Typecasting, Then and Now

Flea markets and swap meets are, for me anyway, as much fun for tripping down memory lane as hunting for bargains. At a recent antiques fair in my hometown of Petaluma, California, I stumbled across a toy that literally altered my destiny. Although it’s always disconcerting to realize that my life is someone else’s nostalgia, it was still comforting to spot a Junior Dial Typewriter like the one I got for Christmas in 1951 when I was a kid in Tennessee. For those too young to remember, these gizmos required turning a big dial to the desired letter or number and pressing a lever to make it strike the ink ribbon and paper. It was a tedious exercise that nevertheless held me in thrall for hours at a time, and I started banging out (very) short stories. By...

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