Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Demon Typewriter

My grandfather Streator and grandmother Maw
in the center of the picture
The Demon Typewriter by J.Q. Rose

Old pictures bring back good memories for me. The picture above is my mother's side of the family with my grandmother Maw in the center. I've been thinking of her lately because this month she would have been 125 years old.

Maw was my first reader and publisher She took the scribbled notebook pages of a story about a girl and her horse and typed up the whole "novel" on her old typewriter.
Antique typewriter
Courtesy of  thaikrit at freedigitalphotos.com

What joy when I saw that type-written manuscript! I knew I wanted to be a writer and I'd have to learn how to type in order to offer readable manuscripts. When I was in high school, I took a typing class. All the machines in the classroom were manual typewriters---except one. That electric typewriter was a demon as far as I was concerned. The letters jumped on the page with just a light touch of the finger and the carriage magically returned to the beginning of the line with no warning.

Using that dang machine to take speed typing tests was gut-wrenching for me because I wanted to ace every test. With only one electric in the class, we drew straws to see who would have to take the test on that scary monster. After practicing all week on a manual, hopping on the electric typewriter was like driving a sports car with an automatic transmission when all I'd driven was a  manual geared beat-up pick-up truck! But not as thrilling. 

The automatic functions played havoc with my word count, not to mention the mistakes caused by my heavy-fingered touch on those quick responding keys. As I look back now, I think the teacher factored in using the electric typewriter for the test instead of the manual. Otherwise I would've flunked the class!
Typing in the 21st Century
In the 21st century, we can type out a manuscript in no time, delete whole paragraphs, auto correct misspellings, move entire scenes to a different chapter in seconds. The only way to change errors was to use the white corrector "paint" to fix typos. We had to dab a bit on the one wrong letter (or many wrong ones) and type over the top making sure the carriage was lined up exactly with the space where the correct letter should be. Any change to a story resulted in re-typing the whole thing.

I remember the stress and churning stomach when trying to type a carbon copy. Absolutely no errors allowed or I'd have to start all over because it was impossible to correct the carbon copy.

I know taking that typing class was probably the best for me because I have used the skill all my life. How did you learn to type? Or can you type?

Share some memories of your typewriter experiences or times with your grandparents. Thanks.

Monday, March 20, 2017

3 Short and 1 Long

Who remembers the rotary dial phones? And who remembers party lines? And of how your phone number was so closely associated to the other three, four, five residences on your "party" that mis-choosing one digit meant a wrong call?

When I say party line, I do NOT mean this:

Around either 1963 or 1964, we had our first telephone installed.

Yes, installed.

Having a telephone in those days was quite the procedure. You didn't stroll into Walmart (for one thing, Walmart didn't exist back then), race to the phone aisle, and cry, "I want that one!"

There were no telephone "stores", period.

You had to be home, or someone had to be home and wait for the telephone man to drive up. (It was always a man, never a telephone woman)

He got out of his van and got to work. First, he needed to come inside, find out where you wanted the phone to set, and then installed the "jack". Next, he went outside, climbed a few telephone poles because he added a new line all the way down to our house. Finally, he came back inside and plugged the end of the wire into that new jack.

And then he brought in your phone.

And, amazingly, you were allowed to choose any color you wanted - as long as it was black.

This photo is of the 1970's telephones. Yep, color was in vogue. Note the coiled cord. 

Back in the 1960's, though, all phones were black and came with a straight, spaghetti thin cord. It did curl, however. After usage, that cord would become so coiled with knots, when trying to straighten 'em out, you felt like you tussled with a boar in a sack.

And the fight didn't matter, either, 'cause that cord would always tangle again.

So, after the telephone man left your house, you had your phone.

One phone to a residence, people. Only millionaires could afford an "extension". 

And now you possessed a wonderful, exciting, brand new telephone number.

A number that you shared with a "party" consisting of your four neighbors. The numbering system ran something like this: the Smith's number was 555-4354, the Jones' number was 555-4355, the Lloyd's was 555-4356, the Winter's was 555-4357, and Your Number was 555-4358.

And your ring was three short and one long.

Because the Smith's was two short and two long.

The Jones' was one long and three short.

The Lloyd's was two long and two short.

The Winter's was four short.

So that left yours to be three short and one long.

Got it? 

The phone would ring a lot, because someone was always getting calls. You stood still, listening. 

Count it down - is that your ring? Oh, nope. That was the Jones. Hmm. Someone was calling them a lot today. They'd already gotten four calls. Who in the world could they be talking to?

So you'd tiptoe over, gently lift the receiver, and listen in.

Oh, yeah.

Everybody eavesdropped on everybody else. And, of course, sometimes everybody would talk to everybody else. That's how it'd be a party. See?

But if some moron, after they decided to stop yakking, forgot to put their receiver back on the hook...Well, that was worse than bad manners. That'd get you a snub, a glare, and a freezer shoulder next time you met up at your local five-and-dime.  


Because that unhung phone receiver meant that four other families could NOT CALL OUT. 

You always prayed that no one figured out you'd been the moron who hadn't set the receiver just right. 

It was just too embarrassing to try and explain that your mind was elsewhere - like ordering your legs to gallop past the kitchen door on your way to the nearest outhouse. (Yes. Outhouse. That's a topic for another post)

Ah. Those golden years of the 1960's. 

I can't remember our phone number, but I do remember the number of the rings.

How about you? Were you part of the fun of belonging to a party line?

Sunday, March 12, 2017

What Was That Jingle?

As a kid growing up in the 1960's, television was pretty cool. The commercials were original, and downright fun.

I still remember lots of jingles from those ads.

Who all recalls, and can answer with the product name, of some of these...

"...peanuts and a prize, that's what you get with...."

"...plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh, what a relief it is!"

"...it's two, two, two mints in one..."

"...put a tiger in your tank!"

"...stronger than dirt, stronger than dirt..."

"...Yaaaahoooo, it's....?"

"...that's what I'd truly love to be..."

These are just a few that I remember, and some from my local stations (which not everyone would recall, so I won't put those here.)

What are some that you remember?

But, just as an incentive, did anyone watch these? :)

Kerns (1970's commercial)

Friday, March 10, 2017

In the Days When I Was Younger

Seeing as how this is the first post on this blog, some might wonder why it's even in existence.

It came about because I think a blog like this is needed. Today's world is rush, rush, rush, filled with instant mail, instant cash, instant pictures. Instant everything.

It's all so now.

But sometimes I just wanna stop, take a breath, and reflect, ya know.

That's when I think about not the now, but about the then.

When was then?

Then was in the days of paper letter writing, talking on a rotary dial phone, listening to music via our 45's or 33 records. The days of black and white television, and having to walk to the TV to change channels.

It was when you ran barefoot, waited till dark to bust outside and catch lightning bugs, or read the Montgomery Ward or Sears and Roebuck catalog.

A catalog you held in your hands. A paper catalog. A catalog delivered from the mail carrier. 

Then was a time of no air conditioning and you kept cool by folding a piece of school paper into a fan.

Then was a time when a carton of school milk cost two cents.

Then was when you had a porch swing, and in the evenings, after eating supper and washing the dishes, you sat in it and watched the night sky and marveled at the beauty of the stars.

Then was a time of taking time to enjoy the little things. 

It was a time of wonder, of hope, of innocence.

And if you're like me and think it's past time, now, to recall the more simpler life, share those things that mattered to you back when it was "then".

Miranda Lambert even enjoys the "then".