Family: Once a very long time ago I had a typewriter

Changes not likely

My son gave me the gift of a tiny typewriter the other day.

Of course, it is not real, but simply a small box that looks exactly like a typewriter.

It even seems to have typewriter paper in it.

And typed on the paper are the words, ‘Once upon a time typewriter …. The word time is crossed out.

I love it.

I wanted it to have a place of significance on my desk. In fact, I wanted it to be the only thing on my desk.

I have always admired people with neat desks. My desk is hardly ever, in any way, neat.

But, I visualized it anyway. After all it worked for Bianca Andreescu who became Canada’s first ever grand slam singles tennis champion.

And so I visualized.

I visualized people coming into my office, immediately noticing the tiny typewriter and also noticing how neat my desk was.

They would be secretly impressed and I would be secretly proud.

Of course, that has not happened. My desk is already filled with stuff; notebooks and my sunglasses, my camera, three coffee cups and a water glass and the remains of today’s lunch.

The typewriter replica is almost hidden.

I have read and re-read the book, The Magic of Tidying Up, but, really, it has done no good. I am a lost cause.

I’m just messy!

Anyway, as I write this, the little box is sitting beside my keyboard and, suddenly my mind, is flooded with memories of another time and place.

I was just fresh out of the kitchen and had dropped my youngest child off at kindergarten when I got the job as a typesetter.

As a typesetter, I was to type the editor’s copy into this machine that is probably in a museum somewhere today. It was the days of white out and no ‘delete’ button. It was the days of light tables and exacter knives.

I Googled the word ‘typesetter’ to help bring to recall exactly what I did do in those days.

Google told me typesetters work in the traditional printing industry laying out the inked type blocks for repeated printing. This is the manner in which newspapers have been printed since the 16th century. The need for typesetters has decreased dramatically with the computer printing technology and the shrinking newspaper industry of the early 21st century. Some professionals in the field are revamping their skills to the newer technology with additional training in graphic design, Google added.

I worked as typesetter for an undetermined length of time, but I had my eye on bigger and better things.

A typewriter.

And so it came to be that one day the boss lady came to me and said they were giving me a job as a reporter and I could have my very own typewriter. True, the carriage did not return all the way to the left but I would have to figure out how to make that work.

I was thrilled to the tips of my ink stained fingers.

And so it began. My journey into the newspaper world following the discarded crumpled up path of the latest edition.

Before I knew it, I had traded in my typewriter for one of the very earliest computers brought into the newsroom by a progressive publisher who still kept his light tables and darkroom.

I struggled with computers and remember most plaintively telling my brother, who had come to get me for coffee, that I had lost four stories.

My brother was a bread and butter guy who was more at home with a hockey stick on an outdoor rink than he was in any kind of office.

“Where did you lose them,” he said, perplexed.

“I thought I had saved them, but I guess I didn’t,” I moaned. “I have no idea what I am doing.”

And so it began. A new world, a different world, but still, in many ways the same familiar black and white world of the newspaper.

And, as I look at that little pretend typewriter on my desk, I can almost hear the staccato click and feel the smooth texture of the keys under my fingers.

And, I feel like if I could actually slip some typewriter paper in to the carriage and return it to the left it would more than likely jam.

Because once upon a time a very long time ago, I had a typewriter!

And so it began.

Treena Mielke is the editor of the Rimbey Review. She lives in Sylvan Lake with her family.

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