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Thursday, 16 February 2012

Communications Way Back Then

By Joanne Zimmermann

My father learned to type in high school and it really was an asset. He went into advertising with a prominent rubber company and traveled around the country frequently.

One unique thing about him was that he carried a stack of post cards with him and every morning, he jotted a few lines and sent them to friends and business contacts. That way he kept in touch with many people. He continued to write to his high school art teacher until she died in her 90s.

The old Underwood typewriter was always on his desk. To compose a letter back then was much more frustrating than it is today. After typing a line, the carriage had to be manually returned. To make copies one had to use a piece of carbon paper and another sheet under the original.

If a mistake occurred, there was a round eraser with a brush attached. Later, a whiteout liquid became easier. New rolls of carbon tape had to be inserted into the Underwood when typing became faint. It was a messy job, and inky fingers resulted.

He wrote late at night articles for trade magazines and was published quite often. It is too bad he did not live to see the advent of the computer and the ease of composing and emailing. He would have burned up the internet with glee. International business contacts would have been easier to reach.

To invite neighbors to play cards, a sign in my parents’ kitchen window said, “Cards tonight?”

Now it seems typing is a lost art, texting and tweeting do not seem to require it. However, I can beat my grandkids at writing any day using old-fashioned typing skills. Take that you texters!

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. PLEASE read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


I can remember taking a "Typewriting" course to learn touch typing. My sister who was blind kept in contact with the family through typewritten letters and my brother-in-law could speed type with only two fingers.

Now I guess it's called keyboarding.

Your story reminds me of a program on TV outlining the return of the old-fashioned typewriter. I don't recall where the business is located except that it is in a university town. The 60 year old man inherited the typewriter repair and sales business from his father. He said he thought he would have to close down but things have turned around. The young people in that school are going back to the typewriter. They say the typewriter with is keys that you have to punch rather than glide, and the carriage return makes them feel that their writing is much better. The owner says the sale and repair of typewriters has never been better. It is gratifying to occasionally find that young people appreciate the "old ways/days."

What I find interesting is the difficulty in trying to ID each key, left to right, row by row on a blank keyboard. Easier if you do it A to Z and thoughtless if you just let your fingers do it.

I can remember my mother typing and chewing gum. I guess the gum kept her rhythm up.

One day when my kids and I hit some used stores, we came across a typewriter. I asked the clerk for a piece of scratch paper, and my then nine year old typed while I shopped. It was something else. And he was totally mesmerized. I told him that when I was his age, I did the same thing. Thanks for making me think about a piece of technology that used to be cool.

One night my grandson,Ian,was working on a paper for school and the printer broke down.

His Mom,Carol, went to the closet and took out her old IBM Selectric typewriter and began to show Ian how it worked.

He was fascinated.'WOW,Mom, where did you GET THIS?" You don't even need a printer..You just hit the key and it goes right on your paper. This is terrific and I'm going to do all my homework on it from now on."

His enthusiasm lasted for two days,then he went back to the HP computer and printer.

And, Joanne, isn't your Father sending out several postcards to his friends every day just like us shooting off a few Emails to our friends in the morning?

Great story and good memories...

Being a boy, I wasn't allowed to take typing in school. So, to this day my speed keying is limited to my computer & 1 finger on each hand.
Great story. Well done. Maybe we need more "GOING BACK"
Keep it up

Interesting description of what doesn't seem unusual to me at all -- but a long ago activity.

I still have my Royal Portable typewriter, a high school graduation gift I took to college. Also have an IBM Selectric manual given to my daughter when the Jr. High School was moving from typing to keyboarding for computers.

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