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“No longer a breach of etiquette”

Dearest reader,

According to Everetta, “Don’t be afraid to write your friends on a typewriter. Mrs. Grundy says it no longer is a breach of etiquette; in fact, the typewritten letter is usually preferred.” So reads copy from the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal in 1928.

Whether or not it was appropriate to send a type-written letter was an evolving question. In the early days of the typewriter, some people took offense at receiving such a thing, noting: “I can read longhand!” Only gradually did typed correspondence become accepted.

In our day, a typewritten letter has a certain appeal. Notably, Tom Hanks encourages people to send him typed letters, and according to all sources, he replies in kind. My own friends enjoy receiving typewritten notes. One even asked to borrow a machine so that he could reply using a typewriter.


Mark Adams

P.S. This typospherian letter uses the Remington Noiseless font, offered by Richard Polt hereThis WordPress installation employs the Use Any Font plugin.

From the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (Lubbock, Texas), July 15, 1928:

Collegiate! That’s what the new Remington Portable typewriters are which the City Drug Store is featuring this week. In maroon, deep blue, and chic apple green and ivory, combinations to harmonize with any room, these typewriters are a challenge to the co-ed who insists on color schemes for everything.

And the Remington typewriter is the handiest of all portables. It weighs only 9 1-2 pounds, writes a standard nine, has a shift key on either side, has a combination ribbon of red and black, is standard in every way and may be obtained by the Remington easy payment plan.

“You take it easy when you write on a Remington Portable,” it rests easily on the knees, and is most convenient to take along on a camping trip or journey by train. And, don’t be afraid to write your friends on the typewriter. Mrs. Grundy says it no longer is a breach of etiquette; in fact, the typewritten letter is usually preferred.

© 2018, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.


9th Dayton noted

From the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio), Aug. 18, 1985.

Before the internet, there was your local newspaper, a spigot of knowledge compared to today’s avalanche of web data. The “Ask Millie B.” column above offers no real information about the Dayton Portable Typewriter, but it does provide a new serial number for surviving machines: AY294, for a portable owned by “R.C.” of Beavercreek back in 1985. (The prefix is likely misstated, as AX for greenish machines and BN for black machines are the known prefixes.) This marks the 9th noted Dayton.

The Dayton Portable Typewriter was introduced in 1924, and most surviving machines originate from either Dayton, Ohio, or Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, two places the company held operations. Ted Munk lists seven machines in this blog post, and I mention an eighth machine here.

© 2018, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.


A peculiar hobby, but that’s your affair

In 1942, a St. Louis man sought a 1924 Dayton Portable Typewriter. See below:

The Journal Herald explains, somewhat awkwardly, that people actually collect typewriters. Writes the paper, “It is a peculiar hobby but that’s his affair.”

The hobby is no less peculiar today, but fortunately we have Richard Polt’s The Typewriter Revolution to explain the phenomena. There is also a documentary, California Typewriter, that quickens people’s interest.

For my part, I simply hand someone a typewriter, a method of evangelism that has made many converts.

© 2018, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.


Turn off notifications!

If you can’t see the video above, “The design tricks that get you hooked on your phone,” click here.

My cell phone is so less intrusive now that I’ve muted most of the notifications (phone and messages are still on for obvious reasons). It’s difficult to comprehend how a little red number or how a “badge” or how a buzz can so disrupt your day.

Effectively neutering my iPhone it’s become all the more useful to me, for I’m not whittling away the hours responding to notifications. Should smartphone/tablet manufacturers disable the disabling of notifications, I may have to find a flip-phone or something like it.

Now, my typewriter doesn’t annoy me with notifications. Rather, it sits there mute and abject until my fingers clamor upon the keys. Words, not alerts, are my business.

© 2018, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

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OK, so it’s not rocket science…

On one side of the classroom, students are typing on Chromebooks — distractions abound: cell phones, social media, videos. On the other side, students are working at typewriters, and the chatter of the mill abounds. Typists, immersed in their work, press on with ideas, and page after page flies off the machines: one draft, two drafts, three drafts.

One of my students initially looked confused as she prepared to work at a typewriter. “How do you insert the paper?” After a brief demonstration, she replied: “OK, so it’s not rocket science.” And then the words, the ideas, began to flow…

It’s not “rocket science,” but innovation in education is sometimes elusive. We have new technologies, but few good ideas. At a subject-area meeting in my school district, one teacher commented: “Why do we buy books anymore? Students can read PDFs on their Chromebooks.” They can, but should they?

Right now, the bell has rung… students are pouring out of the classroom… the typists remain…

© 2018, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.