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Camille Granito Mancuso: Chatterbox -- Typing up a quick break

My computer ... well, over the years I’ve had three ... I name them all and I’ve kept them all.
Every new one I acquired had different abilities than the one before. Each couldn’t keep up with technology or speed, but they all still work. Their names help me differentiate them in my head and the work I do on each. I think of them as friends.
The first one, Martin, will always hold a special place in my heart. We’ve talked about him before; he talks to me. I’m not hearing things. He arrived programmed to do that. They were famous voices speaking lines from movies. When I reduced the screen, Judy Garland from the “Wizard of Oz” said, “We melted her!” When I brought the screen back up Cary Grant from “North by Northwest” says, “There’s no getting rid of me, is there?” and every night, when I shut Martin down, I heard Humphrey Bogart say, “No. That’ll be all, just be sure to lock the door on your way out. Goodnight.” Oh yes, Martin will always be my favorite. None of the others talk to me.
Martin also had a feature called Clip Art and a full design board. Oh, my. I made such unique things: return address labels (some even matched my Christmas cards), specific cards for specific people, cards for Baby’s First “everything,” and invitations, envelopes and labels to match party themes and table decor. Martin is grand, but I can’t let the others hear me say that.
Wylder is my newest one, but my sweet and oh so capable repair guy just told me he is “really old” in computer years. He was getting so slow I’d give him a command, make dinner, and come back to finish my work. He’s better now that he’s had a cleaning.
Computers fascinate me. Remember when we thought they’d only be good for playing Ping Pong? They do stuff we never dreamed and stuff typewriters never could. I’m not implying that I understand them. I don’t, but I love working with them. Of course, computers don’t have the charm of a great old typewriter, but if I had to retype a full page every time I moved a sentence, I would be in solitary confinement with my old Underwood.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a typist at heart from way back. I adore typewriters – two Chatterbox columns delved into different parts of that admiration, typewriters’ origins and evolution, people collecting them just for their beauty, and how “The Typewriter Song,” saluted the noise they made as their best part.
They sure had such charm but they also had ribbon ... messy. I actually remember when ribbons first became available with red and blue on the same bobbin. Then, secretaries around the globe went crazy over White-Out. It was slightly detectable but better than starting from scratch. Today, the kids, however fast they may seem on the keyboard, aren’t being taught how to properly type. I was sad to hear that. After all, we all use that skill on any computer.
Our first family computer, Martin, was a huge deal for us. The kids shared nicely because they most certainly didn’t want to lose their keyboard privileges for arguing. I waited for everyone to go to bed to play on it until I learned its ins and outs. I pressed every button until I knew what I needed to in order to accomplish my goals. Today’s computers don’t have Martin’s talents – they’re options we now have to buy.
The very first time I used Martin, I worked on him until about midnight. I ran into a small problem. I called my oldest son at college; I knew he’d still be up. After greetings, I asked him how the computer worked. An engineer, he began explaining binary systems to me. I interrupted him in fairly short order.
I only needed to know how to shut it down. It was a good laugh. Then, I pushed the button and Humphrey bade me goodnight for the first time. I was a goner. I fired up Martin a few days ago and Mr. Bogart still makes me swoon as he did in 1995.
Wylder, who just returned from his grooming, does things Martin doesn’t, but ... well ... young love, Clip-Art, and Humphrey are tough acts to follow. I did, however, manage to garner Wylder a keyboard that makes a great sound ... not as great as my old Underwood, but then again, that puppy couldn’t cut and paste.