Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Classroom Typewriter Project (Photo HEAVY!)

Salutations, people of the Typosphere!

As some of you have already discovered, there is an eighth-grade English teacher named Jonathan Mc Donald gathering typewriters in the High Desert for use in his classroom. I stumbled across his listing quite by accident as I was browsing the Craigslist for more typewriter fodder to fuel my addiction.

This was before I had learned of the Typosphere, had heard of Ryan Adney and was just beginning to discover what an extensive and addictive pastime typewriters can be. I was also just starting this blog. I wanted a subject I felt was important to blog about, and his idea struck my fancy. His Craigslist ad can be found here (for as long as Craigslist leaves it active, that is).

So I contacted him about his project, and he has been more than gracious to provide me with some information and lots of photos! I will list contact information at the end of this post for all of you out there who would like to aid him. And be sure to check out his youtube channel for videos on current projects, typing drills done by his students and the status of his project!

Without further ado, here are the machines thus far.

Jonathan's grandfather's typewriter. This one stays home.

The barn find. Case destroyed, Smith-Corona dirty, but none the worse for wear! Possibly too small for the classroom, however.

The Adler, in good condition outside. It has a broken bearing.

A  favored machine.

I spy an Oliver! Jonathan has told me he will be refinishing its platen. The Royal Safari's condition is because of  poor packing from an ebay seller. It's one of many projects, but it's sad because it didn't have to be that way.

The man-cave-turned-workshop.

Royal KHM, an ongoing project.

A hulking Underwood.

This group makes me think of gossiping secretaries.

Royal KHM, which will be in a video on Jonathan's youtube channel.

Remington Noiseless, restored by Jonathan. There is a video on youtube of this one.

A lovely Underwood Noiseless! Jonathan told me it is 'so clean inside it should be in a museum'.

Part of the menagerie, where they are kept, free of dust.

Three up-close views of the 'hoarde'.

Jonathan is about halfway (18) to his goal of thirty-five manual typewriters, last time I checked. He is using them as a means to engage his students and teach them essential things, such as resume' writing, cover letters and other things vital to know before entering college and the work-force. He has only been collecting them since June and since school is out, they are all Summering at his home currently (most are being worked on). He's willing to take on any manual typewriter in any condition, but the new school year is fast approaching so if any of you great people out there in the Typosphere can help him reach his goal with working machines I know he'd be grateful. Or, if you have any good leads on machines! He's also accepting donations of: ribbons in any condition, black ink, black ink pens and metal typewriter tables. He has an IBM Selectric to trade for a manual as well and prefers the 'Sherman tank' type machines.

If you would like to contact Jonathan about his project or donation, here is his information:

Jonathan Mc Donald
(seven six zero) 240-987five

Good luck to you, Jonathan, and we hope to see you around the Typosphere soon!

--Anna Strad.


  1. This is a laudable project and it's good of you to promote it, but I am dismayed that a person teaching writing would have so many misspellings in his own writing: Tanks/tanks, Carona/Corona, mute/moot, add/ad, and maybe others I missed, since I was not actually proofreading this. Some of these may be real typos but it makes me wonder if he even knows what the word "mute" means since that can't be a typo. What philosophy of editing is he teaching?

    1. While on the one hand I agree that you have a valid point, on the other, it is a Craigslist ad, not a thesis, after all. I'm an accused and professed spelling and grammar Nazi, but even I take exception with all but the very worst Craigslist ads. I didn't get much into the particulars of his core topic beyond that it is English, and that he will be doing typing drills, resume' and essay writing, et cetera. And teachers are human, too. As I mentioned in the post, he will be starting a blog so perhaps you will be able to ask him that question directly soon. For what it's worth, I thought his email correspondence was fine. And I think we can all agree that thank goodness none of the ad is in .txtspeak!

      Considering twenty percent of all high school graduates are illiterate, and only fifty-three percent of all students graduate at all, I believe every effort to get these kids truly ready for the world should be aided, not over-scrutinized. But, that is my humble $0.02 on the matter. And I do hope my reply does not come off as overtly harsh, as that is not my intention a'tall. (Misspelling of 'at all' intentional. ;-))

  2. Thanks for the quick and considered reply, A. I agree Craigslist is about as informal as you can get and ephemeral besides. But, y'know, I'm thinking he's preparing others for the real world and I would never hire someone who can't spell or, if using a spellchecker, can't distinguish a homonym from the right word. It's not about fussiness but rather smooth communication instead of having to pause to figure out intended meaning from the context with all the distraction that entails.

    I know what you mean in mentioning Nazis but reject using the term for people who are trying to make the world better. It's always a struggle deciding when to speak up about language and I do bite my tongue most of the time, but when the perp is in a position of influence .... Habits are easily acquired and hard to change; standards are very useful; and so on.

    Yes, I suppose I should just start my own blog, where readership can be voluntary. I do hate to seem negative and to hijack others' comment sections. After all, this is about Mr. Mc Donald's generous promotion of vintage technology. I wish him and you all the best.

    (As an aside, now I'm wondering how I subconsciously sensed that you are fastidious about language. And you're only twenty-something? Kewl! Oh, and I do agree with you about the txtsp33k, although that's fun in its own way, too.)

    1. By coincidence, this trenchant note from XKCD: < xkcd (dot) com (slash) 1090 (slash) >

      Be sure to hover over the graphic for a punchline...

  3. *Chortles* Oh, that is a good one. Reminds me of the streaking incidents of the 1970's that my family has told me about. Thank you for sharing that.

    I must admit that I am a bit gob-smacked in regards to a counter-argument to your previous comment. You make good, valid points that I frankly cannot disagree with. I do apologize for not replying sooner, but a girl must get her beauty sleep some time. Also, I did have a response ninety percent typed up, and then the mighty Laptopasaurus decided to devour which point I decided it was an opportune moment for some fitful rest.

    While I do agree that educators and people in positions of power (such as lawmakers, for example) should be held to a higher standard, I'm personally not certain as to how high that standard should realistically be. Legislation such as the 'No Child Left Behind' act is advancing and graduating individuals that, for their own sakes, really should be held back. Kids are growing up, not learning how to communicate face-to-face or by letters, either hand-written or typed. Instead, they will sit beside each other, faces buried in their cell phones and text, instead of turning around and actually speaking to each other. Additionally, 'TeeVee' is draining the brains of the collective unconscious. Cursive writing is no longer being taught to grade schoolers. The English language as a whole--the King's English, Shakespeare's tongue--is degrading at an alarming rate. Even in the highest offices, (congress, for example) the diction and rhetoric have regressed from collegiate level to grade school level in roughly seventy years.

    Returning to the 'No Child Left Behind' act, I know many educators and parents who agree with me on this point. I have also been told that the individual school districts themselves have their own regulations that they impose, restricting educators further. Then there is the fact that by and large kids are taught for the test, not really to develop any important life-skill or to retain necessary knowledge. However, I can only speak second-hand of this because I was home schooled, graduated early and went on to college, though at the time it did seem even my college courses were geared toward passing tests and not necessarily toward learning and retaining pertinent information. Our standards as a society continue to get lower and with increasing frequency we praise and encourage mediocrity. That being said, I can see how all the regulations, low standards, and how the education system is set up in general could make holding oneself to a very high standard would be an exercise in futility.

    I tend not to hold others to the same standard to which I hold myself at this point in my life. I'm certain my friends are relieved by this, as they received the brunt of my correction fury early on. It is rare that I will speak out about an error now; instead, I just rail on at my computer screen and clutch the bridge of my nose whilst my husband either does the same or consoles me, haha.

    Yes, you should start a blog. That way I can come over and hijack it. But seriously, I don't consider your comments hijacking because you're civil, well-written and your responses are relevant [enough] to the topic at hand.

    Thank you for your well-wishes, and I'm certain Mr. Mc Donald appreciates them as well.

    . . .

    As to your aside, perhaps it is because this is a blog primarily about machines used to place ideas-turned-pieces-of-language in hard-copy? That would be my guess. And yes, I am a twenty-something; a late twenty-something, mind you, but still a twenty-something. And a Luddite. I don't even answer my occasional text message with .txtspk...40W3V3R, 1 @M QU173 F1U3N7 1N $3V3R@1 |)1@3C7$ 0F 1337. ;-)

  4. Thanks to Jonathan and you for sharing. It's good to see another teacher who loves and uses typewriters.

    Now where can I get a nice big Adler like that? A couple of typospherians have one and I'm very jealous. Maybe this is the one that was advertised on eBay by a lady in Palm Springs who was too uninformative and unhelpful for me to take a chance on it.

    1. Thanks Richard! I thought the project was a really neat idea when I stumbled upon it on Craigslist, and I'm happy Jonathan allowed me to post about it and shared so many great photos!

      If I remember correctly, it seems like the Adler did indeed come from Palm Springs (at least one of the typewriters did, and I believe it was the Adler). I do know the ball bearing was sitting outside the machine, waded up in a piece of tinfoil upon its arrival. Jonathan has a solution to fix it, but he did not elaborate as to what that might be, so I'm hoping he will be posting a video about it.