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Thursday 24 October 2013

Odyssey to Ohio: The Greatest Typewriter Trip, EVER (Part III and Last)

Zbigniew Lassota is, I think, third from the left. If anyone can help me fill the other gaps here, where I have missed names, or made mistakes, please let me know and I will correct this caption. I apologise for the errors and omissions.

Did you hear the one about the sad sap who threw a party and nobody came? Well, this story's about a guy called Herman Price who organised a typewriter collectors' gathering in the backwoods of West Virginia - and not alone did 42 people turn up from various parts of the world, but NOBODY WANTED TO GO HOME!
OK, OK, I know this is the first such gathering I have ever attended, but surely this had to be the doozy of them all?! Can it possibly ever get better than this?
Here are some immediate post-gathering testimonials:
This meeting topped all other typewriter get-togethers I've been to. I think, coming in to this, that we all knew it would be epic because of the sheer number of us scheduled to appear and the breadth of the representation (of almost all ages and continents!)  It did not disappoint.
I had such fun talking with everyone that I can't yet separate all the events in my head.  Really had a great time every single minute and could not have asked for a better host and accommodation. It really is US, and how we relate to each other that drives the hobby forward.
Can't discuss the meeting though without mentioning the mind-bending array of machines brought to one location. Literally every age of typewriter, every style, every means of manufacture were not only represented physically but ADVOCATED personally by some or all members. Truly an all-inclusive environment in which everyone who could even remotely have been considered as a "typewriter enthusiast" could feel welcomed and involved ... and relevant.
It was fabulous!!
STEVE KALETTE (Smith-Corona)
We did not know what to expect attending our first collectors’ meeting, but it far exceeded our expectations. It is nice to know that there are many others who share our enthusiasm for typewriters and other antiquities.  
Herman, your personal typewriter collection is truly incredible. Seeing it was worth the trip to Morgantown.
What a great time! I am humbled to just be part of this great group. A personal thank you to Herman and Connie (and their helpers) for their incredible hospitality, and sharing their love with all in attendance. Best for me was meeting up with many old friends and thrilled to see all the younger faces. I can tell you this, you won't get a home-cooked dinner at the baseball collectors' club, or the car collectors' club, or anywhere else for that matter.
Thank you Herman for a wonderful adventure. You are a fine host and raconteur and your house in the country is a beautiful retreat for all of us. What a friendly and exciting time it was.
Thank you for making this wonderful experience possible.
No wonder nobody wanted to leave. This event was planned and staged to absolute perfection. Did Mike mention the wonderful Connie Price and the home-cooked dinners? Well things were so well organised, right down to the last detail, that there were even typewriter napkins and the fabulous typewriter fridge magnets! Can you believe it? Herman went to so much trouble that he even ensured the magnets we received were of typewriters he knew we fancied (in my case Barrs):
As well, Richard Polt kept the uprising embers quietly aglow by providing plenty of copies of the Typewriter Insurgency Manifesto:
If there was even the tiniest lull in activities, all one had to do was take another "Herman wander" - that is, a walk down through the seemingly endless corridors of his collections, each single venture full of the expectation of finding something that one had somehow managed to miss on the third, fourth, fifth or sixth trawls ... Tucked away in some corner: A dangling Monarch here, a framed Hammond poster there, a Bar-Let to be seen to one day, the odd Neckermann Brilliant Junior manual to be filed, some typewriter ribbon tins, a Visigraph tool box ...

... And everywhere, it seemed, Lego typewriters:
There were dozens of the Lego typewriters Herman has made dotted about the place. This one is, of course, the Moby Blick.
An "indelible" memory for me will be the unbridled enthusiasm Herman can still muster for his find of these Caligraph spools on eBay. Just to stand in Herman's presence, listening to him tell the tale of how he came by these little gems, was a pure pleasure.
*Typewriter Technician
I just loved this guy. Typewriter passion is certainly infectious, and Will Davis is the chief carrier. I had gone to American fully expecting - and desperately hoping - to be able to watch Will Davis in action. What a treat! Eventually, on the last day of the gathering, as arranged, out came the three Visigraphs (Herman's, Richard's and Will's). They were plonked on Herman's pool table and Will went to work. He's like a master micro-surgeon with these vintage machines. A quick look inside and just as swiftly - finally - Will's weekend-long threat to "take these things apart" was a reality. Carriages came off, differences were instantly noted, changes explained. Wow! Can he dissect a typewriter in minutes flat or what!? It was worth the cost of the trip just to watch Will "do his thing".

I wasn't the only one boggled-eyed by all this. Peter Weil and Dennis Clark join the action ... Alan Seaver tries hard to stay above it all.
 Then Richard Polt and Dennis Ross look into it ...
 And finally Herman and Jett Morton move in ...

 But I'm left asking: "What's up, Doc?"
Was it Jos Legrand who asked earlier this year about "bridging the generation gap" among typewriter lovers? As I think Herman himself commented on Martin Howard's photo of Jett Morton and Dennis Clark, "It doesn't get much better than this!"

Jett Morton, JP Huard, Katie Kirkland and Mark Petersen. Katie proved she too had a great eye for a good typewriter. Or a good eye for a great typewriter.
I have no absolutely no idea how Hermann Kerz, a brilliant German typewriter restorer, does these things, but to me it's pure magic: when it comes to old typewriters, he's a true magician. Along with Paul Robert, who had his top-notch selection of old typewriter decals and his books available, Hermann showed us some of the things he can make - including the type for Halls and Worlds:

If Herman hadn't been so otherwise occupied, I'd have liked to have asked him a few hundred thousand questions. Such as, "What the ....?"

Well, I guess all good things must come to an end. And so, eventually, did Herman's gathering. It was amusing to see people say farewell to one another two or three times. They'd say "goodbye", then couldn't find themselves able to leave, so they'd have to go through the whole process again and again. I think that tells you something about this event ... 
 Giuliano Fanutti and birthday boy Fritz Niemann start to wind down before the homeward journey - in their cases, to Italy and Germany.
 A slow movement ... lingering farewells.
And two little Royal portables, sitting all alone on the back porch, seemingly ignored and abandoned ... But I bet they'd had as much fun as the rest of us!
And Herman's dog Gus tells us where we can all go (until next year, eh Gus?):


Bill M said...

Wonderful wrap-up of the great event. I will miss the posts on this if this one is truly the last. Then I can always go back and read all the older ones.

Thanks for all the great reports from the gathering. I first heard of this about 2 years ago. One day I hope to make the trip.

Thanks again Robert. Job well done!

Rob Bowker said...

I enjoyed that. Looking back at photos really makes the event last longer - what a great community!

Miguel Chávez said...

Absolutely fantastic! The event, the venue, the hosts, the participants... what an experience it must have been! Hopefully this becomes a tradition for many, many years to come.

Congratulations, and thank you for sharing these fantastic memories with us!

Ted said...

The last? Nooo! It mustn't end! :D

Will Davis said...

I really am humbled by your writeup of our technical investigation of the Visigraph machines. It certainly is unprecedented to have three of them in one location, and this afforded an excellent opportunity that we might not have again.

Because you asked "what's up, Doc?" I will answer you in a special video about the findings, before evidence goes underground in preparation for the writing and publication of my upcoming book "The Visigraph Story."

Scott K said...

Brilliant! Absolutely Brilliant.

Anonymous said...

The Azmatype was manufactured in the 1930s for Japan post office employees to type telegrams. It uses katakana, as do some consumer typewriters in Japan, but its party trick is that it types vertically: カタカナタイプライター would appear on telegram slips printed from top to bottom.

Unknown said...

What a wonderful opportunity to see old friends and make new ones. Sharing that common love for the typewriter. It's wonderful to see all of you together. The people that I so admire, especially you and Richard Polt. What wonderful pictures, I just enjoyed every blog. I know you came back with much new information to share with us here at ozTypewriter.

Blank said...

Ahhh! Earth---the way it should be!

Robert, you had such a great time there among your heroes but we want you to know that to all of us who could not be there---You Are Our Hero!

The depth and breadth of your enthusiasm is uplifting and infectious and I will not be surprised if you are the reason that attendance triples next year. Thank you.
== Michael Höhne

Herman said...

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blogs on the meeting, Robert. I enjoyed every one of your pictures, bringing back memories of the meeting and many moments that I missed. What a fantastic time we all had and we really enjoyed your visit to America as much as you did. Hoping to see you soon...