The blue typewriter with white keyboard

I was a very strange child.

When other kids were pretending to be nurses, or playing house, I was doing something quite unorthodox.

I was sitting at a card table, with a pencil stuck behind my ear, creating my own newspaper.

Yes, I told you I was a strange child.

There are even pictures of me, writing weird stories and drawing depictions of the happenings in the Mueller house.

My newspaper had a very small circulation – a copy was placed on our dinner table and a second was stuffed into my grandparents’ mailbox down the road.

I don’t remember what the newspaper was called – but I do remember having a masthead.

I would write about my brothers getting spankings after misbehaving in church; how I caught my parents kissing in the kitchen; that our dog, Grace, had a whole mess of puppies under the house.

I wrote about bottle-feeding calves, watching Dad assist a cow giving birth and the skunk that sprayed Stevie.

I catalogued the number of quarts of tomatoes canned by my mother, described how Nancy had gotten terrible mosquito bites, and explained Crystal’s addiction to sugar and pickles.

There were stories about Terry’s dancing techniques (the brother really had the moves when he was younger), and Maria’s love for Kermit the Frog. I wrote about Kelly’s unfortunate times in the chicken coop (a story too gross to re-tell) and my love for pizza.

As time went on, however, I realized I needed more technology in my publishing endeavor. And at the time, there was only one mechanism available – the typewriter.

I knew the folks would never buy me an actual typewriter – they were too expensive and quite frankly, I didn’t even know how to type. But I could dream.

Closer to Christmas, it was with great joy that I saw a beautiful “toy typewriter” in a Sears catalog. It was blue with a white keyboard. Sure, it was made of plastic, but the kid in the picture looked like he was writing a novel.

I so wanted it.

I put it on my Christmas wish list and did just that . . . wish. As far as I can remember, I don’t think there was even another thing on that list.

Through the month of December, I continued to publish my little newspaper . . . dropping hints, in what I suppose was my editorial section, about the dreams of the typewriter. I remember writing a little more sloppily . . . and telling the reader that if I had a typewriter, it would be easier to read my newspaper. And maybe, just maybe, it would be a quicker process that would allow me to put out more editions (because I’m sure my readers were clamoring for more gibberish).

Christmas arrived and I remember waiting outside the door, knowing that our gifts were likely already around the tree in the areas designated by our name tags. I was terrified the typewriter might not be there – because then I would have to act like I wasn’t disappointed. I was also so excited about the possibility of it all, my heart was nearly jumping out of my chest.

My father opened the door and the herd of children ran inside. I could hear screams of joy and knew the gifts had arrived.

I slowly made my way to where my gifts would be left . . . I looked, I looked.

And then I saw it.

There was the blue typewriter with the white keyboard. There was even a package of typing paper (remember the waxy, special paper we used to use?), a thing of “white-out,” erasers, pens, notebooks, colored pencils, markers and a little dictionary. Best of all, there was already a piece of paper loaded in the typewriter.

“Do you want to type something?” my mother whispered in my ear, as she leaned down to her kneeling daughter.

I couldn’t speak, as I stared at the beautiful thing with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat.

I typed until the cows came home . . . literally. It was well into the night when the folks said it was time to shut down the newspaper and get some sleep so I could continue my writing in the morning.

Remember, I said I was a strange child.

It was with great pride that I presented my first typed edition to my mother. She said she loved it. I don’t think I could have loved her more at that moment – not necessarily because she bought me what I wanted for Christmas but because she saw something in that strange child of hers that needed to be nurtured.

That blue typewriter with white keyboard is still in my possession. It sits on a shelf in a spare bedroom where I sometimes remove the cover and run my fingers over the little child-size keys. It was a wonderful Christmas present – really, I guess, a gift that kept on giving.


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