Type-in at the Block Party

I was out of town in July and missed the Berkeley type-in – I was so disappointed.  I decided that I would have my own type-in of sorts at my neighborhood block party.

Every year my street has an end-of-summer party.  Traditionally, we block off the ends of the street, and the neighbors come out with chairs and barbecues.  Someone rents a jumpy house, and the kids ride their bikes and scooters up and down in the middle of the street.  It’s a nice neighborly gathering.  It’s sort of like our version of Burning Man but with less dust and less nudity.

I decided to pull out six of my most reliable typewriters and set them up for hands-on fun. Participating this year: 1965 Olympia SG3, 1948 Remington Rand KMC, 1952 SC Skyriter, 1952 Olivetti Lexikon 80, 1957 Torpedo 18a, and 1921 LC Smith No. 8.

Pictures from the Playa:

It starts: the SG3’s gravitational force pulled these two neighbors into orbit:


They are powerless to resist

The LC Smith No. 8 was a surprise hit. I brought it out half-dismantled to display the inner workings. People loved the feel of the machine’s ball bearings at all frictional points. It was a favorite of many of the the typists.


Looking under the hood:


A suitable pastime for young ladies of gentle breeding:


Typing through adversity – the broken arm is not slowing her down:


I believe the children are our future:



The kids gave all the typewriters a lot of love.


The Lexikon 80 never looked or felt better:


A neighbor showed me the image on her business card (she’s a Twitter / social media consultant)


She got her calling cards at Felix Doolittle – beautiful stationery there.

At the beginning of the block party, I set up the typewriters, retreated and observed. If I saw easy prey, I would go over and talk typewriters until my victims edged away nervously. Seriously though, people seemed to want to talk typewriters – typewriters from childhood, high school typing class, Wite-Out, Mom’s Selectric, desktop publishing with a typewriter and scissors – it all came out in a pent-up rush.

Typewriters are perfect for a community event like this: they’re fun to use, they’re interesting to look at and they tap deep wells of nostalgia and start conversations. I am glad that I brought them out and will do it again next year. Typewriters really do build community.

4 thoughts on “Type-in at the Block Party

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