About this blog

This blog is about the daily activities in a busy typewriter shop. I want to share with you the many interesting people who come in here, the beautiful machines I get and most of all the great typewriter stories that people share with me!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Cambridge Typewriter does Chronicle (Finally!)

Chronicle co-host Shayna Seymour and myself

     Xtra exciting news this week. The television show Chronicle, a New England institution for over twenty-five years, called Tuesday and wanted to include me in a upcoming show. The show is about (get ready for this)professions that will be extinct in the near future. Now I know that I'm a dinosaur but I plan on sticking around for awhile. Co-host Shayna Seymour said on the phone that they could come over Thursday morning and film a interview in the shop. They also wanted to interview a customer who's a writer and a office that I service. I gave her the name of a writer in the Harvard Square area that I know and the Cambridge City Clerk's office that I service. Shayna booked them both and they will appear in the story. There will be several other professions featured in the story but we don't know what they are yet. Thursday morning Ms. Seymour and a camera woman showed up at 10:20. After introductions the camera woman worked on setting up the interview location, camera angles and lighting. I was fitted with a wireless mike and we were ready to roll. Shayna asked me many questions, like how did I get into this business and how has the typewriter business changed through the years and who are my customers today. I told her a number of typewriters stories and especially how younger people are picking up typewriters and using them. She had a hard time understanding this and asked several more questions about this phenomenon. I hope that part makes the final cut. After thirty minutes of questions and answers, we walked around the shop filming different machines. Then they filmed me typing on several machines, I believe a 1930 green Royal portable and a Olympia SM3 in script. Then they filmed a few minutes of me repairing a Smith Corona Super 12 at my workbench. After an hour they realized that they were done so they packed up and headed over to Cambridge City Hall.
     They think that the show will air later in January. I'll give a shout out in the blog when I find out. Chronicle has been one of my favorite shows because its about New England. They go to beautiful locations and destinations and introduce us to interesting and fascinating people. For many years I've always said that Chronicle should come in here and do a show. Our actual part in the half hour show will be six or seven minutes. It will be interesting to see how the story comes out.

     On Wednesday a women came in a rented a Blickensderfer No.5 for a movie shoot. I actually had a Blick 5 that works with its wooden box case, extra typewheel and box of spare ink rollers. The movie is for the American Experience on PBS. The movie is about Helen Keller. In the book that the movie is based on, someone types on a Blick 5 several times throughout the story. When I get the machine back in three weeks I'll asked when the show will be on. 

     I get asked a lot what my favorite typewriter is and what do I have in my collection. I always say that I don't have any one favorite but six or seven favorite machines. Also, I'm not a big collector at all. I have to make money to stay in business and many times that means selling machines that I would rather keep for my collection. There has always been one machine that was my absolute favorite, and I sold it. It was a burgandy Corona flattop from 1940 and was brand new. I don't think it was ever used more than once or twice. My friend John aquired it on Ebay for me and I flipped when I saw it. This one was a keeper for sure. I kept it under a table and only showed it to a select few people. About four or five months later just as I came in the shop at 9AM, my immediate thought was that I had to recondition this machine because someone was going to come in and buy it. I hesitated for a minute but also knew that there was a reason for this. So I took that machine apart, moaning and groaning the whole time about how brand new this thing was. Even though the machine was spotless, it was dry and needed a thorough cleaning. As fate would have it, a lady walked in mid-afternoon looking to buy a vintage typewriter to write with. She was local and wrote children's books. I knew right away that this was the person who wanted my beautiful Corona. At first I showed her some Royals and Remingtons. Then I bust out the burgandy Corona and she gasped. "I love that machine. That looks like the perfect machine for me." I quoted her a fairly high price and she said she had to sleep on it but if I could hold it for a day, she'd call me tomorrow. Well, she called me first thing the next morning saying that she had a vivid dream about the Corona and she was coming right up to buy it. She knew that this was the machine for her , and so did I. I never regreted selling that machine because I believe that it went to the right person. But that will also be my favorite typewriter anyway.
Thats it for this week. Thanks for checking it out. Everyone have a happy and safe NEW YEAR! See you in 2011.


  1. I hope you keep in touch with that writer and service the machine from time to time so you know it's being treated ok.
    I dropped out of the bidding on one similar to that, and it ended up another $20 above my limit. I know I was just being cheap. It's a nice mill.

  2. Wow--a tv show--what fun! Will there be a way for me to watch in San Francisco? Maybe online?

  3. Pamela, I think so. WCVB Boston broadcasts Chronicle HD M-F at 7:30. The show is syndicated so it should be available.

  4. I just hope they don't give the show a silly spin, like "Look at this caveman! What a throwback to simpler, more primitive times!" I hope they will air some of your comments on why people are adopting typewriters today, and present things thoughtfully.

    That Corona is a real beauty. I found one much like that in my local thrift store for $5 not long ago! But it did suffer from some damage -- some idiot had jimmied the case open, not realizing you could just slide the locks and they would pop open. I fixed it up and gave it to the son of a colleague.

  5. I know you plan on being around for a while, but at some point you'll have to hand off the business to somebody, and keep the profession going. Keep us in mind. :-)

  6. Richard, Its a classy show, I think they will put us in a good light.

    Typograph, People often asked me if they can apprentice with me but I'm not ready yet. I may offer repairs classes sometime in the near future.

  7. I envy what you can do over there and now many more can as well by watching when it airs. I am glad to hear the good news and hope I will be able to watch it somehow even though I'm across the country. I am sure I could have my mom on the cape record it if need be though. Great post Tom!

  8. Think it would be ironic if, in 5 years, there is a webcast about professions that will be extinct in the near future and they include TV shows? In light of internet TV, broadcast TV doesn't exactly have as bright a future as it once did, if you know what I mean.

    Love your blog! Cheers!

  9. I'm excited for you and hope I can catch the show on-line. Great post!

  10. The key to successful entrepenuers in this field is having a "plan" in various market conditions.

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