Some Friday evenings after work, father had a staff
member help him carry it home from the City Hall,
from the fourth branch of the City Court where he
presided— we lived but a ten minute walk from there,
and a cab while helpful would be extravagant. I was
a high school junior and had just finished a course
in typing and stenography, and was to help him
whenever he worked on court decisions. We started
after supper, the typewriter in its blue-gray metal
case sitting heavy like some relic from the last
World War at one end of the table. He composed
on lined yellow legal pad, scrupulous about
the format I was to transfer, stroke by stroke,
to paper. The hammers of the keys I pressed
cut through carbon paper layers to spell out
headings, case or docket numbers, dispositions,
summaries, before coming to the all-important
opinion— the part where he was to craft a ruling
based on analysis of the law as applied to the facts.
As fill-in clerk with no legal training or experience,
I could not discuss the intricacies of these undertakings.
But as I watched and read and copied, the import was not lost
on me: before the machine, there is the fact of language.
And before that, the processes of well-considered thought.