click, clack, write

This is one of those pictures that could be posted on Facebook with the caption, “Share if you remember this.” I would share. I know well what it is. We had one of these tables at our house – same color, same slightly off-kilter appearance.

Unlike today, it seems that in my younger days, when there was a useful item, it came in only one size, color, and design. To be accurate the table should be turned around the other way – look closely and you’ll see room for the user’s legs cut out of the shelf at the bottom. That part shouldn’t be up next to the wall. But still, the table is exactly the same.

typing table

In case you don’t recognize this, it is a table made to hold a typewriter. (And I realize some of you may not even really know what a typewriter is. But as usual I digress…) The flaps on each side could be raised as needed to hold papers, books, etc. – whatever was needed to assist with the work at hand. Clever and lovely, all at the same time.

I remember this best as the table for my high school typing classes. These lessons took place a small upstairs room of an old home. That was the business office of my all-girls preparatory school. And since secretarial work wasn’t what we were being “prepped” for, typing classes weren’t encouraged.

If you wanted to learn to type, you were allowed to sit at a table like this in one of the two back corners of the business office, facing the wall. For the class you had to purchase an instruction manual, and for one period a day you would come in and sit there with your practice book and type to your heart’s content. Just you and another typing student hammering away. Click, clack, clunk.

Friends at other schools told of timed exercises and contests between students. It almost sounded like fun. Ms. McClain, the business manager, never checked our work. She sat at her own (full-sized) desk facing out, her back to ours, working on whatever school business managers do. I would imagine that we drove her crazy with our slap-happy typing and the “ding” of the return bell, but she never interfered. Or helped us improve.

At home I can remember typing term papers as one of the most challenging aspects of my young life. Liquid paper was in its early stages and I am sure I helped the company increase its stock value. One night, after finishing my last paper complete with footnotes and a proper bibliography, I couldn’t sleep for worrying what I would do if the house burned down before I turned that paper in the next day and my hours of tedious work went up in smoke.

I never really mastered the fingering and I still can’t type without looking at my hands. Over the years my own students have learned keyboarding with Mavis Beacon and the Mario Brothers, but not I. Fortunately I have learned to “hunt and peck” rather swiftly by now. I do drive my typing friends crazy if they ever watch me work.

Yet the use of the computer is what has allowed me to write. I know many writers produce masterworks written by hand, but I can’t imagine that. I love being able to edit without starting over. I am thankful for the forgiving nature of the backspace and delete keys. My fingers, though slow, work almost as fast as I can sort out my thoughts, so this kind of writing works for me.

One of my goals for 2015 is to set up the perfect writing space in my home. But I won’t be searching for one of the old typing tables. They remind me too much of the old ways, and I am ready to move forward and see what the future of my writing will come to be.

7 thoughts on “click, clack, write

  1. When I was in high school we had to take at least one “occupation” class – like shop or home ec or typing. I took the latter and loved it. It was a good thing I did because I got a job in the alumni office during my college years as one of the few who applied who could type. But now all these touch screens are so great at allowing hunt and peck that it doesn’t matter.

  2. newtreemom says:

    I was in one of those classes you imagined might be fun. IT WAS NOT.

  3. Dana Murphy says:

    I totally want one of those desks for my house! My writing desk is a converted sewing table – it’s pretty cool. I love how you described the desk and wove in details from your own history as a typist/writer. Great Slice!

  4. Tara Smith says:

    I do miss the sound of the old typewriter, I do. Especially the sound of the return…that was such a great sound – a sentence done in triumph kind of sound. What a neat table!

  5. Oh how technology has changed! I guess I am spoiled that I never had to deal with the liquid paper of a typewriter. Regardless of then or now, we still have the desire to communicate, whether it is for ourselves or to share. I wish you well finding that perfect space.

  6. djtsmith says:

    As soon as I saw it I knew what it was. Had to read to see if YOU knew! And you did. I was headed for college so typing wasn’t encouraged there either. I took it anyway, and am so glad I did. I had taught myself with a typewriter and manual at home when I was younger though. In teaching first grade I would impress the students when I took dictation from them for our weekly newsletter as I typed what they said while looking directly at them and not at the keyboard. “How did you do that?” they’d ask. “The keys are always in the same place,” I’d answer. “Memorize where they are.” And some started doing that even as first graders.
    Thanks for the visit to my blog!

  7. […] I wrote about establishing a writing space, which is still to come. My temporary spot is working well for now. I sit at my great-aunt’s […]

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