Before The Demise Of The Typing Class

Cactus 1937
Cactus 1937

The stern-faced Miss Florence Stullken looks about as happy teaching typing to her class in 1937 as Miss Bass looked teaching my typing class over 40 years later. I did not like Miss Bass. She was tall and bony and ornery and she knew when you made an error because there was no delete button then, only White-Out, and that was messy. I despised when she taped a sheet of paper over my fingers so I couldn’t look at them, but by golly, I learned to type. And at one point, I was typing 80 wpm. But I haven’t taken a test in years.

My teen thinks he can type correctly; he can hunt and peck. But he (along with the other kids of his generation) never took a typing class. Or a cursive class. In fact, cursive genuinely stumps them. It’s like a foreign language.

But back in 1937, typing was part of “modern business administration,” as was this nifty machine. The fellow here is compiling and using statistics. For the life of me, I couldn’t tell you what he’s touching, although Monroe made it, and probably not in China.

37cactus-010

If you learned how to type properly (and your shorthand wasn’t bad), you could score a keen secretary job, like Miss Dorothy Ayres.

37cactus-009

Just imagine answering only one telephone line. No monitor to stare at. No basic Freecell or Minesweeper to play during the tedium. Perhaps not even air-conditioning. Ignorant of what was trending because nothing was trending. No rock ‘n’ roll on the radio; she’d be grey-haired by the time rock became popular. It wasn’t until the next year that The Fair Labor Standards Act would even create a national minimum wage. But, hey, she was a woman with a job during The Great Depression, so she was doing pretty well.

And speaking of women doing well, here’s the inventor of Liquid Paper. Remember how it would clump and get sticky and eventually make the paper so wet that a hole would tear through?

bette-nesmithYep, that’s Bette Nesmith Graham (mother to lanky Michael Nesmith, of the 1960s band The Monkees) who invented the first correction fluid in her kitchen in 1951.

These days, this rolling tape is much more user friendly.

wite-out

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20 comments

  1. I never did learn how to type. I was always a hunt and pecker. I should have taken a typing course when I could. If cursive is a foreign language to kids now-a-days what is short hand? ET Writing?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Typing, shorthand, cursive, and the dread adding machine. Phew. That’s a walk down memory lane. Although my cursive now days looks more like I have palsy rather than the neat lines I used to write. Perhaps I should practice more. Nah.

    I grew up three houses down from my typing teacher. He fought in WWII, then came back to teach a bunch of unruly kids until he retired in the late 80’s. We stayed in touch until his death a few weeks ago.

    While I never typed faster than 80 wpm, I had an assistant once that could type 120 wpm. His fingers moved so fast, I was surprised his PC could keep up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is so funny that you say that bc I literally say “I have the palsy” after writing sometimes. My husband’s signature looks like chicken scratch. That’s my pet peeve (well, one of them); at least make ONE LETTER legible.
      Your typing teacher was clearly a better person than mine. I’m glad that he had a long life!
      I’m telling you–120 just seems impossible. My hands ache when I awaken. It’s hard enough to press “grind” on the coffee grinder.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ohhhh. So it’s just a flaw in American policy? 😉 And do they teach cursive in Australia? It’s all going downhill here. We’re watching the presidential debates right now here in the US, and it’s the saddest little showdown. I think I need a large can of Aussie beer.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, we have to master cursive to get our “pen license” in primary school haha.
        I’m not sure how much a large can of beer will help you guys, but at least it will make you feel a bit better!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I recall typing class in the late 70’s. In college, I learned Forkner shorthand. Years later I attended University to study psychology. I took notes in shorthand and transcribed them at home. It is a skill that still serves me today as a writer

    Liked by 1 person

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