Wednesday, April 9, 2014

New Arrivals

With my tax return in hand, I couldn't resist stopping by Shadows of the Past. This place is not your grandma's antique shop. There is something for everybody. They have old comic books, Beatles records, train sets, toys, tools and a lot more than I have space to list. There is always some 60's surf rock playing on the stereo to add to that feeling of truly stepping into a time warp.

Shadows of the Past is located on state Route 120 just outside of St. Marys, Pennsylvania. Check it out if you ever get lost and end up in this area. Don't look for it online. No matter how much I tell the owner, Jeff, that he could really take advantage of the internet, he doesn't want to hear it.

Sure enough, the old batwinged Oliver typewriter was still sitting there collecting dust and mocking me with its price tag. 
The Oliver No. 9

Jeff then directed my attention to a portable Olivetti Studio 44. The original instruction manual was still with it. It advised that for any problems, I can contact my nearest Olivetti agent or a local typewriter maintenance firm. Wouldn't you know it, neither of those exist in my area.

Olivetti was founded in 1908 in Ivrea, Italy. It still exists as a manufacturer of telecommunication devices.

The instruction manual advises:

The Olivetti Studio 44 is the quietest model I've
owned. The carriage moves so smoothly
it almost seems like an electric model.
"Never oil the machine. It leaves the factory ready for long service without attention. Special oils are necessary and are applied only to certain parts. Indiscriminate oiling can interfere with the proper working of the machine."

So there's some wisdom from the past. Take it easy with the oil. The manual also indicates that this machine originally came with a cleaning kit, but that doesn't appear to have survived the years. Not that it really needs it. This machine is in fine condition, works smoothly and even has a good ink ribbon.

The store owner must have grown tired of the Oliver sitting there, because he dropped it to lower than half of the original asking price to get it out the door with the Olivetti. The Oliver definitely needs some cleaning and a new ribbon. Other than that, it seems to be in working order. On the front of it, it says, "Keep machine cleaned and oiled."

So many conflicting messages on this oil business. There's my comment fishing scheme for this post. If you work on typewriters, leave a comment on what kind of oil to use and how to apply it.

Thursday, April 3, 2014


I'd like to take a moment to thank the Typosphere for adding me to the blog roll and everyone who has taken the time to read. Readers motivate writers.

I haven't posted much lately because I haven't really had much time to tinker. I have, however, been doing a great deal of typing. I have a short story I've been working on, and sometimes I just write my thoughts. If nothing else, it keeps me in practice.

People who know I work for a newspaper sometimes ask if I use a typewriter to write my articles. The answer is no. For my profession, I need to be able to write, edit and transfer quickly. Time is of the essence when reporting.

One area that my typewriters have improved is keeping in touch with loved ones. Of course I use the phone, text, e-mail and Facebook, but taking the time to type a letter almost guarantees more depth in the communication.

I had to move a couple of hours away from my girlfriend to take a job while she is finishing school. We talk on the phone every night, but writing letters is something special between us. If you have a significant other, I strongly encourage you to write them a love letter, even if you live in the same house. I promise good results.

I even wrote a few thank-you letters after Christmas. It's amazing how much our parents try to instill that in us as kids, but we seem to forget about it as adults. It seems to be a common thread in the advice columns. Yes, I confess. Reading the advice columns is a guilty pleasure of mine. I notice that quite a few letters are from grandparents who feel ignored or unappreciated by their young relatives. They're expected to pay out the birthday money like it's tax time, but rarely do they get so much as a phone call.

I've been guilty of neglecting family relations, but this year I typed some thank-you letters to relatives who had sent me some holiday cheer. An e-mail or phone call would have been faster and would have fulfilled the obligation, but that wasn't the point. The point was to actually dedicate some time and thought to another person.

The internet keeps us connected but often in a single-serving way. We can say, "Hey what's up" to our old school chums, but who wants to say, "Hey, what's up" to Grandma? E-mail seems a little to professional, and I simply refuse to use texting as a primary means of communicating with family. Texting is what I use to meet up with a buddy at the bar.

Getting an actual letter is exciting. It means someone took the time to writer it, seal it, walk it to the mailbox and send it. Congratulations. Someone thought you were worth all that. Think about it. When is the last time you actually got a letter in the mail? I don't even like going to the mailbox, because I know it's going to be bills, junkmail, ads for stuff I don't need and coupons for stuff I don't buy.

Let's start a letter writing campaign. Think of someone you haven't been in touch with for awhile, someone who'd love to hear from you, and write them a letter. Do it tonight. Stay off the computer. Use your typewriter. If you don't have a typewriter, write it by hand. You'll be surprised how relaxing it is to sit down and write a letter. You'll also be surprised just how much you actually have to say.

When you finish your letter, feel free to come back here and leave me a comment about your letter writing experience. When you finish doing that, think of someone else who would like to hear from you. Send some ink and paper out into the world. Let's make going to the mailbox fun again.