What follows is a round-up/collection of typewriters I either purchased, used, or simply observed along the way on various wanders.
Assembled for historical reference and personal interest, with annotations and examples where possible.
This machine (brandname obscured by grunge) was purchased in Fort Galle, Sri Lanka in rather rough shape. Cleaned the keys with a toothbrush and solvent, added a new ribbon, attempted to repair the ribbon uptake (with limited success). The machine’s key produced a rather small typeface size making the cleaning of the worn down keys especially important. Banged out journals, letters and poems for a few months before moving on and leaving it behind.
Here’s a sample of the type produced by this machine – as evidenced, a little rough going but the keystrokes felt great and machine size was just right:
This Underwood Universal was a gift to me when i was about 19 in 1989 living in my VW camper bus. Already well-used, this is/was the typewriter which guided me to love the analog touch and immediacy of a solid metal machine. And its made in Canada like me.
What follows are a few annotation about this machine and the creative works produced with its lovely keys.
While i had always had typewriters around (like me, my Mom and Grandpa were always making newsletters and other projects), they were usually the new electronic models of the day with “ball” type interfaces or the “wheel” kind. Of course, both required electricity which wasn’t an option for me in the van (most of the time anyhow). As such, me and this charming machine spent hours alone as i banged out postcards, missives and manifestos. No evidence handy from that era.
Somebody, kindly lie to me
Tell me I am “going to be OK”
Soon, life will be like driving down Laurel Canyon in 1973
In a Galaxie 500
Top down, radio up
Nothing but possibilities
That I will rest easy…
like so many humans do with ease
Someone, kindly lie to me
Whisper I’ve done enough meditating, stretching, giving, therapies, effort
That soon, I will sleep (!) and wake up (!)
and every muscle, joint and nerve won’t be on fire
Please, kindly lie to me.
I promise to believe you (for now).
The original poem was written in 2004… I was in my last program for my long-fought bachelors degree attending Evergreen State College out of Olympia Washington (keep in mind, it took 17 years and four or five colleges)… my final course was a multi-day retreat called “poets and philosophers discuss love and war“ held at Lake Crescent on the Olympic Peninsula. Sounds idyllic, and for the most part it was… Was a group of mostly diligent students but a few goofballs as well including a fella who brought his speed boat, and several firearms to the workshop, inexplicably. Turns out this was the third time he’s taking this program, Sort of like the Matthew McConaughey character in Dazed and Confused I suppose.
Anyway, one night i boarded his boat with a few other drunken carousers, and in the middle of the glacier lake, stripped down and dove into the cool water, over and over again. I suppose while I was pleased to be graduating, I also realized it didn’t really mean *anything*, just that I had to do something else now. So, I tried to shake the blues by diving as deep into the endless lake as I could.
Back on the boat, the little gang headed for the far rocky shore, cold from the lake water in a bout of stupidity, decided to try to light a fire with some assembled sticks of driftwood. Alas, without proper technique/supplies, this is nigh impossible so the chief knucklehead was determined to take apart a bullet to remove the gunpowder to act as “tinder“ to start the fire. I realized this was a ridiculous proposition but it’s hard to work forward momentum of fools.
I did my best to explain this while I was shivering and my mind was elsewhere, but I realized it was a useless task.
They eventually realized this as well avoiding potential calamity. So piled back on the boat, back to “camp“ with significant reprimand the next day from the operators of the usually quiet and serene retreat.
As an aside, during this program, I wrote a work of epistolary literature called “Letters from Russia“… Each “letter“ was written by hand, most accompanied by some sort of sketch or drawing, all in the character of a cobbler with Napoleon’s army on the ill-fated march into Russia and 1812. I’ll share this work with you forthwith to assuage your possible curiosity.
As it goes, this original poem “fermented” in a notebook until around 2008 but it was quickly transcribed and stuck up on a blog, which was eventually migrated to a new fancier blog, and then typed out in Sri Lanka last year.
Of course, letters and postcards aren’t the only way to send a delightful dispatch to a distant friend… as another Canadian said “the medium is the message” as such, message depends on the medium. As such, choose the medium for your message to evoke emotion and put the story, no matter how brief, in a pleasing context.