Ethan LeVesque, 9, struggles to answer “What do you want to do before you die?” via the Word on the Street typewriters in 2014. Finally, his answer was “Have fun.” (Kevin Clark / Herald File)

Word on the Street: Vintage typewriters are back in Everett

Clacking keys, dinging bells and the zip of carriage returns.

That’s what you’ll hear in the streets of downtown Everett for the next three weeks.

What’s up with that?

Forget texting — this is the way to get your words out. Peck away on vintage typewriters Wednesday through Aug. 1.

The antiquated typing devices are on rolling metal tables decorated by artists.

“Word on the Street is part of our interactive art project that celebrates the written word, whereas Street Tunes (the August event where about 20 painted pianos are placed on the sidewalk for the public to plunk) celebrates music,” said Carol Thomas, the city’s cultural art director.

“You get all these little kids gathered around somebody who is maybe in their 70s or older who teaches them how to use a typewriter, what the bell means and the carriage return. You’re putting an elderly person more in charge of the technology than our kids of today.”

Don’t worry, your blank mind won’t be faced with a blank sheet of paper to fill. At the top of the sheet is a Question of the Day to get those creative juices flowing. Questions vary from to whimsical to philosophical, as do the answers.

Wordsmiths who answer three questions and post pictures on Instagram can get a typewriter pin. A similar Instagram deal goes for Street Tunes for a piano pin as well as Everett Street Art, Music at the Marina and This is Everett. It’s a new promotion this year, with five different pins to collect.

Where do the typewriter questions come from?

“The staff comes up with them. Sometimes we have the librarians provide us,” Thomas said. “Anything to start the discussion and inspiration point. It’s very organic.”

You can be anonymous or sign your name or any name.

As a pounder in the past put it: “You can type soft. Or you can type hard. The emotional implications are profound.”

Here are some Q&As pulled from the pages in previous years:

What are some things that you are thankful for?

“My hilarious son.”

“Big ole bag of weed and my mom.”

“I am thankful that I was born in such a time that we no longer need manual typewriters.”

If you could talk to your 8-year-old self what would you say?

“Invest in Apple.”

“Love yourself when you are in middle school. It will turn out OK.”

What is the most thoughtful gift you ever received?

“My wife brought me Advil.”

“I was given a set of braces for my crooked teeth by my grandpa. Thank you grandpa for my straight teeth and smile.”

“I once got a full-sized Hershey’s bar from a guy.”

If you could go back in time and experience a historical event, what would you choose?

“I would go back to the ‘90s so I could see ‘Space Jam’ in the movie theaters again.”

“The real moon landing, not the fake one they showed on TV.”

If I were in charge of the world for one day I’d make sure …

“Everyone was OK, and then I’d pick up trash.”

In the battle between the computer vs. typewriter I’d choose …

“Computers are infinitely more useful, the choice is obvious.”

“Your mom is obvious.”

“The fact thst it took me five minutes toeven started writting this, suggests that a computer is better for me.” (This is the unedited version.)

I like cream cheese best when it’s

“Nowhere near me.”

“On a bagel with tomato.”

“Room temperature and between my toes.”

What is the best smell in the world?

“Newborn baby.”

“Puppy breath.”

“Baked cookies.”

“Baked Alaska in the oven.”

When you need to take a break and relax, where do you go?

“To the beach … the sea and salt air replenish the soul.”

“To the old large-leaf maple out back with my dog.”

“Stand among the redwoods.”

What words of wisdom would you give to inquiring minds?

“The cosmos awaits the discovery of your gift.”

“There is always room for dessert.”

“Never give up. It might take you twice as long or be twice as hard, but you can always achieve your goals.”

Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; Twitter: @reporterbrown.

Locations of typewriters

John Laurenz Fine Cuts, 2908 Wetmore Ave.; J. Matheson/Burkett’s/Petite Sweet Bakery, 2613 Colby Ave.; Narrative Coffee, 2927 Wetmore Ave.; Clear Image, 2806 Colby Ave.; Wetmore Theatre Plaza, 2710 Wetmore Ave.; Silver Cup, 2707 Colby Ave.; Renee’s, 2820 Colby Ave.; Schack Art Center, 2921 Hoyt Ave.; Major League Pizza, 2811 Colby Ave.

How to get a Word on the Street pin

1. Find a typewriter in downtown Everett.

2. Answer three different Questions of the Day.

3. Snap a photo of your answers. Upload the three photos to Instagram in a single public post.

4. Use the tag #WordontheStreet17.

5. Instructions on where to pick up a pin will be listed as a comment.

Promotion is available while supplies last. More at

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