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From the Dec. 8, 1954, Eagle

Eagle Archives, Dec. 8, 1954: Typewriter man Charlie Curtin retires but keeps on clicking

Charles W. Curtin, 70 Lyman St., tried to retire recently from Underwood Typewriter Corp. after 32 years as a service man in the Pittsfield area. 

As far as the company bookkeeper is concerned, Mr. Curtin has retired. At least, he gets his company pension and he is no longer on the pay roll of the Underwood Pittsfield office.

However, Mr. Curtin didn't look like a retired man last Monday morning when he slipped back into the habit of opening up the Underwood office, 129 Elm St.

Technically, he's just visiting when he drops in at the office these days. But, actually, he finds it difficult not to lend a hand and some advice when a particularly difficult repair job comes in.

After 42 years in the business, Charlie knows every one of the more than 2,000 parts in a typewriter personally. A lot of that personal introduction has come through trying to keep the typewriters in The Eagle news room in working order.

Charlie rates veteran Eagle reporter Francis M. Callanan as the roughest man on a typewriter in The Eagle.

A native of Hartford, Charlie started working at Underwood's Hartford plant when he got out of school. He spent 10 years there and worked for a time in every department in the plant.

He went to Underwood's Springfield office for one year as a service representative before coming to Pittsfield 32 years ago. In his early years in Pittsfield, the local Underwood office service district also covered Vermont.

He still remembers an emergency call he received from an up-state Vermont location. When he arrived in the Vermont town, he found that the girl running the typewriter just wanted to know how to change the typewriter ribbon.

He also remembers several instances about 30 years ago when he got stuck in the muddy road on the Mohawk Trail and had to have his car pulled out by a team of oxen.

Charlie has worked on all kinds of typewriters during his 42 years in the business, including the so-called "blind writers" manufactured by Remington.

"On those machines, you had to lift up the roll to see what you were writing. Underwood was the first to come with visible typing that you could see to read as you typed," according to Mr. Curtin.

Charlie says he was a multi-lingual typist when he worked at Underwood's Harford plant. As it does now, Underwood then made typewriters for all languages.

This Story in History is selected from the archives by Jeannie Maschino, The Berkshire Eagle.

Community News Editor / Librarian

Jeannie Maschino is community news editor and librarian for The Berkshire Eagle. She has worked for the newspaper in various capacities since 1982 and joined the newsroom in 1989.

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