaps it was at a garage sale when we moved my senior year of high school. It could have been when I saved enough money to buy that brand new electric typewriter with automatic correction. And although I’ve thought of it fleetingly over the years, when I got my Olivetti typewriter with the daisy wheel and five hundred character memory, and a couple of years later when I got my first computer a 286 that the salesman assured me I’d never need to replace, I’ve always thought of it fondly.
So the point of my story is that although today I have a PC, laptop and a tablet, not the kind that’s an actual pad filled with paper, the kind that uses Wi-Fi, I missed my old typewriter. I wanted to feel the excitement I felt transcribing my handwriting from those notepads onto that first manual typewriter, how real it made the words on paper feel. Every now and then I search the internet to see if I can find it, or at least one like it. Last week I struck gold. There were two listed on one well known site for $165 and$250 dollars, and I was ready to pony up. I couldn’t believe I’d found an avocado green Sears Newport typewriter. Hunky Hubby even agreed it could be my Valentine gift. But before I clicked add to cart, I checked another site just for the heck of it, and found my typewriter for $15.99 plus shipping of course, in the last hours of the auction. In all there were three of them on the second site, all avocado green under $50 and two of the auctions were ready to end. There were no bids on any of them, which surprised me, because who wouldn’t want a vintage early 1970’s avocado green typewriter, right? I waited patiently until just before the auction was over, swooped in and placed my bid, and won my typewriter for $15.99 (plus shipping of course).
I’ve saved money patiently, and impatiently for many things over the years, but that typewriter is the first thing I wanted so badly I thought I would die waiting to get it. I could write without it, and did, but with it my writing felt real.
It was delivered on Saturday. Right now it’s sitting on my dining table. It blends in pretty well with my sage green and cream décor. Every time I walk by it, it makes me smile. It also reminds me to put my behind in a chair and write, because that’s obviously what I’ve always wanted to do.
Just a note, if you click on Bobby Sherman’s name you can see photos and listen to the music I listened to in the 1970’s. I’ll be doing this all day today!