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Today's Tweets Bring Sad News for Son of Valley Typewriter Co.

I heard the news today, oh boy. It's RIP for typewriters—the last manufacturer closes its doors. Allegedly.

It was just an innocuous Tweet, but it caught my eye today:

RIP Typewriters: Last Manufacturer Closes Its Doors [REPORT]

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:

thequickbrownfoxjumpsoverthelazydog

-30-

Jim P April 26, 2011 at 10:51 PM
Nice story, Rick, brought a smile to my face. To this day I think you can still faintly make out "Valley Typewriter (entrance in rear)" on the front of your boyhood home. Jim Pace
Sammi King April 27, 2011 at 01:08 AM
Rick, I absolutely loved the line, "It ain't over til the Olivetti sings" Great writing! My mom worked as a secretary and did typing at home to make extra money. I remember bringing her typewriter to your house for servicing a number of times. I really enjoyed this story. Sammi King
Kurt Wehrmeister April 27, 2011 at 01:46 AM
Young people today -- including my own twentysomething staffers -- are astonished to learn that for the first four years out of college -- 1979 to 1983 -- my primary professional tool at The Republican was an Underwood Five manual typewriter -- sold and serviced, of course, by one Ralph Nagel. (I do suspect that Dave Rogers bought it for me used and reconditioned, but I'm really not sure. Didn't matter; the things were built like tanks.)
AwkwardEngineer April 27, 2011 at 07:41 PM
I still use my manual typewriter everyday and I love it - http://www.awkwardengineer.com/
lizziegrindle April 28, 2011 at 06:42 AM
Well, retractions everywhere must be happening since this is simply not the true case. This is a classic story of “miscommunication” at its best http://bit.ly/lxS7aP
Geneva History Center May 11, 2011 at 01:38 PM
Rick, The Geneva History Center would like any information or historical items from Valley Typewriter (entrance in rear). Currently we do not have anything in our archives and would appreciate anything you have to share.
Kurt Wehrmeister May 11, 2011 at 06:46 PM
I'm beginning to think "(Entrance In Rear)" was part of the formal corporate name of Valley Typewriter . . .

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