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Saturday, 18 October 2014

Memories Are Made of This

It was Herman Price's 63rd birthday yesterday. I tried to send a virtual birthday cake, but couldn't work out how to do it, so sent a virtual card instead. Still, my thoughts naturally began to wander through Herman's Chestnut Ridge Typewriter Museum in Fairmont, West Virginia, where this coming weekend the seventh edition of the annual typewriter collectors' gathering will take place. This time last year I was at the gathering, hosted by Herman and attended by such other luminaries as Richard Polt, Martin Howard, Peter Weil, Paul Robert, Alan Seaver, Mike Brown, Martin Rice, Dennis Clark,  Greg Fudacz and Will Davis. To suggest I had the "time of my life" there would be the understatement of the 21st century.
A couple of Saturdays ago, when the Melbourne Age Spectrum section ran a feature on Helen Garner's Corona 3 folding portable typewriter, I whipped down to the closest newsagency first thing in the morning and bought a copy. While I was there, I thought I might as well buy a lottery ticket. I didn't think much more about the ticket until about a week ago, when it suddenly occurred to me that it wasn't too late to make it back to West Virginia. I went to a travel agency and got a price for a return air ticket, Sydney to Pittsburgh: $1750. Figuring I needed to win a lottery prize of at least $1500, I rushed back to the newsagency and checked in my ticket. My heart skipped a beat when "Congratulations" came up on the screen, followed by the figure $15. But no zeroes followed. Ah well. There was always the guy in Lagos offering me $14 zillion - I just had to reply to his spam mail. But, in reality, all I could really say was ...
When many of the aforementioned luminaries gathered in Milwaukee last month, I had that feeling that you get as a kid, when all your mates go off on some glorious camping trip and you're left at home recovering from the mumps. Miserable. Next weekend it's going to be much the same thing all over again, plus some ...
Some years ago I sent Herman as a Christmas gift a calendar I made up, with each month having a different Royal Bar-Lock typewriter poster on it. Herman got a bit of a chuckle out of that, because one of the posters had, unbeknown to me, been tidied up by Herman himself, playing around with Windows Paint. The thought of us each having "idle hands" (that is, hands away from typewriters) and doing the same thing, fiddling with typewriter-related images, so many miles apart, resonated with me, and in a funny sort of way closed the gap (though not to the extent that "being there" did). So this morning, as my thoughts drifted to far-off West Virginia, I played around with a couple of Bar-Lock posters myself.
I'm really looking forward to seeing plenty of images from the 2014 Fairmont event, and hoping that all those who attend this year will have as much of a ball as we did last year. I know that Herman will, as always, be the host with the most (and I don't mean just typewriters!). 

Last week Herman reminded all who were at the Chestnut Ridge gathering in 2013 of what a time we had, by posting this group photo on Facebook.
 I know he has gone "gently, gently" with this year's gathering, not wishing to divert attention from the preceding Milwaukee event, but anyone who has been to a West Virginia gathering will not forget it easily. Last year I thought of it as a "once-in-a-lifetime" experience. I now realise that having been there once, you just want to keep going back. Three solid days of prowling through Herman's typewriter collection is not enough the soothe that itch to take another look, and another, and another ...
The laid-back man himself.
And here's his virtual cake:


Bill M said...

Well, if Mr. Price reads your blog I wish him a most Happy (belated) Birthday!

Too bad you did not have a few zeros after the 15.

This year is the closest year yet where I could possibly attend the gathering. My new job finally pays enough we can travel, but this year I have a major project that started Monday and will not be completed in time to go. Maybe 2015.

My biggest disappointment for the 21st Century is that I could not attend last year to meet you! I want to meet all the fellows I read about, follow their blogs, and get extremely valuable advice.

BTW. If you can fly to West Virgina for $1750 what would that be in U.S.D.? It costs me that much to fly from Florida to Richmond,VA.

Richard P said...

A fine tribute to this tradition of great typewriterly events that our friend Herman has created.

I don't know whether I can get away next weekend ... probably not. :(

Jenny Laing said...

Hi Robert,
Great article. I was wondering what the best way to contact you personally is. I just acquired a little singer graduate typewriter but the keys aren't hitting the ribbon and some are sticky. I was hoping to get you to have a look and fix if possible. My contact email is If you could email me your contact details that would be great.
Jenny Laing.