TRAVERSE CITY — The continuous metallic clack, clack, clack of a vintage typewriter is music to Paul Stebleton's ears.
The rare bookstore owner, writer and typewriter enthusiast daydreams of the stories written long ago on the decades-old machines. Stebleton imagines the greats like Mark Twain, John Steinbeck and J.D. Salinger hovering over an array of 50 pearly keys, furiously smacking out the words that formed the American narrative.
"It makes you wonder how many stories, how many love letters were typed on these," he said running his hand over an 80-year-old Remington Noiseless.
Stebleton sat Tuesday outside his collectible book shop, Landmark Books, clicking away lightly on the near-silent keys of his laptop keyboard. Modern technology is a necessary evil, he said. Stebleton will replace that tranquil tapping with a chorus of clacking from a fleet of typewriters Saturday during a type-in.
"They've never had one in Traverse City before," Stebleton said. "It will give young people a chance to try something they otherwise might not get a chance to do. It's going to be neat to hear the sound throughout the building."
Stebleton owns six typewriters himself and recruited about 20 more loaner machines from other collectors who want to help proliferate their passion. One collector from Kalamazoo promised his fleet of machines to the event last week. The machines will be on hand at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons starting at noon in front of Landmark Books. Stebleton will provide paper for anybody who wants to try writing on a typewriter.
The first type-in was hosted at Bridgewater's Pub in Philadelphia in December of 2010. The event, organized by Michael McGettigan, aimed to gather typewriter enthusiasts and the uninitiated masses alike. The type-in movement now has expanded to hundreds of cities worldwide, Stebleton said.