Name Hans Vermaase (91)
Lives in Leeuwarden
Is retired since 30 years
worked in various positions in youth care and vocational education
‘My electric typewriter broke down recently. Fortunately I know a mechanic, near here, in Gytsjerk. He has been repairing typewriters for almost sixty years. We had a nice chat and in the meantime he rectified the problem. In the attic he has a museum with hundreds of old typewriters; you won’t believe your eyes when you see that.
“I have never touched a PC. I was almost 60 years old, about 1990, when my employer said: ‘Say Vermaase, a computer course, would that be something for you?’ I said: ‘Why, are there any complaints about my functioning?’ He said, “Oh no, not at all. But you’re always busy making schedules and schedules – and a computer like that seems to be useful for that.’
“I thanked you for it. That course was entirely in Leiderdorp. A year or so later I would retire. When I left, I was given the typewriter from work, an electric one.
“I have never taken a typing course. I taught myself, on a real old Remington like that, which made a lot of noise when typing. I’ve become quite handy and quick at it, if I may say so.
“I first started working with a typewriter about sixty years ago. I was active in the organization of pupil football here in Friesland. I made the rosters for all the games across the province. On the typewriter. I have done a lot of board work as a volunteer: also for tennis and billiards. Organizing groups, putting agreements on paper: that role has always suited me well.
“My wife started working on the computer in the early 1990s. She once said: try it! – but it didn’t appeal to me. She passed away quite suddenly in 1997. She also lost the incentive to do something with such a computer one day.
“I don’t miss the computer. I’m fine with paper and my typewriter. Sometimes I get a letter stating that I have to fill in something on the internet. Then I call the sender and ask if we can also handle it over the phone. Usually that works.
“Recently I needed the internet to request a yellow booklet for the registration of my vaccinations. I can always knock on my neighbor’s door for something like this. She finds it no problem at all to arrange something for me via the internet every now and then.
“My banking is also still done by post, with transfer cards and statements on paper, once every two weeks. That’s fine, I’m not used to it any other way.
„I am an avid puzzler: walkthroughs, cryptograms, sudokus – I like to do that. Sometimes someone says: the internet would be useful for you, as a tool for puzzling. But why should I? I have a bookcase full of reference works, from puzzle dictionaries to the complete 20-volume Winkler Prins encyclopedia. I am very attached to my books, for me the internet could not replace that.”
A version of this article also appeared in NRC in the morning of July 12, 2021