Source — (Pixabay)

My Mother’s Typewriter

The beginning of a relentless obsession

White Feather
6 min readNov 26, 2019


My mother arrived at Ellis Island in America with a two-year-old little boy, a belly that was 8 months pregnant, two suitcases, and a typewriter case that held the typewriter that she had been using for the previous 7 years. After a long day of endless red tape she finally made it to Penn Station where she caught a train for Kentucky where her American husband awaited her arrival.

A month later I was born, on American soil; an American. The first gift my mother gave to me was life. A dozen years later she would give me her typewriter.

With my American father being in the military, over the next decade or so the family moved constantly. The family also increased in population with the addition of two younger siblings; both girls. We moved from army base to army base across America then we moved to Europe where we moved from army base to army base then we moved back to America where we moved from army base to army base. In the first 11 years of my life we lived in 9 different places.

We moved to the 10th place right after I finished 5th grade. My father retired from the military (in order to avoid being sent to Vietnam) and we ended up in far, far, far west Texas. That is where I finished my K-12 education.

Before coming to America my mother worked as a secretary. In post-war Germany jobs were scarce — especially for females. But my mother developed a talent that lifted her out of the rubble and poverty her family was in. She learned how to type. But she not only learned how to type but she learned to type faster than just about anyone. She learned to type as fast as anyone could speak. She became the Speedy Gonzalez of German secretaries. Her fingers became like that of celebrated pianists and composers. There were no tape recorders readily available back then but you didn’t need one if my mother was there with her fingers hovering over her beloved typewriter’s keyboard.

It was in seventh grade that I started asking my parents for a typewriter. They asked me why on earth a boy would want a typewriter. I vehemently explained to them that I was going to be a writer when I grew up. How can anyone become a writer if they didn’t know how to type? (Seriously!!!)