Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Clickety Clack: Takin' Me Back...!

I recently had a job that only a typewriter could do.

As I was clacking away at the keys with all my might, it brought back some memories of typewriters in my life.

I don't think kids now know what one might be, but it was really a thing of wonder back before the computer.
I was a kid of the sixties and seventies and learned to type on a manual in a basic business class: Typing 1.

We were watched to make sure we kept our fingers on the home rows, and our business teacher quietly walked the straight rows of desks to oversee and help troubleshoot. (She was one of my favorite teachers and heck if I haven't forgotten her name!)

If you passed Typing 1 you could then take Typing 2 and I did, as well as any other business classes our high school offered. That is how I knew I wanted to be some sort of secretary: I have always loved pens, paper, office supplies and the typewriter and calculator.

Well...by the time high school was over I'd taken business law, business etiquette, shorthand for business and the king of them all: a business BLOCK (which was a two-hour long class where we had our own desks, our own rolling chairs, and our own IMB SELECTRIC SELF CORRECTING TYPEWRITERS...for crying out loud!

Those IBM Selectrics were a wonder and the latest technology! I got to go so fast on those things I just loved the speed tests. I think at my peak it was 90 WPM.

I got my first job as a co-op student in high school as an assistant to the librarian and I spent many hours clacking away, typing up card catalog cards with titles, authors, category, ISBN numbers.

I got paid $2 an hour and I thought I was big stuff, collecting a check every two weeks from the school district.

After high school, my first real job was as a secretary to the owner of a small chain of hardware stores. Darned if he had one of the old manuals. It took me years to talk him into buying one of my beloved IBM Selectric typewriters! I typed many carbon copies on company letterhead and knew how to use that white-out and self-correcting tape like a pro.

I made decent money as an office manager to the man as his company grew, but he was never ever one to be "up" on office technology and even spurned a personal computer for the ease of "word processing" programs.

He finally did relent and buy a used computer (!!!) in the late eighties and what a difference composing correspondence and business documents became.

How things have changed. (I know that makes me sound OLD! but I am under 50!) Most of all business now is done via the computer, internet and email, blackberries and iPhones.

Business letter composition classes are probably no longer taught. I knew many forms of business letter and my favorite was the block style. (Anyone know what in the world I'm talking about?)

Today as I see kids use the email and see how sloppy we've gotten about punctuation and indentation and spacing, salutations and signatures I think how I'm not even that ancient and things have changed so much.

But for a while the other night, I was happily clickety-clacking away on my old portable typewriter, bought at a sale for $2...thinking how someday I'm going to be the gray-haired lady telling the "kids" about all our old contraptions.

And they'll give me the same blank look I'm sure I've given old-timers in the past!
Anyone remember the old punch-button adding machines and cash registers? (I'm raising my hand!)

Below is a short video of me getting my hands on an old cash register similar to that I worked on at the hardware store back in 1981. This was taken in November when I went to Illinois to visit my niece and went to see Ang of "Parisienne Farmgirl" blog fame. (The light blue link will take you to her story of our meeting, so funny! The red link will take you to my story of going to her area and the farm sale.)

Me, Amelie', Ang, Aiden, Mary

She took us to the cutest ever little consignment/thrift store in her cute downtown area and the proprietor there was so nice and allowed me to get behind the counter and use the cash register to ring up my stuff. (The sounds just took me back!)

I had a little trouble as you can see! Ha!

Do you miss the clickety clack of the typewriter, the old adding machines and cash registers?


Simple Home said...

I loved reading this post. I learned to type on a manual typewriter too, my freshman year of high school. I didn't take typing my sophomore year and when I took the 2nd class my junior year, they had replaced all the old typewriters in the school with Selectric typewriters. You are so right, they were wonderful after learning on that manual one. Such a difference now, isn't it? Thanks for taking me back.

Unknown said...

What a great post! I had to smile--we must be about the same age. I taught myself to type on an old Royal manual my father bought from the army. And oh I remember the bliss of the IBM Selectric! It was amazing. My first experience with a computer was the MTST (don't remember what that stood for) in my steno block of junior or senior year. The thing was as big as an ATM machine!

Lori said...

I too learned on a manual typewriter and a mimeograph machine. Everytime I use the copier we have here at work, I marvel at what it can all do..double-sided, staple, hole punch and on and on. I use the computer so much now that it almost unnerves me to hear the clickety clack of typewriter keys. I just know everyone can hear my mistakes! :) Thanks for the memories

Bloggin bout my Boys said...

You look adorable having such fun at that cash register!I was thinking about that the other day...how obsolete the once so much an office fixture our good old typewriters were. My typing teacher was SCARY so I only took a year and then took a refresher in college. Sadly I still am a lousy typist but have fun still plunking the keys on my Mom's old Smith Corona now and again! Used a register like that at my first waitress job too! WE ARE NOT OLD technology is just fast!!

jamjar said...

We must have all learned on Manual Typewriters...what strong fingers we had. I also used an old cash register since my parents had a houseware/hardware/furniture/appliance store while I was growing up. Lovely memories...thanks

Meadowbrook Cabin Primitives said...

Oh, yes, I remember the old typewriters , adn I even had one ! Also, later on, I had an electric one ! Wow ! I took typing 1 and 2 , shorthand 1 and 2 and also secretarial office practice. I am a little older than you, and yes, I remember the ka ching of the cash registers and the old adding machines and the five cent candy bar! LOL And it was made in the USA then !

I am so glad I took typing. It does make it easier to use the computer keyboard.

Hugs !

Donna said...

Thank goodness I took typing in high school! My parents thought that I was NUTS for enrolling in the class because I intended to go into engineering school. Well, I thought that personal computers might be the big thing later on (replacing HUGE ones that filled entire rooms and required key punch cards for programming). Typing turned out to be such an essential skill!

Tanya said...

I just had a moment here sitting in my chair thinking about typing class, shorthand class, Gen. Business....Good grief...kids have no idea what they missed. NO way to explain it to the full meaning! HA! Thank you for taking me back a few years. I'm a teacher now and everything is done on computers....yes, it's faster and more efficient but there is something to be said about the "good ole days!"

FHCS said...

Oh my goodness...this was a great post! I went to business school after 2 years of college and I learned to type on an IBM selectric as well... I was cracking up about the sitting up straight, eyes on your paper... I also learned steno, keyboarding, and computers were something newer then. Word processors were the newest thing in the job force after I graduated, what a treat to type on one of those, ha,ha! We actually filed things then too, no PDF's like now! Modified block is the letter form I used most often and you counted your spaces, it wasn't fill in the blank! Boy that brought back some memories, I haven't seen one of those in a long time.