Sunday, 11 November 2012

Typewriters on Display

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Orana Steiner School, a place where for some reason I’ve yet to determine I turn up every week day, holds a Spring Fair every year. This becomes quite a profitable exercise, and tends to rake in over $30,000 every year. So, naturally, they keep putting them on.
Each year the Class Nines and Tens have the honour, not that they’d call it that, of hosting the German Cafe. Each year, too, there is a theme. This year they chose newspapers.
It’s a twist of fate that I also happen to be the editor of news at The Student’s Standard, Orana’s student newspaper. Mind you, I’m not a very good editor, and I’ve got a lot to learn. Because people think Jasper and Newspapers in the same sentence (which has nothing to do with the fact that there’s a special arrangement where I collect The Canberra Times from the library every day for my own personal consumption), I was asked about providing some typewriters to have on display, and helping with layout on their own German newspaper they were putting together.
I’m really happy when people find a way to put typewriters out in public. And so I’m always willing to help. I provided five typewriters, no questions asked. While I’d like to, I can’t claim ownership of the Underwood 5 in the picture above. That’s one of my teacher’s. He’s had it in the staff room on his desks for a while, so naturally it found its way into the “display”. So, you ask, where’s your fifth typewriter, Jasper? That’s a good question. I didn’t know the answer until we were packing up. It was tucked under the table, obviously not needed. It was an Adler Gabriele 25 – not the nicest looking thing – so I’m not too surprised they didn’t put it on display when an Underwood 5 became available.
From what I could tell, people appreciated them quite a bit. One teacher asked me if I knew where to get ribbons, as she had an Olympia Traveller de Luxe just like the one on display. I’ll be writing down an address for her tomorrow. Of course, sometimes the appreciation does come in the form of words describing the anatomy of the male genitalia typed on the paper in the typewriter itself, doesn’t it? Especially when there are plenty of teenage boys coming through. Mostly, though, they were '”just for display”. The Class Tens had precise instructions to not let anyone type. Not that I wasn’t open to letting people type on them – “go for your life”, I’d say. But they didn’t want any harm to come to them, so they obviously really did care about them.
What did happen, though, was that my mother came in to type a message for me when I packed them up, but was promptly told off. She politely – I hope – informed them that she had quite a bit to do with me, and would be allowed to type at will.
I had a few offers made on them, but what would really make me rich would be a dollar for every time someone asked me “what do you do when you make a mistake?” I’d be sitting on a fortune for life, but if we included “what do I do when I get to the end of the line?” as well in this money making scheme I’d be setting up a major banking corporation as a cottage industry!
Here is the line up of typewriters that belonged to myself. The only photo of the Underwood I took by itself is quite terrible, and so it isn’t included here.
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A very German machine for a very German cafe.
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Keeping the German Presence strong.
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A kind gift from Mr Robert Messenger himself. The last British made Imperial portable, I think. While not quite German, it still looked at home.
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A journalist’s typewriter. But not a very good picture of it. A machine that you’d actually have a chance of finding in a real newsroom once upon a time, even though it ain’t really German at all.

1 comment:

  1. Any public exposure for typewriters is a good thing and brings comment and interest.

    People often seem to have no clue about the carriage return!