Two finger flying
Hey, it’s Saturday and I feel like telling a little story unrelated to audio.
As a young lad of 15 years I was both a photographer and a cub reporter for a local newspaper called the Anaheim Bulletin, conveniently located in Anaheim California. I wanted nothing more out of life than to be one of the cool reporters that worked upstairs pounding out news stories on Smith Coronas. That I could also handle a camera was a plus in my book. I was convinced I’d be writing for UPI or AP before I was 21. Instead, the US Army grabbed me, but that’s another story.
In those days of hot lead linotype machines, manual typewriters were it. Stories were crafted by reporters pounding on manual typewriters with their two index fingers and copied word for word by the typesetters. In those very sexist days men typed only on two fingers, women only on ten. That’s the way it was with little room for deviation.
The classic image of the harried reporter, cigarette hanging from the side of his mouth, glasses halfway down the nose bridge, index fingers furiously flying, suspenders, bad lighting, booze and broads was real. I knew them, they knew me. They are who I wanted to be. I never became one of them but to this day I still type with two fingers, never ten. My noisy pecking is legend throughout the McGowan household and the halls of PS Audio as I bang, and bang hard, the little white keys of my computer. Old typewriters didn’t work without being brutalized and that carried over to computers for some. And typewriter abuse wasn’t limited to the keys. You also had to slap hard the carriage return; not because it was necessary but because it felt good. It meant the completion of a line of type, it was the stamp of being finished with one, ready to move on to the the next: like making the 180 degree turn with your lawn mower preparing to attack the next swath of unmowed grass.
Today the only excuse for typing with two fingers is one of laziness and unwillingness to change. I’ve been clocked at 70 WPM (not counting errors) in my glory days. Now I am probably lucky to know out 40 WPM and thank god for spell checkers.
Old habits die hard.