“Raymond it is three in the morning! What are those incessant clicks and bells you`re making?” This is what my great grandfather heard most early mornings while he still lived at home with his family. Whenever he felt the creative urge to write, he always did—even if the noise of his typewriter was “incessant.”
All his life Raymond Hoadley had a passion for writing. Born in the year 1900 in a small village in upstate New York, his only escape was through the stories he wrote. In addition to his literary talents, Raymond also had a knack for business. So, when he graduated from Earlville High School in 1920, it was only natural for him to seek an education in business while also taking up extra curricular writing for many campus magazines and literary societies. While enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania, his combined talents for writing and business earned him a job at the Wall Street Journal located in Manhattan, New York City.
While at the Journal, Raymond spent many late nights in the News Corp Building on 1211 Avenue of the Americas looking upon the Rockefeller Center below him while typing on his Royal Signet typewriter. Raymond would sit at his large oak desk, with both hands moving furiously upon the keys while his cigarettes burned out slowly in the ash tray next to his Royal Signet. He would have used this typewriter everyday and for each story he wrote. Produced in 1933, the ES19889 model is most likely the typewriter Raymond used. This model had both upper and lower case keys, two shift keys, and a shift-lock tab (Seaver). All of these features were pertinent in creating official writing—especially for newspapers.
Besides the special features that came with the Royal Signet ES19889 model, cost was also a factor in why Raymond would have chosen this particular typewriter. Because the Wall Street Journal was such a lucrative company, even during the Great Depression, Raymond as an employee was able to afford the typewriter at $24.00 (Seaver). Converted to today`s inflation rates, that cost would be equivalent to $470.94. Despite its high cost, Raymond might have chosen this typewriter because of how important it would have been in his writing career. Its portability would also have been an appealing quality to the young financial journalist because of his daily column entitled “How the Street Views it,” which would have required him to report directly from the streets of Manhattan.
Many passing New Yorkers could have seen Raymond working on “How the Street Views it” while sitting on a bench near The Journal`s headquarters. With one hand holding his small spiral notebook containing interviews with the Depression-era Americans, the other hand would be moving furiously across the keyboard of his Royal Signet like an angry spider. One could hear his loud CLICK CLACK CLICK when he pounded on each key, then when finished with a row of words, a loud bell chime signaled him to push the carriage back to its original position in preparation to begin a new line. With each letter key Raymond pushed, a long hammer attached to the other side of the key with the corresponding letter imprinted on it would press onto a ribbon of black ink, as well as onto the parchment (Lowry). This hammer-like movement resulted in Raymond`s words coming to life along the page.
Because he was a financial writer during the Great Depression in one of the most populated cities in America, Raymond would have had a front-row seat to the visible effects of the Great Depression. Raymond`s dedication to truthful reporting is evident through his empathetic writing, which would not have been possible without the Royal Signet. Whenever I hear that incessant CLICK CLACK CLICK coming from what I know to be a typewriter, I feel appreciative of Raymond and his dedication to reporting the financial happenings of this country during a dark time in our history.
Lowry, Cheryl. “Name the Parts of a Typewriter.” Bizfluent, 11 Feb. 2019, bizfluent.com/facts-5234271-name-parts-typewriter.html.
Seaver, Alan. “Machines of Loving Grace: Royals”.http://machinesoflovinggrace.com/royals.htm