June 11th………“GRANDPA, WE SEE THAT YOU HAVE TYPED ALL OF THESE STORIES. DID YOU TAKE A TYPING CLASS WHEN YOU ATTENDED BATTLE GROUND HIGH SCHOOL? WHO WAS YOUR TEACHER”?
As a fearsome, frantic, festinating Freshman, I hustled towards the impressive entrance of Battle Ground High School with a sense of shock and awe!!! Above and beyond the school, towering, white, cumulonimbus clouds were set off against an azure blue Pacific Northwest sky which accentuated the handsome beauty of this impressive new High School of mine.
In 1967, our former farming family had moved from Minnesota to this new State and our new life chapter here in Battle Ground, Washington. I had just come from my quaint small town in southern Minnesota where I was used to a grade size of a little over 40 classmates. So, as I entered my 8th Grade school year, I was aghast to see how large this school was in comparison to back home. Battle Ground High School, in the 1968-69 school year of my Freshman 9th Grade was even more amazing to see when I found out that the head count of my grade level had grown to just under 300 classmates. Needless to say, overwhelmed is how I felt, to put it mildly.
Upon entering those broad High School entry doors, and just off to my right, in the first classroom on the corner, I can still recall hearing an almost Marine Corps-like cadence being called out in an austere lady’s voice that carried with it every bit of an authoritarian aura of “Do what I say, and do it NOW, please”!!! Turns out, the classroom that drew my attention that morning was the domain of the school’s typing class and was under the adept command of Mrs. Mae Harmon. I found the Typing Class, that day, to be, like all other things in my new life, a bit too much for a frustrated Freshman to handle. Maybe next year I’d reassess taking that class.
As my Freshman year came to its conclusion, I realized that I did NOT want to always be a one finger typist and, as classes were offered for my Sophomore year, I decided that I would put myself under the tutelage of Mrs. Harman and her Typing Class.
I was both excited and scared upon entering Mrs. Harman’s Typing Class that first day of my 10th Grade Year. Yet, I had a peace within as I found this educator to be in full mastery of her teaching subject, well respected, and that, through time, she had honed the skills necessary to impart her wisdom of typing to any and all that walked through the portals of her educational castle.
As my inquisitive eyes perused the classroom, I noticed that half of the machines were old-fashioned, manual typewriters and half were the relatively new IBM Selectric electric typewriters that had just been introduced to the marketing public in 1961. For whatever her selection criteria may have been, I was to be assigned as the half of the class that would start the school year on the old manual typewriters.
With that Marine-like cadence I had heard in the past, Mrs. Harmon got our attention with .“Ready students?!! Feet on the floor and sitting up straight in your chair? Let’s begin”!!! , said our sage, learned lady before us. “And….. F-R-F. F-T-F, F-V-F”!!! And so the drills began.
Long before digital word processors were part of the typing culture, when you made a goof on a manual typewriter, it was a BIG DEAL!!! For one thing, the rest of the class were click, clacking away around me, but the blatant mistake on my typing page had to be corrected before I could try to catch up with those more efficient classmates. Out would come the combination eraser “wheel” and brush. I’d have to roll up the mistake to access the boo-boo with the typing cylinder knob and then rub out the mistake with my eraser. Then I had to use the brush to clean away the eraser residuals, roll the cylinder and paper back down to its original position to begin typing again and just HOPE I didn’t make another mistake too soon in the near future………which I usually DID!!!! 😦
Needless to say, the more I’d fret over making another mistake, sure enough, I’d make another mistake!!! I must’ve worn out at least three eraser wheels in that first semester of Typing!!!
Yet, good things come to those that wait, ya? On the first day of the 2nd Semester, Mrs. Harmon made an announcement. “Students, today we’re going to make a change. I want all those who have been on manual typewriters, since the first day of school, to move over to and choose an IBM “Selectric” electric typewriter to sit by. And, vice versa, you students who have been on the electrics will now move over and choose a manual typewriter for the remainder of the school year”!!! Ohhhh joy!!! I was now in “typewriter heaven”!!! The difference was like night and day to us who had battled the old machines for that first half of the school year. These “new” electrics were amazing. It was like driving a car with power-steering for a change!! And, the electrics were even supplied with a correcting ribbon that pulled your mistakes off the paper like magic…….no more wheel eraser!!! My fellow “electric typists” and I also got some giggles from listening to the kids on the manual typewriter side of the room complaining loudly how they now had to strike the keys with full force (instead of tip-toe-touch like ours) to make their machines work. From that day on, I was a happy typist and a very happy Norwegian Farmer’s Son.