Composing on a typewriter makes your senses come alive. The sound and the feel of the keys striking the page, the ringing bell as you approach the end of a line, the motion of returning the carriage so that you can continue your thought. These things create a rhythm that just can't be duplicated electronically. They are a constant reminder that you’re accomplishing something, urging you to keep going.
I recently discovered an iPad app named after Tom Hanks - a huge vintage typewriter fan. The “Hanx Writer” combines the convenience of writing electronically with some of the sounds and visual cues of manual typing. Keys fly up to strike the page, a bell rings as you near the end of a line, the carriage makes a sound when you hit return. It's an experience to use it - but still not the same as a real typewriter.
I’ve been looking for a reasonably priced old typewriter for a while. It’s not that I would consider abandoning my computer or my i-Pad in favor of a typewriter. Nothing could compensate for the loss of the delete key. Or the ability to put text where you want it - and have everything around it magically fall into place. But typewriters do have a certain cachet that computers don't.
A few weeks ago, searching the old warehouse district of Kansas City with my husband, we found an old typewriter - the one pictured above. It's a Remington Envoy portable typewriter and seems to be in great working condition. When I find a new ribbon for it I’ll give it a whirl, but I really wanted it for photographs. It makes me wonder who owned it and what thoughts were expressed on that Remington Envoy through the years.
The man who sold it to us said he can’t keep old typewriters in stock - apparently they are a hot item. And not necessarily thanks to people like me who remember what it’s like to use one. College kids are discovering typewriters and using them to create notes for their friends. Apparently cursive is also making a comeback in schools. It’s nice to know that typed and handwritten notes might not be lost to the ages after all.