Typewriters in the Family

I’ll bet most of you know how to type.

It must have been the fall of 1958 when I took at least a semester of typing. Earlham High School had just gotten one or two electric typewriters, so we took turns with the wonderful new gadgets.

Mom got a Facit portable typewriter to use at home, which is how I typed my school papers–even footnotes. I spent my graduation money on a Facit of my own, which saw me through college and beyond. Yes, I still have it. Maybe Granddaughter Kate will enjoy it when she gets old enough.


The next one was electric! A Corona XL with cartridges for the ribbon and a correcting tape. Bliss! It’s “portable” but terribly cumbersome and heavy, but electric! (For some reason, I still have this one. Maybe because we’ve lived in the same house 45 years.)


When our son Dan got interested in computers, our first one was a MacPlus. What a rigamarole with those floppy discs, but what a joy to work with.

Dan and the Mac Plus, which is on the antique library table from the Goff family’s Victorian house in Guthrie Center

This is what I used to transcribe the WWII letters, making copies for the four surviving siblings. I hadn’t planned at that point to write a book. I needed to do a lot of research and learn to write well enough, which took at least a couple of decades.

Now I use a terrific Dell desktop computer, but I’m charmed by an old Royal typewriter my husband found and cleaned up. This one probably dates from the 1940s, so is as old as I am.

It’s fun to use it as props for books and other stuff.

Our childhood globe from the 1950s sits underneath. My husband refinished the library table, which my folks bought from a neighbor in rural Dallas County when Dad got home from WWII.

Oh, my piano teacher typed her son’s papers, at least while he was in high school. He became a doctor so probably dictated anything he needed typed. But I decided I was NOT going to type my son’s assignments so made sure he took a semester of keyboarding. That was one great decision! (I bet he’d agree.)


  1. Ah, I think one of my most prized possessions was the old Royal typewriter I’d found in a thrift store as a teenager. Before widespread computer availability, it required some repairs (sticky keys, one or two bent ones), but with some TLC it typed out many high school reports, etc. I held onto it for quite a few years, but was lost to the ages some time ago. I no longer have a typewriter, but the nostalgia of a time long ago still calls. Perhaps one day, I’ll find just the right one to adorn a shelf in the bookcase behind me. Enjoyed, as always, Ms. Joy.

  2. When I was a youngster, I typed my first stories out on an old Remington typewriter much like the one in your last picture. Three of my grandparents work at Remington Arms. One great uncle work at Remington Rand (and made typewriters). Of course, he was always teased by the others, “why would you rather make typewriters than sporting rifles?”

  3. I had one of the Corona XLs! It got me through college and grad school. My parents made me take a semester of personal typing in high school so that I would be able to type my college papers. That was definitely time well-spent!

  4. I fortunately learned on an electric in high school, but had some fun playing with Dad’s manual. I bought an antique manual at an auction and wish I still had it. I may still have an electric lying around. Can’t imagine ever using a typewriter again in this life!

  5. I do type now but I always wanted to learn to type in HS. Never took any of the classes or shorthand 🙁 Love the last photo – brings a smile!

  6. In the 7th grade all me teachers told my father that my handwriting was so bad that the couldn’t read my home work assignments and suggested I take a typing class. I ended up taking two and turned out to be the only boy in both classes.

    After I finished my father bought me a used Remington typewriter. I got rid of it when I got my first computer with a printer. I so wish I’d kept it.

    • Here’s hoping you can find one like it. I wish my old one had a story behind it, but at least it was free. Husband Guy is always hauling home free stuff. He found an indoor/outdoor area rug that he’d planned to use under his Vette. I liked it enough that it’s in with the (free) swing on the front porch.

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