Saturday, December 10, 2005

Ancient Keyboarding

I had one other kid in my class. Well actually two at one time. I attended our country school that was about 2 miles from here. District nineteen. First thru the eight grades.
I didn't have pre-school or kindergarten. I know, you're thinking, well that explains a lot. Until I went to school, it was me, Mom, and the Captain. Well and Mr Green Jeans. Oh, and Mr Rabbit or Bunny or something like that. I knew nothing. There are those who will still say that.
I graduated from there and went to town. Holy Cow! Fifty Five classmates. GIRLS! Football!
My freshman year I took typing. All year. Two semesters. I started out on one of those new fangled "electric" machines. IBM Selectric. Sixty words per minute. Got an A the first semester. Since we only had enough electrics for half the class, at midterm we all switched. On the manuals, my production went down to about thirty words per minute and my grade went to a D. I think I finally eked out a C-.
I got to sit by the cutest girl in the whole school. A blond. We didn't have anything that resembled that in the country. I had a hard time concentrating. She used to like to pull my book off on the floor right when our teacher would say "Begin", on our timed typing tests. I loved it. She knew I existed.
Once while scrambling to get my book back up off the floor and continue my timed test, I untied her shoe that was right by book she had toppled. I thought it was a clever thing to do. My teacher never saw her pull the book off. The first I heard was a shouting teacher. "CLIFF, DO YOU REALLY THINK THAT WILL HELP YOUR GRADE"!
I was cool, I didn't say a word. Or type many for that matter. Man that girl was cute.
This blog is about that teacher. She kept harping on us to be proficient with all of our fingers, even the little fingers, and all of the keys. And why? We had to know, and know well, the location of z and q and jj and i and w and x all of those letters you would never use. She said it was to prepare us for the future.
My question is: How did she know that someday computers, and the Internet, and blogging and then word verification would all be invented and I would, at the age of fifty five, be able to use the z and x keys.
Well at least I don't get a big red check mark for overstiking a mistake. (man she hated that) I now have a backspace key.


Mike ( ex scientia, veritas ) said...

Hey, Cliff, do you remember Howdy Dowdy, too?? I'm a few years older than you. Good move with the shoelace.

In seventh grade the cute girl across from me started playing footsy - I loved it! Albeit, we sat in the front row - yep, not too bright. The teacher screamed at us at the top of her lungs and we both literally shot out of our chairs. I think they put you on Death Row for that today. ;)

Oh, and there were 600 in my High School graduation class. Handing out diplomas was a real yawn. There's something to be said for small classes.

Jim said...

Hi Cliff. I was wondering who taught you typing. I can't remember my teacher's name, maybe we had the same one?
My yearbook, 1951, got lost in a flood back in 1979. So that's no help. I am thinking about copying a classmate's some time I come up.
Today Leon Hale had a nice column about typewriters. He is one of my favorite columnists in the Houston Chronicle (
You can read his article, "It might be obsolete today but typewriter has charm", or a little bit of it, at
Leon Hale has grown on me. One of his books might even be in the Tekamah library.

Dan said...

My keyboarding teacher always made us type everything out and then go back and fix mistakes. That irritated me so much that now I will backspace over whole sentences just to fix a mistake. Who's got the last laugh now?

Ralph's Homespun Headlines said...

You've seen me type - need I say more?

Jerry said...

You brought back lots of Typing I Class memories. Our school district must have been short on funds. Typing II Class had the electric typewriters. Typing I had manual typewriters, some without the letters on the keys! It was great for learning though. No need to look down at the keys.

Rachel said...

I didn't go to pre-school or kindergarten either. I don't think it was invented back then.

I had those classes too. I wasn't very fast. Those manual typewriters where you had to push the bar (Gosh, I've forgotten the real word for it), at the end of the line and then get your fingers back on the right keys was what took me so long! Then we got the electric ones! Ah...much better.

It sounds like you were badly distracted by the blonde girl, so I'm real proud you can type so well. In fact I was beginning to think your post was about the blonde girl!

Who would have known is right! In about all the jobs I've had you had to use a typewriter and/or computer. I ended up doing transcription for doctors. I think our teachers would be shocked and amazed if they were around today!

Bossy♥'s YOU said...

I wanted to tell you I changed my address..

c-ya there

Jamie Dawn said...

Your teacher didn't know diddly squat.

I can't believe I used to use a typewriter. I am SO old!

Anonymous said...

Not only do we now have a backspace and delete key, we have spellcheck!

Bro Les said...

Seems like my typing instructor was Ms. Valder (Fall semester '62), and from your description I suspicion she was still there for your enjoyment as well! I've just spent the last hour reading your November & December blogs. You are so very talented as a writer (I feel guilty not having to pay for the enjoyment!) (I'm going to enjoy dropping this next line) I've got some time to kill as I sit at Susan & Greg's kitchen table here in Perth Australia, so thought I'd drop a note! This particular blog takes me back not only to the farm, but to Tekamah as well.
Recently, I had an exchange with one of my techs as she stood at the computer at the Vet Hosp in Clovis. She knows nothing about the keyboard. When she types a Rx label, it's always with just 1 finger and constantly glancing screen-to-keyboard. I noted that she had not spelled the word 'diarrhea' correctly. I did what I always do with her, telling her to "sound it out". (Can't you remember Mom always telling us to "Sound it out"?) She replied "dirrhea". "Tammy", I said, "Your leaving the i out" She typed the word (again) as "dirrhea", then hit spell check which corrected her. "Darn it, every time the spell check corrects me", she said. "Your saying the word incorrectly" I said, "The word is pronounced 'Die-uh-rhea. Sound it out," I said. By now a small crowd had gathered around. When I repeated my instruction for the last time "sound it out". She looked at me, and the others in the small crowd and uttered a sound something like "PFFFFFFFT". I went to one knee, gasping for air, and replied "Touche'", I said "That's sounding out diarrhea pretty well." Guess I'll leave English intruction to English instructors!! Bro Les

Peter said...

Okay all you smart people!!!! I taught myself to type, only on a keyboard, about 5/6 years ago, having never touched a keyboard before.
I guess we all start out with our name? well I did, if you count each . as 1 second you'll be about right:
...P..e...t(now this should be easy I just used that sucker)..e.r ..H...ol.t
It's pretty plain to see this was a laborious task, couple this with an in ability to spell words over 4 letters and we are really gettin' the picture!!
Cute blond girls were of no interest to me in grade school, by the time I woke up I was attending a boys only school, a tough life huh?
Cliff you suggested I might be from the US in a comment, please go to "Poetry Galore" and have a read of
"A TPI Pension Application" I think you may admit I'm definitely from OZ

Cliff Morrow said...

Mike; yes, yes, yes, I was an original member of the Peanut Gallery.
Jim : Mrs Ray was my teacher.
Dan: You've always got to get even, don't you??
Rachel: It was, almost about the blonde girl. She was a show stopper.
Christina: I'll get updated.
JD: You're not old. Maturing beautifully I'd say.
Bro Les: I'm really honored that you would join the ranks of my bored readers. I'll try to do you justice. If any of you check back, Bro Les is a cowboy poet and a good one. Welcome Les!!
Peter: I have no doubt you're from the land of Oz but your problems seem so american. :}

poopie said...

Heh...this story reminds me of the guy I sat next to in typing class. Poor thing couldn't type worth a flip, even on electric. I did all his work for him, and to this day he still loves me! I'm sure Ms Austin knew it too ;)

I love me some Mr. Green Jeans, by the way.

Paul said...

This was a great post, Cliff, and it looks like you pulled a lot of heartstrings--including mine. I, too, sat next to the cutest girl in town. I spotted her in the 2nd grade but never had any classes with her till high school typing. We never pulled any shenanigans cuz I always thought sitting next to her was something like sitting on Holy Ground.

Thanks for the memories. Good job.

Anonymous said...

Les, are you sure you didn't have Mrs. Bolt for typing and Miss Valder for English?

Jim said...

I had Mrs. Bolt for typing. I knew Mrs. Valder but didn't have her for English.
My previous school had taught Junior English--teacher mistake in ordering book--instead of Sophomore English. So in my senior year I took Sophomore English with Miss Parks.
Paul, thanks for the enlightenment.

Jim said...

It was Anonymous who enlightened me, not Paul. Sorry.
I learned to type so well that when I went in the Army I could type over 45 wpm which qualified me as a clerk typist.
I ended up teaching typing and personnel records for a year at my Army school.
This story is longer. I will tell of those experiences another day.

Green-Eyed Lady(GEL) said...

I enjoyed your post of your recollections. Although, I'm younger than you, I taught myself to type at age 12 on a black MANUAL typewriter!! Oh, the agonies of building up those muscles in my pinkies so the "a" would show up on the paper. Firm pressure was needed.

The IBM selectric was a gift to me.I typed in my teens for work and college. I'm a "Flying fingers" super fast, touch typist but I won't post my speed here because I now type with typos since injuries so it often looks like gibberish. At least those typos sometimes make for humorous times! However, not nearly as humorous as some of your anecdotes!

auntlee714 said...

I learned on a manual, then to electric, then to memory, then mag-card, then computers -- still don't text-message, tho.

Take a look at how kids get to lean nowadays -- lots of online games: