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Ye Olde Terme Paper

Recently a Cleveland State student said to me, quite empathetically, “I was wondering how you guys wrote papers.”

By “you guys,” she meant “old people.” She meant “back in the day.”

She went on: “I guess you had to actually, physically travel to the library, right? And then you’d have to find the actual book you wanted, and, what?, find what you needed inside the book?”

I nodded.

“Then you must have had to take the book home with you because that’s where your typewriter was. Then, I don’t know, somehow you ‘typed’ the whole thing. That part I don’t get.”

Yes, I said. This is how it was. And if you made a mistake you had to retype the whole thing or use that cumbersome correction tape to make the mistake disappear. And I told my young students if you wanted a magazine article, you had to go to the library and find a listing in The Readers Guide to Periodical Literature and then pray the library owned the exact issue you needed and that the librarian could lay her hands on it and then you had to write down all the information you needed in the library to take home with you. No copying machines.

The class was rapt. Mouths agape, heads shaking.

2 Comments

  1. Joel Couch` wrote:

    Oh so you think you had it bad? Back in the 60s, some of us were nerds…AND WE DIDN’T HAVE ANY COMPUTERS!! Of course, we didn’t know what we were missing. No one then would have dreamed that nerds might some day redeem themselves, and make an impact on the global economy. HA!

    Wednesday, April 28, 2010 at 7:34 pm | Permalink
  2. Kathy wrote:

    The revenge of the nerds!

    Thursday, April 29, 2010 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

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