Sometimes I come across fabric that opens up a long dormant memory. A vintage sheet may be the same large daisy pattern I used in my first apartment. And sometimes new fabric can awaken old memories.
Until I saw Julia Rothman’s typewriter print I hadn’t thought of the three months I spent learning to type at the Frankford School of Business in decades. Back in the day when a keyboard was something on a piano, computers were room sized, and IBM had just brought out Selectric typewriters; my mother sent me off to get a typing certificate so I could get summer work.
Under the gimlet gaze of the chain-smoking Dolly I pounded out typing exercises on manual machines that must have weighed 25 pounds. Throwing the carriage return built up muscles and cleaning ink off the keys was a dreaded chore.
All this came back to me at the sight of that fabric, which I had to purchase. I ended up using a design by Esch House Quilts to make WPM.
I stenciled the letters in a mottled dark gray to simulate the uneven key imprint of a manual typewriter. The letters are deliberately misaligned to show what happened when you didn’t hit the key hard enough.
The solid colors – lemon yellow, canary, light blue, and off white – closely match the colors of the pre-made carbons that we used. Of course, each copy was fuzzier, with the final white carbon copy practically illegible. The lighter gray linen border pays homage to linen weave paper. And the letters spell out a classic typing exercise.
I did land a job with the Veterans’ Administration typing up letters off a Dictabelt. Yes, each letter required lots of carbon copies.