February 19, 2017

Typewriters: When We Were Kings

     There was once in our time when Typewriters were the kings of letters. I do remember when these heavy, mechanical machines were in its last hurrah. I was still a small kid when I used to play with typewriters in my mom's office, we didn't have tablets that time so I would use office supplies as toys. Scissors were monsters, pencils were missiles, and Typewriters were the sound effects of guns strafing enemies. I love the mechanical sound it made, imagine 5 typewriters clacking around the office from 8AM to 5PM, it was corporate symphony. 

     And then slowly they were replaced with bulky computers, the orchestra was silent, the beautiful chaos was gone. With today's technology, you can command computers with a touch to the screen.

Olympia Traveller de Luxe - The only remaining Typewriter we have
     A few days ago I was looking through old photos and then I saw typewriters in the old office, so I started asking what happened to these beautiful machines. A staffer told me they were keeping one which they haven't used for years. I became excited and asked for it, and when it was handed over to me, I saw the sad fate of the old typewriter. 

     From the outside, it was very dirty because it was hidden in a corner where dust and dirt had settled. What really made me sad was when I opened to see the inside of it, not only that had dust settled, but it was full of insects, roaches and spiders, good thing all of it were already dead. I hate roaches and spiders, just saying.
Forgotten and Neglected

     I started trying all of the keys and all were still working, the oil hasn't really dried up and it only showed minor rusting. That's why I love old machines from the past, they were made with superior quality metal. I became curious about the writer's model and I did a bit of research about it and found out that it was first released in 1995, it was one of the last models released by the Typewriter industry. It was made of metal and plastic for keys and casing. I learned it was meant for the "on-the-go" people, which explains the model's name. 

          I was wondering when the typewriter was bought. And I remembered my Grandfather, he loved technology, and I'm guessing this writer was bought around 1997 at least. That would mean that I have a 20-year-old gizmo in my hands!

     The next thing that came to my mind was to have it repaired because I've always wanted one. Mom gave me an electronic typewriter before, but I've always wanted a manual. And this one was perfect, it was small and lightweight, I imagined businessmen and reporters running with this thing back in the late 90s,

     I went online for hours finding a shop to have it repaired, but I wasn't only looking for a repair shop, I was specifically looking for a place where typewriters were respected with care and expertise. Because I know how a repair shop who sidelines in fixing typewriters would end up to be - a quick clean and re-oiling of the machine, and that's not how I wanted it fixed. I wanted it to be assessed by an expert.

     And with a stroke of luck, I found an old clip of ANC interviewing a certain Mr. Avena about why he won't sold computers and has only sold Typewriters since his Father started the business in 1936.

V. Avena & Sons in Espana Boulevard
     I was excited and I quickly bargained with the office that if I had it repaired, ownership would be transferred to me. (Pretty smart eh? Thank you, Pawn Stars)

     And so I went to Espana Boulevard in Manila on a Saturday morning and there I was amazed with how the shop pulled me back into the age of Typewriters. Row upon rows of old, classic Typewriters lined the shop. It was almost a mini museum, and I bet old Government workers and Journalists would love this place. It was like back in the 60s with their signage.

Old Typewriters for sale, some are for display only
     I became so excited that I actually forgot that I was holding the old typewriter I had, and the one who answered the door had to tap me on the shoulders because I had already entered a restricted place. 

I have a fascination with round keys, I failed trying to buy this one
     I have a fascination with old typewriters that had round keys and I tried to actually but the one you see above. It was fully functioning but the guy said it was only one of the collection of Mr. Avena. But that didn't deter me, so I still tried and asked how much would Mr. Avena probably sell it. When the guy said an insane amount, all I could say was "Oh, okay." - Obviously the amount was lightyears away from what I had in my wallet at the time.

An all-steel-and-spring Typewriter, I forgot to ask if it was real.
Having my Traveller de Luxe assessed.

   After about 10 minutes of asking about the shop, I finally handed over my typewriter to be assessed. And just like I expected, the expertise surfaced like routine, he quickly saw the flaws and the missing parts that I didn't even know were supposed to be there. But sadly my visit was incomplete because Mr. Avena wasn't around yet to make the estimate. I wanted to personally meet him because he's put so much dedication to run the shop even it's no longer profitable, good thing though that he owns the building so he has a passive income to keep the shop.

     I was already back in the office when I received a call from Mr. Avena, I stuttered answering as he estimated the price of the repair to which I think the price was really professional, it was well-priced and you would actually feel that he's more than happy to repair it for you. It was not about money, but it was more passion. I think he priced it for charity or something.

     For now, I shall leave you in suspense for the typewriter is in the good hands of Mr. Avena. I shall blog again to report on the condition after it has been repaired. 

     Till my next typewriting, cheers! 

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