I found the old, black, heavy Underwood typewriter in a shop in Baker, Ore., in 1977. The shop owner told me it had belonged to Art Woodwell, a man who had been an assayer in Sumpter, Ore. I was amazed and pleased. Art Woodwell had passed on some years before, but the house we lived in then had been his house. I bought the typewriter and took it home, to its home and mine.
The typewriter became part of my daughters' environment. They often heard me rap-tapping as they went to sleep and far into the night. They experimented with the typewriter, and I showed them how to keep from tangling up the keys and how to free them if they did become tangled.
When Juniper and Amanda learned to read and write, they began to use the typewriter. In the beginning, when Juniper was 6 and Amanda was 4, Juniper worked with the typewriter on the floor. I loved to watch her type. She hit the letters with her fast-flying forefinger, and operated the space bar with the big toe of her right foot.
Amanda started typing at the kitchen table. Juniper eventually moved the typewriter from the floor to tables or desks.
Periodically, someone outside the family commented on my daughters' typing technique. "Why don't they type with more fingers?" Nudged by the culture's concern for the economic potential of nearly everything, when Juniper and Amanda were just a little older, I renewed an old discussion. "I can teach you to type with all of your fingers."
Juniper asked, "Why?"
"It's a faster, more efficient way to type."
"I'm going fast enough now."
Amanda asked, "What's the big rush?"
Juniper said, "I'm efficient. I don't make very many mistakes. I type as fast as I think of what I want to write."
Laura joined in. "If you ever want to make a living typing, you'll need to know how to type with all fingers."
Juniper said, "I won't want to make a living typing."
Amanda said, "We're too young to worry about making a living."
I never argue with irrefutable logic. They continued typing with one finger each. It wasn't hunt and peck, because they didn't hunt. They knew where the letters were, and they achieved impressive speed and clean manuscripts.