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  • Writer's pictureTamara S. Graham

The Love of Typewriters & California Typewriters Documentary

Updated: Jan 15, 2021

Creative writing has always been a passion of mine, and I have seen many a keyboard in my 56+ years! I have fond memories of those first experiences with electric typewriters, but I have settled nicely into my current Mac keyboard. I adore the nostalgic feeling I get when I see all the fascinating antique manual typewriters still around.

I have a long history with typewriters, going back to Office Education at Highland Park High School in the late 1970's and winning a regional championship for best and fastest typist in the whole county! I think I must have been destined to type as fast as I can think!

Grateful for hands-on museums!
"I write without caring about typeovers, XXXX’d out words, goofy syntax, & bad spelling because the feel & sound of a typewriter is satisfying in ways that couldn’t be matched."
~ Tom Hanks

About 6 years ago my boyfriend, Bill, and I went to an art fair here in California and we saw the most amazing sculptures made out of antique typewriter parts and old window frames by Dustin Logan Metalworks. I fell madly in love with the repurposing of a classic icon made into wall art! They were out of my budget so I took the artist's card for my wish-list and forgot about it... until Bill surprised me on our 3rd anniversary with one of the coolest gifts I have ever gotten! It is very inspirational and made me really appreciate the "intact" antique typewriters I have discovered through my travels. 

I began to actively look for one of my own antique word processors to display near my new framed art. They were much more expensive than I had expected - so I was willing to settle for a "conversation" piece for inspiration rather than one I would actually type on. Again, my boyfriend found one for me at a resale shop! Bill is one of my biggest supporters to encourage me to keep writing. I love that it is a "travel" size and has an aged green patina. It sits on a little table just under my framed version and feeds my passion for writing. 

After I watched the documentary California Typewriter, I began to wish my little old typewriter actually worked. I loved learning that my favorite actor, Tom Hanks, collects and adores typewriters too! I even bought his book Uncommon Type: Some Stories, although it wasn't quite what I expected. I wanted to learn more about his personal typewriter journey but it's more of a well written collection of interesting stories involving typewriters/writers. At any rate, the typewriter sales and repair shop featured in the documentary was intriguing. It was also called "California Typewriter" and was refreshingly authentic and truly showcased the expertise it takes to maintain and repair these old icons of yesteryear. I crossed my fingers that the shop was still in Berkeley, California! And it is!

We often go to Berkeley and I added a trip to the California Typewriter store to my must-see list. But, the next time we traveled to Berkeley, it was on a day that the store was closed. I still loved seeing the iconic exterior and sign. I got to look through the window longingly like a child peeking into a candy shop!

So naturally, I convinced Bill to bring my old Royal typewriter back to Berkeley on his next trip which I was unable to attend. He asked the now famous staff and repairman to take a look at it and estimate the cost of refurbishing it. It was exciting to find out that it could be worth $500 if brought back to life! But, it would cost about $250 to do all the work necessary for me to actually be able to type on it. So, back to my wish-list again. In the meantime, Bill captured some amazing photos to document the trip and my sweet little typewriter's fun adventure.

Typewriter aficionados at California Typewriter, 2362 San Pablo, Berkeley, California. Expert repairs/refurbishing by Herb Permillion and Ken Alexander!

I don't have a working old clickety, clackety typewriter (yet!) to create my hearts desire on, but I sure do get inspired by the little green one I have. I love to sit and ponder about who may have created some amazing stories or love letters with it! I wonder... maybe someday that will be me!

Thanks for joining me on this word journey! :)


P.S. I highly recommend Tom Hanks' app Hanx Writer! It makes your tablet look and sound like a typewriter! :0)

Tami is grateful for all of her Highly Sensitive Person traits because they have made her who she is today: an optimistic, nurturing soul, full of great compassion. Being a mother has been her hardest and most rewarding job since her unique and sensitive children have been her greatest inspiration and teachers. She is currently writing a series of children’s books for HSP families, The Sunshine Books. Follow the links in this blog for more of her heartfelt ponderings about highly sensitive people. Or sign-up above for her weekly emails as she continues writing for you.

{Copyright 2019 - 2021 - Most photos are the property of Tamara S. Graham unless noted otherwise}

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