Eight million people live in New York City. The great metropolis needs no more
introduction than that, but Paul Schweitzer does.
Paul, at 72 years old with thinning silver hair, stands like a relic from a bygone
era in a three-piece, tailored suit and tells us that he ﬁxes typewriters for a living.
On its face, especially in today's 24-hour tweet-a-thon, who Paul is and what he
does might be forgettable. We would click through or change his channel, but
Paul's story needs to be told precisely because he makes up the fabric of this city,
this country. He's a regular guy, the kind we see a million times a day on an
Uptown A or the cross town express. We've seen him in elevators and in giant
lobbies on Park Avenue and once in a awhile we might even ask 'what's he up to?'
But the latte is ready and the phone buzzes and when we look again, he's gone.
The facts of Paul and his ancient yet still surviving business have all been
relayed before: the smaller-than-it-once-was ofﬁce across from the FlatIron
building, near Madison Square Park. The "No Credit Cards" sign hanging neatly
above that battleship of a desk. The ringing of a telephone and the surprise when
Paul or his son Justin picks up the line. But to see Paul in action, working in the
back room on an Olivetti or an Underwood is something like conﬁrming Mays
actually played center ﬁeld. We know it happened. We've seen the video, the
catch, the throw,the smile, but we have nothing to touch or point to.
Except Paul Schweitzer still very much exists. The craft of supplying and
maintaining typewriters not so much in need as it was when Mays roamed the
Polo Grounds, but like the ribbon eating machines he services, there is still
something to point to, to touch, still someone making house calls to ﬁx an
Underwood or Olivetti.
The phone will ring in the small 5th Avenue ofﬁces and Paul will pick up. The
keys on an electric are jammed down on Broadway. A few essentials taken down
with pen and paper and he's off, physician's bag by his side, to ply the trade he's
been in for more than 50 years. To ply the trade that so very few in this world
can, that so few of this eight million could even imagine still exists.
The Morning Email helps you start your workday with everything you need to know: breaking news, entertainment and a dash of fun. Learn more