This week, I bought another vintage typewriter. But this one came with a story of a writer.
The typewriter is a 1959 Hermes 3000, made in Switzerland:
In 2014, the owner had it serviced, a receipt came with it that had their name on it. The name was that of a woman, someone different from who I purchased the typewriter from.
I got curious. I Googled her name.
It turns out, this typewriter belonged to author Louise W. King, who published three books in the 1960s, at least one of which she must have typed using this typewriter. She passed away in 2016. This is her, one photo from years ago, and another from later in life:
Here are the book covers:
Her books are no longer published, but if you dig around on eBay, you can find a well-worn copy or two.
What does remain is her story.
In reading her obituary, I was taken aback at how her life was filled with the arts. She wrote articles and other books in the 1970s, and then in the 1980s until her passing, focused on sculpture. A particular focus were these clay horses, of which she made up to 100 each year:
A year before she passed away, she was still submitting her sculptures to art shows, winning 3rd place at the 2015 Connecticut Senior Juried Art Show.
These objects — the typewriter, the books, the sculptures — are just part of her story. She was also a huge supporter of the arts, sponsoring scholarships, commissions and exhibitions for artists she admired.
The life of this writer affected so many others.
The typewriter is an artifact, but it also embodied her hopes and dreams. It was a tool that she likely thought about buying for months, and finally did. Adjusted for inflation, the cost back then for this typewriter would have been nearly $1,000. I imagine that in the early days of owning it, she opened it with excitement, the keys representing a gateway for her to create stories.
Her creative vision was expressed in artistic endeavors, in her support of others, and in her everyday life. Her story is spread among millions of interactions that she has had over the years.
Through the typewriter, her story has spread to me.
And through this very post, her story spreads to you.
Within all of this is your story — what you will create and how you will connect your creative vision to the lives of others?
That is something I obsess about. It is the basis for my own book, Be the Gateway, and in the daily work I do with writers and creators.
Louise’s story is a reminder that how we develop our craft and engage with others around artistic work are the ingredients to a fulfilling life.
P.S. After I wrote the title of this post, I was reminded of Samantha Hahn’s wonderful book: “A Mother is a Story: A Celebration of Motherhood.” It’s amazing how every aspect of a book, including a title, can swirl around in your head and inspire you. So, thank you to Samantha for the continued inspiration!