I was going through an old high school yearbook and came upon this photo above. It reminded me of my typing class a very long time ago.
My dad worked at a heavy equipment dealer that sold bulldozers, backhoes and road-laying equipment. He used to bring home tons of stuff that the company would just throw out anyway (at least that what he said.) Among our valued possessions as kids were typing stands, huge nuts and bolts, big boxes of railroad marking chalk, a large slate chalkboard and lots of manual typewriters the company was getting rid of when electric ones came out.
By the sixth grade, I had learned how to type at least 85 words per minute and was publishing my own newspaper, The Van Buren Times with editorial offices at 670 Van Buren Ave, St. Paul, MN 55104. It was an 8 1/2×11 sheet, 4 column, 2 sided newspaper which was a bear to set with an old Royal typewriter. I’m certain the endless clatter and ink fingerprints of five kids gave my mom no end of angst, but she was good at biting her tongue when my dad was around, especially when it came to writing and music (but that is a story for another day.)
When I started high school, I had signed up for typing class as a freshman, thinking this was going to be an easy A. The first day, we all were seated — me in the back row — introduced to the typewriter (electrics!) and how to care for the cover, where the home row was, etc. We were then told to type the left home row, then the right, then the left, etc.
The class dutifully typed. Rat…. tat…. tat… tat. Rat…. tat…. tat… tat.
And I begin: Ra-ta-ta-tat. Ra-ta-ta-tat. Ra-ta-ta-tat. Ra-ta-ta-tat with machine-gun like precision and speed.
“MR. DOGG!!” bellowed Sister Mary Whatever from the front of the room. “DO you think this class is a JOKE?”
Everyone fell silent as she marched toward my desk and looked at my paper in the carriage, fully expecting to see jibberish. The paper was perfectly aligned and the letters were all correctly typed. a-s-d-f-g ;-l-k-j-h.
“Put the cover back on that machine, get your things and march into the hallway,” she ordered.
When we got in the hallway, she closed the door and started yelling at me.
“Don’t you know it is a MORTAL SIN to cheat your way to an A? Your mom and dad pay good money for you to come to this school and you will burn in HELL for ….. cheat yourself and cheat God and cheat your fellow classmates by not …. talents and …. ” It went on for what seemed forever in nun-speak. All I heard was the crackling of hell-fires licking at my rear end.
“Give me you schedule,” she demanded. “Come with me.”
We marched down the hallway, through the cafeteria and into the old school building.
“Pardon me, Sister, but I have another student who would like to take your German class. Do you have room?” she asked the nun who was sitting at a desk on a rather tall stage at the front of the class.
And she left me there where I showed up every day for the next four years, struggling with German, not getting an easy A but loving every minute of it.