Mary Adelman, 89, Fixer of Broken Typewriters, Is Dead

Mary Adelman, 89, Fixer of Broken Typewriters, Is Dead


“Every time you’d go there, it was always filled with people, that little shop — crammed with people,” one longtime customer, the playwright Peter Shaffer, the author of “Equus,” said in 2001. “It was like the cabin scene in ‘A Night at the Opera.’ You couldn’t get in the door.”

Murray Schisgal, who typed out his play “The Typists” in the 1960s, called the time he spent in Mrs. Adelman’s shop “the best hours I spent with people other than my bartender.” And Walter Wager, who wrote the novel that was the basis for the film “Die Hard 2,” said the shop “was almost a local pub for writers in the community, a mini-Algonquin.”

Mrs. Adelman was the centerpiece. “She was the serene, courteous, efficient, get-it-done aunt,” Mr. Wager said, “and you respected her.”

Photo

A technician, Steven Mancini, fixing the carriage on a typewriter at Osner Business Machines, Mrs. Adelman’s shop on the Upper West Side in 1999.

Credit
Dith Pran/The New York Times

She was born Marie Golinski on March 2, 1928, in Antwerp, Belgium, the daughter of Morris Golinski, who later worked as a tailor, and his wife, Caroline. A Jewish couple, they wanted to name their daughter Miriam after the sister of Moses and Aaron in the Old Testament, but were forced to choose a different name from a registry that Mrs. Adelman said did not permit Jewish names. Her family did not know precisely when or why she became Mary.

After fleeing Belgium, and the occupying Nazis, with her mother, sister and brother in 1941, she lived in London; her father followed them several months later. She moved to Canada in 1954 and soon began a long-distance romance with Stanley Adelman, who had been born in Dabrowa Gornicza, Poland, and had been held in five concentration camps in World War II.

They had been introduced by a cousin of hers who knew Mr. Adelman. Living in New York, Mr. Adelman drove to Toronto to see her every weekend until their wedding on Dec. 24 that year.

Mr. Adelman, who had learned to repair typewriters in Munich after he was released, had met the Manhattan shop’s original owner, Karl Osner, in 1951 and went to work there when Mr. Osner’s one employee quit. Mrs. Adelman joined her husband after he took over the Osner shop in 1968. She presided over the counter.

After her husband was injured in a bicycling accident in 1984 and retired, Mrs. Adelman kept the shop going, supervising typewriter technicians. He died in 1995. The shop closed in 2001.

At her death Mrs. Adelman was living in an assisted-living facility not far from Ms. Taswell and another daughter, Frederica Adelman Gulezian, whose homes are in Maryland.

Besides them, Mrs. Adelman is survived by a brother, Philip Golinski, and four grandchildren.

As the years passed and typewriters were overtaken by word processors and then personal computers, Mrs. Adelman complained that they made writing too easy.

“Just press the button, and the computer will do it,” she said in a segment on the CBS News magazine “48 Hours” that began with the correspondent Dan Rather calling typewriters “road kill on the information highway.”

Such convenience, Mrs. Adelman said, “has done away with craftsmanship.”



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