Lawrence is spoiled with retail gems, but among them the printshop/art shop/gallery/design mecca Wonder Fair may be my most favorite. The shop has sent customers and fans on secret club scavenger hunts, brought in national artists for printmaking contests, and, among many other things, just generally sells about the coolest functional and art paper ephemera you are likely to find. Last month, owner/operator Meredith Moore gave us one more reason to love WF with Letter Writing Club at the adorable (and tasty) Decade Coffee shop in East Lawrence.
The idea is to put away our glowing screens, and to focus on writing some old-fashioned letters to whoever or whomever you'd like. Decade has no wifi, so only a little smartphone self-control is required (I mostly succeeded). For this meetup - just the second LWC yet - Meredith was kind enough to let me bring some typewriters for the club to check out and use. These old typewriters, like any good old mechanical item, do need some use to stay in good fighting shape. Plus, I wanted to go as I could not actually remember the last time I wrote an real letter. The last one I for sure remember writing was a junior at KU in 2003. ELEVEN years ago.
It was a great exercise! Writing a letter is such a unique way of corresponding - I was surprised by how differently I write when confronted with that format. I definitely need some practice. Additionally, in using a typewriter with no delete or correction ability, what you put down is what you get (which I suppose is also basically true if you use your even-more-old-fashioned hands to write something).
Typers vs. writers.
Perhaps one of the most fun parts of the day for me was troubleshooting typewriter issues and teaching a couple of people (a college student and an adorable little girl) that had never before used typewriters how they work. The little girl, who had never even seen a typewriter before, wrote a letter to her grandma that said "I love you." As someone who got into acquiring typewriters in the first place because of my kid obsession with my grandpa's Underwood, my heart got a little melty.
It was a great experience (and as a bonus Decade's coffee and cookies are delicious). I will return. And my relatives and friends may see a few of these strange old-fashioned things turn up in their mailboxes.
If you are interested in a typewriter for yourself or a loved one, let me know! I am surprised at how brisk sales have been lately, but I am doing pretty well at restocking (as well as driving all over and beyond the metro, finding them). There are definitely a few interesting ones that will be put up in the shop this week, including a black and white Underwood/Olivetti 450, which is so modern-looking it hurts.