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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Type Him Goodbye

Blame my predilection for allowing particular dates to stick to my brain for knowing this, but it was twenty years ago tomorrow — December 3, 1990 — that I last typed anything more substantive than a mailing address on an electric typewriter.

Not just any typewriter, but the Brother model I was given by my sister as a high school graduation present. I lugged it to college and, much to the consternation of various roommates and dormitory neighbors, clack-clack-clacked my way to a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications, with a minor in History. When four years were up, I lugged it back home and took up my professional writing career on it. I’d type my stories and Express Mail them to editors or slip them into a briefcase and drop them off at magazine offices in the city or on Long Island. My copy was marked up (not too harshly, I hope) and passed along to typesetters. That’s the way it was done.

Then it wasn’t. I’d occasionally be asked to drop by this or that publication and write my story on-site on one of their computers. It would really help, I was told. Oh sure, I said, no problem. Then I transitioned from freelancing to a staff job, where, except for addressing the occasional envelope (because nobody could ever figure out how to work that with the printer), we did everything on our desktop computers…first a Cado (from which I once watched the words on my screen literally blow up, with smoke rising from the monitor), then, as if to finally get with modernity, a Mac.

By then, the Brother typewriter wasn’t called on much, except if I was home from the job, sick or something, and I wanted to get some work done. I did not own a computer yet, so it was clack or nothing. Twenty years ago tomorrow, a combination of car trouble and encroaching illness kept me on the couch. But I had this story that had to go to our art department the next day, so as long as I had my notes with me, I set up my old typewriter on my even older typewriter stand (inherited from my father’s office once he gave up the space) and typed my piece. Next day, I was back in the office and typed it again on the computer.

That was it for my Brother. It was back in its case, cord detached, placed aside the typewriter stand which we used for our phone and answering machine in our first apartment. When we moved, we repurposed the typewriter stand in our new kitchen as the staging area for our toaster oven, while the typewriter slid into a dark corner in a back room that we never used for much beyond storage. Fast-forward a dozen years, when it was time to move again, and one of the last items whose destiny was left for me to decide was the Brother.

The typewriter stand was on the curb. The toaster oven had long ago heated its final pot pie. Our last answering machine was giving way to voice mail. We owned a computer. I stared at the typewriter for a minute. I thought of what it meant to me, how it ushered me into adulthood as much as any single inanimate object could. I contemplated where it took me and why it had been the ideal graduation gift 23 years earlier.

Then I threw it out. What the hell was I going to do with an electric typewriter in the 21st century? If I ran into a computer problem, I could type on this…and then what? Mail the piece of paper to the Internet? It just lost its utility. Time marched on. Something that was a key part of what I had attempted and achieved no longer had a place in my life.

In that spirit, good luck John Maine.

7 comments to Type Him Goodbye

  • March'62

    Looking up December 3, 1990 on Wikipedia:

    December 3 – At Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Northwest Airlines Flight 1482 (a McDonnell Douglas DC-9) collides with Northwest Airlines Flight 299 (a Boeing 727) on the runway, killing 8 passengers and 4 crewmembers on Flight 1482.

    December 3 – Mary Robinson begins her term as the first female President of Ireland.

    December 3 – Greg Prince, of Faith and Fear in Flushing fame, uses typewriter, given to him by his sister for high school graduation, for last time.

    Boy, you can find everything on the internet!

  • December 3, 1990: In a hotly anticipated matchup of 10-1 teams, the San Francisco 49ers defeat the New York Giants 7-3 on Monday Night Football, a game whose buildup was so immense, that the date imprinted itself indelibly within one Giants’ fan’s consciousness.

    Also, the day that same typist/Giants fan began reading his favorite book of all time. Egads, what a busy day!

    • March'62

      Check out December 3, 1974: In a six player deal, the Mets trade fan-favorite Tug ‘Ya Gotta Believe’ McGraw to the Phillies along with outfielders Don Hahn and Dave Schneck in exchange for outfielder Del Unser, pitcher Mac Scarce and catcher John Stearns.

      What are the odds that your beloved closer and your beloved typewriter would go on the same day?

    • I remember that game like it was yesterday. The Giants could have easily won it. They had 4 tries from the Niners 9-yard line with about 4 minutes to play. Had Phil Simms lofted his 4th down pass instead of trying to fire it in there, the ball likely would eluded the reach of Darryl Pollard and instead landed in the outstretched arms of Lionel Manuel for the game-winning score. But ole’ Phil was never known for being much of a touch passer. Sigh.

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by You Gotta Believe! and TheHappyRecap, Greg Prince. Greg Prince said: Clacking out a pragmatic farewell to a #Mets pitcher whose ribbon needed changing once too often. […]

  • You being two years older, it wasn’t until 1992 that I got my first computer. Typed dozens of resume cover letters on my–can’t even remember the model now–typewriter. No wonder it took seven months to find a newspaper job. My typewriter is still in the bowels of the attic. I gave up trying to get a typewriter ribbon years ago.

    At least I had the good sense to get my “Maine” shirt and sweatshirt from Vacationland instead of Modell’s, so I can wear those without feeling dumber than Ollie (OP and Mainer once combined for 30 wins in one season…and the Mets still missed October). Never forget Game 1 of ’06 NLDS or Game 6 of NLCS, but bye now, Johnny.

  • R.I.P., Brother…R.I.P.