Land Ho

Just about 24 years ago this week, Guido and I packed up our two separate households — my bachelor apartment in the suburbs, her South Philly row house — stuffed what fit into U-Haul’s largest truck, and headed toward our new home in south Florida.  Surely a leap of faith: no jobs, few contacts, no money.  We hadn’t even lived together yet.  My cat barely knew any cats, let alone her monsters.

Ironically, we departed Philadelphia in a hurricane.  Packing the truck was a Bill Mauldin-like slog through rain, cold, wind, and mud.  I had over 100 boxes of heavy books, literally thousands of volumes, and about 150 house plants (yeah, I know.  NOW I know).  We had furniture, two kitchens, and the accumulated detritus of two separate lives that never ever made a paradigm shift like the one we braved that day.

And damn!  It worked out.  So far.

Back then I was a prolific letter writer, hammering out final drafts in one take on an IBM Executive typewriter — proportional font, no auto-correct — which had to be copied at a quick-print store (which is where I met Guido: she managed a staff of busty dykes who referred to her as the “Wicked Red Witch” and much worse), folded carefully, stuffed in an envelope, stamped, and mailed.  Al Gore hadn’t invented teh interwebs yet.  Within a year I bought my first computer — an AT (286)  powered by DOS — and went on to become a world-class expert in WordPerfect.  Another useless skill.

So once we settled in and set up my typewriter I assembled a long letter on my obsolete letterhead to everybody we’d left behind who wanted to know how matters stood.  A few months ago, one of these folks (I’m still in touch with about 2/3 of them) came across a copy of that letter under his BetaMax tapes in his attic.  He scanned it and sent it to me.  It follows, a still-frame of time caught by fresh observers, astonished at the newness of  what years later is commonplace.   Bad Florida drivers.  Bugs.  Rednecks.  Guido was “Diane” back then.  Who knew?

Yes, I sort of out myself, but at this stage I think it matters not much at all.

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13 Responses to Land Ho

  1. Kent Standit says:

    You actually brought house plants to Florida. Did you bring any humidity, too? Or mosquitoes?

  2. Barbara Ganousch says:

    This caught my eye: an IBM Executive typewriter — proportional font, no auto-correct

    My first office job was during the summer, still in high school. I did a lot of typing on an IBM that had a fixed carriage and a moving metal ball that struck the paper when I hit a key. There were interchangeable balls to change the font from Courrier to Times Roman to script, etc. Best, though, there was an erase function. I loved that machine. But I don’t remember the Executive with a proportional font — was this before the Selectric took over?

  3. cljahn says:

    When I drove down to Florida from Ventnor back in September of 1985, I only got as far as to Front Royal Virginia before the water pump in my ’64 Rambler Classic broke.

  4. cljahn says:

    Barbara – IBM made two versions of all its typewriters; Standard, and Executive. All its Executive typewriters had proportional fonts after WWII. The Standard versions were all fixed pitch.

    • Squathole says:

      It was an amazing machine, as you can see from the typeface. Mistakes were fatal, though: if you struck an n instead of an m, the correction would require replacing a 3-unit character with a 5-unit, which wouldn’t fit. Pull paper, start over. Or cross out and keep going unless it was a legal brief or term paper.

      I fixed it a few times even after getting a computer, but it finally became just another useless dust collector like my conscience.

      Was your Rambler autographed by George Romney?

      • Flaming Yon says:

        Nice letterhead, wussie. Was Olde English like all the rage in the 80? 🙂

      • cljahn says:

        Well, let me see; it had a suspension that Ford manufactured in 1938, a Motorola electrical system, a Delco ignition system, and vacuum powered windshield wipers.

        Cludged together from old parts and sold as something new? Sounds like a Romney signature to me.

  5. guido says:

    First off, love…’s 27 years ago. Math never was your strong point. B) you only had about 75 cartons of books, which BTW were the only things actually packed. And then there were the “plants”. I could not believe you planned to bring them all…..most of which were old & not all that attractive….”AND WE’RE MOVING TO FUCKING FLORIDA”. By the time we loaded up your household I was sure there wouldn’t be enough room for my stuff. But yes, with some re-arranging we got all that we needed loaded and ready to roll. While it was a not-quite-as-planned start & trek we did all survive to tell the tale. And while there may have been a moment (or so) of “what the fuck am I doing” during our adventure, I have not had a single moment of regret since arriving, safe and sound, with you. It’s been a great 27 years!

  6. Rick says:

    “First off, love…’s 27 years ago.”

    I was hoping someone would notice.

  7. nonee moose says:

    The wonder of it all is that something monikered “SS Klotz” hasn’t sunk yet. That, my friends, is sound(ish) engineering.

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