Typewriters, Comedic Couples, John Boy, and Roller Skates…

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!

This is what I learned to type on...

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.

This still of Stiller and Meara is from a 1966 appearance on the Sullivan Show...


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? 

Ethel, the Factory Foreman, and Lucy at 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!). 

I wished I could have been the girl Ben Walton was kissing...

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…

This skate is like the ones I had...I had two, though...

 Now you know how typewriters, comedic couples, John Boy, and roller skates are connected…you’re welcome!


Filed under memories, rants, satire

22 responses to “Typewriters, Comedic Couples, John Boy, and Roller Skates…

  1. Good to see how everything is connected. 😉

    This post brought back memories. Although I never saw Jerry Stiller and his wife together. I’ll bet they were a hoot.

  2. I couldn’t be trusted with roller skates when I was a kid. Mainly because I couldn’t be trusted to walk in a straight line, so rollerskates + me = instant death.

  3. brenda

    Your post reminded me of this song, do you remember it?? Love that song! Cut and paste into your brower.

  4. Ah, what a lovely walk down memory lane! I too learned to type on one of those old machines – they really worked your fingers! I progressed from typewriter eraser to Tippex, and from paper to stencils, which required a nail varnish type correction fluid.

    And I just loved the Waltons too … and rollerskating … and I love Lucy! and and and …!

    Thanks so much for this, Wendy, I love your blog!

    Sunshine xx

  5. planejaner

    nice to have a light read! What fun–and memories, galore.
    Lucille Ball is my comedic heroine, alongside Carol Burnett. Funny ladies, those.

    and I was totally in love with John Boy (I think…)

    Our family got the entire series of “The Waltons” on DVD a few years ago, and I was completely delighted that my kids LOVED it.


  6. I wonder if I would be able to use a typewriter today. I’d probably keep forgetting to push the carriage back!

  7. Not sure if you’ve seen this, Wendy – it always makes me laugh!

    Sunshine x

  8. My youngest has been wanting an OLD STYLE typewriter for the longest time! Santa did not deliver last year. I may look around on the Internet and find him one this year

  9. We finally got a color TV just to watch The Waltons.

    I got an old Smith-Corona manual typewriter at a yard sale a few years ago for a buck. I thought it would be cool thing to have.

    My daughter had never seen a typewriter. She thought it was amazing. She asked to type a note to her teacher. She typed, “I am writing this on a typewriter!”

    • Love the typewriter story, Todd! My brother and I used to think it was a treat being able to use Dad’s!

      Sadly, my parents didn’t spring for a colour TV until I’d left the house (we never had cable either!).


  10. I have just found your blog through Flying Gma’s.

    I still use the “Good-night, John Boy” line sometimes. 😀

    And I also learned how to type using a typewritter, then an electric typewritter (oh, those were exciting!!, some of them even had a built-in eraser!). Then they had those little eletronic typewriter, small word processors really. And finally my lasting love, the computer.

    And roller-skates! When I went to the US as an exchange student it was the one thing I had to buy! LOL

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane!


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