“IF YOU’RE IN your 90s, it’s same-day service,” says Paul Lundy of Bremerton Office Machine Company. “Everyone else waits in line.” (It generally takes two to three months to have a typewriter taken care of.)
Ninety-seven-year-old Muriel Erickson arrives with her 1968 Hermes. Friends have driven her in from Sequim. She’s brought it in for an annual tuneup.
Lundy says, “Ready in 2½ hours.”
There’s a nearby Starbucks to wait.
Erickson is not his oldest client. There’s another who’s 98.
“Time is precious for them,” Lundy says.
Erickson uses her Hermes every day. “I love it,” she says. “Love the sound, how it works. It’s a good typewriter.”
The platen (roller) is worn, and Wite-Out correction fluid residue is everywhere. It’s taken immediately to Lundy’s work desk.
HIS PATH TO Bremerton began when he saw the 2014 Seattle Times feature Erik Lacitis and I had done on the previous owner, Bob Montgomery.
“I knew I gotta meet this guy,” says Lundy, who went over for a visit and stayed more than four hours. Typewriters were stacked everywhere. But, he says, “Mr. Montgomery is a master craftsman,” and he was taken with his passion.
He started to go to the shop on Saturdays to chat with Montgomery and take him to lunch. Weeks later, Lundy asked to become Montgomery’s apprentice — unpaid, as it turned out, as the business’s income was low or nonexistent, and back rent was overdue.
Lundy was looking for a change from his position as a facilities manager at a biotech company on the Eastside. Lundy, 61, says he always loved repairing things. “I do know troubleshooting.”
“He had me clear out a spot in the back, and I haven’t looked back,” says Lundy. “I was really enjoying every moment with Mr. Montgomery.
“I think I can do this.”
Starting in November 2014, Lundy was commuting by van pool from his home in Kingston to Bothell, back to Kingston, then on to Bremerton to work in the shop on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He was working at one job, and learning another. His van-pool mates thought he was crazy.
“I was happy as the facilities manager,” Lundy says.
But there was something about that typewriter shop. He was impressed by Montgomery, who “had an ear,” Lundy says. “He could tell a typewriter by the sound.”
MONTGOMERY HAD BEEN trying to sell the business for years. Lundy bought it by the end of 2014 and quit his job in Bothell in April 2015.
Montgomery was “still the boss,” Lundy says. Montgomery fell in 2018, and died on Sept. 10 of that year, at the age of 96.
Montgomery had kept a cot in back for naps.
That’s gone. Lundy has organized the shop and added a showroom for old, refurbished typewriters that come with a one-year guarantee. He has about 400 machines that provide parts as needed. He also has tiny lathes to machine parts, also as needed.
“First is to fix; second is to replace the part; third is to make the part,” he says.
Business comes from everywhere. Lundy recently FedExed a repaired 1940s typewriter to Switzerland. Shipping cost more than the fix. That client sent him two more.
He charges $55 an hour. The average cleaning and tuneup is $175.
A CUSTOMER BRINGS IN two IBM Selectrics. Lundy say they’re the fastest and the most complex electromechanical typewriters. They were made from 1961 to 1986 and have 2,800 parts.
He evaluates one and says, “It’s been over-oiled. Oil congeals over time and combines with dog hair.” Now for the good news: “However, the ‘h’ works.”
The customer decides to have one repaired and donate the other to the shop.
What Lundy loves about the typewriter is, “There’s nothing between you and that. It’s the only machine I know that just puts thoughts on paper. It focuses thoughts. These are my kids, as I call them. They’re clackers, loosey-goosey. Just fun to use.”
And Muriel, he says, is “my kind of customer.”
MARK TWAIN WOULD have been, as well.
He called the typewriter his “newfangled writing machine.” His could produce only uppercase letters. He became the first author to deliver a typewritten manuscript — his memoir, “Life on the Mississippi,” published in 1883.
The late author Joan Didion said, “I’m totally in control of this tiny, tiny world right there at the typewriter.”
And Northwest author Tom Robbins said, “At the typewriter, you find out who you are.”
In his shop, Lundy knows who he is.
“The shop is visually appealing. This is a positive job. Most fulfilling job I’ve ever had.”
Plus, he says, “The clicketyclack is the music of typewriters.”