Typing Tax Bills

"Typing Tax Bills"

Its Election Day.  And when I think of election day - I remember my dad.  I remember him because for as long as I was growing up in that small town of Goshen CT, my dad was "elected" tax collector.  Every Four Years.  And he ran on both party's tickets.  That's about as political as I care to get for this story!  

That typewriter pictured above  is the exact model that my dad had in his office as tax collector.  I learned to touch type on that thing.  Believe me when I tell you that when I got to high school and learned to type on an electric typewriter - it was a BREEZE!  Back in those days - when you typed on a manual typewriter - it was a "digital workout".  Get it?  Digital?  Your fingers were tired and aching after spending an hour or two on the darn thing.

What I most remember is sharing the task of typing out the tax bills for the entire town of Goshen.  The work was split between my dad, my mom and me.  Looking back on this - it was an amazing feat that we were able to accomplish every June.  It took us weeks to finish. 

We would get the grand list from the town's assessors and would then type a bill for every family and land owner in town.  There were about 2,500 people in town, and I guess we would type out a good 800 or so property tax bills.  Then we moved on to the automobile tax bills.   The dining room table would be stacked with all the bills we had typed.  When we were done, we'd have to tear off the two copies, the pink one for the tax collector, and the yellow one for the assessor's office.  The white one got mailed after we found their automotive bill, and put it all in the same envelope.  This was one heck of a production every year! 

A few things about that typewriter that we don't get the pleasure of any longer - now that we use computers....

Corrections -  If you made a mistake - the ink was already on the paper...  So to fix it you would open your box of Liquid Paper Correction Film, and pull out one of the sheets.  The processes was - you'd realize you had made a mistake, you'd get the typewriter back to where the mistake was, you'd place this film in front of the letter, type that letter again which would transfer white stuff onto the page, you'd then backspace and type the correct letter, but that wouldn't really show through, so you would backspace and hit the correct letter again and again until it was legible.   What fun!

The End of Line Bell - When you were about 10 characters away from the end of any line - a little bell would ring.  This would tell you that it was time to swing your left hand from left to right on the line advance "level" which would advance to the next line (you could set it for double and triple spacing to make your reports appear longer than they were) and bring the entire typing carriage back to the left side of the page.

Colors - you had your choice of two - black or red.  There was a little lever on the right hand side which would raise the typewriter's inked cloth tape up or down so that you could choose either color.  There was also a setting that would allow the upper half of each letter to be black, and the bottom half red.  Why you would do that - I have no idea - but again - it was fun.

End of the ink tape - As you typed, the ink tape was slowly advancing from one reel to the other.  At some point it would be at the end of the tape.  If I remember correctly - there was a way to then disengage the tape, flip over a tiny little handle on the spool, and rewind it.  Of course if you did this a number of times, that tape would be spent, and you'd have to put in a brand new spool.  This didn't happen often in my house.  Those spools must have been expensive....

The sound of pulling out the rest of the page - when you had finished typing.  Let's say you finished typing whatever you needed to type, and you were halfway through the page.  You then grabbed that sheet of paper and yanked it out.  There was a sound that the typewriter made when you did this that was a symphony of little tiny clicks.  This sound was the sound of COMPLETION.  It was magical. 

Tab Settings - on the typewriter were tiny little things that made the typewriter glide from the left edge to where you had placed tabs on the page.  If you forgot to set the tabs (which means all three of them were over on the right hand side) and you hit "TAB"...  WHAM!  That carriage flew from left to right until it crashed into that first tab setting. 

Newer models of the typewriter were tremendous!  Who can forget when the typewriter became small enough to become "PORTABLE".  That was when a cover snapped over the top of the thing, and you could lug it around.  Kind of the "laptop of the stone age". 

If you were around in the age of typewriters - I hope I represented the experience well.