Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Non-smoking section

Smith-Corona Skyriter c. 1952I've no doubt that luck has been on my side with the condition of the typewriters I've found so far. Now that I've passed the early acquisition phase of the collection, I can feel a bit more confident about discriminating between machines I really want, and those that I can just pass by. I'd made a promise to myself that I would stick to getting machines locally, since I've heard too many eBay horror stories to recount, usually around sellers who toss the typewriter in an old shirt box with a whiff of newspaper padding, and then express shock when it shows up looking like it had been gored. All the same, I could not pass up the $5 Smith-Corona Skyriter I spotted at shopgoodwill.com. I fudged my promise, since it was located in Oregon, which borders California, which means it's "local" (so goes my reasoning) and with the Skyriter being a travel machine, I expected shipping to be more reasonable than some of the other machines located in Minnesota or Florida. It was, and I paid less in total that I have for most of those typers I've gotten from my local Goodwill. Factor in gas prices -- nearly $5/gallon here now -- and so how could I say no?

It arrived well-packed and padded, and the carton made no unpleasant rattling sounds. After unwrapping its many layers of bubble wrap, the unmistakable smell of cheap cigarettes rose into the air. Ugh. Aside from the usual dusty/eraser-bit neglect and a top lid that was not fastened on properly, the soundproofing and all soft surfaces reeked of a heavy smoker. California is a very smoker-hostile place, banning it from all public buildings and a certain distance from their entrances. I've forgotten how much I don't notice the smell of cigarettes any more until I travel back to visit my family, and am asked "smoking or non-smoking, hun?"

I'm not going to turn this into a screed against smoking or smokers, but I will say that it's nasty getting that out of a typewriter. Thankfully, Skyriter cases literally slip off, giving full access to the innards and the inside of the case. A few days airing in the garage, careful and generous application of Febreeze and some time in the sun and the Skyriter smells like a typewriter again, not like an ashtray. There's still some amber goo in one corner, which I'm hoping is just a spilled beverage from ages past, and not tar-thickened sputum (apologies if you are eating while reading this.) Goo Gone is barely touching it, but it's not on any mechanisms, so I think we're safe.

Of course now I'm unable to savor the new non-smell of the machine, as the Bay Area is socked in with wildfire smoke from the numerous surrounding fires. It looks to be a bad year for them, and the thickening haze outside and campfire odor everywhere do nothing to convince me that the air will be clear again soon. I hope it does, because I'd like to take this little guy out for a proper typing debut, now that he's kicked the habit.

8 comments:

Oliver said...

Oh, that is a perfect match for the Sterling! Good find!

mpclemens said...

I will surely be getting pictures of the two of them together. I'm trying to think up suitable names for the pair of them.

Sam and Frodo?
Frog and Toad?
Cain and Abel?
George and Gracie?

It'll come to me.

TOTAL coincidence that they look so close to one another, but I'm pleased.

Teri said...

I think I need a Skywriter, one from the early to mid 50s to match the Clipper and the Silent-Super. The problem is that I also think I should spend the money to have the Clipper worked on. I love typing on that machine and it's my only elite type. And I think I'd like a typewriter that only types in small caps. I know they are out there. Just haven't run into one.

Strikethru said...

Frog and toad, definitely.

Oliver said...

Toad and Frog are good. After all, they're both brown and two shades of green.

At the risk of showing my age, Mutt and Jeff come to mind as well.

Monda said...

Bogey and Bacall.

I'm kind of partial to Cain and Abel, although one of them really should be a wandering, troublesome thing for that to fit properly.

Congratulations, and bless those who can type on those little ones. I get all impatient with my smaller machines.

Duffy Moon said...

Cheech and Chong?

(Oh, you meant TOBACCO smoke. Never mind.)

mpclemens said...

Yes Duffy, otherwise I wouldn't have been so diligent in cleaning. :-D

Thanks for the name ideas. Olivander, I have trouble believing that Mutt and Jeff are from "your" era. Grandpa never did his toes like that.