Mason County News
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Around the Square
Wednesday, July 16, 2014 • Posted July 18, 2014

Sometimes things aren’t as they appear.

“Mare-zee-dotes

An-dozey-dotes

An-liddle-lamzey-divey.

A-kiddley-divey-too

Wouldn’t you?”

That’s an actual song with real words for lyrics.

(I never knew that till recently---DUH).

“The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”

Not just an ordinary sentence.

Anyone who took a typing class knows that.

Those nine short words contain the complete alphabet.

Typing that over and over trained our fingers to know which keys were where.

Ideally.

Then the typing tests.

How fast could we type that sentence with how few errors?

The cacophony of typists pounding out “foxdes jimpling ober doghs” required the teacher blow a whistle when time was up.

Most job interviews included a typing test for speed and accuracy.

Talk about tense.

On the job, the tension never let up.

The paper alone was a world of wonder.

Onion skin.

Cotton rag.

Watermark right side up.

And those messy black sheets of carbon when a duplicate was required.

Bring on the correction tape.

And even better, liquid paper (we called it “the white stuff”).

And then changing ribbons on the typewriter.

Get the old one out first.

Two spools, one full of the long, dried-out ribbon.

Toss it and wipe hands with paper towel.

Install new spools being careful to slide the fresh black ribbon between the metal guards so it will advance smoothly.

Wipe hands again.

Resume typing.

The carriage chugs along to the left as we type.

Then DING.

Time to manually slide it back to the right.

And keep on plugging away.

DING.

Swoosh to the right.

Clik-clik-clik-clik-clik-clik-clik-clik-clik-clik-clik.

DING.

Swoosh to the right.

Clik-clik-clik-clik-clik-clik-clik-clik-clik-clik-clik.

DING.

And so on.

Until we reach the bottom of the paper.

Remove and insert blank sheet and roll up to one-inch margin.

Resume.

Electric typewriters made life easier.

A revolving steel ball of letters and numbers traveled back and forth instead of the carriage.

The keys responded to the lightest touch.

No more pounding required.

But it still required a ribbon. 

Then the ribbons became cartridges. 

And then came computers.

BANG.

That’s Mason.

Renee Walker is an author, poet, and real estate broker on the square with her Canine assistant, Buster.

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