Small Beginnings

There is a storefront on South Street in Pittsfield, Massachusetts that has a couple of typewriters in the window. My wife tugged at my elbow when I stopped to see them. In that instant, my mind raced back in my personal history to the days when my hands were practically glued to those same types of keys.

I remember typing articles for our college newspaper. Tapping those keys became my ticket to telling a story that was bubbling up from my belly.

After graduation, my engineering roommates took off for the west coast to work on the Space Shuttle with all sorts of seductive salaries, benefits and weather while I, the poor sap writer, felt very much left behind in Trenton, New Jersey with a meager salary of $10,500. I was so happy to negotiate “up” that extra $500!

I had no idea, but I had landed a job with a writer’s writer. He had been a newspaper journalist before becoming the Press Secretary for New Jersey Governor Richard Hughes. As many high-level staffers do after they leave government, he parlayed his notoriety and experience into a consulting business where I was hired to take care of many accounts to reduce his workload.

There were newsletters, press releases, trade journals, speeches, expositions, political campaigns and all matter of public relations. From changing ribbons to white-out to self-correcting typewriters to my work being passed on to the typesetter to the typesetter’s first draft to me to my corrections to the typesetter for the final product, it was a process that moved along at a snail’s pace compared to today’s editing on computers and immediate publishing and posting.

John V. Spinale was my boss. He was patient, encouraging and funny. He’d often remind me as the young buck that his middle initial stood for “Vivacious.” He edited and edited my offerings. He taught me how to write succinctly with the stroke of his pen. I used to refer to those five years under his tutelage as my “P.R. Ph.D.”

So, when my wife felt my little reluctance as I momentarily gazed through the window at the typewriter, little did she know that such a relic had such a gargantuan effect on one human soul. As I finally succumbed to her tug, my mind warp-speeded back to the present.

I thought on my approaching 250th blog post recently that goes out to tens of thousands with the click of a button. I look with satisfaction at how Spinale’s editing probably allowed me to keep a few thousand songs under three and half minutes. I’ve gone from newsletters to books and screenwriting. Oh, the joy of writing. It began with a pen, graduated to the cool IBM Selectric, moved on to the word processor and then to computers.

If the store hadn’t been closed, I would have borrowed a piece of paper and started hammering away. Instead, I succumbed to my wife’s pull and walked along without saying a word. But inside, words began bubbling up which you are now privy to…

“Does anyone dare despise this day of small beginnings?” Zechariah 4:10


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