By Jim “Pappy” Moore
I was having lunch with long time friend Mike Capps in a Lufkin drive-in burger joint which has been in the same location for over sixty years. An affable, slender man close to our age walked past and nodded hello to Mike. Looking at the lean fellow I immediately said “that’s got to be one of the Bradford boys. Is that Jesse?” Mike replied “the younger one.” “David?” I asked. “Yep.” Jesse was two years older than me. David was two years younger.
Mike and I talked about the Bradfords, and I told him I knew their mother better than I knew either of the boys. Mrs. Bradford taught me Typing in high school back in the 1960s. She was smart, good-natured, and had a way of getting the best from you without being strident about it. She never talked down to anyone. She never made any student feel inferior, incapable, or bad about themselves. She never ridiculed anyone, although some had a really tough time learning to type. She was gracious and supportive in every respect.
Typing is not an exciting topic, especially when you learn on an old manual typewriter which appeared to pre-date World War II. Clickety-clack, Clickety-clack, Clickety-clack. Our fingers drove those keys in downward strokes that would make a modern laptop typist faint. No buttons to make the carriage return. No, you had to slap that return bar on the upper right with your own hand and not lose speed or accuracy while doing so.
Honestly, I don’t know how Mrs. Bradford taught a room full of teenagers all to type during a fifty-minute class, five days a week. Mistakes had to be painstakingly corrected, so “no mistakes” was the order of the day. Fingers became nimble over time, and managed to find their keys in the appointed order as if by magic.
“The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog’s back.”
Typing such sentences over and over and over helped our fingers learn by repetition and muscle memory. Eventually we would be able to type up a storm, or at least a steady rain shower.
It seemed to me the girls were better at it than the boys were. “Sit up straight” Mrs. Bradford would exhort us as we kept our backs from slumping and kept our hands lively. We would have tests to tell us our speed and accuracy, and lack of accuracy cost points on our overall assessment.
My mother had been an office worker for most of my public-school career. Her typing skills were impeccable. She could write in shorthand as well. She was very dedicated to getting me to take Typing as a subject in high school. She wouldn’t have “made” me do it. That was not her way. She would convince me that I would want to do it. She pointed out how typing was a skill that everyone needed, that it could come in handy in life, and that it would open doors and opportunities for me. Always interested in ways I could attain success, those arguments made a great deal of sense.
She was correct, of course. In the military I was in electronics, but part of our work was typing daily reports on the things we accomplished. In college and later in law school, typing gave me a leg-up on competition and helped me make my presentations to professors. As a lawyer the skill has been essential to my work. Typing was and remains an important skill.
When I saw David Bradford last week, I suddenly had a flood of memories about his mother and the role she played in my life and the lives of many other students at my high school. I thought “I ought to tell him right now,” so I did.
What would I do without typing? I type literally every day of my life. It’s my favorite skill, doing my favorite thing – writing stories for people to read. I have published around 750 of these columns over the past seventeen years, doing what I love to do. Clickety-clack, Clickety-clack, Clickety-clack.
Thanks, Mrs. Bradford! You did me right.
Copyright 2022, Jim “Pappy” Moore, all rights reserved.