Stopped by the delightful Last Word Books in OlyWa (Olympia, Washington) – one of my faves in the world and holds loads of memories for me, as well as curates the “Uncle Weed Collection of Cannabis Books” (unofficial name). The location is onto the 4th in downtown Oly and is laden with both trad lit and all sorts of grassroots publications including from their in-house Last Word Press. Oh years ago they purchased the inventory of famed Port Townsend anarchistic publisher Loompanics iirc.
The proprietor Sky Cosby is as eclectic and energetic as they come running bookshop, publishing imprint/press, also circus activities, perma-culture homesteading and other renegade community activities and initiatives. Rather remarkable fella indeed.
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Assembled for historical reference and personal interest, with annotations and examples where possible.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 lovely typewriter was found at a second-hand/grocery/miscellany store in the small town of Pe ELL, WA, USA (population approx 650) for around $20.
I was travelling light at the time but couldn’t resist the purchase, along with a large suitcase, both of which i then clumsily hauled around for the rest of my wander. By the time i returned “somewhere” i had to stash in storage and disappear again. As such, i’ve never *actually* sat down and typed something substantial with this lovely machine as yet,…
Comes with a grey clamshell case, though this machine is not “portable” per se, its a heavy metal beast with a wonderful burgundy-ish powdercoat.
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.
Just last night, I was trying to tidy the closet in the studio/guestroom/boysroom – sorting out containers of art supplies, scrapbooks unassembled, frames seeking art and projects in process – making some room since guests from Japan were imminent.
Came across my old typewriter, a black Underwood beast which was my tool of choice when living my my VW bus in Salt Lake City trying to work my way through a creative writing program at U of U (to no avail). With cracked cracked and dried ribbon, the ole gaffer is looking a little wabi-sabi.
The sturdy unit pictured isn’t my typewriter, but one of the many at Olympia’s notable Last Word Books – a collective run by some damn fine dudes who keep the shelves stocked with the good stash and vend olden typerwriters to boot. I blab on about their noble efforts on the Postcards from Gravelly Beach podcast.
LWB is also the home of the “Uncle Weed collection,” a permanent shelf of hemp and cannabis info from classic tomes to useful magazines and journals (i’d best check up on that next visit).
This pic is from Terry Z’s photostream (the coffee-nista) as part of a sweet stroll down the signs of OlyWa’s 4th ave.