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One of America's last typewriter repairmen

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And of course there are the typewriters themselves, in various states of cannibalization. Some gleam as they might have in 1920. There's an old black Underwood – the kind you'd see in a Howard Hawks movie. A German sky-blue Olympia built like a tank. Seven strains of electric Smith-Corona, four breeds of IBM Selectric, and one exotic Oliver No. 5, its typebars clustered like mouse ears on either side of the roller.

Whitlock says that he has repaired around 300,000 typewriters in his career. The avocado IBM was job No. 300,001. "If you put the typewriters I've repaired end to end, it would take days to drive past them," he boasts. Cars are as modern a motif as there is in his life – a painting of his old 1953 Jaguar XK120 decorates his living room (he sold the car itself to pay his late wife Nancy's medical bills).

"Typewriters don't go vroom, vroom," he concedes, noting that's one reason his two sons didn't follow him into the business.

But even cars might be a little too modern for Whitlock: "Airplanes, automobiles, television, computers; they've changed the world too quickly. It was nice 75 years ago!"

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Whitlock has outlived most of his contemporaries – both the typewriters and the people. His older brother, Reverdy, is the only one of Whitlock's five brothers still alive. Reverdy and Manson worked together at their father's general store, which was a New Haven institution long before either was born.

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