This was my typewriter: A Remington Quiet Riter.
It was grey, heavy and–honestly, pretty ugly. But it did the job (I just had to gently bang on the carriage return lever a few times to get to my next line) and that’s all that mattered. The typewriter method required physical labor, which somehow made me feel all the more connected and devoted to the written word.
It was in 2008, when I was living in Grand Rapids, that I got the most use out of it. Clacking away, I was Allen Ginsberg, Hunter S. Thompson and Jack Kerouac. Not to be cooped up boozing in my air conditioning-free Heritage Hill apartment like the legends who came before me, I went out to work. I needed both of my arms to lug the thing six blocks to the nearest coffee shop. When people would stare I pretended not to notice.
Growing up I never had the distinct privilege of using a typewriter out of necessity. I was born in the late 80s and just so happened to miss out on them. I have a vague recollection of my parents having a typewriter tucked away somewhere under an opaque plastic sheath–a clunky, drab looking IBM-made contraption. I don’t remember ever seeing it in action.
I think I was in high school when I officially became fascinated with “portable” manual typewriters and began scouring the local antique and thrift stores for one of my very own. I soon learned that though, that the both stylish and functioning typewriters I was lusting after–the pastel colored Olivetti’s, Remington’s and Triumph Adler’s–were far out of reach, price tags were often marked between $500 and $1,200 dollars. I could buy a computer with that kind of dough–and I had college to think about. I also felt kind of bummed out when I realized a lot of really beautiful antique typewriters were being dismantled for the sake of jewelry.
When I was in college a guy I was seeing bought me the Quiet Riter, a typewriter of my very own. He got it on eBay and it cost about an arm and a leg to ship. I won’t name names (though, some of you can do the math), but this is probably the only tangible positive thing that came out of that train wreck of a relationship.
In 2010, Phil and I made our trek out to California and the typewriter was really just too difficult to bring along. We only had so much room in the Escape and that space was reserved for our essentials. I pawned my Quiet Riter for $10 without giving it much of a second thought and looking back, I realize I do miss having that thing around. It inspired me.
I have been looking to borrow a working typewriter for a bit (anyone know anyone?)–to create some top secret special items for the wedding. Eventually, though, I would like to buy another typewriter. Maybe next time I’ll even be able to afford a vintage typewriter that’s not only working, but also pleasing to the eyes. A girl can dream.
Typewriters of my Dreams….