This past week, my brothers and I were reminiscing about movies. Bob recalled seeing a Red Skelton movie during the second half of “Lunch Hour”. At Walter French Jr. High all three of us recalled that one of the options of filling the half hour after lunch was going to the auditorium for a movie…at least a half hours worth.
During that discussion, Rick said that he was part of a student team that assisted in the projection room. In trying to recall which teacher was the advisor, I concluded that it was NOT likely to be Mr. Youngblood, my Typing II teacher. He was nothing like his name would suggest. Basically, he was a crotchety old man that probably hadn’t seen a movie since “Tugboat Willie” and didn’t laugh during that one.
He certainly never laughed at any of the antics during his Typing classes. Hitting the wrong keys often created words and phrases we felt important to share with anyone seated nearby. Youngblood was deviously always nearby. To his way of thinking, it was embarrassing, not funny to hit the wrong key. Humph. Embarrassing was that I took this class instead of Dodge Ball. That would have been the epitome of awkwardness. I had to use two hands and three bounces just to get the ball across the line. It was far better to be plagued with hitting the wrong keys.
And wrong keys plus my tendency to see humor in errors, kept Mr. Youngblood near me much of the time. The challenge of imprinting any letter or symbol which required shift key was tougher than it is with the modern keyboard. First of all, because we were required to have a piece of folded cardboard over our hands, my view of the keyboard was effectively blocked. Secondly (okay, so this is conclusive proof of just how old I am.)…secondly, the SHIFT key was actually a lever, not an electrically connected button. The lever raised the platen so that the bottom portion of the ‘letter’ key would strike the paper. Not only was my body quite underdeveloped in Jr. High, my pinky demonstrated about as much strength as a slug trying to pull an anvil.
Probably because it is such an oft used key today, I particularly remember trying to strike an @ on the paper. That necessitated finding the out-of-sight “2” key with my left ring finger while simultaneously slamming down the platen lever…aka “Shift”. Remember that slug? I had to roll then entire left side of my hand, not just a finger, to push down on the “Shift”. Regrettably, that usually included inadvertent depression of the “a” key…which coincided with striking the desired “@” with my ring finger.
Are you aware that all of the keystrokes, back then, were processed to the paper via a single ‘type-bar’ wide guide. The operative word is single. More to the point here, the non-operative trapping of the type-bars for ‘a’ and ‘@’ just prior to striking the ink ribbon. Uncrossing type-bar fingers usually resulted in fingers stained with ink…telltale, after-the-fact evidence of my keyboard ineptness.
Today, with the frequency of using the @ symbol for e-mail addressing, I’m still not very adept with the shift-stroke and synchronization with my left ring finger. Even though my desktop keyboard requires very little pressure to invoke the ‘Shift’, my habitual rotation of my left hand to do it often results in a ‘tilde’. …or worse, coincident ~!
I have now modified much of what I was taught in Typing II. Of particular note here is the traditional use of my pinky to press ‘shift’, but instead of my ring finger, use my left middle finger to get an @. (no specific inference intended).