I received a package yesterday. Inside the box was a Remington 5 [streamlined] circa 1935. For those born before the computer revolution, Remington was a major typewriter manufacturer. Think “word processor”, its CPU the organ between your eyes with an attached printer.
It belonged to Jules Morrow, my mentor at the beginning of my career. He composed on it until friends bought him a computer. Even then, I did catch him tapping out missives on it. The Executor of Jules’ estate, acting on instruction from his will, sent it. Inside the paper carriage there was a typed note.
He knew me better than I myself. Jules paid one dollar every week until that Remington had been paid off. If the above website is correct, the price was $49.50. So, instead of the self gratification we enjoy today with our credit cards, Jules, an individual of the Depression, waited patiently paying his weekly dollar for almost a year before receiving what became his most prized possession. And yes, Jules, I am aware of the previous sentence’s length.
I placed his Remington 5 on a shelf in my office. Not prominently displayed as a “piece” of antiquity or some decorative emblem studiously perched for all to see, but as a reminder. I have placed it below eye level so that when I spin around in my office chair, it is there. While I may have no past, this machine does and viewing it reminds me of a history, both worldly and personal. Its presence in my office a balefire, a signal for what I do here, digging for stolen history.
This gift set me thinking. I do gather up old things like some museum curator. My telephone is not antique but a replica of one from earlier in the last century. The house I live in, also old, built sometime in the 1920s. My neighborhood reminiscent of “Leave It To Beaver.” Why didn’t I purchase a Condo or some new brick home in a planned community?
Because I need a sense of what has transpired before I walked this earth. And this typewriter, a machine I have no skill with, is a reminder that while I may have begun life in 1989, the world did not. In that, my history resides. So I borrow this part of Jules’ past to bolster my present. Its’ shiny Art Deco frame brings to focus those who have helped me on my bittersweet travail.