It eventually happens to all of us. The shame of it all. The endless frustrations. You didn’t see it coming, but that day has arrived. You woke up one morning, poured some coffee, and dragged a comb across your head. Something was off. The sun was shining. The birds were . . . well, you get the point. However, they weren’t the only things chirping. First you heard a strange sound coming from a clothing drawer.
You dismissed it. Then the couch felt all wrong, strangely uncomfortable. ￼
Then you opened the fridge for a snack. The sudden and inescapable truth: you had an infestation of typewriters.￼
It was absurd. How could you let this happen? What will the neighbors think and who can you call for help? Is there an anonymous 1-800 phone number for you to confess your secret shame? What do you say? “Hello. My name is Mr. X. I have tribbles.” (Dear Reader, please look up “tribbles” and “Star Trek” if you don’t get the reference. You should be ashamed of yourself. If you don’t enjoy the reference, picture gremlins instead–and don’t pour water on your typewriters.)
So that day has come for me in the shape of three Underwood 3-bank portables. I had a 1924 and 1925 already. The first I pursued. The second I stumbled on for a good price. The third, which appeared yesterday, was given to me for free by a friend. Each one has its own personality. One has better decals. Another still needs a drawstring. Both of those could use new rubber. They work, but turning the platen knobs makes for a bumpy ride. The third machine, from 1923, types very well. The platen turns smoothly. This could be a regular typer. However, a key is missing.
Dear Sherlock, can you recognize what is missing on the left machine? The next question is whether I respect the quirks of each machine or do I try to build a million-dollar machine (good decals, good typing, faster, stronger, better). What would you do?
I also would have to assess if my repair skills are up to the job or is the mission impossible.