I lost my analog virginity to a 40-year-old Olympia SM-9 in my parents’ basement when I was twelve.
Little did I know that those first keystrokes would plant the seed for my lifelong love for the original, mechanically expressive word processor. Once you taste the sweet nostalgia of something so tangibly creative, you’re hooked…which is why I think vinyl records and books and letterpress and calligraphy are making such a roaring comeback. In this digital age, there is no doubt that appreciation is growing for mechanical items of antiquity. It’s fascinating to watch them work, to wonder at how it feels alive beneath your fingertips, to the thrill of the clacks and the dings and the scent of the ink fresh on paper and holding your final creation in your hands once pulling it from the carriage. You even love the quirky errors enough to laugh them into acceptance. Experiences as fun and as internally raw as this are meant to be shared.
My fellow typer-aficionado and local bookbinder, Max Marbles, is new to the typewriter revolution, but he is no less passionate about things of bygone eras. He caught the bug on November 7th, 2015, thanks to a random internet search for a “Royal Typewriter,” and quickly organized Salem’s first “Type-In” a month later. This year, Marbles is moving the Salem Type-In date to Saturday, June 25th, to permanently align with International Typewriter Day (June 23rd). This Saturday, the Type-In will be located in the Dye House at the Willamette Heritage Center, and Marbles expects to pack the house.
“The Type-In was an intimate, invite-only event in December,” Marbles recalls. “We overwhelmed the [Willamette Heritage Center] Café though, with well over 60 people in the space at once, ranging from six years old to 88 years old. It was so fun to watch the younger generations who had never experienced a typewriter before.”
The Annual Salem Type-In
Hosted by Max Marbles at The Willamette Heritage Center’s Dye House
Saturday, June 25th
11:00 am – 3:00 pm
See “Salem Type-In 2016” on Facebook for more info
(In honor of National Typewriter Day, June 23rd)
Marbles and I both agreed that typewriters aren’t dead; they just went into hibernation mode for a spell. (Just like we both agree that books aren’t dead—his busy livelihood is blatant proof of that.) There are certain things that will never disappear into obsolescence simply because of their usefulness and their ability to outlive their digital cousins generation after generation. People are getting creative with typewriters now, even using them to create art (oh yes…Google it), and the possibilities are only growing. Industrial pieces like typewriters were built to last, and with a little love and attention, typewriters are quickly proving to be the dominant workhorses their creators designed them to be.
Typewriters are often misunderstood timepieces. Marbles is not only encouraging people to attend the Type-In, but to also bring their typewriters with them for advice, ribbon spooling, and minor repairs, if needed. Numerous typewriter experts will be on hand to answer questions and scratch any analog itch you may have. If you’re on the hunt for ribbon, ignore the temptation to shop online; support local and save—Cooke Stationery will be providing typewriter ribbons to purchase at the event, and volunteers can assist with installation.
In addition to tons of typewriter supplies and swag, the Type-In will offer a variety of activities, including a speed typing contest, a typewriter raffle, continuous story, analog art, Pop Up Poetry via typewriter by Salem’s Rhetorical Redhead, lyric composition (pieces will be performed live by Tim King, a local blues guitarist), and many others. Marbles hopes to have writers, poets, typewriter amateurs and experts alike attending, and (fingers crossed) a cameo appearance by typewriter repair superhero, Matt McCormack, owner of Ace Typewriter & Equipment Company in Portland. There will also be an extensive selection of vintage manual and electric typewriters available to admire and test drive to your heart’s content. Naturally, the event is free and open to all ages.
If you aren’t able to attend, though, never fear—Marbles will have both old-school and new-age tech running the event. Check out the Facebook page “Salem Type-In 2016” for livestream video that will run during the entirety of the event. People can comment live and ask questions, or simply join in on the fun. (See? We like digital deliciousness, too.)
Typewriters hold no age limit, nor do they crash on you, correct your poor grammar, or run out of battery life. They are the insta-printer we always wanted, but forgot about. What’s not to love? Join me and Max Marbles this Saturday to find out for yourself, or to reminisce a bit, or perhaps even take a typewriter home. Surprise yourself. Viva la revolución.