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How and Why You Should Teach Your Grandkids About Typewriters

By:  Karla Sullivan

There are varying degrees of skilled computer users among Baby Boomers and their parents. Their true ability is difficult to accurately measure since many are embarrassed to admit that the younger generation has a “thumbs up” when it comes to their social communication and file retrieval methods.

Many of us not ready to reveal that all they can see is the zipper on their jacket when someone speaks of zip files and that they have not replied to a family members’ e-mail request for digitally restored family photos since they don’t quite know how to save and send. I have improved when it comes to my erratic skills because of still being in the workplace. Obviously, using a computer is part of most any job description even if you are driving a tractor. Who knows, the tractor may have a GPS system; another topic altogether. I am also fortunate to have the younger generation at my disposal, breathing down my neck and asking me why I looked up information the backwards way and that their method is much easier. Of course, they are always right and take pride in the fact that they know something I don’t. They are proud and I am just a little more frustrated that I couldn’t figure it out on my own.

Computer keyboards are similar to those of the old-fashioned typewriter with the exception of the number pad on the right but the typewriter was much harder to press. Speed for the older ones was not a major issue when learning how to use a typewriter especially if you learned from incessant teachers making sure our hands were positioned perfectly over the keys. We didn’t do too badly at letting our fingers do the talking on the good old-fashioned typewriter. But, boy, using correcto type was an art form all its own. Some of you may even remember the layers of carbon paper to make copies which was an experience almost as painful as a migraine headache. Better yet, you would get a migraine along with permanently stained fingertips after using carbon copies.

Typewriters did not possess the means to communicate to the world but they did the trick when typing a simple letter and believe it or not, they are still for sale. Though the carriage return would cause tennis elbow today, we could take the machine apart and put it back together again if there was an issue all by ourselves. If we still couldn’t fix it, the handyman’s shop down the street could repair it and you could kill two birds with one stone, another expression you don’t hear much anymore, by taking your clogged vacuum to him as well. What a deal!

But for your computer, the geek squad has to be called in and if your hard drive is shot, you don’t have a printer, you don’t know what a flash drive is to save docs, your work is history! Darn, I should have typed my will on the typewriter instead!

At MyTypewriter.com and yes, they have a .com for everything, you can purchase a manual or electric typewriter manufactured by the best including Underwood, Royal, Remington, Olivetti and Smith Corona. The famous IBM selective is also available. For those of you that can’t click on the links since this site is only available through e-mail and fax assistance, you can also pick up the phone and contact Typewriters.com and call their 1800 number for a customer service experience just like the old days. At any rate, owning a typewriter would be a fabulous addition to your collectibles and would be available in the event of a major solar flare break down.

The next time your children or grandchildren visit, surprise them with a new or refurbished typewriter. Make sure they take a seat in a stiff back chair in front of it, shoulders back and eyes on a sample text to the left of the typewriter. Have them insert a piece of blank paper all by themselves. Command them to flex their wrists properly, not look at the elevated keyboard and see what they can accomplish. Now, you are finally in control and are able to give back all those times that they thought they knew something you did not. Have a wooden ruler in hand to threaten and show them whose boss but don’t get carried away with ruler tapping when their fingers begin to flop. That is one teaching method of Typing 101 we don’t want to repeat!



Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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