The Typewriter That Helped Start The Times
Editor’s Note: This is one of a few remaining editorials that Times Publisher John Derby had left unpublished before his passing on Tuesday this week. It’s an updated version of a story he had told many times before.
Tucked back in a closet in the spare bedroom is a Remington Noiseless typewriter which was used to start this newspaper.
Before that, it was handed down to me by my father when I headed off to college, Fresno State, in 1955.
It was no longer noiseless as it pounded out the first Times editorial. In those early days, the editorial was titled “Observations.”
The typewriter made it through the college years, and the war years in Korea, and followed up with the family years. It was used until the fingers of the writer were so enlarged with arthritis they could no longer press the keys down.
Those fingers and hands had to move on to an electric typewriter to complete the weekly tasks, and then they moved on to the computer, which was a work of art, and a godsend to reporters and writers alike.
It was repaired many times, and actually was not in too bad a condition when it was last repaired at a local shop.
There had been thoughts of giving it away as years went by. It had served its purpose for 65 years, and was now just taking up space. However, like an old war horse, it stayed on in its portable carrying case. The X key was almost worn out as in the early years — that was the only way to correct copy while writing.
The old Remington Noiseless became a symbol of what the newspaper business was all about. It had written so many editorials, more than 2,000 at last count. It seemed to have a life of its own. It had encouraged readers to get out and vote, and it had made many of them mad, in disagreement.
It was never meant to be silent and sit by, especially when an injustice was being done.
It wrote stories into the night, or whenever the editor or publisher needed to get something off his chest.
It was on “stand by” at all times, 24 hours a day or night.
It could be heard throughout the house, clattering away.
When it sounded off, it was like a military machine gun, on the battle front.
Now the old Remington Noiseless is silent at last.