The Royal Portable

This week's Sepia Saturday theme features typewriters. This is a machine I have not a little familiarity with, having been intimately involved with them from rather an early age.

This model I am experimenting with is a 1948 Royal Poetable. I mean, Portable.
This machine belonged to my mother. Given its vintage, I assume she treated herself to it the year she won the University of Michigan's Hopwood Award for fiction. Here she is around that time, looking literary.
However, she handed it down to me in the early 1970s, as I embarked on my own poetic career at the University of Washington. Here's the site of our "poetry workshop": Parrington Hall, with several of the poetry students taking a break. Summer of '72, I was 18 and most of my friends, from the class, were at least four or five years older.
Jim Mitsui third from left, Kay Deeter standing at center
That's my father at the podium, with the inimitable Frank Maloney eclipsing him.
Reading the announcements
I brought my camera one night. Actually I borrowed it from a fellow student, Daphne. I got arty widdit.
Poet's eye view: under the table 

The lonely cup

Window open: in those days you could smoke in class

The side exit
That's Daphne on the left, with her sister, at one of the three poetry readings held every week (in addition to the two poetry classes -- a full schedule!).
After class at 9 PM, several of the class members would retire to the local pub, actually Woerne's European Pastry Shop. You could smoke in there too.
From left: Unknown, my little sister Julian (!?), Ronnie Church, Anne Pitkin, Jim Mitsui, Charles Webb, Frank Maloney, Linda Engel,  Nick Seguin
And here is the culprit himself, pretending to work on a poem.
Note that my keyboard technique has not changed since toddlerhood.
I have long since graduated to a computer, and have recently returned the Royal Portable to my mother, who no longer can use it but keeps it as an icon of her college days. Amazingly, you can still get ribbons for it!


  1. What a great story...from beginning to middle...now a days. Thanks for putting it together. Oh those classes at night in college were so neat, with the continued topics with a drink! I didn't do it much, because I had a kid at home to go pay the baby sitter, but a few times I know I joined the fun!

  2. A fun set of photographs - ones that stood out for me were very first one as the infant typist,; the amusing (to us today) adverts
    and that imaginative one of the crossed feet under the table (fingers no doubt occupied in typing.

  3. What Splendid Photographs!Yes, Respect to the Infant Typer!

  4. That's a very cute picture of your early experience with a typewriter. Today, of course, the young are scarily into computers & iPad thing'ys. I remember a few years ago when my youngest grandson was 5, his mom - a teacher - had an iPad. The grandkids were playing with it and handed it to me to show me something, but I, being totally unfamiliar with an iPad, couldn't make it work, so 5-year-old grandson reached over and said "Here, Gramma, let me show you." and proceeded to zip his fingers this way & that on the screen - moving things around, enlarging things. I mean, it was actually a bit scary!

  5. Great post. I enjoyed all the photos and the ad. That 1970s shirt is really something!

  6. Excellent! And yes, it's surprising that you can still get typewriter ribbons and correcting ribbons. I guess not everyone has a computer.

  7. Great to have all those photos, especially the two of you at the keyboard.

  8. A super photo essay. Almost makes me want to go out and buy one!
    I think we've lost a lot of mechanical understanding with the loss of the typewriter. What computer today comes with a 32 part diagram? Most don't even show where the power switch is.

  9. How fabulous are these photos and advertisements? Great post. Aren't you glad you got arty with it?

  10. Great post! Loved the photo of you with the typewriter!

  11. Excellent! Love the first and last photos especially -- what fun!

  12. Art is art. whatever the form and mechanism used to produce. Thanks for a great story. BTW, I have a similar photo of the first one, however peanut butter and jam are also involved.

  13. I'm a bit of a hunt and peck man myself. I like that first photograph.