Friday, March 12, 2010

Treasure in Atlanta

Browsing through an antique store (aptly named “Classy Clutter”) in Atlanta today, I came across a typewriter. It was a 1920 Remington Portable with solid, round keys. I am a huge fan of antique typewriters. And first edition books. Journals and fountain pens. Anything to do with writing, really. I think I’m much more in love with the craft than it is with me. But that’s a story for another time. I have a dream of pounding out my first novel on round keys such as these. The clunk-ca-clunk cadence is so romantic to me. It has a “dark and stormy night” quality all its own.
I love the way a typewriter feels under my hands. The unmistakable outline of each letter, wrapped in a perfect circle. I love what a typewriter produces. Not the mind that creates what ends up on the page (although that, too, is a dreamy wonder to me), but literally, what it produces. The black letters that, if the buttons are not pressed just so, will create uneven print, the ink lighter by degrees in various curves and lines on the page.
Running my hands over its solid lines, I imagine a writer resting his own travel-weary hands on this one. Head bent, eyes closed, willing his fingers to capture the thoughts in his mind. I picture late nights in his one-room apartment over the corner grocery store pounding out short stories to sell to the local paper - light reading to offset the heavy economic news of the times (such as it is 90 years later...).
The sticker price asked for a reasonable $65. The sales clerk came down to $50. This isn’t the one I’ll use to write that novel. But it will have a place of honor in my living room/library. The worn case and broken leather handle a testament to its slow decay from over almost a century of bent heads and nimble fingers.
And so my collection begins.


  1. Beth,

    What a wonderful tribute and treasure! I can see the writer in the apartment over the grocery store, I can hear the sound of the keys tapping on the paper.

    It's probably only writers though who'd pay homage in such a way. Wasn't it Hemingway who said, "to be a writer all you have to do is go into your room, sit in front of your typewriter and stare at the page until blood comes out of your forehead..."

    Well, I kinda get that, I call this, "worshiping at the alabaster altar which is my Mac." So we're writingphiles. There are worse things, uh, like, typewriter ribbons.

  2. You make me want to hunt and peck on round keys. Hope you're having fun.

  3. Jean - Yes! I like to call myself a Lexophile - I just love words. Wonderful lyrics like Ella Fitzgerald used to belt out, or the beautiful language of Graham Greene or Andre Dubus. I have heard the Hemingway quote - love it!
    Linda - had a wonderful "get away" and am back and refreshed!