No…I haven’t lost my sanity…these things in my title really have something in common! Relax, and I will explain:
This is one of those days when I wanted to write, but didn’t really want to write something heavy, so I went to the handy-dandy Today in History website, and found some stuff that happened on September 14th that I could talk about.
1. Typewriters (for those of you under 30, that’s what we used to use before we had computers!). On September 14, 1886, a guy named George K. Anderson of Memphis, Tennessee patented the typewriter ribbon. I taught myself to type when I was 11 on my dad’s ancient Underwood typewriter (ca. 1940’s). You literally had to pound the keys to get it to work (I was quite proud of my typing speed of 35 words per minute), and heaven help you if you made a mistake! I am a veteran of rubbing holes in typing paper with erasers! If you did manage to erase the error without serious damage, then you’d have to get back to where you were to type the correct letter. That was fun (NOT!). My early work sometimes looked like it was done by a dyslexic chimp! Actually changing the ribbon was fun too…getting it in right was a challenge, and your hands, face and clothing would often end up covered in ink!
When I moved out on my own, I bought an electric typewriter (a Brother, which I still have…I don’t know why). It had a wonderful correction tape built in, which was great, until it ran out! Going to the stationery store, I was informed that replacing the correction tape would require approximately a bajillion dollars (if they even had it in stock!). At least my typing speed improved on the electric one…
After using typewriters for almost two decades, it was really tough getting used to a computer keyboard…totally different animal! I wanted to hit “Enter” at the end of every line…wrong, wrong, wrong! I was forever losing my cursor…where the hell is that little flashing line now? It took me a month to get the hang of it…
2. Comedic Couples. One of my favourite comedy teams, Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, were married on September 14, 1954 (and they’re still together, 56 years later!). I first saw Stiller and Meara on the Ed Sullivan Show, which we watched religiously every week. I liked them because even though they poked fun at each other, it was obvious that they were in love.
Another comedic couple I liked was Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz (they didn’t stay married, though). The I Love Lucy show was one of my early favourites – Lucy had the best facial expressions, ever! Even though Desi played a macho man on that show, Lucy still portrayed a woman who had some control over her own affairs – remember the episode when she and Ethel got the job in the candy factory?
3. John Boy. It was on September 14, 1972 that the heartwarming series, The Waltons, premiered on CBS. We used to watch the show every week for the whole nine seasons it aired. Truly a family show, it dealt with even the hard parts of life without cussing. My favourite Walton boy was Ben – he was very cute with his red hair and freckles! The tagline: “Goodnight, John Boy” caught on like wildfire. I used to tease my brother by saying “Goodnight, Jeffy” (he hated that!).
4. Roller Skates. Back in 1979, on September 14th, Theodore Coombs completed a 5,193-mile trip on roller skates from Los Angeles to New York and back to Yates Center, Kansas. According to Wikipedia, 25-year-old Ted undertook the stunt to protest the energy crisis, which led to gas rationing. Luckily, United Artists was flogging a movie called Americathon at the time, and sponsored Ted’s journey as a way to promote its new release. Ted set out from a Hollywood gas station in May of 1979, and reached his destination some four months later, despite a bizarre incident of his driver stealing the van and abandoning him in Mt. Sterling, Missouri (roller rink owners in Missouri and Kansas held fundraisers to finance the rest of his trip). Ted went on to write some of the computer books in the …for Dummies series (although he sounds pretty smart to me).
I had roller skates too, when I was a kid…they clamped on to my saddle shoes, and needed a small key to adjust the length. I was a terrible skater! I did well to get from one end of our basement to the other. Corners were the worst! Kids never wore helmets when skating back then…
Now you know how typewriters, comedic couples, John Boy, and roller skates are connected…you’re welcome!