EVERETT — Watch out for people downtown who are lost in their devices.
The oldfangled type, that can only type.
Nine vintage typewriters are stationed on city sidewalks for the annual “Word on the Street” project.
“It is the only time during the year that we’re really celebrating the written word,” said Carol Thomas, the city’s cultural arts manager.
The typewriters are on rolling metal tables painted by artists. Get clacking before the relics roll away Aug. 6.
Write whatever you want or use a prompt.
“We have new questions this year,” Thomas said.
The Question of the Day at the top of the page is an alternative to staring at a blank slate or dutifully writing “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”
Prompts include favorite memory, superhero name and important qualities in a relationship.
For some typists, it’s the first time to ever use this antiquated means of communicating which, incidentally, featured the @ shortcut decades before digital.
There is no spellcheck or magic delete button, and these machines can be stubborn brats if you make a typo.
Either X it out or use Wite-Out correction fluid. BYOB.
Still not happy? Pull out the paper and start over.
Roll in a crisp page and press the return lever.
Those tasks tripped up Tatiana McKay, 32, after she put a fresh sheet in the typewriter in front of Narrative Coffee.
“I don’t know if I loaded it right,” she said, perplexed.
The paper went in crooked and she couldn’t figure out how to get the carriage to return.
“I was going to write the first line of my favorite poem,” McKay said. “This is a really cool idea. It actually kind of made me want a typewriter.”
The machines are clunky and noisy. That’s part of their no-frills charm.
“It’s a tactile, physical sensation,” author Richard Porter wrote on LiveInEverett.com. “It’s the joy of hard copy thoughts spilling from a manual machine, the give of the carriage return lever, and the satisfying ding! of the platen sliding back to position.”
Actor Tom Hanks’ passion for typewriters is as deep as his character’s internet romance in the movie “You’ve Got Mail.”
Hanks not only collects them the way Jay Leno collects cars, he made a documentary film “California Typewriters” and wrote a book of short stories, “Uncommon Type.”
For this old journalist, nostalgia has its place — in history, that is, not in these deadline-crazed times. This story on a typewriter would have wadded three sheets of paper, drained half a bottle of Wite-Out and taken six times as long to write.
But it would have looked niftier.
Jonn Laurenz Fine Cuts, 2908 Wetmore Ave.; Narrative Coffee, 2927 Wetmore Ave.; Wetmore Theatre Plaza, 2710 Wetmore Ave.; Silver Cup Coffee, 2707 Colby Ave.; J. Matheson Gifts, 2615 Colby Ave.; Renee’s Contemporary Clothing, 2820 Colby Ave.; Major League Pizza, 2811 Colby Ave.; Schack Art Center, 2921 Hoyt Ave.; and Imagine Children’s Museum, 1502 Wall St.