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Monday 20 October 2014

Sensible Schools, Sunny Sunday Scones, Schreibmaschinen Mittelgroß & Ruby Sparks

This charming photograph was taken by Nina Leen at the Matthew Fontaine Maury Elementary School in Richmond, Virginia, on May 1, 1950. It was published in a US schools special edition of LIFE magazine on October 16, 1950 ("They Face a Crisis'). LIFE said this Maury was possibly the best public elementary school in the US at that time.
The young Maury students used typewriters to write their own stories, which they then illustrated and produced as books:
The image at the top of this post is exactly how I see Ray and Alice Nickson's now 15-month-old daughter Cynthia in about eight years' time. As I left the Nicksons yesterday afternoon, the livewire little Cynthia, a right charmer, was following me out the door carrying, unaided, a 1930s typewriter case - admittedly an empty one! Such an endearing sight, I wish I'd captured it, just as Nina Leen had done at the Maury School in Richmond 64 years ago. Cynthia already owns her own burgundy Princess portable and seems destined for a life surrounded by typewriters. No bad thing.
There's not a doubt in the wide world that writing on typewriters can fuel the imagination in a way computers simply cannot match.  A chance suggestion from the Nicksons over afternoon tea was later in the evening to reinforce that view, in spades.
Yesterday was one of those lazy, hazy days of a promising summer ahead. First, I received welcome word from my young journalist friend Michael Ruffles in Thailand that Nanchanok Wongsamuth's latest feature article on typewriter repairmen, this one about Suttiporn Chatviriyatam, had appeared in the Bangkok Post Lifestyle magazine. The story starts with reference to an Olympia SM3 (though it's an Olympia Traveller de Luxe he's working with here):
Motivated by reading this charming piece, I completed my Giger Triumph. Then I went off to visit the Nicksons, to enjoy freshly home-baked scones with raspberry jam and clotted cream while viewing their fantastic collection of Depression Era typewriters. Their Remington 3B is still in the US and waiting to join these nine. Ray also just last week saved another Monarch Pioneer from a US keychopper.
After I left the Nicksons, I decided to drop in on the Down Memory Lane bric-a-brac shop on my way home. The owner, Chris Lund, brought out a lovely little crinkle black US-made 1930s Royal portable which had been sold in Zurich, Switzerland. She couldn't get the platen to turn. In a few seconds I sorted out the problem. The rubber on the paper bail rollers had become stuck so solidly to the platen that the platen wouldn't budge - the first time I'd ever encountered such a thing. As soon as I had prized the paper bail off the platen, the Royal sprung happily back to life. Gee, I was SO tempted to buy it, but thought that to do so at a time when I am downsizing my typewriter collection with such vigor would be ridiculous. I texted the Nicksons instead and suggested they might like it. After which I took considerable pride in my new-found strength, by turning my back and walking away from such an appealing purchase. But it was hard, hard, hard! And no rain's a-gonna fall.
During afternoon tea, the Nicksons had casually raised the subject of the movie Ruby Sparks, which I had vaguely heard of but never seen. The Nicksons recommended the movie as a charming romance, and not just because of the constant presence in it of an Olympia SM 9 portable typewriter, upon which the protagonist, suffering writer's block, conjures up the girl of his dreams. (The script was written [on a typewriter?] by lead actress Zoe Kazan, another real charmer.) Having made a metal note to try and find the movie on DVD, I was almost spooked when I got home to find Ruby Sparks was screening on TV that very same night! So I sat up until the early hours and watched it, and was thoroughly, thoroughly charmed ...


Bill M said...

Quite an adventure.

I had a similar problem wiht a Remington Model 1, but the pressure rollers were so stuck when unstuck they were square and would not work.

Richard P said...

I love the photo of the little girl. It could have been taken yesterday at WordPlay Cincy.

Haven't seen "Ruby Sparks" yet, but I am looking forward to it.

Anonymous said...

Thoroughly enjoyable post - and I must catch that movie too. :)