Getting ink on my hands
Throwing around piles of clothes on the floor of my grandmother’s closet, I found the one thing that would forever change my destiny.
It wasn’t a pair of mile-high shoes that would transform me into a future movie star.
It wasn’t a vintage dress that could use a little altering to make me that potential fashion designer.
It was an antique, black typewriter.
My skinny fingers ran across the keys that had an almost imitation pearl finish. The coldness of its metal rubbed against my little hands.
I wiggled it out from Maw Maw’s closet into the middle of her bedroom. I am not sure if what was because I was a child or what, but that thing sure was heavy.
Grunting, I finally got it where I wanted it.
Amazingly, the typewriter still worked. I grabbed some of my mother’s paper that was left in a drawer and began to hit the keys for practice. Confused as to why the letters weren’t in alphabetical order, it took me a while to get the hang of it.
Before long, I was pounding keys, kicking rollers, popping levers and ripping off paper.
The next day I had the typewriter moved to an old student desk in my bedroom. That is where my destiny unfolded.
Grabbing a pile of construction paper and watercolors, I made a sign announcing my new business venture. It simply said “Press,” and I taped it on my door.
I took one of my Paw Paw’s old tin lunch boxes from when he worked at the paper mill and filled it with a cookie, a ham sandwich wrapped in wax paper and a thermos of Kool-Aid.
Carrying my lunch and grabbing an old briefcase I found, I strutted through the kitchen.
“Well, I am about to head to work,” I said, grabbing a biscuit.
“Where are you going,” Paw Paw asked.
“The paper,” I said, heading down the hallway. “I’m a reporter now.”
I closed the door to my room so I wouldn’t be disturbed. I grabbed a pink Barbie note pad. Sitting my lunch box and briefcase on my bookshelf next to my Mr. T piggy bank, I was ready to get to work.
I arranged my stuffed animals and baby dolls along the wall. I interviewed each one about anything from the sleeping arrangements at night to who should be allowed in the tub during bathtime to whether or not Barbie or Ken would make up from their big public fight. (Ken was caught talking with Rainbow Bright last week).
After my interviews, I sat at that old typewriter and put my stories together.
The writing was pretty simple: Ken talks to Rainbow Bright. Barbie is mad. Teddy has to go to doctor for missing eyeball. Army men try to invade dollhouse.
With such excitement, I would rip the final product out and head into the living room. Handing out the paper, my grandparents would read each piece of paper with interest.
My work was done. The home was informed of the daily activities from inside a child’s toy box.
I kept at it for about a month. Then I began to play with my cars more. Tea parties became more popular. And paper dolls were on sale at the local Piggly Wiggly.
But that typewriter sat on my desk until we moved from that old house. I am not sure where it ended up, but I will always remember it.
I smiled as I typed this column because I wasn’t sure about what to write about this week. Trying to figure out the lead to one of my stories, I typed: Barbie and Ken have it out again in the middle of Main Street.
I laughed to myself as a hit the delete button.
The times have changed for me. I have a computer now instead of an old typewriter. I have politicians, heroes, villains and other characters to chase down for a quote. And my work goes out to thousands of people instead of just my grandparents.
But the excitement of pounding those keys, rubbing black ink off my fingers, grabbing that notepad and making a paper is just as high as it was when I was a kid.
That is why I know I am where I am supposed to be. This is the job for me.
Norman Mott, former Herald owner and a man whose opinion I greatly admire, once told me “when you get that ink on your hands, you can’t wash it off.”
He was right.
It’s been there since I was a kid.