The End of the Line: Typewriters of the SF Bay Area

Sad to report that we didn’t take any fun typewriter hunting excursions to antique malls in Nevada. I was concerned about the roads between Winnemucca, NV and San Mateo, CA.  There are currently 17 active wild fires burning in California. I worried that we might hit road closures in the Sierra.  It was a bit smoky in parts, but otherwise the roads were fine—congested with weekend traffic but fine.

Outside Reno the smoke was pretty bad
photo: daughter Echevarria

We made it to San Francisco, the City of Year Round Wool.  I love you, Fog.  It was 64° as we crossed the Bay Bridge.

photo: daughter Echevarria

We got to the House Without Parents: Bay Area Edition™ where my son greeted us. We delivered the car and accomplished our primary mission.  The old house smelled vaguely of old typewriters – I added a couple more to the aroma:

I felt like I needed some closure to my Typewriters Across America Experience, so I went out walking in the neighborhood to visit some of my old haunts – various thrifts, Goodwill, antique stores.  I saw a really cool van, but no typewriters:

If this van’s a-rockin’, don’t come a-knockin’

I drove down the peninsula to an antique mall that I have been to before and saw some typewriters:

Royal KHM – no price

Very clean and pretty Royal Quiet De Luxe – $295

Smith-Corona Classic 12 – $45

Remington portable – no price

Remington 12 – no price

Three out of the five didn’t have a price, so this wasn’t a very informative typewriter safari.

I was restless, so I decided to head up to San Francisco check out an antique and collectibles mall I had heard about.

When Moe closed her shop in San Mateo, she opened a small display at an antiques and colllectibles collective in SF called Stuff.

I took the train up to San Francisco and hiked over:

150 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94103

It’s big:  two levels with 17,000 sq ft of display space and 60+ vendors.

I found Moe’s case – a distillation of the pure essence of Mozo’s:

Stuff is full of stuff, and they had typewriters.

Corona Standard portable – $145

Alpina SK24 – $120 “as-is”

Pretty little Remington portable $365

Underwood – $575

Immaculate Adler J3 – $59

The Adler came with the factory control sheet, user manual, cleaning set.  Looks like it has an interesting typeface.

Smith-Corona Sterling Cartridge – $65

Sears The Scholar – $65

Sears Best Medalist Power 12 – $49

Power Return!

Brother Charger 11 – $145

Wizard Truetype (rebranded Brother) – $125

I hadn’t meant to buy anything since I was on foot and on the train.  I ended up with two.  Can you guess which two?

Now I need to drive up to San Francisco to retrieve my loot.

Typewriters of Salt Lake City, Utah: Day 6

I’m a bit late posting this installment of Typewriters Across America because of a lack of internet access this morning.  Better late than never!

Friday we traveled from Salt Lake City, UT to Winnemucca, NV.  Before we left Salt Lake, we decided to try an antique mall.

Capital City Antique Mall
959 S W Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84101

It is a large and well-organized space:

We immediately saw a typewriter:

Gorgeous Royal Futura 800 – $159

And then we saw a whole shelf of typewriters:

Wowie! Let’s go through these.

Olympia SG3 – $79

IBM Wheelwriter – price unknown

Check out the beautiful badge on this Underwood – pure delight:

Underwood SX – $45

Remington Quiet-Riter – $124.99

The Remington portable below was being sold “as-is” and I was tempted.  I tested it and there didn’t seem to be anything really wrong with it besides the poor condition of the decals and lack of a case.  I took a pass:

Remington portable – $39.99 “as-is” but not broken enough for me.

Remington Noiseless Portable – $129

Royal 550 – $69

Olivetti Praxis 48 -$99

Royal Quiet De Luxe (in what looks like a Smith-Corona case) – $169.99

Royal KMG – $139

Underwood Universal – $169

Kind of banged up Royal Quiet De Luxe $124.99

Royal Arrow – no price

Olympia SF – $129

Smith-Corona Secretarial (?) $65

SCM Classic 12 – $59.99

The Underwood below was being sold in “as-is” condition for $199.99.

Underwood M – $199.99 “as -is”

The number and variety of typewriters at this single antique mall suggests that the supply is good here in Salt Lake and judging by the  prices, the market is healthy and hungry for typewriters.

After the antique mall, we drove by the Mormon Temple:

photo: daughter Echevarria

The streets in Salt Lake are incredibly wide, and I’ve read that Brigham Young himself directed them to be built thus so that wagon teams could turn in the streets without “resorting to profanity.”

We then stopped by the Great Salt Lake on our way out of the city.  I have fond childhood memories of a family vacation when we played in the Great Salt Lake. The salinity of the lake is so high that you can’t sink – you just float and bob in the water. This lady gets the Great Salt Lake exactly right.  It’s stinky and buggy, but so fun.

After that we hit the road for Nevada. We raced past salt flats that ran for miles in every direction.

photo: daughter Echevarria

After we entered Nevada, we noticed that it was getting hazier and hazier.  By the time we reached our hotel, the air was gray with smoke.

Fire season is a terrible thing in the western states. In summer and into the early fall,  the vegetation turns dry, the winds begin to blow, and the fires start. Right now there are several active fires burning in California.

In Winnemucca, a smoky haze hung over the town.  The hotel lost wi-fi service while we were there because of fires to the west.  I watched a whole troop of sunburned firefighters check into the hotel.

Parts of the road home through the Sierra today were very smoky, but fortunately we encountered no road closures.

Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion of Typewriters Across America: Typewriters of the SF Bay Area.

Day 5: Typewriters of Wyoming (Continued)

Yesterday we started out in Laramie, WY and ended the day in Salt Lake City, UT.  My daughter and I decided to hit a couple antique malls in Laramie before leaving town. It’s a college town (University of Wyoming) and a pretty big city for Wyoming, so the typewriter prospects were good.

Bart’s Flea Market
2401 Soldier Springs Rd, Laramie, WY 82070

Bart’s is a huge standing flea market that occupies what looks like a former grocery store.

Well, this looks promising:

We were greeted at the door by a raccoon: Howdy, pardner!

There were about 50 separate booths, but among them all we could only find one typewriter:

Brother Select-O-Riter – $69.00

Huh. Well, onto the next antique mall:

SALS Antiques
1575 N 4th St, Ste 107,  Laramie, WY 82072

SALS was conveniently located next to a Goodwill. Looks like another old grocery store.

It was huge (almost as big as Bart’s) and packed with interesting stuff. But no typewriters. Not a single one.

The gentlemen at the counter seemed bemused when I asked about typewriters. They rarely got them and the big ones were hard to sell. He had an old black Underwood (very heavy) at home that was broken that he couldn’t sell. He wished he could sell it to me but he didn’t have it at the store.

Another gentleman in the store told me he had three typewriters, but they were in west Laramie and would I like to come see them? I thanked him and told him no, we were just passing through.

My daughter and I then walked next door to see if there was anything at Goodwill. There were no typewriters at Goodwill.

I took the opportunity to yell at some unsupervised kids who were playing in traffic in front of Goodwill. “YOU KIDS: GET OUT OF THE TRAFFIC,” I yelled. That was deeply satisfying. I could do that all day.

We hopped in the car and headed west.  See those snow covered peaks way off in the distance? Those are the Rocky Mountains.  That’s the only time we saw snow covered peaks all day.  Instead we ascended to high flattish-lumpy desert that got progressively more barren as we climbed.

photo: daughter Echevarria

Up, up, up we went and it became increasingly arid. Alkalai flats and sagebrush began to appear. We saw groups of pronghorn antelope.  Sadly no pictures of the pronghorn, but here are some desert horses hanging out.

photo: daughter Echevarria

Out of nowhere popped an oil refinery – like Gas Town in Mad Max.

photo: daughter Echevarria

I had mapped out a first stop at an antique store in Rawlins, WY.  It had a pretty little downtown, but many vacant shop fronts.

301 Plaza
420 W Cedar St, Rawlins, WY 82301

Sadly, our destination had gone out of business:

Back in the car.  Fortunately, I had thrift shops mapped out in Rock Springs, WY which is a largish town with a community college.

We were up at about 7,000-8,000 ft. We crossed the Continental Divide twice (long story)

Rock Springs was a bust in terms of typewriters: one thrift shop was closed and two others had no typewriters.  There were lots of empty store fronts in the historic downtown area.

Back on the road.

photo: daughter Echevarria

We couldn’t get a data connection on my phone to research thrifts and antique stores in towns further down the road.  Fortunately, my husband back in Virginia texted us a list of shops in a town called Evanston, WY, so we made a stop.

Some stores on the list were closed (either permanently or for the day), but we found one open:

NU2U Thrift Shop
221 10th St Ste 1, Evanston, Wyoming 82930

This thrift shop is housed in what was formerly the post office and court house:

It’s a grand old building, and it was a little jarring to see the racks and shelves jammed into the space.

The old building directory is still up:

There was one typewriter there – a gray and mustard combo:

Singer (rebranded Smith-Corona) electric – $20

Back in the car for our last bit of road to Salt Lake City, I thought about the typewriters I saw (and didn’t see) in Wyoming. I had hoped to find untapped troves of typewriters in wilds of Wyoming.  I saw just three: one in Cheyenne, one in Laramie, and one in Evanston. Was I looking in the wrong places?

More likely I saw few because they are few and far apart.  It’s a state with low population density – second lowest density state after Alaska with 6 residents per square mile.  Few people = few typewriters. And they’re all spread out. It may be that I actually did pretty good spotting three in Wyoming.

We made our way to Salt Lake City, UT descending the Wasatch mountains into the Great Basin.

photo: daughter Echevarria

This morning we’ll try our luck typewriter spotting in Salt Lake City.

Typewriters of Nebraska and Wyoming: the Fourth Day

We stayed the night in Grand Island, Nebraska.  Before leaving yesterday, we decided to check out an antique mall in town.

Railroad Towne Antique Mall
321 W 3rd St, Grand Island, NE 68801

It was packed with stuff – more than 50 vendors and some with multiple booths on three levels:

However, there was only one typewriter in the whole mall: an S-C Sterling with the margins pushed together so it wouldn’t type.  I fixed the margins and pondered the scarcity of typewriters.

S-C Sterling – $35

I worried that we might be approaching bare spots in terms of typewriter populations.

We hopped back in the car and set off down I-80 through beautiful rural Nebraska.

photo: daughter Echevarria

I had mapped out another antique mall to hit in North Platte, NE. After my experience in Grand Island, I kept my expectations reasonable.

North Platte has a beautiful historic downtown area. It was bit empty when we visited, but I feel like it’s on the edge of a renaissance.

Red Roof Antiques
304 E 5th St, North Platte, NE 69101

This was a huge antique mall, full of stuff.

Bingo!  Typewriters ahead!

SCM Coronet Electric – $45

I love the pretty red and cream accents on the Royal Quiet De Luxe below:

Royal QDL – $79.95

Corona Standard portable – $69.95

Brother Cassette Correct-O-Riter II – $12.95

I walked into a room in the back and saw a familiar case:

It was a Lettera 22 upside down in its case. It had one of those Krazy Karriages that don’t stop and go wheeee!  I thought to myself, “I need to take custody of this poor broken thing.”

Underwood-Olivetti Lettera 22 – $37.50

It wasn’t until I was paying for it that I noticed that it had a cursive typeface:

I was very happy after that.  I now have a project to play with in San Mateo.  It has a case, so it will be easy to bring on the plane as a carry-on when I return to Virginia.

Thank you, North Platte. That great grain elevator is formidable.

photo: daughter Echevarria

I found out after we left that North Platte is home to Union Pacific’s Bailey Yards, the largest railroad  yard in the world. Whatta town.

We got back in the car continued west on I-80.  Traveling through Nebraska, we hit a thunderstorm.  I eyed the skies nervously for funnel clouds.

photo: daughter Echevarria

photo: daughter Echevarria

photo: daughter Echevarria

Fortunately it was brief and we skirted the edge of a major storm.

As we approached the Nebraska/Wyoming border, the terrain changed and scrubby pine trees began to appear.

photo: daughter Echevarria

photo: daughter Echevarria

Once in Wyoming, we headed for Cheyenne where I had mapped out an antique mall.

Eclectic Elephant
112 W 18th St, Cheyenne, WY 82001

We were definitely headed west.

There were lots of vendors (40+) but unfortunately just one typewriter to be found:

Remington Noiseless portable – $45 – no case top

However, there was just a whole lot of everything else to be taken in:

This Indian maiden with raccoons occupies a special place in my heart:

Dudes: the 70s were a fertile time for facial hair

We checked out of Cheyenne as another storm was threatening to break out. There were tons of people in town and lots of pedestrians on the street. Cheyenne is a happening place.

Back on the road, the foothills of the Rockies began to make their presence known.

There they are…
photo: daughter Echevarria

They’re getting closer – look at those weird rock formations
photo: daughter Echevarria

Wow – we are really getting into the hills.
photo: daughter Echevarria

We beat the storm and made it to Laramie, WY where we stayed the night. Next up: Salt Lake City, UT.

Typewriters of Iowa and Nebraska: Day the Third

Yesterday we continued our drive through scenic Iowa.

photo: daughter Echevarria

The first stop I mapped out for the day was an antique mall in Des Moines, IA.

Brass Armadillo Antique Mall – Des Moines
701 NE 50th Ave, Des Moines, IA 50313

This was another of these huge spaces with a zillion vendor stalls. We combed the rows methodically.

Underwood standard – $60

This poor old Underwood 5 below was completely frozen with rust. The carriage and keys and everything were immobile.  It actually looks better in this picture than it was.   Could be a nice project machine.

Underwood 5 – $48.00

Sears Cutlass – $29

Royal 10 with a broken drawband – $84.99

Remington Rand KMC – $95

I got really excited when I saw the case below from afar.  I got up to it and it was empty.  It’s for a mimeograph machine (and the mimeograph was nowhere to be seen, just the case).

Rotary Neostyle No. 8-F Mimeograph – case only.

Underwood- $59

Toy typewriter – $15

I turned a corner and ran into this chipper fellow. He was at least 18 inches tall.  How I wanted to bring him home.

Facit store display – $225

Taped to his stand was a Facit button that said, “The future is Facit”.  No arguments here.

I did pick up this Facit button for $8.  I plan to wear this to fancy dress-up typewriter events though I will feel like a bit of a fraud.  I don’t own a Facit, and I have never even gotten to play with one.  Maybe somewhere between here and the SF Bay Area I will find a Facit. I hear that they are really nice.

We continued driving through Iowa and then I started seeing billboards for Walnut: Iowa’s Antique City.  Well, heck.  We can’t miss that.  I knew that we couldn’t stay long.  I am trying to stick to a schedule so that I am not driving when the sun gets low in the sky.  We are heading due west, and afternoon sun in the eyes is hard to take.

So we popped into this adorable little antique town in the middle of Iowa.

This seems like the place.

Between the two malls we popped into, we saw only one typewriter and two toy typewriters:

Very clean Remington Monarch – $120

Toy typewriter – $47

We really needed to make tracks, so we hit the road. I wish we had more time to explore more shops.

We hopped back into the car and headed to Nebraska.  Over the Missouri river we went and we crossed the state line.  Next stop: an antique mall in Lincoln, Nebraska:

Aardvark Antique Mall
5800 Arbor Rd, Lincoln, NE 68517

This was another of those enormous big box antique malls.  The lady at the counter said that there were 250 booths at this mall.

This totally makes sense in terms of supply chain dynamics: antique mall and self storage.

I feel like the typewriters at this antique mall need to branch out colorwise:

Brownish-grayish: Royal KHM – $59

Grayish – SC Super Speed – $49.95

Brownish-grayish: Royal HH – $40

Grayish-Tannish – Remington Standard – $19.99

Grayish: Royal KMG – $59.95

Honestly – I do not need to move those speckled cups and open that case because I know what’s in there: a tannish-grayish Sears Communicator.

Sears Communicator – $65

I just about kissed this S-C  Super Sterling when I saw it because it was definitely blue.

Definitely blue: SCM Super Sterling – $36

We took to the road again and arrived safely at our destination of Grand Island, Nebraska. We made it in before ferocious thunderstorms rolled through.

photo: daughter Echevarria

The drive has been very pleasant thanks to typewriter diversions, agreeable company, good weather, polite drivers, and light traffic.  These roads in Iowa and Nebraska run for miles in front of you. We are heading straight west.

Day 2: Typewriters of Indiana and Illinois

We started out yesterday morning in Ohio and made our way into Indiana.  I have never been in this state before, but Indiana is giving Ohio a run for its money in the municipal water storage tank game.

I had a couple antique malls mapped out in Elkhart, IN.

photo: daughter Echevarria

820 Antiques
820 N Ward St, Elkhart, IN 46516

Royal Companion used as a jewelry hanger.

Why not for sale?  Are you fattening it up for…

Oh. OK.

This calls for an Emmett Kelly Sad Clown.

Let’s cleanse our palates with some other typewriters:

A very clean and sweet S-C Sterling – $45

Underwood standard – $40

Here’s the complete package: fun and terrible and somehow impressive in what it can do.

Buddy-L Easy-Writer 220 with original box – $37

Read T. Munk’s funny blog post about an Easy-Writer 300 »

Pretty Smith-Corona Sterling – $45

Around the corner in Elkhart was another antique mall.

Antiques On Beardsley
816 W Beardsley Ave, Elkhart, IN 46514

This unassuming storefront was the face of an enormous 11,000K sq ft antique mall.

Royal KMG – $65

L.C. Smith No. 8 – $60

I loved this Adler Special and the graceful paddle of a carriage return lever, but it was out of my price range:

Adler Special – $250.00

You are special.

We hit the road again and survived the truck-infested waters of I-94 south of Chicago.

Fake you out: the truck in front of us was being towed; photo: daughter Echevarria

I breathed easier once we left the big city freeways behind and again entered the green farmland of Indiana and Illinois.

photo: daughter Echevarria

I had one more antique mall mapped out for the day in Geneseo, IL, a beautiful little town with two enormous windmills.

photo: daughter Echevarria

C & S Antique Mall
705 W Main St, Geneseo, IL 61254

Pretty little Remington portable in working condition – $39

Royal KMG – $38

S-C Super Speed – $59.95

And there were a couple toy typewriters, one with the original box:


$29 with original box

We hopped back in the car, crossed the great Mississippi river and entered beautiful Iowa.

photo: daughter Echevarria

photo: daughter Echevarria

Typewriters of Maumee, Ohio

We set off yesterday in a rain storm and made our way through the misty mountains of Maryland and Pennsylvania.

It was a beautiful drive and we landed in the lush green farmlands of Ohio.  Ohio’s municipal water tank game cannot be beat.

I selected a hotel for our first night based on its proximity to two antique malls with late hours.   As soon as we checked into the hotel, we crossed the street and went to check out the first antique mall.

Great Finds in Maumee
1414 S Reynolds Rd, Maumee, OH

We found three typewriters there:

S-C Clipper with broken drawstring $65

Remington portable $115

S-C Classic 12 $95

And this gal.  She was hanging out with the typewriters


We then walked down the road to an enormous antique mall:

Maumee Antique Mall
1552 S Reynolds Rd, Maumee, OH

It was as big as a Target – really, a Super Target.  A gal who worked there said that there are over 200 vendors in the mall.

My daughter and I were a bit overwhelmed by all of it at first, but we broke it down scientifically and went through each row looking for typewriters. My daughter has a good eye and can spot a typewriter case a mile away, even when grouped with luggage.

We found these beauties:

Sears “The Communicator” – $8

S-C Sterling – $40

Royal KMM wide carriage – $64

Brother AX-24 – $10

I saw a couple without ribbon covers – it might be a contagious condition:

Adler J4 – $44

S-C Corsair: $19.99

A very dirty but very nice S-C Silent – $20

Remington Ten Forty with immobile keys – $69.50

Remington Noiseless – $50

Sears Celebrity – $49.99

Remington Model 17 –  $133

Towards the end of our hunting, we saw this row of typewriters:

Nice, clean Underwood for $65

Royal FP – $22.50

Remington Quiet-Riter – $22.50

Smith-Corona something – $22.50

The floral patterned case is such a lovely and refined touch. I can imagine typing at this typewriter in a peignoir, hair in hot rollers, smoking a Virginia Slims.

So that’s about it for typewriters.  We saw A LOT of other things at the Maumee Antique Mall.

I have always had a thing for these ginormous fork and spoon wall combos.  Too bad they won’t fit in the car.

So, that was Maumee, OH. I was hoping to find a Dayton typewriter in among the Hummel figurines, but no luck.  We will see what the next stop has to offer.

Typewriters across America

The Mission: to drive cross-country to deliver a car, a bunch of junk, and two occupants to California

The Secondary Mission: to document typewriters across the US

My Sweet Ride: 2012 Ford Focus with new tires

The Players: a middle aged mother and a teenager with a playlist full of Panic at the Disco

Ports of Call: Maumee, OH! Coralville, IA! Grand Island, NE! Laramie, WY! Salt Lake City, UT! Winnemucca, NV!

my sick set of wheels

My traveling typewriter will be the  Olivetti Lettera 22 – it’s in fine fettle.  I should swap out the ribbon before we leave.

I will begin documenting typewriters here, close to my starting point:

Hospice of Northern Virginia Thrift Store
Falls Church, Virginia

$10 – cartridge style Smith-Corona

I brought the blue Electra 120 home for $10.  It seems to work fine except the ribbon is a bit faint.

Falls Church Antique Annex
Falls Church, Virginia

Cute Remington portable $64 – in working condition

This lovely Dreyfuss Royal QDL is $120 in working condition. It has an interesting keyboard with umlat, circumflex, cedilla, tilde, accents grave and acute, and upside down question mark.  I wonder: is this for Catalan?

After getting briefly distracted by local typewriters, I then focused my attention on packing up junk for the trip and making sure that our ship is seaworthy.

Tales from the Typer recently documented the anxious sense of loss when cellular data is not available on a road trip.  I laughed and nodded, but made a mental note to pick up my TripTik at AAA.

Obviously I am leaving my days of young hip badassery behind and have entered full-on Chico’s territory. I got my AAA TripTik.

So we begin our travels. A journey of 42 hours begins with the slam of a car door.  Onward. I don’t know what we’ll see along the way.

We go until we reach our depot.