Dawn Reader

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

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Typing Class, Part 1

Similar to the typewriter my parents owned.
One of my FB friends this week--a writer of YA fiction--posted a note expressing gratitude to her high school typing teacher--of course, by her day I think they were already calling it "keyboarding" instead because typewriters had by her high school days joined the record player and the console radio and the slide-rule on the ash heap of history.

But I, my friends, had typing class in high school--and, like my FB friend, I have realized over the years that it has been the most enduringly useful of all my high school classes. I thought there was a picture in one of our old Hiram High School yearbooks of our typing class, but I just looked--and found nothing. Oh well.  I did find a picture of our teacher, though--Miss DeAngelis. (She was also the advisor for the school paper--I was a staff member (who liked to mess around in class--can you imagine?), and here's what she wrote on this picture in my yearbook: We've had fun working on the paper this year. Who knows, next year we may work! Best wishes to a cooperative young man. "Cooperative"--I like that.)

Miss DeAngelis,
my high-school typing teacher
I took typing my junior year (along with many, many other classmates), and we met in what we called "the typing room" (creative, weren't we?), where there were several long rows of little desks, each with a typewriter sitting on it, awaiting student abuse.

My mother had taught my older brother, Richard, to type, and he was a whiz--and I don't think he took typing in high school; he certainly didn't need to. By the time I was a high school junior, Richard, three years older, was attending Hiram College (and living at home), and one of my sonic/pneumatic memories of that year was hearing him up at the crack of dawn typing a paper that was due later that day. (His room was right next to mine; the sound traveled with great ease from his typewriter to my sleeping ears.) I say "typing a paper"; well, he was also simultaneously composing the paper (oh, did I hate him for that ability!), a skill that served him well in his decades as a journalist (he was the music critic for the Boston Globe for years).

Anyway, I deeply resented the pounding sounds from next door--and, worse, the ringing bell that announced the typist was nearing the end of a line. My sleep was precious to me in those days. I had perfected the art of sleeping soundly until the very last possible moment I needed to get up, clean up, eat up, head out. So thuds and bells were not exactly welcome to me a couple of hours before I needed to arise.

We had two typewriters in the house in those days. There was a small Royal downstairs in Mom and Dad's room (it doubled: study and bedroom); Richard had a monstrous old Underwood in his room that looked much like this photograph. Mom was a great typist, too; Dad was hopeless. Mom typed for him whenever he needed something beyond a page or so. He was a hunt-and-peck guy. Richard was fast and accurate, too--and had strong fingers (which the Underwood required) because of his years of piano playing--yet another insistent sound that routinely roused me from the arms of Morpheus. I mean, have you ever been awakened by your older brother pounding "The Great Gate of Kiev"? It ain't pleasant.

Kaypro II
When I was ready for college, my parents got me a (cheap) portable, too--and I can't for the life of me remember the brand. I just remember that it was cheap; the keys jammed easily; I cursed even more easily. And so began my routine of paper-writing that progressed until the late 1970s when we got our first word-processor, a Kaypro II that forever changed our writing habits. My pre-computer writing steps: (1) take some notes; (2) write a draft in pencil; (3) type draft 1; (4) revise; (5) type draft 2; (6) revise; (7) type/submit final draft. Confession: In undergraduate days I didn't revise all that much, mostly because I put papers off until the last possible moment. But by grad-school days I was using all 7 Steps--sometimes even  more.

(Computers have extended this, by the way, making it far worse for me. It's so easy to make changes that I sometimes have a dozen or more drafts for speeches I'm going to deliver--a half-dozen drafts of book reviews--countless drafts of books I've written ... mounds of book drafts.)

Okay, about that high school class ...


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