Typewriter Daily: The Power of Memory, a Former Accountant and One 1950s typewriter

California Sunday Magazine/Michelle Groskopf 

Typewriters are powerful creatures in a way that laptops will never be. Take this San Diego resident in the photo above. This is not an office, but a room in the Glenner Center in Chula Vista, Calif., an indoor park for seniors suffering from dementia.

But this senior, Susie Heavlin, hardly looks like she has any health issues. She saw this desk, the typewriter and the desk lamp and something inside of her clicked. She had work to do. Heavlin sat down and got busy doing what she knew best - handling 'invoices' which were quickly recreated by a Glenner Center employee.

“I’m really good with the accounting," Susie told a reporter Francesca Mari. "I keep it straight. Always keep an eye to make sure it doesn’t go under the table. The key is to be honest. If there’s a problem, I take it to the manager, and they all handle it. But we haven’t had anything major, so that’s been good.”

Recreating the 1950s for seniors and letting them participate in the way they know best is called "reminiscence therapy," according to Glenner Center CEO Scott Tarde. 

But typewriters aren't just for seniors. They're for everyone, anyone who can move their fingers and set them on a keyboard. Typewriters look like dusty heirlooms sitting in antique shops and malls, but they're really agents for change. (Ask actor and collector Tom Hanks for starters.) Next time you see a typewriter? Try it out for yourself and see. Or give one (put in a fresh ribbon please) to the senior or child in your life. You won't regret it. 

With the holidays over, why not visit a loved one in a nursing home with a typewriter in tow? Set it in front of him or her and see how she responds. He or she might just look at it and talk about past typewriters in their lives. Or they might actually start typing. Either way, what a powerful way to bring joy to someone who may feel forgotten and/or lonely. That's not all. You'll bring joy to yourself and others around you. 





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