From The Washington Post:
Manson H. Whitlock, one of the country’s longest-serving repairmen of the clattering keyboard contraptions known as typewriters, died Aug. 28 at his home in Bethany, Conn. He was 96.
The cause was not disclosed, but Mr. Whitlock closed his shop in June, when he was hospitalized with a kidney ailment.
He had been on the job since 1930, when he began working at his father’s bookstore. Before long, he took charge of the typewriter department and sold thousands over the years. Customers returned to him for replacement parts and for repairs when the keys became stuck or the carriages wouldn’t return on their Royals, Remingtons, Smith Coronas and Underwoods.
In dress, manner and occupation, he was a link to a long-gone world…when machines were operated by hand and built with an intricate structure of fitted metal parts.
When a manual typewriter broke down, it wasn’t thrown in the trash and replaced by a newer model. It was taken to someone like Mr. Whitlock, who used special tools and decades of experience to put it back in working order. Soon enough, he could roll a sheet of paper around the platen and tap out, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog,” using all 26 letters of the keyboard.
Mr. Whitlock’s…customers included authors Robert Penn Warren, Archibald MacLeish and John Hersey, as well as A. Bartlett Giamatti, Yale president and baseball commissioner. A Yale classics professor named Erich Segal once bought a portable Royal typewriter from Mr. Whitlock and used it to write “Love Story,” one of the top-selling books of the 1970s.
In recent years, Mr. Whitlock sat alone at his desk, waiting for the occasional customer to climb the stairs. He remained fascinated by the mechanisms of the classic manual models, but as a concession to modern times, he began to repair electric typewriters as well.
He drew the line at computers, which he never learned to use. As he told the Christian Science Monitor in 2007, “You work a typewriter, a computer works you.”
Thank you, Mr. Whitlock.