With my last post I included a picture of a typewriter. You may have thought it was just a visual metaphor for writing in general. In fact, it has a much more personal meaning than that. The model shown, a Remington Quiet-Riter, is the typewriter on which I learned to type. It was my father's, probably dating back to his days in college at the University of Pittsburgh. It was housed in a sturdy (and rather heavy) case with a handle. When it came time to begin typing papers in high school, that's what I used. Eventually, my father bought newer portable typewriters for me and my brothers so we had something to take to college.
But I've always had a soft spot for that old Remington. When my parents died and I was sorting through the remaining "stuff", I made sure that the typewriter didn't go anywhere. I'm pretty sure my wife thinks I'm nuts after carting that thing from home to home over the last decade or more. It needs a new ribbon, so it hasn't been functional in years. And all my modern writing, including every single story in "Shorts" but one, has been written on a computer.
I love that typewriter because it reminds me of where I got started. It reminds me of my dad as well. He was a gear head from early on, an engineer and Navy officer during his adult working life, and, for a while, a writer. An award winning writer.
His writing universe was small, he wrote in the publications aimed at retired military Reserve officers. In 1996, the Reserve Officers Association recognized his work with the Benjamin Franklin Journalism Award at their national convention in Chicago Illinois. At the time, he poo-pooed it, and didn't go to the convention to receive it. But it was part of a larger volume of writing that he did throughout his life. Among his files I found years worth of correspondence with people, companies and government agencies. The old man was usually chewing somebody out for messing something up. They are a fascinating read in carefully constructed prose intended to leave a welt. I remember talking with him when I was still a teen about the importance of knowing how to write an intelligent, angry letter. Over the years it has been a skill that has served me well.
Today that typewriter has a place of honor in my office.
It reminds of the tradition I'm trying to continue.