GRUMBLINGS IN MY BASEMENT IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE BREXIT VOTE
A ONE ACT PLAY by DJ NATHAN
ALF: an old Empire Aristocrat (British)
KURT: an old Olympia (German)
TONY: an old Olivetti with a Scottish accent (Italian from Scotland)
HECTOR: an old Webster/Messa (Japanese-Portuguese)
JACK: an old Smith Corona (New York)
BJORN: an old Facit (Sweden)
SCENE: A SHELF IN A BASEMENT PACKED WITH OLD TYPEWRITERS
TONY: I knew it, we should have left when we had the chance, it’s those Englishmen again, gone thinking they can do it all alone. What are they all thinking?
ALF: You didn’t know it; you’re making that up
KURT: Why does this bother you? Who needs them anyways? Warm beer and crappy cars.
ALF: All German beer tastes the same, but it’s cold. So what?
JACK: Hey, watch what you’re saying. All American beer tastes the same, and it’s cold too. Real cold.
ALF: It has to be cold so you don’t taste it.
HECTOR: You fellows need a nice bottle of wine. I wish I was lying under an olive tree on a blanket right now.
BJORN: I like that idea, but you need some good music, like ABBA.
ALF: egad, another reason why we’re out. Ghastly!
KURT: I suppose you’d be listening to those Beatles? Such ridiculous nostalgia.
ALF: Hardly. I prefer madrigals, played on a lute.
JACK: What the hell is a lute? Some kinda guitar?
HECTOR: We invented those you know. Before we discovered America.
BJORN: I have news for you. The Vikings were in America long before Columbus, who by the way, was an Italian.
TONY: That’s it – I’m going back to Italy to retire in the sun.
ALF: and good bloody riddance, too.
KURT: just wait, the English will be back, begging to join us after they fall on their faces in their English mud.
BJORN: I heard that if they exit, IKEA is pulling out of the UK.
ALF: they wouldn’t dare. Where will they get blueberry jam? The British Navy will embargo Sweden until they relinquish the furniture.
KURT: the furniture doesn’t come from Sweden you idiot. It comes from Asia.
JACK: Asia – you mean where all our jobs went?
HECTOR: who cares about jobs? We don’t have any! How I thirst for a nice glass of Ruby Port.
KURT: You know what it’s really about don’t you? Football. This is their master plan to win the World Cup. But it will fail, because we have mastered their game, ha ha ha ha.
ALF: Football is for hooligans. Our proper sport is cricket I’ll have you know. And by the way, we invented every sport there is, with the exception of basketball, which isn’t really a sport. A freak show for giants, actually.
JACK: Americans invented football, basketball, and baseball.
BJORN: actually, they were all invented by Canadians.
JACK: we call that America north.
ALF: just you wait until we reclaim the Empire, then you’ll all see what a brilliant move this is. (begins humming Rule Britannia)
KURT: God help us, can’t you stop? Anything but that. At least hum something everybody knows.
ALF: Well if you insist, how about this? (begins to sing: Yesterday … )
ALL JOIN IN: All my troubles seemed so far away…
The Canadian Corona Standard
“National Typewriter Exchange Montreal”
I forgot to note that this one came from Montreal, my home town. The phone number is MA-2142.
Reminds me of a piano
Naturally it should have a red/black ribbon, no?
the following version in a new shell
I think these keys are the most beautiful typeface!
Remington Portable No 2
That’s the All-Black Typewriter Team!
Complaint department: today I saw a nice old Remette at the Salvation Army. Most frustrating that they had it up for auction. Unsporting I say, contrary to the very spirit of thrift shops what? Spoiling all the fun they are!
When my friend came to visit from California, I had to show him my typewriters. Then I forced him to write something, which he did. I then edited it for the blog. Then he forced me to watch the World Series. He now knows the difference between an Olivetti and an Olympia, I think… but I still can’t understand baseball. I have to admit it’s a lot more interesting if you drink a few beers though.
happy old men – a typical Florida street scene
Eaton's Prestige c. 1958 (Smith Corona Silent Super)
DETAIL OF THE ACHIEVER (SEARS - BROTHER)
A close inspection of the mechanics of this machine reveals some interesting engineering. There are variations in the lengths of the key levers, spring hooks, and ribbon lifters which would seem to balance the forces and distances traveled by each key. This is unlike most other machines that I have, where all the levers and rods are strictly proportional to their distance from the centre of the basket. Another feature is a lever which opens the ribbon vibrator so that the ribbon does not require threading into the usual contraptions on either side.
LEVER VARIETY ON ACHIEVER
The small Brother is very portable, all metal, and works well. It’s not impressive from an aesthetic standpoint, but it feels good and makes very nice clean type. If you want aesthetics then look no further than the Olivetti Lettera 22. This machine is a designers dream. There is beauty in every little part of it, including the arms of the paper bail, and the fact that they choose to put chromed rollers on it instead of rubber ones. Not only does it look great, but it has amazing touch, and types very softly with no sharp whacking sounds or tinny vibrations. Typing on this is like the feeling you get when you slam the door of a Mercedes.
I discovered an advert for the Eaton’s typewriter from the Montreal Gazette c. 1959. As a native Montrealer it was funny that this was the only ad that my searches turned up. When I was a university student I once worked at Eaton’s, selling…..(not typewriters) … luggage.
Notice in the ad they include a touch typing course on records. Well guess what I found:
SMITH CORONA TOUCH TYPING COURSE
Another find was a box of ‘Eaton’s Corrasable Onion Skin’. Same name but different companies.
EATON'S WITH EATON'S
One last detail from the Sears Achiever – the gear shift! Actually the ribbon vibrator/holder release lever. Unofficially that is – I have no idea what they called this, but that’s what it does.
THE RIBBO-VIBRO-LEASER LEVER
My first typewriter was a Hermes 9. I used it when I was starting out in business in 1983. Then came computers and the typewriter went into the closet, then bye bye. Fast forward to 2003. I bought a little portable for $10 at a thrift shop. I typed a few things on it (including some thoughts about typewriters and where they were going) and got a back ache – so I gave it back. It was pale blue and had a red label on the top right. It may have been a Hermes too, but I can’t recall. Then last June I had an urge to type again, why I cannot imagine. I went to a thrift store and lo and behold here was a pair of Underwood’s. Yes a pair. UnderWOOD. I selected the fancier one, called Golden Touch which had gold trim. It was your basic Universal with all the trimmings c. 1956. We had some fun with it, typing poems and short pieces. However, it had one flaw – the platen advance mechanism did not work perfectly. Clearly some part was missing or installed wrong, but I could not make it work. I took it apart and put it back together – no dice. I was not planning on acquiring more typewriters until one day while on vacation in California I spotted a little package sitting on the floor in an antique mall. I picked it up and opened the case. It was an Adler Tippa S. I left without it, but it was on my mind for a day. The following day I decided to go back. What the heck, it was small enough to carry around in the car, unlike the Underwood. So I bought it. It impressed me right off. So compact, so precise, and so easy to use. I began to look into the whole typewriter blogging world, and was amazed with all the fascinating things related to typewriters! I went back to the thrift stores with my eyes peeled for more. Now I have 11 typewriters. The latest is the other half of the pair of Underwoods from day one last summer. This one could be called the ugly sister, but basically it seems to have the same essential parts. It’s called the Correspondent c. 1952. The good news is that looking at the Correspondent gave me some ideas on how to fix the Golden Touch, so I went at it again and with the use of some heavy wire I got it to advance properly – now it works fine. And I didn’t break it.