Yes I geeked deep into the sentimental journey of road-tripping to the north from central USA to represent at the International Typewriters Collectors Convention!
This summer’s adventure is where I met Richard Polt… having discovered his typewriter insurgency several years ago, it was a delight to meet the creator. And so many others that have and similar lifestyles and histories. It was meaningful to get to know the small community of people who the devoted pursuit of intricacies of typewriters.
The serious collectors tend to be history buffs, machinists and traditional businessmen. Several were professors, few were couples in the interest. It was inspiring in different ways, history, repair, with newer angles or comedy and culture. It almost felt like being amongst family since typewriters were central in our small business which included my dad, aunt and uncle plus sister, cousins and myself. We could call it finding my Typewriter Tribe.
Typewriters are in my blood and indicated by the name tag which included “40 year collector!” I still need to talk to Gabe about his creative interpretation! For the love of my Father and posterity, I have been going all out for him as part of the third generation of our typewriter lives.
Meeting Tony was really solid. As I was bringing a few typewriters in cases up from the cellar, I found an envelope of photos from the 1970s of my Dad’s shop. There were rows of machines with repair tags lined up waiting for the customers to retrieve, the work benches, the retail showroom and some collected inventory photos. Tony browsed through them carefully. His attention to the detail drew me back in and I began to relive the “making a bank deposit” lesson my aunt gave me, the stale taste in the water fountain there, the stinky cleaning booth, displays in front, and the letter shop hours, donuts and deli sandwiches…
The way Marty fearlessly and so dramatically read his story still make me laugh. The warmth from belly laughing and jumping into his creative process was endearing.
Memories of the Letter Shop we had in the back room with Auto-Typist, Auto-Pens and the early days of my working and direct mail were prompted. My career of printing and mass communicating commenced there around 1973. We had a circle of auto-typist that worked similarly as a piano with the perforated roll of paper. In a chair on wheels, I scooted to the next machine, inserted a fresh piece of letterhead and pressed the start button. Scooting to the next, I turned the knob to release the typed page (never pulling) and did the same. That was the first production process. Then it was time for fountain pen signatures. Aligning the typed page to the mark of the small lightbox and pressing the foot-pedal to initiate the penned executive signature. Folding, stuffing, sealing and stamping. Then off to the post office in bundles.
I wanted to be a writer but Dad wanted me to sell! So off to business school I went. But working at the daily newspaper captivated my interests in mass communication, and printing more than the obsolesce of the newer word processors that the Big Box stores were now selling for less. The rest is, well, history but that is cliché. The resumé is on the internet where publishing has gone. The revelation was that the roots were strong and blossomed into my artistic passion of creating icon typewriter images. This work has been my truest expression and how I dialog with the world.
ITCC 2014 also prompted me to really look at what we have in the home, cellar and barn. It actually more than I had thought. We accumulated approximately 300 typewriters by being tradesmen, not really connoisseurs. There are hunters and there are gathers. The Marlers have been practical typewriter gatherers. In the 1990s there were rows and stacks of IBM Selectrics in the garage. I wanted to weld sculptures but my sister, having no apparent use for them, refused. Now the motivation to identify the better ones and include information about them was spurred. The history and education is valuable. A dream of a typewriter museum where the significant history, hands-on learning plus all the creative expressions are present would be ideal… But then I went back to work.