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1981. Maybe 82. Right there somewhere before word processing shoved typewriters out the window and into obsolescence. Back then, I had a Sherman tank that printed beautifully but took up half an office desk and wasn’t getting any younger. Got it cheap. Used. My dad found it. I don’t remember particulars.

But I was coveting something new because I was doing my dissertation, typing every day, all day. I couldn’t help thinking my life would be greatly improved if I had a new Selectric–one of those with the jumpy little circular print heads. Something 20th century at least.

An IBM Selectric was not something our limited budget could handle. I was a graduate student, and Barbara was working part-time at the bank downtown. My assistantship was nothing to sneeze at, but we weren’t swimming in cash, and we had two kids, little ones.

My mother intervened. She made me an offer I couldn’t win. She must have picked up on my covetousness. She’d buy me the very best typewriter I could find if I would promise her that no “naughty words” would ever march out of that little rotating ball. It was a righteous offer; my mother was a righteous woman.

Had I known what was about to get my first Apple just a year later, I could have been sleazy about it, taken her up on the offer, then sold that IBM a year later and picked up a IIe. Could have done that. If I would have, I’d have been freed from the contract she wanted me desperately to sign.

But I didn’t see what was coming, so I faced my mother’s saintly proposition, which really didn’t offer alternatives. Taking her up on it meant promising something I couldn’t, so I typed all 300 pages of that dissertation–a novel, by the way–on that Sherman tank (did a little cussing in the process). And, if you’re wondering–yes, there were a few naughty words.

Even though my mother is gone and all of that seems a lifetime ago, I’m still not cutting any deals. All I’ll promise you is my best, as will all of us here at The Twelve. What we’re trying to do is gently open up the world around us, His world, that world He loved so very greatly (John 3:16).

And, no, I won’t say there won’t be any naughty words—never have said that and never will.

But I promise I’ll be circumspect, and I promise, as do the 11 others, that we’ll work at seeing as best we can and write with as much style and grace as will come from these keyboards.

I’m saying all of this because The Twelve needs your support. We’d like you to help us build something of a community here, a flourishing community of readers and thinkers and believers.

We’d appreciate your help. Let me rephrase that: we’d love your support.

Okay, okay—I promise I’ll try to control myself. My mother would like that.

Click on the box above to donate, or there is a blue donate box in the upper right-hand corner everyday.
Checks may be sent to Reformed Journal, PO Box 441130 #94102, Detroit, MI 48244-1130.
Thank you very much!

James C. Schaap

James Calvin Schaap is a retired English prof who has been something of a writer for most of the last 40 years. His latest work, a novel, Looking for Dawn, set in reservation country, is the story of two young women joined by their parents' mutual brokenness and, finally, a machine-shed sacrament of reconciliation. He writes and narrates a weekly essay on regional history for KWIT, public radio, Sioux City, Iowa. He and his wife Barbara live on the northern edge of Alton, Iowa, the Sgt. Floyd River a hundred yards or so from their back door. They have a cat--rather, he has them.


  • Mark William Ennis says:

    I’m jealous. I couldn’t afford an IBM so had to settle for a Smith Corona. It was electric, not manual so I was the envy of my dorm floor.

  • Tom Brandt says:

    Alright, alright – I set up a monthly donation.

    Thanks for this journal – I read The Twelve every day and find it very much worth the time.

  • Ruth Vis says:

    Ever thought about professional fundraising?

  • Rodger Rice says:

    I’ve contributed but with a bit of guilt. You know how charitable causes that give you something back tell you how much it’s worth? Well, I fear what I get back from RJ is worth much more than I gave. Of course, I can easily kill my guilt—just give more. But like the MasterCard ad insists: priceless. I’m doomed to keep giving and giving. Hmm? Is this what the RJ professional fundraisers had in mind all along?

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