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The Author Blog Challenge: My Earliest Memory of Writing is the Typebrighter

The "QWERTY" layout of typewriter ke...

The “QWERTY” layout of typewriter keys became a de facto standard and continues to be used long after the reasons for its adoption (including reduction of key/lever entanglements) have ceased to apply. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve accepted Marcie Brock’s Author Blog Challenge to write a fresh post from now until the end of June. The first writing prompt asked what my earliest memory of writing was. It started with my sister’s manual typewriter, an old Underwood. When my sister Cathy went off to college, she left her typewriter behind. As a loner, I’d found something I could do besides playing with little green plastic army men, drawing superheroes and army men and reading books about army men. (How’d I turn out to be such a peacenik, anyway?)

I don’t remember a time when I couldn’t read, but I do remember spelling typewriter the same way I pronounced it:

T-Y-P-E-B-R-I-G-H-T-E-R

(You just said that out loud to test it out, didn’t you?)

I also had a fondness for cliches that would give me hives now. Check out this from when I first spidered my fingers across the Underwood’s keys:

“Meanwhile, back on the ranch, while searching for a needle in a haystack…”

(At least my comma placement was correct.)

I came up with my own system for typing that isn’t nearly as good as working from the home keys on the QWERTY keyboard and typing properly. Typing class would have been the single most useful thing I could have gotten out of high school, but I couldn’t take it because it wasn’t considered an academic credit (Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!). However, my crappy typing method got me through journalism school and didn’t deter me from working in newspapers, mags and publishing. The (somewhat) great Canadian journalist Pierre Berton was a two-finger, hunt and peck guy who could type pretty fast. Yes, that’s how I rationalized being lame. Still do.

I have taken keyboarding courses (online and in person). When I practice, I do speed up and get more accurate. However, in the heat of composition, I fall back on the habits of that little kid who discovered his sister’s typebrighter. The thing she left behind was her greatest gift to me.

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16 Responses

  1. I loved your post. My aunt gave me an old Royal typewriter and I pounded out parts of my first and only “novel”, The Birdmen of Zuma (when I was 11) on it. What great memories. And to think, my 22 year old son may have no idea what a typewriter is…was.

  2. Marcie Brock says:

    I love the honest simplicity of this story, Chazz!

  3. Jack Durish says:

    My mother overheard me retelling a joke that she had told without realizing that I was within earshot. She thought it so cute that she had me repeat it for her friends who all broke out laughing and I thought that I must be the greatest comedian ever. Unfortunately, I didn’t understand a word of it including the one that I mispronounced. It went like this…

    Question: What is a frilly-dilly?

    Answer: A man who has been “circumscribed” with pinking shears.

    Get it?

  4. Loralee says:

    I love this story! Even though typing was discouraged for academics, I found my way into a typing class & I’ve been forever grateful. I used to borrow my Dads Underwood and pretend I was writing something important. I miss old typewriters.

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  7. Great post – thanks you

  8. That’s the same as thank – no s

  9. [...] ROBERT CHAZZ CHUTE. Typing class would have been the single most useful thing I could have gotten out of high school, but I couldn’t take it because it wasn’t considered an academic credit (Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!). [...]

  10. Jo Michaels says:

    Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh… the memory of a typewriter…

    Sweet post! Looking forward to more!

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