Santa brings Buddy L typewriter to aspiring journalist, 7

David Heitz


I won't ever forget the Christmas Santa brought me a Buddy L typewriter.

The house almost burnt down. More on that in a second.

Even when I still believed in Santa Claus, I knew I wanted to be a journalist.

One year when I was seven years old, a large package appeared under the tree. I didn't open that package first. I saved it for last.

I thrive on suspense.

But the first package I opened was typing paper. I knew Santa had brought me a gift that would forever chart my life's course.

I opened the large package to find a Buddy L typewriter. Buddy L makes durable toys. My mother probaby figured I would be banging on the typewriter like a curmodgeon journalist, even at seven years old.

Photo of New York Times newsroom back when reporters used typewriters/Pixabay

Santa Claus always came to the house when I would ride with mom or dad to take grandma home.

My parents would point to a red light glowing atop the water tower near our house. They would tell me that's Rudolph's red nose, and for a while I believed it.

They told me if I would ride along to take grandma home, Santa would come while I was gone.

In my mind, Rudolph flew down from the water tower and landed Santa's sleigh on my roof. Down the chimney he went, I thought.

In reality, mom and dad got the presents out of the attic.

Two-toned blue Buddy L "easy-writer"

My typewriter was a masculine two-toned blue. I had a great Christmas photo of me pounding out stories on it lying under the tree.

I remember typing up reports that Christmas Eve about Native Americans and Abraham Lincoln. When I was in second grade, those were my favorite topics.

I'm part Native American (a small part) and appreciate Native American culture.

Abrahram Lincoln to me was the finest president who ever lived -- he freed the slaves.

I write a bit about modern-day slavery, human trafficking, even now.

I wish I had kept my Buddy L typewriter. I found one online for $20 but it's broken.

Still, it would make a great conversation piece for my apartment. Maybe I'll buy it for myself for Christmas.

Table centerpiece goes up in flames

I was too busy pounding out hot stories that Christmas to pay attention to anything else.

A candle on the dining room table centerpiece burned too low. It set the holiday centerpiece ablaze.

I remember mom and dad freaking out about the fire and furiously throwing water on it. It turned out to be a big, smoky, stinky mess.

The poor little poodle was so nervous it vomited all over the carpet. Mom and dad were cussing.

Under the circumstances, the smoke and water damage turned out to be pretty minimal, thank goodness.

For me as a journalist, the house fire was exciting. I had breaking news to write about.

I did write about the fire. My story was published in the Eagles Editorial, the newspaper of Eugene Field Elementary School, Rock Island, Ill.

I wish I still had the newspaper. It was heavy stock 8 1/2 by 11 paper, folded.

I remember writing a very dramatic story about the house fire. A writer never should use exclamation points -- maybe three in a career -- and I used about a dozen in my first "police beat" story.

Buddy L typewriter my best present ever

Looking back, the Buddy L typewriter Christmas was my favorite Christmas ever.

It meant so much that mom and dad -- I mean, Santa -- listened to me when I told them I wanted to be a journalist. All journalists need a typewriter, I explained.

Mary Tyler Moore had one. Lou Grant had one.

And then, I even got to cover my first house fire. It felt so good to bang those keys with the energy of a journalist cranking out a big story.

I always have been a key clanker. It's good exercise.

Back in the day, even before the electric typewriter, you had to strike manual typewriter keys hard.

I remember feeling high off the smell of the ink from my Buddy L's ribbon.

The clickety-clicks of the keys sent waves of motivating electrinity down my spine.

I knew I was going into the news businss for as long as I can remember. But when I got my typewriter, it was like giving a musician an instrument.

I've had a lot of computers through the years, but I only owned one typewriter. My Buddy L, the typwriter Santa brought me way back in 1977.


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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at community newspapers in Southern California and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am proof that people can rebound from even severe mental illness with proper treatment. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living in the Mile High City. You can email me news releases and story ideas at

Denver, CO

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