It was just an innocuous Tweet, but it caught my eye today:
And I couldn't help thinking about Valley Typewriter Company (entrance in rear), which takes its rightful place in Geneva history.
The story link above is from Mashable's Todd Wasserman, and it should be noted that Gawker already has updated it to say that there are typewriters still being built in China and elsewhere, so I guess it ain't over until the Olivetti sings.
Still, the typewriting is on the wall, so to speak, and to paraphrase Twain, the reports of its death aren't THAT greatly exaggerated.
Valley Typewriter Company is where I grew up. The address was 15 Woodlawn St., Geneva, IL 60134, and my dad repaired and sold typewriters and adding machines from the basement of our home.
Valley Typewriter (entrance in rear) might have been at one time or another the only place to get your typewriter fixed between Aurora and Elgin, and my dad almost always had more repair work than he could handle. The wait typically was three weeks if you wanted a cleaning.
My job as soon as I turned 16 was to make deliveries. Dad did typewriter repairs for companies from Oak Brook to Elburn, so I got around, as the Beach Boys might have said in those days. I remember toting one of those big machines—I think it was an IBM Selectric—up the stairs at the old Geneva Republican office at 17 N. First St., where Sho-Deen, Inc. is today.
In addition to a sloping backbone, I owe a lot to typewriters—from a very happy and comfortable childhood, to having my first car at age 16, to playing golf with my dad on Wednesday afternoons (bankers hours—but he more than made up for his time off in endless night and weekend work) and a college education—always the first goal for parents who didn't have the opportunity to go to college themselves.
It's a little funny how what goes around has come around. Here I am today, in a startup company (Aol's startup, that is) working a lot of days and nights but also working from home. Like my dad—especially at the end of his career—I'm seeing profound changes in the communications field and adapting as best I can to the times.
There's a wonderful exhibit at the Geneva History Center right now that you really should see. I'm not sure how much longer it will be there, but it is way cool, so hurry over. It's about the history of communications in Geneva and includes the old hot type from The Geneva Republican and interactive tools for the kids, an old moving picture of a fairy tale story and, yes, typewriters.
And so on this day of almost-armageddon to the machines to which I owe so much, let me say this. Hail to thee, Smith-Corona. Hail to thee, Olivetti Underwood. And always remember and never forget: