How long does it take to influence a life?

When I was age 7, Marilyn Witt, a high school senior who lived nearby, babysat my little sister and me one evening. I don’t recall her coming any other time, but she arrived carrying an intriguing heavy black box with a handle. Marilyn said it held a typewriter to fill out her college applications after my little sister went to sleep. Once I heard that, there was no chance I would fall asleep. She had brought me two new words—typewriter and college.

When she took the typewriter out of its case and set it up, she explained how it worked. Then she sat me on her lap to peck a few keys that struck black printed letters on the clean piece of paper she had rolled into the cylinder. I was fascinated with the possibilities.

Next, as she spread out her application forms, she told me about college. “It’s a place where you go to learn and have a better life,” she said. That sounded wonderful, too. No one in our family had been, but I never forgot and started saving for it that summer as I picked strawberries for Birdseye Frozen Foods—but that’s another story.

Marilyn brought me two new words that night—typewriter, and college. Both have been happy additions to my life. College teachers use typewriters and later computers lots. Then I became a writer, and writers use them even more.

That babysitting evening long ago triggered interests that established important major directions for my life. I don’t recall Marilyn babysitting us more than that one evening, but it was enough. I will never forget both new concepts she taught me and I am very thankful!

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