CLARK COUNTY, Ky.– Go to any flea market or antique mall and you’ll likely see an old typewriter for sale. They can bring back memories, but they usually don’t work very well, if at all.
Ed Reed of Clark County has been working on typewriters for more than 50 years. He minds the Ps and Qs and other letters, and won’t stop picking and prodding a machine until it’s clicking and clacking like new. He has a small workshop in his garage.. and gets most of his customers by word of mouth.
“What I like about it is you make them so happy when they find out someone can still repair it and when they leave here, they’re like on Cloud 9, ” Reed said.”
His favorite machine is the IBM Selectric, which was made in Lexington starting in the 1960s and revolutionized office work with its rotating type ball.
Correct me, if I’m wrong, but this doesn’t seem like work to Ed.
“It’s a calming effect,” he said. “It’s kind of hard to understand that, but it’s a calming effect to me to work on them.”
About three years ago, Reed became a mentor. Bryan Sherwood of Lexington brought in a typewriter that he bought at an antique store. It was in bad condition. But the more he watched Reed, the more he wanted to know how to fix typewriters. And while Reed likes the Selectric, Sherwood Bryan prefers manual labor.
“There’s a certain amount of romance with an old machine like that, ” Sherwood said. “I love to know the history, not only the kind of machine, but who owned it or how it was used.”
Reed’s garage is like a museum, full of vintage machines that either work or will someday, after they get the Royal treatment. Sherwood says his workshop is a carbon copy.
“The thing about typewriters, you can never just buy one, ” Sherwood said. “Soon you have two, three, 20 and 30 of them.”
Sherwood’s wife, Heather, is also skilled at repairing typewriters.
They sell refurbished machines through a website and say a lot of customers are young people who grew up in the computer age.
“It’s a new thing to the smart phone generation– totally new.”
Reed was glad to find Sherwood; he has just his type of work ethic.
“It was good, but then it’s like he might get so good he might take some of my work away from me.”
There’s probably no danger of that. With work this striking, there should be plenty of business to go around.
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