Thursday, November 6, 2014

Tales of the Typewriter - Chapter One

At last, a forever home for little Underwoody.

Our story begins some time ago when I bought something I always wanted to have: a solid old Underwood typewriter, just like the type I remember being old when I was a kid.   In fact, I started my first Fiona Silk mystery on an Olivetti many years ago. 

This Underwood seemed so iconic that I had to have it and so I scooped it up for fifty dollars at an antique shop.  So far so good.  It wasn't as though I'd be doing my Camilla MacPhee WIP on it or that Victoria and I would create the next book collector mystery.  No. I was thinking small: I will type envelopes with it, I decided. I decided that would be much less aggravating than setting them up on the printer.  Or writing them by hand when even I can’t read my writing. 

But when I slipped in that first envelope and clicked on the keys, nothing happened. That ancient ribbon was dry and useless.   

Of course, no one in our region of just under a million people sells typewriter ribbons anymore. Time passed and the typewriter lived as a mere decoration.  Then I decided to try to find the right ribbon.  I was surprised to learn that there were ribbons out there all right. For around $25 plus delivery!

Does this hat make me look useless? 

The typewriter went back to being a charming decoration.  Sometimes I dressed it up. Or gave it accessories.

Gnome Sweet Gnome

Meanwhile we moved to our little village (that’s actually part of Canada’s capital – although that’s a story for another day).  Now we can walk places including Office Pro Manotick, the small but mighty office supply shop where you can get pretty much anything (Knitting needles? Buttons?  Artists’ canvasses? Sure thing)  
But they had no ribbons for the Underwood.  However,, Sheila, (who I now think of as Mrs. Fix-it) said, “We just sell people ribbons for calculators and show them how to re-spool. That will be $3.99." (Canadian!)

You can see why I’d be happy about that.  Thrilled, I carried home the ribbon in triumph.  I was thinking that those other ribbons were a bit of a rip-off. 

My husband decided to re-spool for me.  He likes to be the one in charge of engineering and public works and leave the arts and entertainment to me and there are good reasons for this.

Of course, all  good stories need a bit of conflict and some obstacles.  Ours was coming.  Things weren’t entirely perfect.

Here’s a peek at the back of our first envelope and my note.

 And here’s a shot of DH’s hands after they’d already been washed twice.  

But never mind. 

We'll keep at it for a while.  Yes, yes. I know. It's $25 not $250, but it's the principle of the thing!

So what do you think? Should we visit Sheila again for help? She is quite remarkable at solving problems. Should we cave in and buy the new ribbon?

Got any typewriter tips or tales of your own? How about some time-saving tricks that didn’t quite work out?  

We'll pour a cup of tea and wait to hear from you!