Tappa-tappa-tappa-tap! Tappa-tappa-tap! Ding!
That’s the sound of “I love you” that should be clattering amid the doughnuts and scones at Edelweiss Bakery in Prior Lake on Saturday morning.
No thumbs hovering over tiny alphabets, no fingers fluttering across plastic keys. We’re talking about people noisily banging out their adoration on classic Olivettis and Smith & Coronas.
Dan Steger loves typewriters so much that he’s sharing the five he owns so that people can go old-school and type a love note to their sweetie for Valentine’s Day. He’s done it once before, letting kids type letters to Santa Claus.
“The bakery is a community gathering place,” Steger said. “People hear this noise, and they see these going, and they’re universally kind of intrigued.”
Kids seem especially fascinated.
“My sense is that they make an initial association with the keyboard, but then there are these moving parts, these type bars flying around.
“They enjoy pounding on it, but when it comes time to do a carriage return, they run into a brick wall.”
(The carriage return being a lever to return the paper to the left margin while also advancing it to the next line, right after that melodious “ding.”)
From 8 to 11 a.m. on Feb. 11, the typewriters will be available. Steger supplies the stationery for free.
Steger, who lives in Prior Lake, got into typewriters about a year ago. As a salesman, he tries to think of new ways to extend holiday greetings to his customers; he happened on the idea of sending each a note card with a typewritten message (along with some fancy macaroons).
“It makes it more personal than a mass e-mail or that thing you click open and an animated doodad appears,” he said. Then he discovered that typewriters have become a thing, sort of like vinyl records.
There’s even a book, “The Typewriter Revolution: A Typist’s Companion for the 21st Century,” by Richard Polt, a professor of philosophy at Xavier University in Cincinnati. Polt created the Classic Typewriter Page as “an online gathering place for people who love old typewriters, including a place to buy and sell machines.” Thus, the dozen or so sources listed for typewriter ribbon.
(The typewriter ribbon being a woven tape infused with ink that, when struck by a metal letter, transfers the symbol to paper. While it makes no sound, it can stain your fingers blue.)
Steger, 56, said it’s not hard to find a typewriter. “Craigslist has them by the bucketful,” which accounts for the four others he obtained, ranging in vintage from 1937 to 1967. Their throwback vibe is comforting.
“The part of you that wants to be super effective is enamored with technology, but I think there’s a part of everybody that wants to get rid of all that and garden or bake or write letters.”
In addition to the valentines, Steger wants to attempt a spontaneously written group “love story.”
“I’ll start it with a couple paragraphs and invite others to jump in and add a couple of their own,” he said. “Fingers crossed that it evolves into some kind of love story.”