If you’ve taken a look at my blog’s layout, you might have noticed that I have a bit of a “thing” for vintage typewriters (as an aside, I suppose it’s valid to say that all typewriters are vintage, right?!).
So, why the typewriters?
When I was a kid, my dad had this wonderful old Underwood typewriter, similar to the one in this photo. That typewriter absolutely fascinated me, quite possibly more so than any of my own toys, and being allowed to use it (a rare occurrence) was, in my little mind, the Greatest Treat Ever.
I have happy memories of using that typewriter, but one in particular stands out in my mind, formed in part by my own recollection and also from the many family tellings and retellings of the story.
I was very young, somewhere around age three or perhaps even younger, and asked Dad if I could use the typewriter. He was probably in the middle of something else and didn’t want to go downstairs to set it up for me, so his answer, much to my dismay, was, “No.”
Undaunted, and with a persistence not uncommon in children of that tender age, I kept pestering him to please let me use it, just for a little while, puh-leeeease, Dad! At that point I was probably starting the transition from polite begging to annoying whining, and so, in an effort to move me along and get me out of his hair, my exasperated father firmly said that the only way I was going to be allowed to use the typewriter that day was if I could bring it upstairs from the basement by myself.
I’m sure he thought that by saying this, I’d be discouraged by the magnitude of the task, give up, and go find some more suitable toys with which to amuse myself.
As long ago as that was, even today I distinctly remember the relief I felt as soon as I heard those magical words. The despair that had been filling my young heart immediately lifted, because suddenly I’d been given a way to make this happen. My destiny was in my power!
I immediately raced downstairs to the desk in the corner of the basement on which the typewriter sat and, though I have absolutely no idea just how I did it, somehow managed to get the massive (at least in comparison to my frame) machine off the desk and onto the chair, then from the chair down to the floor, then across the basement to the stairs, then (deep breath, heft, drop) up onto the first step, then (deep breath, heft, drop) up onto the second step.
I don’t know how much time had passed at this point, but I’m pretty sure that as soon as I’d disappeared from his sight, Dad had forgotten all about me and gone back to whatever it was he was doing. He was brought back to my reality, however, when he heard the sounds of his stubborn three-year-old’s exertion as she hefted that beastly heavy typewriter up the basement stairs one… by… one.
Dad was completely stunned that I’d managed to make it as far as I did, and quickly realized that there would be no way he could go back on his promise to let me use the typewriter now! He took pity on me and carried it the rest of the way up the stairs, and as a result of my stubbornness and efforts, I enjoyed a happy session of typing on my beloved machine.
Old typewriters always brings this memory to mind, and the sight of one never fails to make me smile. To me they are a symbol of persistence, of an anything is possible attitude, and they remind me of how an adoration for the written word has been a part of who I am for as long as I can remember.
Do you have a positive childhood symbol?
(Originally posted in February, 2012.)