Throw That Carriage!

Autumn, 1968 – Ninth Grade

“Class, place your fingers on the keys under the paper towel and keep your eyes on the document holder on your left while you type. As soon as you hear the bell ring, that means the typewriter carriage is at the end of the line. Quickly place your left hand on the carriage lever and throw the carriage to the right as quickly as possible. Immediately place your left hand back on the keys by feel. Don’t look at your hands!” said my typing teacher.

So that is how I learned to type. At the end of the ninth grade, I had progressed to 60 words per minute during our daily timings. When I became a senior in high school, I took one semester of advanced typing for college and one semester of college bound shorthand. At the end of the typing semester, I had progressed to 100 words per minute.

Smith Corona Manual Typewriter like I used in College

Smith Corona Manual Typewriter like I used in College

I received some money for high school graduation and used $50 to buy a solid steel Smith-Corona manual typewriter in a steel carrying case. I think it weighed about 20 pounds! I used it all through college to type my papers since the college would not accept any handwritten papers. It was quite a chore to correct my mistakes before I handed in my paper to the professor. I usually chose eraseable paper and used an eraser pencil. Liquid white-out or white-out papers were other options. Then after I erased the mistake, it was a challenge to roll the paper around the cylinder and align the paper perfectly in the typewriter to type the correct letter. I also had to change the typewriter ribbon when it came to the end of the roll.

Summer, 1974

“…this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” 

II Thessalonians 3:10

At the end of my freshman year of college, I asked my parents if I could remain on campus for the summer because I was enjoying attending the Bible class and the Bible church so much. They said I could remain if I could figure out a way to support myself to pay for rent and food. I went to my boss at the main library and asked if I could work full time during the summer, and she said “Yes!” I found a room at a rooming house a few blocks from campus for $50 per month where I shared a bathroom and kitchen with 6 other women. I rode my bicycle about one mile to the grocery store and loaded my food into my backpack to bring it home.

My job at the library was to type 3″ X 5″ cards of the title, author, and subject of new books and then file them in the huge card catalog alphabetically. It was the most boring job I ever had and the hours dragged. To make it more interesting, whenever I came across the name of a country in a title, I would start praying for the people of that country to receive Christ as their Savior and for the Christians there to be encouraged. The fellowship with the other believers that summer who also remained on campus was very uplifting and encouraging. I taught a Bible class weekly to Dee who was a new believer. The last week of the summer, Dee and I held a 5 day Bible club for the inner city children.

I earned $856.34 that summer, spent $547.34 and was able to save $309. I was thrilled to be able to support myself for the first time in my life with a little left over. Truly God always provides!

“But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

Main Library where I was a typist for the summer.

Main Library where I was a typist for the summer.

Reflection – 2014

My typing skills have continued to be very beneficial throughout my nursing career. From the manual typewriter, I progressed to an electric one. It was so much easier to strike the keys and no longer have to throw the carriage! Then I bought a word processor which allowed me to see four words at a time on a miniscule screen just before they were typed.

When I entered graduate school in 1994, I broke down and bought my first computer and took a course on how to use “Word” at an adult education class. I started asking people at church who are computer experts to explain things to me which I continue to this day! I thank the Lord for their kindness and patience with me….  I was able to type all my own papers in graduate school, including my thesis, rather than hire a typist as most grad students did. I must admit, it was quite a challenge last year to switch to Windows 8.

In my current government nursing job, I am required to type all my progress notes into the patient’s electronic medical record. In the private sector, I had dictation, but I’m afraid the government is way behind. I pity my colleagues who have to use the “hunt and peck” one finger method to type. They work many hours of unpaid overtime to complete their notes. I am so thankful that I took those two typing courses in high school, and I would advise any young person to learn to type as fast as possible!

I recently spoke with Dee on the phone. It was a blessing to hear how she and her husband are serving the Lord among the Navajo Native Americans during their retirement years. I praise God that she has faithfully walked with the Lord all these years since we had that little Bible class together the summer of 1974.

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