Hunt and peck for love

SNOHOMISH — Tori Hanson’s fingers clattered over the typewriter keyboard as she copied a passage from the Bible’s Book of Corinthians.

The verses were going into a Valentine’s card for the sophomore girls Hanson mentors weekly at Cedar Park Christian School in Bothell. She planned to take the typewritten page, copy it, and paste it onto a red background, typos and all.

“I think I’m going to leave it with a little imperfection because that’s a good lesson in grace,” Hanson said. “Really, we should just be relating to each other as imperfect humans.”

Hanson, a 42-year-old preschool teacher from Snohomish, was one of about 10 people inside Uppercase Books & Collectibles on Saturday afternoon pecking away at old-fashioned keyboards.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the event offered a chance to connect more intimately with the written word.

Two regular customers at the downtown Snohomish bookseller, Lyndsay and Justin Lamb, came up with the idea.

At 29 and 30 respectively, they’re too young to have used typewriters for work or school. Justin Lamb, a building engineer, enjoys working with his hands, though, and started collecting the writing machines, including the 10 or so he brought to the event.

They fell in love with the old technology.

“You don’t get a chance to delete,” said Lyndsay, a real-estate broker. “It’s the purest, most honest thought that comes out the first time.”

Justin’s blog, SnohomishWriter, displays poems written on a typewriter and scanned online.

Dubbed Snohomish Unplugged, their event, or type-in, offered a self-consciously nostalgic way to dash off an amorous missive — a bit of living dangerously, given the lack of safeguards found in a spell-checker, backspace key or “send” button.

For much of the afternoon, the coffee-and-paper scented book shop filled with a clacks, thumps and dings. The din emanated from sturdy, metal writing machines with once-familiar names: Underwood, Smith-Corona, Olympia, Olivetti.

They were surrounded by shelves full of famous titles, from Maurice Sendak’s children’s classic, “Where the Wild Things Are,” to the late Swedish mystery author Stieg Larsson’s racy bestseller, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”

Elise Fogel, a 25-year-old Seattleite, read about the event on a blog. The contributor to the local history website remembered being fascinated by old typewriters her mother kept at home.

On Saturday, Fogel wrote a letter to her boyfriend and exchanged Valentine’s cards with a friend who accompanied her, Nica Horvitz, 24.

“Usually on Valentine’s Day I send an assortment of Valentine’s Day cards to people I know, not necessarily romantic,” Horvitz said.

Her friend, Cole Smith, 25, tapped out sentence fragments he used as a poetic device. The experimental guitarist explained, “we’re both fascinated with older paradigms.”

By the time most of the participants in Saturday’s type-in were entering high school, typewriters were long-since obsolete.

Not so for Hanson, the mentor and preschool teacher. She recalled going off to college and receiving from her parents a typewriter with a highly advanced feature for the time: a delete key that let her white out mistakes.

She wouldn’t be needing that as she hammered out a Bible passage that speaks of something beyond words. It read, in part:

“Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.”

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465,

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