Capturing life in words…
I just went through 48 hours without ability to write. Well, I technically could write, yet my normal, comfortable avenue for writing was not accessible. Once I learned to type back in the late 1980s, thoughts could be hammered down and captured quickly– no longer elusively escaping my slow penmanship. I was freed. My fine motor skills are horrible and writing long hand would cause me to lose thoughts or wonderful metaphors. Before machines could increase the speed of transferring thought to paper, I would scribble key words in the margins, and quickly return to the sentence at hand. But typing, aha! Typing changed the world and broke the snail-like, dilatory pace of the pen.
Learning to type back in the 1980’s provided clearance to pound out important pieces. Such as poems declaring my deep, unrelenting love of my high school sweetheart. Or a letter to my very best friend, about how boring high school was and had nothing of value to teach. Ha! The irony of writing this in typing class!
Typing drills would taunt our creative minds to change some words up and about on the ol’ Smith Corona typewriter. Now I wish I could thank the typing teacher, who tolerated the giggles my girl-friends and I would suppress when an error on a drill changed “ship” to “shit”, or “dame” to “damn”. We really lost it if the word “duck” changed from feathered friend to reckless sexual abandon with one erred keystroke.
We were such a silly set of adolescents, I wonder now how poor Mr Bowles put up with restless teens laughing year after year at the same word-slips. Inwardly his brain surely held wonderful witty thoughts regarding the sanguine and predictable guffaws of mainly girls. (Well, occasionally a lone male made his way into Typing, yet not often). The tenacious, timeless, methodical Mr Bowles managed roomful of girls whose eyes glazed over when he carefully and clearly declared the literal “necessity of being a good typist in this day and age”. He was right. Yet not one of us knew nor cared a bit, sadly we dismissed how a skill such as Typing would be helpful that day, or any day.
The Smith Coronas sat six per line and four lines filled the classroom, allowing room for Mr Bowles overhead projector to shine the pangram and rhymes we were to type. He would gently move pencil from line to line, calling out, “Wrists up and eyes on the text, class.”
The Smith Corona and Mr Bowles were calm and rarely off track. He seemed perpetually calm, but alert. Beady, practical eyes with a functional, thin mouth above his perfect bow tie and hair parted very neat and precisely 2 inches off left — but a tad behind on the latest trend. He would ask not, “Where are my glasses?”. Oh no, not Mr Bowles! In perfect, succinct enunciation of all syllables, “Anyone seen my spectacles? I have misplaced my spectacles,” would be called out to the class as he smoothed his-always-in-place-plain-brown hair and then would proceed with, “Keep typing class, as I have a look about.”
Snickers waved through the room at his niavety and utter lack of “coolness”. Ignoring giggles and chuckles he would proceed through without a feather, or hair ruffled. Eventually, we’d note at some time he always found his spectacles, as when the transparency would be changed and a glance to the Ruler of Transparencies with evil drills would show them perched perfectly a quarter inch down his nose.
Today I would admire his character, and applaud his devotion to Brillo creme, suspenders, bow-ties and old English verbiage. And his appreciation and importance of the clackety Smith Corona.
The Smith-Corona is gone. The clack-clickety-clack is no more. Some light clicking can be heard, I suppose, at times upon the keyboard. Or a tap of a fingernail upon the touchscreen’s virtual keyboard. Home-row skills, I hear are still taught, yet it falls last in importance. Drills are gone, as apps, apps, apps are ever changing and demand importance. Rows and rows of the pangram: “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.”– are now replaced by learning to open multiple documents and the various methods one can cut and paste.
I am sure there are giggles over errors, still. Silliness of youth thankfully remains. And teachers like Mr Bowles who are speaking and loving yesteryear as they teach restless bodies the methods of today, as they whisper how very “1990’s” the teacher is — I mean, doesn’t his hair resemble a mullet?” However, there is nothing like the clack-tat-tat of an old Smith Corona echoing across the room.