Welcome to “How You Living?” a transformative podcast featuring best-selling author, inspirational speaker and minister, Dr. Rick Rigsby—and, now, Dr. Rick.
Dr. Rigsby: Hello, friends. I am so you could join me today. I want to talk to you about true value. No, not the hardware chain store here in the United States, but a typewriter and how that typewriter helped me to discover the meaning of true value.
Now, why devote an entire podcast episode to a typewriter? To answer that question, you have to go back with me in time. Here's the backstory. Let's go back to 1968. For some of you, I realize 1968 is nostalgia. For others, 1968 is ancient history. [01:01.7]
Who was president in 1968? Lyndon Baines Johnson. We were involved in a war in Vietnam. Sadly, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated within two months of each other. In 1968, the top television shows included Star Trek, Bonanza, The Carol Burnett Show, The Beverly Hillbillies, and my favorite show, Batman.
In 1968, the average income, $7,700. You could buy a new home for $26,000. The average new car cost about 2,500. You could get a Mustang hardtop for under $3,000.
My parents were listening to Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. They were listening to junior Walker & the All Stars, and Jimmy Smith. Otis Redding was “sittin’ on the dock of the bay” and Aretha Franklin was asking “for a little respect.” Come on, somebody. [02:00.0]
I'm 12 years old, and my world is perfect. Why? Because I'm riding a Stingray bicycle with a banana seat. I've got my AM radio. I even have one of those earplugs, so that I could listen to my transistor radio while I'm riding my bicycle. I'm listening to the Monkeys and the Turtles, and the Doors and the Beatles. Glen Campbell is talking about a “Wichita lineman.” Van Morrison is talking about a “brown-eyed girl”. James Brown is in a “cold sweat.” The Temptations are on “Cloud Nine” and sly and the family stone are “dancing to the music.” Come on, y'all.
For a dollar, you could go to the movies and see a double feature. I remember seeing Planet of the Apes. We even got a glimpse into the future. We actually saw Siri or the prototype of Siri in this movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey. How many of you remember the line, “Hello, Dave, you're looking well today”? [03:01.0]
In 1968, I was in junior high school. I was at Vallejo Junior High School in Vallejo, Calif., my hometown, about 30 miles north of San Francisco. And my two favorite classes in junior high? Speed reading and typing. I could have cared less about those classes. I went to those classes because that's where the girls were. I shocked myself when I fell in love with typing, and then I begged my parents for a typewriter. There was just one little problem. The cheapest typewriter in 1968 was about $39. We couldn't afford that kind of money for a typewriter. The best route according to my folks, fill some redemption books with either Blue Chip or S&H green stamps. Now, this would take months, possibly even years, and a junior high student just didn't have that kind of time. [04:03.1]
One day, though, my mother came home on a Saturday morning and she said, “Ricky, I've got a huge surprise for you.” She'd been out all morning. She said, “Go outside to the car. Open the trunk and take a look.” I ran outside. I was expecting something like a brand new pair of shoe skates. Come on, somebody. What did I find? An Underwood, an old Underwood No. 5 Standard typewriter. Oh, boy. Then my mother proclaimed, “And I only paid $5 for it at a yard sale.”
Just a little background. The original Underwood No. 5 Standard typewriter was first introduced back in 1899. It was the result of 30 years of innovation. It became the gold standard in offices in the early 20th century. But, friends, this was 1968. Portable typewriters were cool, not ugly, bulky Underwoods. I hated that thing. [05:14.4]
And while classmates had typewriters made by Smith Corona, Royal, Olympia, and Brother, I'm dragging TO school a machine and a bowling ball bag. Y’all, I was so embarrassed. My friends laughed. Girls laughed. Everybody laughed.
Then a funny thing happened. I began using the typewriters so much, I actually forgot about being embarrassed. I discovered a class called journalism. The only reason I enrolled is because my secret crush, Danny Jensen, was in that class. I loved Danny. She beautiful. She's a dear friend to this day. Even developed a crush on my journalism teacher, Mrs. Vegan, who is a cherished friend also to this day. It's a little embarrassing because I'm sure they're listening. [06:11.5]
But here's the point. Within the span of a few years, I became editor of the school paper. I became layout editor of our junior high school yearbook, and I was elected ninth grade class president, and my $5 Underwood's standard number five typewriter was with me every step of the way.
In fact, the typewriter traveled across the street from Vallejo Junior High School to Vallejo Senior High School, and then on to California State University, Chico. That's right. My Underwood Standard No. 5 typewriter made the trip with me to college. [06:56.1]
Now, why am I telling you this story? Friends, we often have no idea how valuable people are or how treasured some possessions may be. At the moment we failed to see the real value. Our tendency is to assign status in order to value people. Money is the calculation for valuing things. The fondest memories of my life have absolutely nothing to do with status or money.
I couldn't see the value of the typewriter because I was blinded by what I thought I needed. That typewriter taught me a lifelong lesson. There's a big difference between need and want, and understanding that difference can change your life. Often, value is blinded by greed, blinded by what we think we need. The Underwood Standard No. 5 typewriter now forever enshrined in the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., the Underwood Standard No. 5 typewriter that my mother bought at a yard sale for $5 sells today on eBay for between 200 and 400 U.S. dollars.
The Underwood Standard No. 5 typewriter is among my most cherished possessions. That's right, a replica of an 1899 word processor, a machine that Momma bought because her child needed a typewriter.
Oh, Momma, I wish you were here so I could say thank you. Thank you for teaching me that true value really has nothing to do with money. Thank you for teaching me the difference between need and want.
My mother's name was Viola Benjamin Rigsby. She passed away about 20 years ago, but her memory lives on and her lessons are etched indelibly upon the placard of my heart. [09:09.7]
Viola Benjamin Rigsby. I named my Underwood after her. My Underwood is affectionately known as St. Vi. She sits on a table next to me in my office, and even though the old machine doesn't work like at once did, it continues to serve a purpose, where, you see, each day when I look at St. Vi, I think of the wisdom of my mother and her simple lesson on what true value really is. Thank you, Momma. Thank you so much for teaching a lifelong lesson to your son.
Friends, that's going to do it for this episode. Until we meet again, this is Dr. Rick asking you the most important question I can ask, how you livin’? [10:05.0]
Are you ready to make an impact in your world right now? Do you want to stop existing and start living your best life right now? Dr. Rick wants to give you the first chapter of his bestselling book, “Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout”, absolutely free. Just go to www.RickRigsby.com/FreeGift to get the print or audiobook right now.
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