Friday, May 17, 2024

Cincinnati type-in celebrates Woz Flint's “The Distraction-Free First Draft"

This happened a few weeks ago (April 22), but it's still worth recording on this blog. Woz Flint, of Albuquerque, has (type)written a delightful little book about the joys and advantages of composing on a typewriter. It includes profiles of some typewriter users today, advice on choosing a machine, and more—but unlike my own heavy tome, it's breezy and non-encyclopedic. It's a quick, encouraging recommendation for writers who are considering giving typewriters a try.

Woz came through Cincinnati to read from her book at Joseph-Beth Booksellers. There was a curious audience, and many of them stayed to try out the typewriters that I and some other locals had brought.

Woz got laughs with the story of her struggles to write on a laptop:

I provided the Adler Privat and Voss on the table at left:

Some copies of my own book were also available:

The audience gives the typewriters a try:

Another insurgent brought this sweet '50s pink Royal:

El futuro es de las mujeres (y las máquinas de escribir):

Woz with family members who live in Ohio:

All told: a fine day for typewriter culture!


Tuesday, May 14, 2024

A visit to TB Writers Plus

I'm currently in the middle of a four-day writing retreat generously sponsored by Xavier Universty. They house 35 faculty at a Marianist retreat center in suburban Dayton, Ohio, feed us, and give us time to write. Of course, I brought my Remington Noiseless no. 7, and it's been doing good work for me.

But I had to interrupt my typing and take the opportunity to visit TB Writers Plus, a thriving young typewriter repair business created by the enterprising Trevor Brumfield. Trevor is an auto mechanic who discovered typewriters only four years ago. When he hosted a type-in last October, he was repairing typewriters from his garage. Since then, he has rented a large space in a historic building, done thorough research on the typewriter repair business, purchased tons of parts and equipment, hired two helpers, and attracted customers from around the country. He is a hardworking, methodical, dedicated guy who is in this for the long run. And his wife, Becca, is a great help!

TB is housed in the Davis-Linden Building, built in 1889 as the Davis Sewing Machine Company factory. The company also began building bicycles in the 1890s. 

Looking up and seeing signs for typewriter repair—and typewriters themselves—gives you a strange thrill, as if you have just entered a story from Backspaces and traveled back into the heyday of typewriters.

Trevor gave me a tour of the building, which now houses a variety of creative businesses.

This wooden floor is indented where workers stood in front of machines over the decades.

The huge freight elevator is hydraulically powered and extremely quiet.

Trevor showed me the various areas of the business, which already has the delightfully crammed and complex atmosphere of a longtime typewriter shop. 

Typewriters from various decades await service or offer parts. A machine is usually serviced within a few weeks after it's received.

These Smith-Coronas were recently cleaned.

The vault holds more customers' machines.

The work tables are well-equipped and well-lit.

Trevor tells me about rescuing an unused platen from an old business. 

I was happy to see these parts cabinets that used to reside in my garage. They were given to me by the owner of a Cincinnati repair shop after it closed, and I gave them to Trevor last year.

On top of the cabinets is a film-winding device that Trevor has modified to wind typewriter ribbons.

One area of the shop features machines that are ready for sale, and a table where people can sit and try them out.

Trevor has studied the paperwork systems of typewriter manufacturers and shops. He uses a laptop as necessary, but also makes intelligent use of paper records, as a typewriter man really should.

Tyler, one of Trevor's two employees, is a senior at Wright State University. He writes poetry, studies philosophy (we had a good talk about that), and creates a zine.

The folks in red from GLD Communications came in to film Trevor and Tyler for a TV spot. TB Writers Plus is getting some well-deserved publicity.

As I got ready to leave, a car from the 1940s casually turned the corner. My illusion of time travel was complete.

TB Writers Plus is located at 400 Linden Ave. in Dayton, Ohio. Make an appointment if you'd like to visit during the following hours.

Sunday 10AM - 10PM
Monday 7PM - 10PM
Tuesday 10AM - 10PM
Wednesday 7PM - 10PM
Thursday 7PM - 10PM
Friday 7PM - 10PM
Saturday 4:30PM - 10PM

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Want to run a typewriter shop?

This is Tom Furrier, owner of the beloved Cambridge Typewriter in Arlington, Massachusetts. You may have read his blog or seen that Tom Hanks gave him a machine.

Tom is ready to retire, and he'd like to find someone who wants to take over his small, busy shop. He was training an apprentice, but in the end the apprentice did not decide to continue. Is there a trained technician or experienced amateur who wants to take the plunge? As readers of this blog surely know, there is a demand for typewriter repair a quarter of the way into the 21st century. The love of typewriters has proved to be far more than a hipster fad; it's a healthy way to resist the ever-growing encroachment of IT and AI. That's why I believe there will still be typewriter users 50 and 100 years from now.

If you've been dreaming of plunging into this profession, consider the success of Paul Lundy, who took over Bremerton Office Machine Company from nonagenarian Bob Montgomery; or Antony Valoppi, creator of Portland's Type Space, which combines a traditional typewriter shop with a cultural center; or Trevor Brumfield, a young man in his late twenties who has quickly built Dayton's TB Writers Plus into a busy enterprise (see it here).