A Window Into Writing

Computer room after

This photo tells a thousand tales. Maybe even more. It was a room at the house I spent the majority of the first 19 years of my life in. My youngest memories of this room were of it being a “toy room” that would occasionally double as a spare bedroom. It was usually in a state of disarray. It also housed two bookshelves that were full of encyclopedias and other miscellaneous reference books. That desk was left with the house when it was cleaned out and sold. The window used to look directly out onto a branch of a maple tree that almost touched the side of the house. That tree was long gone. The view was of the side of the yard which had grown into another part of the adjacent forest. To the right, out of range in this picture, is an old flue that carried smoke up and out of the house from the old wood stove. In reality, that stove did not do a great job of heating the house. The warmth from that flue certainly did help to heat up this little room and provide a very comfortable spot to work in. Especially on the few bitterly cold winter days we had.

Around 5th grade my folks bought us our first computer. Despite a few hiccups with the system eventually it ran smooth for many years. Several years before Dad would even allow an internet connection in, it became a great little home office of sorts. In between trying to find Carmen Sandiego, racing cars and running sports simulators, it was a place where I worked on learning to type and write. I spent many great hours hanging out in this old room. I was determined to find Carmen Sandiego, take Micheal Jordan and the Chicago Bulls to an NBA title on one of the first NBA games made for PC, and write a few creative lines for the printer.

Every time my brother and I advanced in our respective investigator ranks on Carmen Sandiego, we would print out certificates of promotion and tape them up to the walls. 

Microsoft Windows 3.1 was great. Even with the graduation to Windows 95, I was still using 3.1 for quite a while on the old systems. Incredibly, Dad’s old computer ended up getting scrapped while it still had 3.1. Only a few years ago. It still ran! Back in the day I never really thought that I was learning to type or write. I was very much into writing stories and poems with one of my best friends. We would write music reviews, jokes, poetry and “song lyrics”. Using Microsoft Works or NotePad, I would print them on an old dot matrix printer that took forever to spit out one page. I remember writing out lists every week of the music I was listening to most. A top 5 countdown of tunes. It only would change slightly every week. Those lists were really fun to write out and share. It sometimes was a way to get turned towards newer acts that were worth listening to.

The old computer had what one of the “blue screen” versions of Word Perfect. I was a bit afraid to use it. Something intimidated me about having to think of all the shortcuts a person would have to learn while using it. It was just easier to write in MS Works and save everything immediately. Proper formatting was far from my mind at the time. 

Whether it was writing lists or playing games, that old room was a place where I learned to type. I always felt this gave me a major advantage when I went into high school and started typing out a handful of school work on the screen. I was still in junior high school and able to type more than 70 words per minute. For the time, this was seen as impressive. Today, kids have an even greater advantage where they are using technology at younger ages. Their typing speeds by the time they hit high school are probably incredible.

This picture reflects a thousand fond memories. Coming across the photo earlier this week instantly brought me back to those fun long hours of reading, gaming and writing.





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