Honoring Libby Hunter and the opening of the Urban Legend Institute

by | Apr 12, 2013 | WordPlay | 17 comments

There’s a corner shop in Cincinnati’s Northside adorned with a Shepard Fairey mural.

Through the drizzle you can make out a mysterious sign: Urban Legend Institute.

In the window: typewriters for sale.

And inside: a young man typing on a roll worthy of Jack Kerouac.

Today was the official opening of the Urban Legend Institute, the shop that will help to support WordPlay. No less exciting, it was a celebration honoring WordPlay director Libby Hunter, who was named the first ever Cincinnati Volunteer Citizen of the Year.

Libby (tallest person in my blurry photograph) is an indefatigable dynamo who has created a welcoming, positive, thought-provoking place for kids, and has brought together an amazing number of people and institutions to make the community better. WordPlay has provided tutoring to over 300 kids since it opened just a few months ago. There were many touching tributes to Libby’s leadership.

One of the Urban Legend Institute’s signature offerings is typewriters. Here are a few that I’ve rounded up and gotten ready for sale. (The Halda now has an owner’s manual, thanks to Rob Bowker.)

I’m also offering typewriter service.

Even before the ULI opened, I had some customers; I’ve cleaned and fixed up a Remington Rand 17, an Olympia SM7, and a Holland-made Royal Quiet DeLuxe. (I heard tonight that in the household that owns the SM7 and the Royal, there was delighted squealing when a girl accidentally discovered that her typewriter could type in red. She and two others like to lie on the floor and type side by side.) The profits go to WordPlay and the fun goes to me. What could be better? Running a little typewriter shop has long been this collector’s dream.

When I started blogging by typewriter, I felt that my hobby was coming into its own.

When I completed NaNoWriMo by typewriter, I thought that my hobby had found fulfillment.

But helping others find their way to self-expression through typewriters makes a typewriter guy’s life complete.


  1. Ton S.

    Congratulations to Libby, well-deserved! And congratulations to you for living your "typewriter repairman" dream job, at least, in some measure.

    It's cool to see all those typewriters for sale at Urban Legend. I'd definitely want to drop by and visit when I'm in Cincy.

    Love the Aung San Suu Kyi mural.

  2. - a typebarhead

    That's just fantastic! Congrats to everyone involved. I must visit one day .

  3. - a typebarhead

    That's just fantastic! Congrats to everyone involved. I must visit one day .

  4. Bill M

    Wonderful! I only wish I lived closer. The mural is interesting. Was it there or was it made since WordPlay and Urban Legend Institute?

    I do not know which I like best on the display; the typewriters or the glass display case.

    Congratulations on your repairs as well to Libby for her foresight and work.

  5. Ted

    Wonderful setup! Great success to your new typewriter rejuvination service and to Wordplay's new shop!

    Also, OBEY GIANT!

  6. Ryan Adney

    Kids and typewriters are a perfect combination. I am so happy to see WordPlay flourish. Fantastic. Also, I love that Dr. Polt is now fixing typewriters; "Two squirts of PB Blaster and call me in the morning."

  7. Scott K

    This is a great project. And is truly inspirational. Well done! My the words flow freely.

  8. Steve Snow

    Yep, absolutely well done to all involved. Sounds like you've had more than a little bit to do with this venture's success… I look forward to photos of your typewriter repair shop set up!

  9. Richard P

    Thanks. I just provide some tools, wonderful tools though they are; Libby and the tutors and the kids themselves are doing the most important work.

    You can glimpse my basement typewriter shop here or here or here.

  10. Richard P

    Fairey created the mural in 2010, a couple of years before WordPlay moved in.

    I agree, the display case is very nice, and there's another one (not shown here) which is even more wonderful.

  11. Dwayne F.

    Awesome! You've picked a great cause to support. I hope the repairs are therapeutic and that no one hands you a Noiseless 7 or 8 with a broken drawstring.

  12. Anonymous

    Congratulations to all!
    May the love for typewriters and writing with typewriters never end!

  13. LibbyHunter

    We can't thank you enough for all your support, Richard – your contributions to the ULI have been integral to getting it launched! And many thanks to those in your "typosphere" – to have such wonderful reactions from folks who have not yet experienced it in person is so uplifting. All are welcome to visit us! And Richard, you're right – a typo on the repair service menu, cleaning/lube/ribbon for standards should indeed be $35.

  14. Mr. Smith

    Libby and Richard, this is such a great idea! Fair warning….I've got a few that are in need of new ink and cleaning, and even more in need of some repair. Libby, hope all is well your way!

  15. Mike

    I am so glad I don't live back there anymore, because I would be out a lot of money if I had. I would take both of the typewriters in the front window.


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