Sunday, November 08, 2009

Before Computers

A few years ago, on a visit to Seattle, I talked my husband and his dad into going on the Underground Tour of Pioneer Square. Because they were local, they had never done this before. It was just relegated to that category of things that are considered tourist traps. (This is exactly why I've never been to Taliesin West.) We all went though, and I think they were glad we did because it was really a good time. It's crazy to see just how much stuff still exists underground, and to learn some of the history of the city.

At the end of the tour, they had a little museum set up with some of the old stuff they found down there when those areas were reopened. There was a man there with two small boys, and they were asking him all sorts of questions about things they saw.

"Hey dad, what's that?" asked one.

"It's a typewriter," answered the father.

"Is that what people used before they invented computers?" the boy asked. He mulled this bit of information over for a bit after his dad answered in the affirmative, and finally asked, "But where's the monitor???"


I took typing in high school, on an actual typewriter, although not one as old as the one in the museum that day. (I'm old! *sniff*) That being said though, I've always loved the look of those big, solid vintage machines. There's something beautiful about them, and I've always longed to have one of my very own. I would have been happy having one that didn't even work. They're just so pretty!

Well, yesterday I decided to go poke around a few thrift shops in search of old curtains or tablecloths or something that I could make into stockings. On the way to marriage prep, we had passed by a big Salvation Army that I had not seen before, so I decided that was going to be our first stop. Right inside the door they had some shelves with a few "nicer" items - vintage glassware, sterling silver tea sets, etc. On the very bottom shelf, a big black case with a scrap of white paper scotch taped to it caught my eye.

The paper read "New Ribbon - Just Replaced" in a shaky hand.

I couldn't believe it. I carefully opened up the case (the catch worked still!) and this was inside:

It's missing the key, and the little brush to clean it, but other than that it's in perfect condition. I looked at the price and it said it was $49. I wanted to cry, because that's an AMAZING deal for something this nice, and in this condition. I made myself close the case and walk away, because there was no reason to torture myself. I didn't have the money, end of story. I could have bought it, but then we would have had to advance money for gas later in the week, and that's not good.

I temporarily forgot why I was there in the first place and had to be reminded by my husband. I checked out the linen section but didn't find anything that would work for my project. The whole time I was looking, I couldn't shake the sadness over our situation and what a shame it was to have a rare find like this just slip through my fingers! I decided to go admire it one last time on the way out because I'm a total glutton for punishment.

As I squatted there in front of the shelf making sad faces at my husband, he noticed a big sign that was right in front of the door where we walked in. In faded dry erase marker, it said "Everything in the Store - 50% Off Today Only!" He pointed it out to me... that would make the typewriter only $25. I had $25 because I had sold some stuff on eBay! I didn't want to get my hopes up right away, so I had him go verify with one of the ladies working there while I guarded what I was quickly beginning to think of as "MY" typewriter.

Sure enough, she said it was everything, so I grabbed it and we hustled over to check out before anyone could change their minds!

Isn't it PRETTY???

It's a Royal Quiet De Luxe, billed on the owner's manual as "the world's first truly modern portable typewriter. Hemingway used one of these, and it was said to be his favorite. The copyright date on the manual reads 1948 and the previous owner was even so kind to include part of the box for the ribbon so I'd know what kind to get when it was time to be replaced.

When we got home, I found a typewritten set of instructions tucked inside the manual outlining the daily, weekly and monthly maintenance check-ups for this machine. It was dated June 7, 1950!

Of course, I had to try it out. Typing on a typewriter is HARD!!! You have to hit the keys way harder than I am used to doing on a computer keyboard. Also, the backspace key is on the opposite side of the keyboard from where I am used to it being. I can't type nearly as fast, because if you hit two keys too close in time together, they jam.

Thankfully, it's not replacing my printer any time soon! :)

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Blogger Susanne P. said...

JEALOUS!! I have been wanting one of these forever. I keep checking the antique stores around but so far no luck.

8:36 AM  
Blogger Devon said...

That is so awesome Sara!! Great find, can't wait to see what you come up with it.

2:09 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Nice find!
When I was young, my parents had one similar to this at home; I remember typing my first few book reports and research papers on it. When I was in high school, my parents bought me an electric typewriter (no 'puters then) and it just never felt the same as the old Royal. It was loaned to someone in my uncle's family and never came back. :(
Does yours "ding" at the end of the line when it's time to return the carriage? Such a cheery sound!

10:23 PM  
Blogger Samara Link said...

what a find. it's so beautiful....

8:23 AM  
Blogger Hooptee said...

Oohh! I know you'll make some great stuff with that baby! Congrats on a great find.

Oh, and we you are so right, why don't we do touristy stuff in our own neighborhoods?

1:40 PM  

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