Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Sunday, June 24, 2012

I'm the Type, Part II

A few more random thoughts about typewriters ...

1. The Hiram High School newspaper, The Panic.  Our typing teacher--Ms. DeAngelis (with the lovely first name of Antoinette!)--was the paper adviser my junior year.  I enjoyed working with her, though, as I look at what she wrote in my 1961 yearbook, I'm not so sure she knew me very well: "Best wishes to a cooperative young man."


My mother might want to have a chat with her ...

The paper--in typewriter days--took some doing.  We had to type our stories two times, once in columns (40 characters per column, I think), making sure to put slash marks at the end of the column to indicate how many spaces we would need to add or subtract in the final typing.  Adding the spaces made the columns right-justified (a no-brainer now in word-processing).  See below

The Hiram High Huskies defeated the G'Men///
of Garrettsville last night in a close-fought con-
test that ended with a brawl at center court, a///
brawl that Danny Dyer dominated; he person-/
ally dispatched 8 G'Men, all of whom needed//
medical attention afterwards.  Dyer did not////
a single scratch.  In the audience, Muhammad
Ali was impressed, saying he would not ever/
like to face Dyer in the ring, much less in a///
free-for-all at the end of a basketball game.//.

The re-typing would occur on mimeograph stencils--blue greasy paperish material, backed by a thin cardboard.  The typewriter keys would punch a hole in the blue sheet (errors had to be repaired with a noxious liquid the typist dabbed on, then blew on to dry, then typed over.  When the typing was over, the blue sheet would fit on a drum on the mimeograph machine--and out the copies, such as they were, would fly, ready to be collated and stapled (by hand, natch).

2. Joyce and I both type very quickly.  We agreed some years ago not to have any contests to determine who's the faster, the more accurate.  (I don't blame her for declining to compete.)

3. Writing Grad School Papers.  I finished my Ph.D. at KSU in 1977.  Sans computer.  For all my grad school papers--and there were many--this was the process:
   a. make hand-written notes
   b. write 1st draft in pen or pencil
   c. type 1st draft--make corrections in pencil
   d. type 2nd draft--make corrections in pencil
   e. type final draft (though other drafts occurred, depending on time available)
So ... that meant I wrote the whole damn thing by hand, typed the whole damn thing at least three times ...  As a result of this, I still print out drafts of reviews and essays and other writing.  Some of the speeches I gave at WRA went through a dozen drafts--or more.  I simply cannot type it once into the computer and do all my editing on the screen.  I need to see it all--in all its pages.  Retro, I know.

4. For about ten years, our son was a reporter with the Akron Beacon-Journal.  We had very carefully taught him to type the "real" way (the way we had both learned in typing class).  Fuggetaboudit.  When I watch him type, it appears to me as if he's almost using random fingering--whatever finger's available is fine with him!  He's pretty quick, but both his parents could kick his ass, keyboard-wise.

5. I watched my students type for years--eighth graders and high school juniors.  What I saw varied from two-finger hunt-and-peck to the "correct" way (i.e., my way).  I think they all probably had "keyboarding" lessons back in elementary and middle school.  But not everything "takes," as I know from my own sad experiences in calculus, chemistry, and band--not to mention my piano lessons (I will write about them one day).

Each new font required a separate element,
requiring the removal of the old, the
placement of the new ...
6. Things that pissed me off about typing on a typewriter: jamming keys, getting the paper back exactly on line after an erasure, having to go back and type underlines when I wanted to show italics, proofreading at the end of each page (before removing it from the machine) and realizing that a needed correction would require more space than I had (e.g., typing the word their when I meant they're; I can erase their, but they're needs more space!), nearing the end of the page and realizing I would not have enough room for the footnotes I needed (requiring me to re-type the entire f*****g page!), having to replace ribbons periodically (the IBM ones were expensive), having to change the typing element on the IBM whenever I wanted to use italic type--or change font ...

Jack and Charmian London
So ... lots of problems, lots of hassles, lots of wasted time.  A final thought: Jack London (1876-1916) married two women (not at the same time, duh), both of whom could type very well.  He would write longhand, then deliver the pages to his spouse, who would do the typing ...  Do I need to report what would happen in our house if I were to suggest such a procedure?  (That pneumatic sound you hear is not typing ; it's an automatic weapon's fire.)

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