You are the owner of this article.
Flashback: The last of the Siouxland typewriters

Flashback: The last of the Siouxland typewriters


SIOUX CITY -- A few relics from bygone eras are scattered about the Woodbury County Courthouse.

Two rotary dial phones, not linked to an operational line, hang in a room just off the county supervisors' board room. A postal mail drop several floors high is closed off from use.

Elsewhere in a few departments, office staples from the 1910s to 1980s are still in operation.

Yes, a few typewriters occasionally can be heard plinking out a few lines. City Hall offices have a few, too.

Lt. Loxi Arndt has witnessed technological advances since she began working for the Woodbury County Sheriff's Office more than two decades ago.

"We didn't have word processing, basically. Pretty much everything was typed, and now it is hardly anything that is hand-typed," Arndt said.

Sheriff's office clerk Dawn Norton uses a computer to log statistics to track sex offenders but turns to a typewriter to finalize gun permits in the sheriff's office. The typewriter is used to complete the two-ply carbon copy permit form that is about 5 by 8 inches.

"We are probably one of the few counties that does it the old-fashioned way," Norton said with a chuckle. "I would rather have a computer program, but we have to do what we have." 

Typing out the form takes maybe a minute, something that happens a few times per week, she said. Luckily, she said, the electric typewriter seldom acts up.

"I don't know if you could even find somebody to even repair them anymore," she said, chuckling again. "I know there is really pretty much not any typewriters around anymore."

Gloria Mollet, who uses what may be the only manual, nonelectric typewriter in the Woodbury County Courthouse, said it probably has been years since a county department bought a typewriter. If a bill for a typewriter came forward in the weekly county supervisors' meeting, the response would probably be apoplexy.

Human resources administrative assistant Mollet uses her manual typewriter for typing legal documents that outside entities send for completion. On rare occasions, her co-workers will use one other electronic typewriter in the HR department for "funky little labels" or typing mortgage-related documents, she said.

"I brought this one from home. I was used to it, and at home I don't really use it at all," Mollet said.

"I didn't know anybody else (in the courthouse) had one but us."

In the supervisors' board administration office, one typewriter is used a few times a year when bond issuance documents need to be filled out for financial institutions, and also for file labels.

Up on the sixth floor, the Planning and Zoning and Rural Economic Development departments share a typewriter that administrative assistant Peggy Napier brought in from home. That unit is rarely used. Down in the basement, the Social Services Department has zero typewriters.

Debbie Leigh, a Sioux City Utilities Department administrative assistant, said many departments have a single typewriter.

"It seems so archaic. ... We try to do everything electronic and paperless," Leigh said.

Virtually all of the typewriter use, Leigh said, is for forms that outside entities send to the city for completion. She uses one roughly twice a week.

"It is so funny, it is hard to type on a typewriter once you get used to a (computer) keyboard. Oh gosh, it is strange," she said.

Using lingo many of those younger than 35 might not understand, Leigh said the city typewriters are electric, self-correcting units.

"Nope, I don't have Wite-Out," Leigh said with a laugh.


Get local news delivered to your inbox!

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Breaking News