An Ode to the Cold War . . .

Remington Rand Standard Model 5 Matte, 1940-1941

Like my love for notebooks, photographs, pens, magazines, cameras, pocket watches, paper, and books I also love typewriters.

I am not sure what it is about typewriters, but I may like thefact that some of my favorite writers pounded away on their workhorse Olympias or Royals.  It may be the noise!  It may be the instant gratification of seeing one’s words printed out on the page which cannot be met with a computer.  Perhaps, it is about the process; ultimately, I think that’s right. It is about the tangible process of writing.  The grease, the dirt, the wrestling that makes writing a physical endeavor and not merely cerebral.  But, I would argue that the process of writing on a typewriter forces forethought, planning, a longer vision of what’s ahead of you for the simple fact that an error is all the more significant, well – onerous.  While one could be disciplined enough to force that mental cycle through their mind on a computer, there is the distraction of the INTERNET, and all the other wonderful resources and capabilites a computer beholds.  But, it also has its pitfalls (something known as viruses, I believe?).  A typewriter is simple and concise, existing for one singular purpose: typing.  And I say typing, because not everyone is a writer or aims to be.  Hey, I’m trying to be inclusive here.

About the pictures on this page.  These are the typewriters of which I am most familiar.  The top left, is the closest image I could find of my dear portable Remington Rand Deluxe Model 5 in Matte Black who I have named Elliot (a good unisex name).  As you can see, the picture is of a Standard which came five years before the Deluxe model.  Looking at this picture, I cannot seem to discern the differences between the models but I am not an expert, merely an aficionado.  Interestingly enough, many typewriters up until mid Cold War did not have number ones because of a need to save parts.  I wonder where the metal was going . . . Well, not really; I know exactly where the metal went.  So, manufacturers reasoned that the lowercase letter ‘L’ could suffice as a number one.

The second typewriter was the first typewriter I attempted to buy on ebay.  I wanted a model from England because that is where our language was born and after my time in England I was very inspired and anxious to get to work on my novel.  But, the seller did not package the typewriter properly and combined with the negligence of the Bushwick post office it was smashed into an irreparable state.  That was horrible.  I had named the pearly metallic teal portable, Larkspur.  My friend and I said a brief eulogy of sorrow.  Not only did my excitement die with Larkspur, but also with it a fantastic name!  Last Summer, there were a lot of these little guys on ebay, and now they’re impossible to find.  Not to mention, most of the typewriter reference websites do not even mention this model in their historical narrative of Smith-Corona machines which just added to the elusive allure of this little guy.

As for the third one, I inherited from a very dear friend after she flew off across the country to our homeland of California.  Hers is in a lot better shape than this one below because hers does not have that weird yellow strip going on or rust on the part to the left and below the space bar.  I think during the 1950s at some point, Smith-Coronas were no longer being made in England because the Super Sterling was made in the States.  Not to mention an electric version had just been released a few years prior to this model.  Also, if you look carefully there is a number one key.  Guess, frugality was no longer an issue.  I have not yet figured out what some of the keys do.  The far left switch, changes the color of the ribbon, I assume.  At a certain point, some typewriters were made with multi-colored ribbons.  One half was a correction ribbon and the other was the regular typing ribbon.  Often, one can see ribbons that are half red, half black.  Not sure if I have that right.  Regardless, I love typewriters, I still have a lot to learn about them.  But, some of the websites that seem trustworthy are listed below.

myTypewriter.com The Classic Typewriter Store.
After, I received my broken Larkspur I hunted for typewriter repair stores insisting to myself that there were still holdouts lodged between a rock and a hard place.  So, I found some.  The two that I visited in New York were fantastic.  The first, Gramercy Typewriter Co. has the reputation of being one of the best places to go because of the owner’s fastidious devotion to the outdated technology.  And, a little publicity from NPR never hurt anyone.  He was not too consdescending.  In fact, I think he was a little surprised that I knew anything about typewriters and that I had such an odd model.  Poor busted Larkspur.  However, in the end, after I sent Larkspur back to her home, I bought Elliot from this cute little man in my neighborhood: Bay Ridge!  Ridgeway Typewriter and Stationary Co at 515 72nd St. in Brooklyn has a great feel to it.  Even though he obviously repairs a number of things to stay in business (and, that is readily apparent with the stacks and stacks of miscallenous office equipment in his shop), I think the place is fantastic because of his knowledge and contenment in his work.  It’s nice to find someone who is doing what he loves regardless of whether or not it is a dying art.  And, then to fly under the rader for it is quite noble.  He completely refurbished my dear Elliot and is now in perfect working order.  So, I recommend seeing him to see what floats in and out of his shop.



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