An open letter to key harvesters

Filed under: Rants, typewriters — olivander March 9, 2006 @ 10:29 am

We’ve all seen them: those bracelets and necklaces and earrings made from old typewriter keys. The people who buy them think that they are somehow recycling parts from unusable typewriters. The sad truth is that the majority of those keys were cut from perfectly usable machines. Whole dumpsters filled with de-keyed typewriters have been spotted near flea markets. A look on eBay will reveal how desperate the situation is. Some of the key sets and typewriters being offered for harvest are highly collectible. Some are very rare (such as the Harry A. Smith branded Chicago typewriter whose keys were recently posted for sale). All are irreplacable, as these typewriters have not been manufactured for decades. I compare the harvesting of typewriter keys to the poaching of elephants for their tusks. Except the elephant has the advantage of reproduction.

Many, many years ago, on a trip through Montana, I clipped a ranting letter to the editor from a local newspaper. It was originally about drivers who fail to signal their turns, but I found that with very slight modification, it adapts nicely to my feelings about these keychoppers.


People who cut off typewriter keys to make jewelry are of diseased instincts and flatulent morality. They are spavined and windbroken, possessed of the evil eye and have pockmarked brains.

They have the heads of goats, the perceptions of blind guppies and they dwell in malodorous holes beneath flat rocks.

Their eyes water. Their noses run without wiping. They lie, cheat and steal, beat children and spouses and pilfer from their employers.
Behind their ears there is perpetual damp.

Their lips move when they read, and the only writing they do is to forge signatures or leave messages on washroom walls.

All murder, rape, sexual depravity, dope-pushing, poaching and treason can be traced to them. they recite the Pledge of Allegiance backward and coin every dirty joke.

A yellow streak marches up their back, and then it marches down. They raid birds’ nests, to destroy the young. Their artistic appreciation is limited to graffiti, which they memorize and quote. When they think, they think Monday is the best day of the week.

The rarely vote, but everlastingly caterwaul about the worthless conduct of public affairs unless they can latch onto some political gravy train, whereupon they emit contented grunts and clap and claque for Sugar Daddy. They dote on pesticide, and curse the day defoliants were restrained. They streak.

They are America First for all native-born whites. They would burn crosses if they dared. They refer to Indian Americans as foreigners.
They hate all cops except those who beat up homeless people.

They belch in public places and spit on the sidewalks. Litter is their doing, as are the chuckholes in the streets. They light forest fires. They kick dogs. They vote early and often when they vote at all, and poison wells.

They cough and sneeze on others, spreading all infections. They waste electricity. Flowers wilt when they walk by. They rejoice in dirty streets, garbage-strewn alleys, and lynchings. They love biased news stories, corrupt politicians, shyster lawyers, medical quacks. Their armpits stink.

They consume most of the nation’s production of anti-itch medication.
They sing off-key and never brush their teeth. They strip mine. To multiply, they divide.

Their fingernails are black and they eat with their hands while lying on their bellies. Their hands are clammy, their feet are cleft. They are creatures of the Devil, and constitute a good reason for the death penalty.

And that’s only the bright side–the sweet talk.

They can, nevertheless, attain instant and perpetual grace, become radiant, beloved to God and man, by keeping their typewriters intact. Amen.