It was the control panel of imaginary starships, taking me across the vast depths of space. It was the ultra-powerful computer terminal with which I saved the world by hacking into the evil, super-villain’s computer network. It was the machine at which I, a world-famous novelist, clacked out my latest, greatest epic. Most of them started something like this:
A masterpiece of modern fiction! Bestseller for sure!
It could do anything I could dream. Even the real work it was designed for.
It was Dad’s typewriter. The night he brought it home from a second-hand office supply store, I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I taught myself to type on it. I wrote some of my first stories on it, using any paper I could find. I loved it, probably more than Dad did. Despite that, it spent years gathering dust in closet, and I traded it in exchange for something so trivial that 2017 George can’t even remember what it was.
Dad was disappointed. It was his typewriter, after all, even if he hadn’t touched it in years. And I was disappointed, too. I missed it, almost from the moment it was gone and I felt awful for what I had done. It was like I tossed away a special part of my childhood.
That was more than 20 years ago. Since then I’ve thought a lot about Dad’s old typewriter. How he taught me to use it and care for it. How I wrote some incredibly bad stories on it, but reams of them. I might have been the most prolific 11 year-old author around! Often, while staring and cursing at the flashing cursor on my computer screen (I think every writer understands the phonetic similarity between the words “cursor” and “curse”) I wondered why I could write so easily on Dad’s typewriter but not on my modern computer. Then I would usually hit the minimize button and browse the internet.
Question asked; Question answered. But that’s the subject of a future article.
The romantic in me often personified the machine, imagining it sitting in someone’s cold, dark basement, gathering dust. Waiting. Waiting for someone (me?) to find it, clear the dust and use it to create another epic story. Hell, maybe even take a trip to the Moon or save the world while we’re at it. But Dad’s typewriter is gone and only a miracle of biblical proportions could return that same machine to me.
After Royal Marie arrived, the memory of Dad’s typewriter returned. Wouldn’t it be awesome if I could find one just like it? It wouldn’t be the “Dad’s typewriter” but it would be close. An apology to my Dad and to me, who still regrets the mistake made by my teenage counterpart.
I realized that though the memories of Dad’s typewriter remained vivid, I had no idea what kind of typewriter it was! Through research I learned I was looking for something built in the 50s, since it lacked both the mature elegance of older machines and the flashy styling of younger ones. For a brief time I thought I was looking for a Smith-Corona Sterling, but something about that machine felt just a little off.
On YouTube, I stumbled upon one of those Kids React videos. You know, the ones that film a bunch of kids using some ancient device and showing their adorable reactions for all the inter-web to see? What the hell, I thought. This one’s about typewriters so let’s watch for a good laugh.
Holy shit! That’s it!
Pause the video! Can we get a close-up, please? No, not the kid for heaven’s sake! Yeah, yeah, cute kid doesn’t know what a typewriter is, I get it. The machine, please! Show me the machine!
There it was: Dad’s typewriter, or damned close. Some kid stared at it in wonder, the same way I did 30+ years ago. Thankfully, I did get a close-up. Close enough to see the name emblazoned on the front and back. Remington Rand.
Well I’ll be damned.
Dad’s typewriter was a 1950s Remington Rand. eBay and Google images provided the proof. There was no mistaking the big, green spacebar, the little levers above and to the right of the keys, the rounded cover, and that big case. On its own the case is distinctive enough to settle the question once and for all.
Remington made three variations of the Rand model. The “Letter Writer,” the “Quiet Writer,” and the one Dad bought, the plain, old “Rand.” Reviewing imagery of Rand models built from 1950 to 1960 revealed subtle changes to the shape and colour of the machines throughout the years and confirmed Dad’s was probably a 1956. But that’s not certain.
It’s not the prettiest typewriter ever made. Actually, it’s sort of ugly, isn’t it? One wonders if the green-grey body with plastic green keys was really in style in the 50s. Despite that, there remains an industrial beauty about the ’56 Rand. And I can tell you from experience that this sucker is tough as nails and built to last.
I already have my home-based workhorse in Royal Marie. Helga the Hermes is my traveling warrior. Lady Remington is my restoration classroom. When I find one, what purpose will the 56 Rand serve?
I’ll let our young kids decide. Maybe they’ll see it with the same wonder that I did and want to play on it. I’ll tell them it’s a tool, not a toy, and show them how to use it, but I’ll turn a blind eye when they play on it anyway. It’s how I learned to type, how I learned to write. Maybe they’ll do the same? Hell, maybe they’ll even fly to the Moon with it or defeat evil villains. Heaven knows they can’t hurt the thing unless they drop if off a balcony.
But once I find that big, green monster and bring it home, it will never leave.
UPDATE – July 27, 2017:
After keeping an eye out on eBay for several weeks, I was finally able to locate one and, as of this morning, it is mine! Dad’s typewriter (well, one just like it) will be coming home after all these years!