One thing about getting older is that I really don’t ask for gifts very often. It’s rare that there’s a thing that I absolutely must have, other than a book here and there, or a game I probably won’t find time to play, or an experience that I’d really rather be a part of planning for anyway. This year, though, I had an opportunity to ask for a very specific, completely impractical, and logistically complex gift, and after a bit of waffling, I finally worked my way around to making the request.
See, a long time back, in the mists of time Before Jason, my grandfather acquired a manual typewriter. Specifically, an Underwood Model 5, a true workhorse of a machine that he was rumored to be able to use at some obscene rate of speed. After my grandparents passed, the typewriter found its way to my family’s house, where it remained for a very long time, remaining still and very occasionally being played with by yours truly. I don’t remember if either of my parents used it or not, but my memory is that it eventually wound up in the attic, was later moved into town when we left the house in the country, and largely gathered dust. When my mom moved to St. Louis this year, I had the opportunity to bring it to Chicago, which I jumped on in about 0.0005 seconds.
It was, understandably, in pretty rough shape. That’s what happens, of course, when a device that was functional outlives its function. There are very few reasons to use a typewriter of any sort, much less one of this vintage. And it takes quite a while, doesn’t it, before something moves from “obsolete” to “ancestral”? A few decades, a couple of deaths, a handful of moves. Still, at some point it HAD reached that state, and it seemed important to have it restored, and I asked my beloveds to make it so. As you can see, they did a fantastic job fulfilling a more-than-challenging request.
So it is, then, that I am the proud owner of a beautiful and functional 1920s vintage Underwood Model 5, along with spare ribbons (those alone are no easy feat to track down) and very soon, a handmade cover to protect and display it. I can confirm that it works wonderfully, although I already miss having access to spell check.
I doubt I’ll ask for, or receive, a better gift for a very long time indeed.