It’s 1970 – You’re A Teenager – You Live In L.A. – You Aren’t Graduating – You Flunked Typing – You Question Life.
The vice-Principal hates you – your Counsellor has it in for you – the L.A. City Schools System has picked you out of thousands to make your life miserable.
Of all the classes you’ve taken, the ONE class you failed is the ONE class standing in the way of you graduating in June. ONE class!
Typing – sitting in a class with 30 others, staring at your typewriters, waiting for the teacher to tell you to start. You’re all writing a letter to Mister Jones of the Acme Tool Company – and your job is not to look at the keys – stare at the letter and do 60 words a minute, with no mistakes.
Miss Shapiro – with a lacquer-infused helmet of jet black hair and darting eyes that would do a drill sergeant proud barks out “begin” and the cacophony of clattering keys on innocent pieces of paper begins.
You have a mind that wanders – you can’t help it. You can’t stare at anything for more than a minute before you wander off into space. It’s the space that got you into trouble – it’s the space that prompted Miss Shapiro to hand you and F – it’s the F that will stop you from graduating. The idea of being stuck, well into adulthood trying to pass a Typing class has turned your stomach lining a ghostly white and is causing you to sweat gallons. But determined, your fingers splash over the keys and Mister Jones is going to get his goddam letter on time and without mistakes once and for all or you’re going to die trying.
Why Typing? You have no idea – once this ordeal is over you will never have to look at another typewriter again – ever. Who invented this thing? Why is it so important? You’re never going to be a Secretary – you don’t even know enough people to write letters to.
But the clattering of 30 sets of fingers hitting 30 typewriters is driving you up the wall, but you will yourself not to be distracted.
Lucky you – your desk is right next to a window overlooking the quadrangle from your classroom on the second floor. The sun is breaking through the morning low clouds and fog – people are wandering around on the quad and you smell hot chocolate and the infamous L.A. City Schools Cinnamon Coffee Cake and you’re starving.
You are two sentences away from finishing – you have no idea if you’ve screwed up or not – you’re possessed and your head is about to explode.
Over the drone of clacking keyboards Miss Shapiro barks “Time’s Up!” – and the room falls into deathly silence while you pass your papers to the center of the aisle and someone well on their way to being in the Secretarial Pool scoops them up and hands them in.
Convinced you are destined to be in Typing Class until somewhere in your 30s you shuffle, drained and defeated out to the Quad where you immerse yourself in the delicacies of High School life before the rest of your day precariously begins.
It isn’t until the next day that the knot in your stomach finally loosens while you gaze with relief at the C- scrawled across the page.
Maybe there’s life after all.
And to provide some musical comfort food for your trials and tribulations, here’s almost 90 minutes of Shadoe Stevens, holding court at KHJ Boss Radio from October 18, 1970.
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