Over the past few days, several people have aked me about the significance/what is my icon on blogs and Twitter is all about. Well, to answer the question:
Hi, my name is Mandy Boyle and I love typewriters.
In such a technologically advanced society, it may come as a surprise that I’m one of several 20-somethings that I know that owns and uses a typewriter. Typewriters are a special sort of invention, the kind that you smile about when you sit down to use it. There’s a sort of special appreciation that goes along with striking the keys, hearing the pings, and smelling the ink on the paper when you’ve finished crafting a page…there’s just something so personal about it. Don’t get me wrong, computers are a wonderful invention. In fact, I spend most of my day in front of one writing, however, typewriters are a much more physical being. It feels as if I am an artist painting a portrait when I sit down at my typewriter. The magic of typewriters isn’t new to me. I’ve been in love with them since I first pressed a key as a child in the office above the movie theatre that my mother worked at.
Where it Began
It was a weekend and I was spending time at the movie theatre with my mom, hoping to catch a film and stock up on some free goodies. I filled my cup with some fruit punch and trotted up the three flights of stairs, excited to actually sit in the office. It was a cramped space with no windows and in one corner, a large cardboard cut out of Dustin Hoffman as Tootsie stood smiling. A poster of a young Richard Gere hung on the left wall, right above my great-grandfather’s old desk (he was a manager there during the 1960’s). My mom was perched in a worn,squeaky office chair, typing up a schedule or a report of some kind on a white electric typewriter that I would later come to own. It was sleek and modern, with a humming buzz that just oozed productivity. I watched my mother’s fingers race of the keys, entering movie times and titles. It was like watching a craftsman weave a fine knit rug. A smile came to my lips. I loved the sound.
Looking for something to amuse myself with, I wandered over to my Poppy’s old desk and started to explore. His desk also held a typewriter, only this was a manual with sticky keys and faded letters. It was out of ink and needed a good cleaning, but I took the chance. I struck a key. I was in love. For the next half hour or so, I proceeded to click away, pressing random keys, pretending I was crafting some great story. I can still remember.
The office door has been shut and locked since August of 2006, my final summer behind the candy stand. Since then, I’ve continued my devotion to the symphony of sound, art and spirit that a typewriter can produce. Over the years, I experimented with both manual and electric hand-me-down typewriters, only to discover that manuals were the ones that had my heart first. This past summer, I took the plunge and bought my first Smith Corona. It’s teal with a plastic carrying case. Brent was able to find ribbon for it during the holidays, so I plan on putting it to good use very soon.
“Your idea of bliss is to wake up on a Monday morning knowing you haven’t a single engagement for the entire week. You are cradled in a white paper cocoon tied up with typewriter ribbon.” -Edna Ferber
While this quote may not apply to me now, it does convey the same sentiment. Sitting at a typewriter with such passion and motivation gives me the opportunity to do what I love most using the same tool that has brought so many before me to greatness. In years past, the typewriter has unified poet, playwright, reporter and novelist to become beacons of light in a world that desires to be articulated – and that, my friends, is real connection.
If you need to ask what a typewriter means to me, look no further than your nearest antique shop and become one with all the things you wish to be…poet, novelist, playwright, and reporter.
Strike a key and you’ll just know.