Written by 2:50 pm Editor's Picks, Essays

The Man from the Golden Age

It comes through when you talk to him.  It’s reflected in the cozy, retro feel of his shop at Northwest 23rd Street in Oklahoma City.  And it shows in the work that he does on your typewriter.  

Cody Russ is a guy you can trust.  

In their heyday, typewriters got used by everyone from office workers to journalists to the greats of 20th century literature.  There is a sound and a feel with a typewriter, the writer’s imagination striking the page, or that ring you hear at the end of a line.  

The machines might be old, but they still work admirably, especially after a repair by Cody Russ. 

He uses a host of tools, such as various screw driver sets, small pliers from standard to needle nose to duck bill, and something called a spring hook.  

“In the typewriter repair world, a spring hook is worth its weight in gold,” Russ said.

Originally from western Oklahoma, the 35-year-old Russ moved to the Oklahoma City metro area in 2012.  

He owned a 90s era Smith Corona typewriter as a kid.  About 20 years later, while perusing late night TV, Russ ran across a documentary about typewriters.

“The show intrigued me, and made me want to get out my old typewriter.  Unfortunately, it was no longer working, so I set out to find one the next day.”

Soon enough, Russ got a manual typewriter off Etsy, but it needed to be repaired.  

“I found who was likely the last typewriter repair guy in Oklahoma.  A very nice gentleman in his mid-80s.  He fixed it up for me.”

Russ enjoyed using his typewriter so much that he began to obtain additional typewriters.  

“I decided I couldn’t take every one of them to this repairman, so I started reading and learning how to repair them myself.  Once I started cracking them open and fixing them, I discovered it was a very rewarding experience.”

By the time Russ’s typewriter collection hit 40, he thought it might be wise to sell a few.  He opened an Etsy shop.  

“To my surprise, they sold faster than I could get them ready on my work bench.”

Meanwhile, Russ became friends with the gentleman who’d fixed his first typewriter.  One day, that gentleman made an offer.

“He wanted to pass his business on to me,” Russ said.  “It was an awesome and humbling experience.

“He gave me all his tools and taught me how to work on the good ole IBM Selectric machines,” Russ continued.  “Once that happened, I guess I was in the repair business.”

Russ said he has repaired close to 100 typewriters in the past year.  

“It has really expanded my knowledge of different machines and the internal workings of typewriters in general.”  

Russ repairs them for secretaries who refuse to stop using them, as well as younger people who are starting to get into them for the tactile experience or nostalgia.  

Or, he sells them to writers who want to concentrate on their projects, thereby avoiding distractions on the internet.  

A typewriter shipped by Cody Russ arrives expertly packed, clean, and ready to use.  

But Russ has an even better idea.  “I hope that anyone ever passing through the Oklahoma City metro area will stop in and see me.  I would love to chat.”

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