It was sitting on a lower shelf, with toasters and coffee makers and old hair dryers.
Old and a bit neglected, the keys were coated in dust and grime. The heavy metal frame was scratched, and pencil shavings littered the inside.
A yellow sticker slapped on its side read $9.99.
We lingered a long moment there in the Goodwill aisle. By no stretch of the imagination do we need a typewriter. But $10? And he’s always said he wanted one, to sit in his office, to use now and again.
He touched it, fingers itching to press the weighted keys, watched the arm rise and slap the raised type face against the dusty roller, then picked it up.
“It’s heavy,” he marveled, and even as he put it down and asked again when we’d ever use it, the old machine had won him.
We carried it to the counter, out into the late afternoon sunshine and wind, and laid it carefully in the small truck of our Honda Civic before continuing on our original grocery-shopping expedition.
Goodwill had been a second thought, a quick pull into the parking lot as we passed it on the way to the grocery store.
It’s often that way, where thrift stores are concerned. We make semi-regular stops there, a quick glance down the aisles. Before Christmas we ramp up the visits, watching always. Mostly there’s ever-so-much junk but sometimes there are treasures among the trinkets.
Most visits I linger in the book aisles, glance over vases and mugs and dusty wall hangings, hurry past furniture I’m afraid to touch (a bed bug experience several years ago leaves me leery of thrift-store couches and chairs), glance at electronics, and head on my way.
Once, I found a $5 bread maker that I use constantly. Another time, a stained and dirty Chemex – sold for around $30 to $40 online – sat among the vases marked at 50 cents.
And last week, it was the $10 typewriter that came home with us.
Our fascination probably shows our age, or lack thereof. I’d never used one before, was amazed by the heaviness of the keys, fascinated watching the bar move right and left as I typed. The old ink ribbon, mostly dried, allowed for just faint words on the paper but enough to see the outlines.
But we’ve long wanted one. My love for the written word goes also to the implements used to write it; and if nothing else a typewriter makes a great decoration/conversation piece.
He, after watching Jack White tell how he searches out and creates challenges for himself (on ‘It Might Get Loud’ – I highly recommend it), contemplated writing his dissertation on one.
But as they move toward the antique typewriters are costly. We found one for $40, and let it stay on that flea market table.
We really weren’t looking for one; it just found us.
Now we’re trying to identify it: Smith Corona, non-electric, similar to the Model 88 picture but not quite. Made in the 40s or 50s I think, judging from when the Model 88 came out.
But we have one problem: where does one buy typewriter ribbon in this era of smart phones and ipads?