In 1937, I made an impulsive decision that haunts me every time I type a sentence. And all because a girl cried.
The fall semester at East Junior High had just begun. I was majoring in shop and signed up for Typing. I found I was the only boy in the class. On the first day, I stared at my typewriter. Blank keys! QWERTY said a sign above the blackboard.
A flustered girl rushed in, two minutes late. I’m sorry, said the teacher, but all the typewriters are taken. The girl burst into tears. Oh, give her mine, I said, and hunted out Printing.
Had I known what my life held in store, I might not has been so hasty. I learned to hand-set type in a stick from a California case and run a snapper press, but I lived out my years a modified hunt-and-peck typists.
That bugged me until I visited the Robert Louis Stevenson museum in Scotland and saw his writing tools and manuscripts. Stevenson did fairly well, as you recall, without a typewriter.
Another comeuppance hit me recently. I got talking harmonicas on Facebook with a music friend, Abe Thomas. In response to my comment on the limitations of the ten-hole diatonic, Abe posted a clip of a harmonica artist from India that blew my mind. Convinced he had a special harp, I asked Abe the brand. I ordered one–90 bucks–and learned right off: The music isn’t in the instrument, it’s in the musician.
Such matters no longer bug me. Maybe the Lord assigned me to hold that typewriter for a special purpose in the crying girl’s life. I’ve managed to hunt and peck through a couple dozen books and thousands of stories and articles. And I parlayed that fifty-cent, tobacco-flavored Marine Band of my childhood into hours of pleasure and into the hands of over 500 kids.
Some strive to make their lives a symphony. I’m fully content, as evening comes on, to be a front-porch harmonica guy.
Old Grandpa Lloyd