Local businesses offer a personal touch with clients

Ellen Emery

A featured story on the CBS news program Saturday morning caught my attention.

News anchor Jeff Glor told listeners there was an item that “never crashes and never runs out of memory” — the typewriter. He said that many during the pandemic have been pushed to learn how to use technology.

But many are longing for a simpler time, turning to a typewriter to compose letters and stories. The program featured a segment on the Cambridge Typewriter Shop in Arlington, Mass.

The shop not only repairs classic typewriters but displayed a window full of typewriters for customers to purchase. The gentleman being interviewed said “Vintage [typewriters] have become cool in the pandemic.”

The store owner said people today “feel connected to the clickity-clack” of the keys. I smiled as I heard this gentleman speak so fondly of the typewriter.

I immediately thought of a record of my father’s that played frequently in our home: Leroy Anderson’s “The Typewriter.” As the orchestra plays, the sounds of the typewriter keys striking and the bell as the return chimes forth were remembered.

This story about the typewriter turned my thoughts to my time with the newspaper. When I first began as a correspondent with the then-Massena Observer in 1979, I used a typewriter. We had no computer in our home at that time, and there were none in the Massena Observer office.

Editor Pat McKeown would give me copy paper to use to type my stories on at home. Cutting and pasting was done literally with a paragraph cut out and reattached with tape.

Each week, I would take my articles to the office — yes, I would drive to Massena and stop at the office where we would visit in the newsroom and the front office. Editor McKeown would make notes as she edited my copy, and it would go to the type setters.

I love to hear the sound of the keys on a typewriter. There is satisfaction in striking the keys and then as a sentence is concluded pushing the carriage across the top of the typewriter. And if what you have written isn’t exactly the way you wanted it to be, there was satisfaction in pulling the paper out of the carriage.

A few years ago, I purchased a vintage typewriter. It is beautiful and such fun to have as a remembrance of days past. The typewriter I once used for the newspaper has long since been replaced by my computer.

I am glad there is new interest in typewriters. I enjoy listening to Leroy Anderson’s rendition of the typewriter sounds, and I absolutely love the classic Cary Grant movie “His Gal Friday” with a typewriter in the newsroom. But I am so grateful for a computer.

As I wrote for the Massena Observer at home, a pile of crumpled typing paper would literally surround my chair. Mistakes were made that cutting and pasting could not correct.

And with each mistake, a paper was pulled from the typewriter and tossed aside. The Gardener, who at that time was actually teaching computers, suggested I try a computer.

I resisted. But as I began to learn, I was thrilled with the ability to correct and move paragraphs — and save material I had written.

Today, I am at my computer watching as each misspelled word is underlined in red by my computer — and for that I am most grateful. I will attempt (with the help of The Proofreader in our home and spellcheck, too) to make corrections before my column is sent to my editor for inclusion in the newspaper.

How grateful I am as well for the internet. I can sit in our home with snow falling and not worry at all about a drive to the office for typing. The typewriter is such fun and a joy to use as I remember an amazing time filing typewritten stories on copy paper. I am grateful, though, today for my computer, the internet, technology and knowledgeable friends and editors who have helped guide me along the way as I attempt to use the computer to file this column each week so I can connect with so many of you so easily from our Bombay home.


Our neighbors Carole and Ken Smallman will celebrate their anniversary Friday. Carole and Kenny are always there for us — whatever the need might be.

They literally brought wood for our fireplace during the ice storm. Recently, when a delivery of cat food for our feline friend, Tigger, arrived at their doorstep, Carole not only took it into their home so it wouldn’t freeze but delivered it to our door the next morning.

My warmest wishes to you both for a wonderful anniversary and only the best in the year ahead. Have a great day! Happy Anniversary!


My thanks this week to the gas attendant at Bear’s Den who took time on a Friday morning to make sure my car’s tank was filled. My car was in need of gas, and I had two trips to Massena to make.

I pulled up to the gas pumps and attempted to open the door to my gas tank. As I pushed the button, nothing happened. I was sure it was frozen shut — which it was, and I had no idea what to do.

The attendant came to the side of my car and was so kind and helpful — carefully, gently, he manipulated my gas cap door directing when I should push the lever to open it. Within a few minutes, I was able to get the gas that was needed.

I saw no name tag, but I want to thank the gentleman who worked with his bare hands in the cold to open the door to my gas tank on a Friday morning. How kind the gas attendants are, and how grateful I am for each one.


“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”

— Songwriters George Wyle and Eddie Pola

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