Living the Vintage Life.

Lately I have been feeling myself revert to a decade long ago, when times were simpler and people seemed to care more about, well, everything. I love old things. I already told you about my record player. How I love her so. It is so much fun to grab a record here and there while I am out with Dennis, then come home and listen to its warm crackly sound. In an age of mp3 players that fit in the palm of your hand and can hold every song you own, something so big is only a novelty to most, but I really do prefer it to my ipod docking station when I am at home.

I have added a couple new-old analogue technologies to the house recently, one of which being my new Brother Charger 11 typewriter. It is in great condition and works perfectly. I was lucky enough to find this little mustard-yellow beauty at a local antique store for twenty bucks! The man who sold it to me told me it belonged to a retired little old lady who was still doing some typist jobs on Sundays. Cute!
They are around $75 online but most of those still have the hard plastic cover/carry case that made this super-heavy instrument "portable". I do not foresee taking it on the go with me so I figure I will just sew a sturdy fabric box-type cover for it to minimize cat hair. When I got this I was having trouble figuring out a few things since the manual is obviously no longer with it, and I found the information very hard to come by online, so I will offer up some of what I learned.

First off, it needed a ribbon when I got it, and I looked all over online and found some for around ten dollars, but I decided to just go to Office Max and see what they had - you should have seen the look I got when I asked them where they kept the typewriter ribbons, lol.
None of the boxes mentioned that they were compatible with the model I have, probably just because it is too old, but any plain double-spool 1/2 inch ribbon will work (the picture on the box just looks like 2 little film reels), and I grabbed the one they had for about five dollars and it worked great! I had a little trouble figuring out how to put the ribbon in, but all you have to do is pull the cover straight up off the top of the machine (from what I can tell it does not lock), and the prongs/spool rests will be obvious. Press some letter buttons to make sure which way they turn, and slip the spools on so that the ribbon is being pulled, not pushed along when you strike a key. Then gently thread the ribbon through the foot in the center of the typewriter. If you are really gentle you will not get hardly any ink on your hands, but if you do remember that rubbing alcohol will take it right off, even out of clothing.
Also, if you are wondering why there is no key for the number one or an exclamation point, it was omitted for simplicity (tee-hee). If you need to make a one, just use lowercase L. And for an exclamation point, type a period, then back space and type an apostrophe. I just about died laughing when I found out about that as I did not even notice it when I bought the machine!
A lot of people have asked me what the heck I am planning to do with my new typewriter, and I really just want to use it to write letters and songs mostly. It's just good old fashioned fun, and very satisfying to boot, every time you whack the keys with enough force to get an imprint and make it to the end of the line to hear the little bell.

Another addition to my transition into the early 60's is my new Diana Mini camera. She really is new, not vintage, but the retro styling is superb and everyone asks me if it is old. It is tiny, only about as big as my digital pocket-sized one, though a lot thicker. It uses 35mm film and is basically a toy camera, though I am very pleased with the two rolls I have shot so far. it shoots square format and half-frame, and you can switch between formats within the same roll of film. It has a hot seat for a flash and you can connect a tripod, cable release, or any other photographic doodad you want to it. It only has 4 focal ranges and 2 f-stops, plus a bulb mode for long exposures. In short: Best. Camera. Ever. Here's some of what I have shot, and I will be scanning all the really good ones and posting them on my flickr soon.

I shot a bunch of 1/2 frame ones while Dennis and I were having a picnic at the lake. Ths one was my favorite so it is in our bedroom now.

I found this fantastic little photo album at Kinokuniya Stationary in Japantown in San Francisco. The toy camera craze started in Japan so I was not suprised to find the perfect album to store the format in. I have my pictures printed 4x4 instead of the standard 5x5, which is good because I do not think 5x5 would quite fit in the little album (Meant to be right?), and I use the sloppy black border. Having them a little smaller than usual adds a sweet feeling to the pictures when you see them in person.

This one is my favorite from the square-format roll I shot. Oh, did I mention it is super easy to do double exposures with this little camera? You have to wind it after every shot, but you get to choose how much so if you do not wind it all the way they will overlap.

The half frames always get printed 2 to a 4x6 print, and I ask for the sloppy black border on those too. I have an interesting art project in mind for the ones that did not come out, but it is a big one so I will not be sharing it fr quite some time!

This is one of my favorites from the 1/2 frame roll. Dennis just recently bought a sweet little '74 Toyota Corolla. It is a deep tealy-blue and is absolutely adorable. I wish I could drive it but I do not know stick, but he promises to teach me. I took these photos while he was finishing up talking to the guy he bought it from.
Sorry for the kind of bad photos of my kind of good photos, lol. I will work on getting those scans done when I find the time, probably next weekend! Oh, by the way, I used Picnik again to do the top 3 photos. I love that site, I just wish it was a program I could use without an internet connection like Picassa.

*If you would like to sign up for the Finish It challenge, you can e-mail me at ohthecuteness@hotmail.com or go to this post and leave a comment, and be sure to read all the rules. Be sure to include a link to your blog if you have one, and go join the flickr group here. The list of participants and links to their own unfinished objects is here. And my ongoing list can be found here.


  1. I've got the same model you have on my Amazon wishlist, I love the idea of analog photography, it was always so fun going through the pics but its so easy to share the digital ones especially since I live so far away from my family & friends.

  2. great post. I live in hayward ca which there are few vintage/retro enthusiasts around here. i am 26 and have always felt that i either have lived during the 30's and 40's or i should have. i feel that not too many people understand me because of my vintage/retro love. i have hundreds of records, my grand fathers wwii uniform which fits perfectly, i wear my pants cuffed up, i have PF flyers, not a pair of dumb converse, and a (currently not running) 1955 chrysler new yorker. I love everything about the 30's, 40's, and 50's. great post. i really think you summed up a lot when you said "when times were simpler and people seemed to care more about, well, everything." that really is the truth. thank you. if you would like please check out my website www.vividlyvintage.com

  3. This blog post is wonderful! I just purchased one of these typewriters from Value Village in blue and I am loving him so far. There is still some ink on the ribbons so I'm writing people letters - I am absolutely thrilled with this little guy. I was a bit worried when I googled the typewriters name (Brother Charger 11) because I kept getting photos of typewriters that have different keyboards and I was terribly confused! I was getting pictures of ones that have exclamation point keys and I was like, "this isn't right.." Lol. So happy I found your blog post - not only do we have the same model, you also taught me how to make exclamation points! Your instructions on replacing ribbons will be helpful in the future as well. :) Thank you very much!

  4. Hello Miss thank you for your blog. I'm 67.I was a victim of a divorce and lived with my paternal grandparents who along with their oldest son and my gradmother's brothers and sisters were my spoilers in a good way.Anything for education.my best friend was 2 yrs older than me and at 11 he taught me to type w/all my fingers on his Olivetti Letter 22. After I had typed 6 months I fell in love with a shiny black 1938 Olivetti ICO w/glass keys at a 2nd hand shop that needed a tune up and a cleaning. My uncle offered me a new one but I was in love and he bought it and took it to a shop and came out typing better than the Lettera 22. We went 500 miles north to Lubbock for the fall of 6th grade. I heard talk "He can't take that old thing what will ppl say?" They got me a brand new Smith Corona that my uncle said weighed more than me and it just sat on my desk. They then got me an Olivetti Underwood Letter 32 in aqua green that I was afraid to take anywhere bc it was so expensive. That was 1964. In 1965 @ 14 I got to work on a combine in south Texas making big bicks with my best friend. We had an Italian 150 cc scooter. The McCoys (Hang on Sloopy)were playing in San Antonio and we went. We each had $50 to buy clothes and whatever we wanted. We arrived at noon and went shopping with friends. My bf and I saw this white Brother Charger 11 in the window on sale for $29.95 the Sperry Rand Remington was $50. Our friend totally opposed me "its a cheap throw away" "it isn't going to last" "you're throwing your money away" "its noisy" I tuned him out and got it. My bf got me a Navy back pack for it..kids didn't take back packs to school then..it was a perfect fit. I know my family felt a little bad bc this typewriter went with me everywhere and my friends and I would write our papers on it and I didn't have to be so careful w/it bc it was cheap. Lol. It went with me through 9 yrs of high school and college. It went to Spain, France and Italy and back and forth to Italy several times. Little cleaning and new ribbons was all it took. Then my uncle saw how how much I loved it and gave me the yellow one like the one featured here and another uncle found the Reminton 333 at a pawn shop and gave it to me...my typewriters are still going strong. Everyone has their own opinion as to what typewriter is the best..I've typed on the Olympia SF, a Princess, a Baby Rocket, Smith Corona Skyriter, the Underwood 315 and 320 and others, in my opinion the best are my 1938 Olivetti ICO and my Brothers..thanks..keep on trucking ..peace..