Saturday, January 31, 2015

Typewriters Tell Stories

I decided that my Royal KMM should live at my school and I set it out on a table in the front hallway. It got a lot of attention from students and adults. One of my teachers saw this machine and was inspired to tell me about her mother's typewriter, a 1930's Royal Model O. Later Karin sent the story behind her mother and the typewriter:

My mother Jean Alfred Leonard Lived in Burlington, with her mother and chemist/ inventor grandfather whom she adored. He supported her interests in all avenues. When she wanted to attend Pratt college to study art, he paid for it, and sent her off with a brand new typewriter and steamer trunk. The steamer trunk unfolded out to make a desk, dresser, and vanity on top, complete with a mirror. The typewriter was small enough to fit neatly inside. The money for college came from her grandfather Alfred selling off a lotions patent (which later was called Jergens Lotion), and by selling a variety of extracts he made in the basement. During prohibition times folks bought his 90 proof alcohol vanilla extract out the back door. For my mother leaving her grandfather behind at the train station was one of the hardest things she ever did. Some things in life don't change. Her grandfather (last name Hull) also helped start the Fleming-Hull Museum in Burlington. Jean's own father Frank wasn't made of the same motivated stock, and served more as a disgrace to the family by becoming a homeless drunk on the streets in town, carted back home whenever the city jail became too crowded. My grandmother would allow him to sober up at the house, feed him, and send him off with clean clothes. Frank was a gambler that lost the majority of the time, even gambling off things that didn't belong to him. One time however, he was gambling in a barn on Spear St. and won 100 acres of land. Before he sobered up my grandmother had him sign it over into her name. That land was on Shelburne Rd, where I later grew up as a child. It went on to became Hullcrest a housing development. When I went to college a small amount of money (500) came from the last sale of land there. I used it to buy books, etc. and put 150 aside for an emergency )My mother insisted that I take her typewriter to college in 1975, and I did. At least for a short while I used it, but later broke down and bought an electric one for 25. The remainder 100 I used to buy an old Karman Ghia VW. which I drove through the first half of college. As for Frank my grandfather, I had a soft heart for him and liked him, and always thought of him fondly while driving that car. As for the electric typewriter it stopped working after just one year, which is why I was in awe to see yours so functional. There is merit to something old that continues to work or run. In our house our fridge is a 1920, and up until this fall our only washer was a wringer Matag.

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