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Friday, 19 June 2015

Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 64?

                                      

                                         


I went to Saturday morning classes to learn touch typing as a teenager but although I learnt the key placement by that method of putting your hands under a shield, I never really achieved any great speed - thankfully I did not have to type for a living, and now I couldn't survive without Spellcheck or the edit/delete function, and even then a lot of typos slip through. 

One of my grandfathers in NZ took up typing all his letters in his later years, which was great because it meant we could read what he had written, rather than having to puzzle over indecipherable handwriting.
 No photos of Granddad Morrison or any other family member typing however, and sad to say, these two photographs below are the only ones I have in my family collection of anything vaguely resembling a typewriter!  I made this cake for my mother Jean's 64th birthday in 1990 and took it up from Sydney to Wamberal on the New South Wales Central Coast, where she and my father lived. They had bought a house there after retiring from their jobs in Canberra and deciding that after 30 years there they wanted to move somewhere with a milder climate. I don't remember why I made Mum a special cake, perhaps it was just because I could, once she lived closer to us than Canberra, which was a four hour drive away, and I knew the children would enjoy it too. In the second photo which must have been taken by my father, Mum is about to cut us all a slice to have with our cups of tea or cordial. Her real typewriter was a nifty little yellow portable model and maybe one of her grandchildren suggested the idea of a typewriter cake. 







The cake design comes from the Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book, the party cake essential for Australian mothers in the 1980s and 90s. I've referred to it once or twice and have shown a few other creations I made from it over the years,  such as here for example. Here is a scan of the relevant page - very simple, especially as it and all the other cakes in the book just use packet mixes, and hardly very healthy, but they were only for birthdays, after all.  You could always make a proper cake with healthy ingredients if you preferred, but back then we weren't so concerned about all that kind of thing, and somehow the kids still survived!  The book was re-issued as a special vintage edition recently, and surprisingly the typewriter design is still included, despite the fact that today's kids probably have never seen the real thing. I guess it's still there for nostalgic reasons, like the old style telephone, whereas Mickey and Minnie have inexplicably been replaced by Wacky Wabbit and some cat called Ginger Nevil. I'm glad the typewriter is still there, because computer keyboards just don't have the same character. You have probably seen the amusing cartoon doing the rounds that depicts a woman who has just returned to office work after many years and who automatically hits the non-existent carriage return, with the result that the entire computer is cleared off her desk.

 My mother looked pretty good for 64, which is what I'll be next year. Will anyone make me a cake, I wonder, or perhaps sing me the title song of this blog, or the Beatles' version of Happy Birthday?


You can no doubt find more serious blogs about typewriting matters here at Sepia Saturday #284, probably complete with authentic sepia-toned photographs.

15 comments:

  1. Oh how precious! And making it special for your mom made it extra wonderful. I did icing designs, never the serious roses and leaves, but I never made any cakes in shapes of things. And now I don't have a bunch of people to feed a whole cake to, so I don't make any at all. Thanks for sharing such a cute typewriter!

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  2. I bet everyone had blue teeth! That's a clever cake though, and a unique response to the prompt.

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  3. Well I wasn’t expecting that but I bet it’s the only cake typewriter we have this week. I used to love making novelty cakes too and this would have been great for my own mother, who actually was a typist. Your mother seems to have really appreciated your efforts.




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  4. I surprised the family with a 3-dimensional Pooh Bear cake for daughter Suzanne's 2nd birthday. No, I didn't bake it. I bought it at a bake sale I wasn't aware was in progress outside the market I generally shopped at. The cake was too expensive when I went into the store, but by the time I came out the bake sale ladies were closing up shop, the Pooh Bear cake was still there, & they offered it to me at half price. Sold! Sometimes you just happen to be in the right place at the right time. It was actually Suzanne's birthday that very day & I'd already made a cake, but I put it in the freezer. The Pooh Bear cake was too cute to pass up - especially at half price! And so is your typewriter cake. A perfect match for the theme! The only ingredient I'm not familiar with are the Musk Sticks?

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    1. Musk sticks are a classic childhood favourite in Australia and NZ. They are extruded sticks made of sugar, gelatine and glucose, coloured pink and flavoured with musk oil. You can also get musk-flavoured Lifesavers here.

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  5. What a great looking cake! I never made a shaped cake, but I also never made a cake from a box. I did do blue icing on my oldest daughter's birthday cupcakes one year. Don't remember blue teeth but there probably were some.

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  6. Jo - this is such a great post! Well done you! And I'm liking the tea cosy on the table too :)

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  7. That is a wonderful cake you made and I liked the family photograph - there is no mistaking the family likeness of you, your daughter and mother. Enjoy your 64th birthday when it comes and I hope that you too have a memorable cake.

    Family History Fun .

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    1. We didn't inherit our curls from my mother, as her hair was normally quite straight, although she'd probably had it done for her birthday and she always dressed well. My daughter's comment when she read this blog and saw the photo of her 10 year old self was: "What the heck was I wearing?"

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  8. Who would think of a typewriter cake. A great found in your photo collection.

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  9. I love the typewriter cake! The thing that saved my mediocre typing was erasable typing paper. I wonder whether they even sell that kind of paper now.

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  10. A perfect reverse spin for this weekend's theme. I hope someone gets you a cake as nice. But maybe shaped as a laptop computer?

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  11. Great take on typewriters! But most of all, I was impressed with the love and caring that goes into making a birthday cake such as this. T'is a gift unto itself. Great family photos.

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  12. Reminds me of all the cakes that my wife made for our daughters' birthdays over the years.

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  13. Well I've never made a lovely fancy cake like that but I have knitted that same pattern teacosy. Do you remember when icecream cakes came in. One year we had a football and a crinoline doll for birthdays.

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