I correspond with a kid who writes letters on a typewriter.
Take a moment and think about how odd that sentence is.
His name is Rossell Brewer of Hendersonville. He’s 20, and he’s a student at Butler University in Indianapolis, where, I believe, the school of communications does not use typewriters. It would be cool if they did, but alas …
He said he and some of his friends communicate by writing letters. Welcome to the 20th century, Brewer. “Most of those letters are written on this machine (a typewriter),” he wrote. “I find actually writing letters to be a fun and exciting mental exercise that not only allows me time to collect my thoughts and let my points get fully across, but also express myself in ways which other mediums simply cannot.”
When I was 20 years old in 1982, Ronald Reagan was president, Diet Coke was invented, and the Commodore 64 personal computer was released with a price tag of $595.
Through his letters, I know Brewer as a thoughtful kid, an old soul (obviously), who sounds a lot like I was back before Chicken McNuggets, which were invented in 1983.
His first letter was about books. Not the best books ever, but books “that bring comfort.” Like ice cream at 9 p.m. on a Tuesday. I’m all about comfort books.
Love for old books
Here’s the funny thing. Brewer’s list is downright old, which is so cool.
He loves “Dune.” He said: “Each time I read it, I discover something new. Furthermore, the sci-fi fantasy is wonderfully immersive …” He loves the Nero Wolfe detective series, including books like “The League of Frightened Men” (1935), “Too Many Cooks” (1938), “The Golden Spiders” (1953), “Champagne for One” (1958), “Gambit” (1962) and “A Family Affair” (1975).
I wrote him back about my favorite comfort books. I’m a murder mystery guy, so Agatha Christie novels are near the top of my list. Give me “Murder on the Orient Express” or “Ten Little Indians” on a rainy Saturday, and I’m good.
Also near the top are the first few books by Thomas Harris, before he went too wild with Hannibal Lecter: “Black Sunday,” “Red Dragon” and “The Silence of the Lambs.” Fictional murder warms my heart.
I love to read books that were the inspirations for movies — just to see how the stories are different. “Jaws” was a great read, with (spoiler alert) an affair between marine biologist Matt Hooper and Chief Brody’s wife, Ellen, which didn’t make it into the movie. “The Godfather” has Fredo’s complete backstory, which the movie ignored. And “The Exorcist” has much more about the friendship between the priest and the detective.
Brewer’s second letter explained his taste in film, which was fascinating.
Great John Wayne and popcorn movies
He likes John Wayne movies, and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” starring Clint Eastwood.
I’m a big fan of the John Wayne movie “The Cowboys.” And I loved him in “True Grit” and “The Searchers.” I have to admit, I liked Disney’s version of “The Alamo” better than John Wayne’s.
Brewer likes the older “Star Wars” movies better than the newer knockoffs. Who doesn’t?
What are my favorite comfort movies, or “popcorn” movies, as we called them in the old days?
Here’s my top five:
- “Groundhog Day”
- “A Few Good Men”
- “The Silence of the Lambs”
- “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”
I wonder if my 20-year-old typewriter pal has seen any of those oldies.
He probably has.
Brewer left me with this thought:
“I do not see it as a surprise that no one would think of a 20-year-old writing letters on a typewriter. … I am the only one of my pals with whom I exchange letters that uses one. But I believe if they could find a good, working machine for cheap, they would likely use one.
“But alas, they seem hard to find now.”
Reach Keith Sharon at 615-406-1594 or [email protected] or on Twitter @KeithSharonTN.
This story is part of Project 88, which is named for the 88 characters produced on a Smith-Corona typewriter. The Tennessean’s Keith Sharon types letters on his 1953 typewriter and mails them to people all over the world with an envelope and stamp so they can write back. This story originated with a letter Keith received. The question Project 88 is trying to answer is: Will people communicate the old-fashioned way, through heartfelt letters about the best and most challenging days of their lives. This project is not for political rants, and any kind of snail mail letter (typed, hand-written or computer printout) is acceptable. Please include a phone number.
You can be part of Project 88 by writing to:
1801 West End Ave.
Nashville, TN 37203