Monday, April 15, 2024
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Tom Hanks, typewriters, and a Kailua pen pal

Thanks to my friend Josh Wisch, I’ve had two long-distance brushes with actor Tom Hanks. THE Tom Hanks!

This is a circuitous story, but I’ll try to keep it short. About two years ago, Josh told me about his recent obsession with typewriters and how that led to him writing to Tom Hanks, a known typewriter aficionado, for advice on which models a new collector should get. Mr. Hanks actually wrote back! They traded a few letters, and Josh showed them to me.

I also visited Josh at his home in Kailua to see his typewriter collection, which is impressive and beautiful, and partly curated by one Mr. Tom Hanks. Josh feels compelled to obey any of Hanks’ suggestions for a writing machine, and his lovely wife Malia indulges and obliges. “Who am I to argue with Tom Hanks?” is the logic.

PALM spring 2019 issue

I mentioned this to the magazine editor NMG Network and ended up doing a story for PALM magazine that published earlier this year. Yes, that took a while, and yes, I work slowly lately – in fits and starts.

My letter to Tom Hanks

For the story, I typed an interview question to Hanks and mailed it to his management agency. I did not get the response back in time to include it in the article- and honestly, didn’t expect a response at all, but a few months later, Hanks surprised me by writing back!

Hanks’ response to me

Side note: I like typewriters, but I love computers. Typing the letter to Hanks was cumbersome, albeit fun in that moment. The keys require way more force to hit, and I like the smooth look of perfection, rather than the wabi sabi effect of mistakes on a typed page. But that’s just me.

I was going to blog about it, but – see aforementioned “fits and starts” disclaimer. Turns out, waiting worked out. Josh sent a copy of PALM to Hanks and Hanks wrote back about it! Now I have two Hank episodes to tell you about.

In Hanks’ August 2019 letter, he references PALM and me by name! I know it’s silly, but I can’t believe Tom Hanks said my name and read my work. What a crazy thought!

Hanks’ latest letter to Josh

I’ve grown up watching Hanks’ movies and admire his work. In interviews, he seems genuine, funny, and smart. Now, having these brief first and secondhand experiences with him, I’m won over by his humanity. What a nice guy!

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