Tuesday, June 23, 2009

At tip of a writer's hat to typewriters

Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac today touched on the history of typewriters and on how three writers — Ernest Hemingway, Hunter Thompson (shown here in a crazed state) and Jack Kerouac — bonded with them in strange ways.

Keillor might have mentioned that two contemporary authors, Paul Auster and Larry McMurtry still use typewriters, an Olympia and a Hermes respectively.

About four years ago I began collecting these beautiful, fascinating machines. Now I like to think of myself as a "typewriter archivist." If one comes my way worth salvaging, I'll "archive" it, often simply to save it from scavengers who cut keys from old machines and make jewelry out of them.


Fifty typewriters line shelves along a wall of my basement. I'd like to sell a few and keep only those I can identify as being models used by the likes of Hemingway, Kerouac and Thompson. (The photo of the great Gonzo journalist shows him drawing a bead on his IBM Selectric.)

You might want to visit my "Backspace Typewriters" blog to get a feel for my "archive."

Much to my joy, I've discovered on the Internet a lively, devoted "typewriter community." Here in Portland, our Mecca is Ace Typewriter over on North Lombard.

Perhaps the Writer's Almanac entry will add to our typewriter community's ranks. We can hope.

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