Typing Class at Central High

When I toured  what we think of as Central High School last fall, I went into what had been the typing classroom. Mrs. Bedwell, the communications arts teacher, said the green typing desk, green cabinets and shelves were left over from our era.

I didn’t take a typing class. My Dad had a typewriter, and I started pecking at it when I was in about the first grade, definitely long before I was exposed to cursive writing.

Drudge work improved vocabulary

My handwriting was so bad that my dad, who had beautiful writing, made me do exercises to improve it. He’d have me do page after page of cursive exercises, then graduated to make me copy the dictionary. My writing didn’t improve, but my vocabulary sure did.

Pre-computer-age spellchecker

This, my child, is what a mid-20th-century spell checker looked like. It operated on a form of sneaker-net. If you weren’t sure how to spell a word, you got your tail off the chair and walked over to this big book. The bad thing is that you had to sort of know how to spell the word before you could look up the spelling of the word. It did not run on batteries and only one person could access it at a time (unless you were both looking for the same word).

1964 Typing Teachers

It wasn’t mentioned in The Missourian or the yearbook copy, but this 1964 Girardot photo of Central’s Business Department indicates there was some horrific accident that resulted in Lucille Adams’ body being grafted to Katheryn Wulfer’s head, and her fingers to become implanted in Cornelia Gockel’s shoulder. Jerry Wommel is pretending not to notice.

1964 Typing Club

The 1964 Girardot photo of the Typing Club doesn’t indicate the students were present when the accident involving the typing teachers occurred. The 1965 yearbook doesn’t list a Typing Club, so the accident may have had some residual traumatic effect on recruitment.

1964 Competent Typists

These students were recognized as Competent Typists. It doesn’t say what they had to do to earn the title.

1965 Business Department

By 1965, everyone had their body parts in the right places. Mr. Wommel still looks like he’d prefer to be somewhere else.

Green cabinets were original

Mrs. Bedwell she had heard that the new gray desks were being manufactured by prisoners, but she wasn’t sure if that was true or not. The green cabinets were there in the 60s.

Classroom doors are the same

Here’s the entrance to the old typing room.

View from typing room window

Except for the new gym, the view out the window looks pretty much the same. I don’t remember if the covered walkway was there when we were in school, though.

29 Replies to “Typing Class at Central High”

  1. I remember taking typing. My mother made me take it. I was terrible because they took off points for looking at the keys. I still look at the keys! Interestingly enough, my life has turned out fine in spite of not typing properly!

    1. I got to where I could use most of my fingers, but I’m far from being a formal typist.

      I type about 140 characters a minute. There are two problems with that: I can only think at about 35 characters a minute and about 70 of my 140 characters are backspaces.

      Don Gordon, at The Missourian, was a two-finger typist that went so fast you’d think the keys would melt.

  2. Ken,
    I love the picture of the DICTIONARY, a book far too many young people know little about these days.
    I enjoyed typing, and I received all three of the little pins awarded. Typing proved to be an invaluable skill in College life.
    Thank you for all the memories you evoke!

  3. I had Miss Gockel for typing and knew Mrs Wulfers and Lucille Adams back in the in the late 40’s and in 1950
    The pictures of all three ladies brings back a lot memories. These ladies were teachers at the old Central High School—-Louis Schultz where I graduated from. Enjoy your e-mail everyday about Central High School.

  4. a, s, d, f, j, k, l, ‘sem’…at the time it seemed like such a “blow off” class, but to this day I type with my fingers on the correct keys, thanks to Mr. Aeschlimann and typing class.

    And Ken, I love that you still call the new gym the “new gym” – it was constructed when I was at CHS and is now over 30 years old, but it will always and forever be the “new gym” to me, too.

  5. It was great to see the business teachers, I think all but Mr Woemmel were there when I was in school. I took one semester of typing with Mrs Adams. I felt I needed it for college. I wasn’t a good typist.

    My Senior year, I took Business Math with Mrs Wulfers. I was just looking for something “easy” for a credit. Definitely looking for something with no homework so that it wouldn’t affect my social activities, such as they were. Mrs Wulfers, that stern looking teacher, turned out to be a sweetheart. Over the years, I have found out that Business math was one of the most practical classes I ever took.

    Oh yes, I solved my typing problem. I married a business teacher!

  6. I agree with Bill and his perception vs reality concerning Mrs. Wulfers. During class one day, out of the blue, she asked me to help supervise/chaperone her daughter’s Girl Scout troop’s weekend camping trip. Being able to bunk with the adults allowed me to see that softer side of her.

  7. “Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country……” Sounds familiar to me! Good to see these pictures, but the “big book of knowledge” is really special. I can’t wait to show this to my grandchildren – since there isn’t anything like that in their school today.

    Thanks for the picture out the window, too. Nice memories- good job1

  8. I had Mrs. Wulfers probably in her later years a a teacher in the 70’s. She was stern and I never ever saw her smile.

  9. Remember when Billy Miller appeared on the “Ted Mack Amateur Hour”. Does anyone know if his singing career was sucessful?

    1. Van, and the rest…Billy Miller ended up in the San Francisco area and sang out there. I believe he passed away 30 years ago or so…might have the other guys online check that out. Little know fact, Billy Miller was the fastest guy in the 7th grade and was the only 7th grader to run on the 8th grade track team. We did not have track in the 8th grade due to budget cuts…so who know who was the fastest?

  10. Mary Lou, my mother made me take it too. It kept me off the honor roll so I went to my counselor’s office and dropped it. My mom contacted the school and said I would take it and so back to the keys I went.

    Mom thought it was a very valuable tool for women in the 1960s to know. She was right. Focusing in the communication area, I have needed the skill throughout life and am a fast and accurate typist … but still struggle with the numbers and have to take a peek from time to time of where they sit on the key board.

    Ken and Mary Lou, thanks for the pricking our memories.

  11. Cornelia Gockel: “Keep your eyes on the copy. Keep your eyes on the copy.”

    I remember it well!

  12. Although a few years later than 1964…I had Mr. Woemmel for typing in 1978. Took Typing 1 & Typing 2 and was probably the best practical class I ever had. Its a skill I use every day. Several years ago I installed computer cabling in that same typing room.

  13. The worst grade I made in high school was in typing. In 1975, they had just begun replacing the manual typewriters with electric ones. I was not lucky enough to be assigned the newer version. I was given typing on my schedule because the art class I wanted was full. I was my one and only C.

  14. Mrs. Bedwell she had heard that the new gray desks were being manufactured by prisoners, but she wasn’t sure if that was true or not.

    It is probably 100% true. I am an employee at SEMO and we have a state contract with MVE (Missouri Vocational Enterprise) for desks and stuff. Their “about us” page on the website says

    MVE is committed to developing personal responsibility in offenders through the development of diverse training programs that enhance offender employability and the opportunity for success, while incarcerated and upon release.

    1. Tammy,

      She said the desks worked out very well. She likes to break her classes up into smaller work groups from time to time. They’re well-suited for that.

      I wonder if someone will come back 40 years from now and find them still in service?

  15. Kenny,
    Thank you for the pic of the Trinity Lutheran Kindergarten class. It has my children’s dad in it.
    My girls went to Trinity and loved it. They had Mrs. Kelpe for first grade, their grandfather, and father.
    It was a great school and I hope my granddaughter goes to school there too.

    By the way I was terrible in Mrs or was it Miss Gockel’s typing class.

    Will read your blog always from now on, thanks.


  16. I took typing and thought…crap I will NEVER use this! and here I am typing away on the computer!I took notehand too and…I used it in college to help take notes at times…I have Ms. Adams for both. I think I finally got up to 14.8 words a minute and peaked…I think I got out of the class because they did not want me back. Little did I know the computer was lurking in the background and would take over our lives in the 1980’s and the internet which enslaved us to increasing knowledge in the 1990’s.

  17. Had Mrs. Adams for typing in high school. Think I peaked at 15 WPM with 4 errors. Thought – I would never use it again.
    Took it again in College to get some Bus. Minor hours. Peaked at 25 WPM with 3 errors. That was a C-. Knew – I would never use it.
    Was named the “Captains Writer” on my ship in the Navy typing all official correspondence and all Officer Service Records for a crew of 650+. Thank god they invented “White-Out”. Swore – I would never use it again.
    Got my first computer in the early 80s, and had to learn to type again. Al Gore invented the Internet and “Spell Check” and now I’m finally an accomplished typist, because I don’t care how many words I Misspell or errors I make. Doing about 15 WPM again, but with 0 errors.
    Like Bill Murray said in Caddie Shack, “so…. I got that goin for me.”

  18. I took typing as my Practical Art to graduate from high school and worked my way up to 33 WPM. I didn’t type much again until my workplace phased out dictation to the steno pool and gave us desktop computers to write our own copy. I got a lot faster quickly. I thought I was a good speller until I got Spell Check. It was quite an eye opener.

  19. Ruth Wilson sat to my right in typing class and at the start of a timed test I would try to keep up with her. Yeah, right!Ticety tack,tickety tack, DING! And I was still makeing sure I was on the home keys. And who was that up front that sat with her leg curled up under her and chewing gum? The rest of us, “Sit up straight with your feed flat on the floor and get rid of that gum”. Somehow she had a medical deferment about her nervous nature and was prone to chewing on the insides of her cheeks. At the end of the semester Mrs. Wulfers was calling us up in small groups to geve out info about books and supplies needed for the next semester. When it looked like she had finished and I haddn’t been called up yet I brought it to her attention. “Dick, you’re not going to pass this semester”. I finished out the year in a science class.

  20. I took Typing I and II and loved it. I typed on an IBM Selectrics. I think they were pretty new in 1976. I wonder what my WPM would be today on one of those.

  21. I was teaching at Central in 1966, and the walkway was there then, leading over to the junior high, where they banished me in 67, because there wasn’t enough room for all the high school classes at Central (and I had declined to take the Red Dagger Drama Club a second year).
    I loved your comments about the “horrific accident” in the business department before the days of Photo Shop!

  22. In the early/mid seventies, typing class was required if you were interested in applying for “The Tiger.” Our typing class had electric typewriters, and I also had one at home to practice on. When I successfully passed typing and Journalism I, I applied for “The Tiger” staff. My friends said, “But that’s for nerds!” I replied, “Not anymore.” I became the youngest Associate Editor to date (in 1975) as a high school Junior, and went on to edit the school newspaper my Senior year. Knowing how to type has served me well, thanks to my CHS typing class! And, in this age of even more modern technology, I can’t imagine not knowing your way around a keyboard. All hail the CHS typing class of days gone by…

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