“Come play with us… for ever and ever and ever and…”
Okay, in all seriousness, nightmares are made of two things: neurons and this Adler J5 that needs to be fixed. I feel like it is laughing at me right now… its big, matte, yellow teeth not-so-gleaming as it grins that evil “Do if you dare” grin.
ScottK ran an awesome article on a typewriter with a branding that befuddled some of better minds/collectors out there. In this article, there was a healthy dose of epically interesting history. Now… every typewriter has history. That’s a default. Even if you remove company history, even if you remove that massive family tree a company can have… That typewriter you might be fiddling with has had owners more than likely. What did they use it for? Where has it been? What has it talked about? Was it loved? I wonder how many drinks were accidentally spilled on it and the owner suddenly jumped back cursing up a storm to quickly clean up the mess while quietly saying soothing apologies to it?
-coughs- Anyway! Not that I have experience in the last…
Typewriters always have a story to tell. They are, after all, kind of meant to type what is on people’s minds. Heck even “ASDFASDFASDFASDFASDFASDFASDF” has a story! It’s one of the most famous lines in typewriter testing history! “Have you tested it yet?” “No.” “…well?” -types frantically away using only four keys out of the 42 or more- “Yup! It works!” “Awesome! Mark it up by 150%!”
Well, this Adler has some history behind it that makes this project nerve wracking beyond measure: this typewriter is the one my mother wrote love letters to my father on. No, seriously. This is it. Rather cute ones, I have to admit. She’d switch between the typewriter and pristine penmanship — something I do with my own pen pal. (“Pristine penmanship” in my case is questionable.)
My mom and dad were (I’ll get to the choice of word in a moment) the definition of lovebirds. And my mom still suffers from the syndrome. Why? My dad died when I was 5. Honestly, she’s never really recovered.
My dad ended up keeping practically everything she sent. Letters, notecards, postcards… I learned something about him: He was an absolute Garfield nut. He also enjoyed cream soda, Wolf chili, worked for Coca-Cola, collected large-scale Lionel trains, was a civil war nut, and, well, seemingly an awesome, open-minded guy. (That open-minded bit I would have been extremely grateful for…)
So… in the process of helping my mom move out of the house she has lived in for over 25 years, I was tasked the duty/job of thinning out what we had kept of dad’s things. Just by happening, I found the stack of selected things he had kept that she had sent. My partner was entertaining my mom so I just happened to glance through — mind you, glance not read. To my giddy surprise, I found letters that were clearly typed by this Adler.
Now… family is something that a lot, I feel, take advantage of. Especially those with huge families. My family has always really just been my mom and I. Just us. And my grandfather (my dad’s dad) when he was in a equable mood. And at least 1 cat. When you’re this small of a family, even the smallest things count. This typewriter is part of the family, if you will. Call it a romantic notion, call it what you will.
And family helps family. But oh, my, god, this is stressful!
What is wrong with it? The ribbon won’t shift. That’s the key fixing point. And honestly, once this thing is working and tuned up, I can already tell it’ll be a fantastic typer. It’s quiet, it’s got a descent touch, it’s responsive, and the bell rings clear. It does sound and feel like there is some metal that is grinding when the keys are pressed… so that’s another thing that needs to be looked into.
Hopefully this nightmare will become a happy dream. I mean… it couldn’t be that hard to fix it so the ribbon shifts, right?
(Dun, dun, dun… famous last words.)