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Wed Apr 28, 2010 1:21 pm

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I had forgotten all about it. It was more than a decade ago that I bought it. Like most things nostalgic, we get swept up in the moment and once again it fades into our memory.

Such was the case of the old Underwood typewriter I found while traveling in the southern part of my state.

I was passing through a town known for small antique shops. It's not that I collect antiques, but I do love to re-discover things from my past.

After a few stops, the dizzying in and out trips from the car to the shop and back again began wearing on me.

"One more!" I declared. It was that stop that made the trip all worth while.

Upon entering the shop I noted the owner was busy with a few customers. I was glad. I really just love to roam around without someone explaining each piece to me. If I have a question I'll ask.

Besides I was tired and since I hadn't found anything of interest in all the other shops, I was ready to call it quits.

It was at that very last moment I saw it. It looked just like the one I had when I was a child. It actually was the real beginnings of my interest in writing. My friend Jimmy and I started a local newspaper in my attic. The first and only edition was typed on an old Underwood manual typewriter, just like the one in front of me.

I reached up and gently pushed the carriage return back. It was a little more difficult than I remember, but I have been spoiled by the ease of the computer. I carefully, slowly ran my fingertips across the keys and was startled to discover a few keys missing.

"Who would do such a thing?" I said out loud.

"The guy who owned it," a voice said from behind me.

"Oh, I'm sorry. I was drawn to this typewriter. It was just like the one I had a long time ago," I said.

"Yes, many people stop to look at it. I've had it for a number of years now. The missing keys make it unappealing," he said.

"It's not that I would use it. But it would be great to have in my office," I said. "But I think I would want a whole one," I said smiling.

"There's a story behind it," he said.

"There's always a story, my friend," I replied.

"This was said to be owned my a local writer. No one of any fame, but one of note on the local scene. He was very much into his work. So much so, that, as the story goes, his wife left him for another man."

"How sad!"

"Now, I'll ask you like I ask everyone else who takes an interest in it. Do you know what keys are missing?"

I can type, but I can't recite the proper key set. I always get my musical notes mixed with my letters. Was it "Every good boy does fine?" I thought to myself. No, that's music.

"Well, let's see. I am guessing "V," "E," "O," "F," "L," and "I" I believe."

"Exactly!" he said. "Here's the rest of the story."

He had my attention because none of it made any sense to me.

"It is said that he couldn't write any more after he lost his wife to another. Knowing that what he lost was greater than what he thought he loved about life, he removed the keys "L, O, V, E, I and F" Because without LOVE he had no LIFE," he said.

I stood there looking down at the keys. Over and over I scanned them to see the empty spots. The man remained there a few moments without saying a word and then walked away.

Everything in me wanted to buy this. I couldn't stand to know that this sad story would be repeated time and again. Still, maybe it was best to be shared. Perhaps it would cause some to reflect on their own lives and recognizing how delicate love really is.

I decided to leave it there. As significant as it was at this moment in my life, I left this memory along the road traveled back in time.

But before I did, I needed to add one more thing to the telling of the tale.

Before leaving the store I stopped to speak to the gentleman.

"Thanks for sharing the history of that piece with me. I am a writer and love the stories of life. If I may add something to it.

In studying the missing keys I realized there was something bigger there. I am guessing in his despair and anger removing those particular keys would prevent him and others from ever writing about "love" and "life." It also stopped the writer from finding "God," "Faith" and "Hope" in his work. Maybe that was the real loss."

If you don't have faith in God, you'll never find hope or love in your life.

One more thing. A year later I found another typewriter. This one still had all the right keys. It's in my office as I write this.

I like this story. Do you like it too?

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