Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Farewell, Smith-Corona!

I dropped it off yesterday at Blue Moon Camera and Machine up in the St. Johns area of North Portland. I left with two $5 bills in my pocket.

I have a special place in my heart for the St. Johns area. It was once the location of Honda of St. Johns: auto dealer on the south side of the street, motorcycle dealer directly opposite on the north side.

Now only the motocycle dealership is left. The auto dealership was acquired by Larry Miller of Idaho and moved to Hillsboro. Along with it went the best Honda auto parts inventory in the country.

In three decades of buying my parts from the store for my '71 600 sedan, my '75 Civic, the '83 Accord, the '82 Accord and Hilary's first car, a '93 Accord, I can truly say that the number of times they had to order what I wanted could be counted on my 10 fingers. I probably spent over $10k there on parts. Not that our stuff needed that much repair. But when your favorite vehicle gets totaled twice by someone else, well.... you end up buying a few parts.

Plus, they gave me a 20% discount. I miss that. Yes, I do.

A few blocks farther west is Blue Moon. They specialize in used film cameras, lenses, darkroom equipment and chemicals. They also stock a few old typrewriters that have been overhauled. Most sell for about $175.

The Smith-Corona 88E above was my typewriter for 47 years. I got it in the spring of my sophomore year in high school since I was taking typing that year. My favorite machine in the typing lab was a slightly newer Smith-Corona office model. Much was familiar to me about the 88E in the pictures.

Back then, you could order rebuilt office typewrites from the Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalog. This one was rebuilt in Chicago by Chicago Typewriter Exchange. It had a new platen and rollers, new keytops, fresh paint. It looked, smelled and worked like a charm.

It typed my high school papers, my college papers, car maintenance records and was my trusty tool for laying out crankshaft and camshaft regrinding data and in-house company service bulletins in my first aviation jobs in Texas and here in Oregon. Pirated copies of some of those data sheets and bulletins are still in use in aircraft engine overhaul shops all over the western half of the country.

The 88E moved with us from Fremont, Nebraska to Irving, Texas; then to Gresham, Oregon. Finally to Portland where we are now. It really doesn't need an overhaul, just a little touch-up paint. Nevertheless, only a few select souls actually want one of these machines. Only a few select souls want to master and execute the very long and non-power assisted keystrokes.

Then there was the sound of the typewriter. The sound of the keys and the thump of the carriage as I hit the space bar will echo in my mind for the rest of my life.

So many moving parts, all made here in the USA by people who raised their families doing so. Thanks for all the work you did for me, model 88E. I'm glad I saved the manual that you came with as well as the test sheet typed by the person who tested you back at Chicago Typewriter exchange.

Thanks for the past 47 years. Nothing to plug in. No hard drive crash. No software or hardware updates required. No system incompatibility. Put paper in and go.

Find a good home for the 88E, Blue Moon Camera and Machine. I was probably this typewriter's second owner. I hope you find a third.

They certainly don't make 'em like they used to.

Oh... On the way home I stopped at Honda of St. John's. I bought two oil filters for my '73 CB500 motorcycle. They each cost $11.25.

That's one and one-eighth typewriters. Each.

They certaintly don't make 'em like they used to.

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