An Object Lesson
We found a story the other day, on the green bench outside our door, anonymously drawn by our “Open” sign. It was patiently waiting to be noticed and brought inside, where it sits on a golden oak deacon’s chair, quietly watching me. Our story’s name is written in gold letters on its sleek black surface: Remington Standard, #12. It is black with beautiful ivory keys. Every day since it came, I wonder about the stories written by Remington since her birth in 1922. Wikipedia says she “expired” in 1927, but she doesn’t look expired to me.
Remington Standard #12 looks like she’s got memories of news stories and human interest stories and poems and graduation wishes inside her. Letters written to the editor about the Scopes Monkey Trial, perhaps a few IOU’s during the Great Depression, a congratulatory note to Amelia Earhart when she completes the first solo nonstop transatlantic flight by a woman.
I hear the clatter of her keys as an anxious college senior writes a thesis on the New Deal, and later a letter to his mother asking her to take good care of his typewriter and his girl when he’s drafted and sent to Germany. These ivory keys - did a mother weep on them composing a sorrowful letter to her sister after learning of her brother’s death? Did a father type a letter to the President outraged over Vietnam? Did our Remington type a formal invitation to someone’s wedding, or type out Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech to keep under their pillow and read before going to sleep?
Maybe it was used for writing letters - a journal - a novel - a history book. Maybe. We can’t know that, but we can know this. Remington Standard #12 was someone’s story. Someone loved this typewriter enough to buy it. Someone loved the freedom this machine gave them. And someone’s life was changed enough by this typewriter to find it a good forever home, in a place dedicated to the careful preservation - and the story - of every object within its walls.
That’s what the Plainsman Museum does. Because it’s not a job. It’s a mission.