In the spring of 2000 I was writing a column for the Elkhart Truth: a monthly, and sometimes biweekly column focusing on local history. I was working at the Amtrak call center in Chicago at the time, and commuting four days a week on the South Shore Railroad from Michigan City. I'd drive from Elkhart to Michigan City, sleep on the train in the early morning, and work on my columns on the return trip. I needed a laptop. I found a used Compaq LTE Elite 4/50CX at a Jackson Hewitt tax office in South Bend. For the next three years it became part of my life. At the end of 2001 I was asked to do "The Way We Were," a compilation of stories from 25, 50, 75, and 100 years ago. I'd scour the South Shore train for a seat by an outlet, plug in, and copy bits of stories from the photocopies I had made the previous weekend. I'd put the text on a floppy, download it into my PC, and e-mail everything to the paper.
In late 2003, when the Chicago call center closed, I went to Philadelphia, and the laptop went with me. I wrote out a two articles I sold to Classic Trains, for which I was paid, but which the magazine never ran, and one for Remember the Rock, which was published, but did not pay anything. Since I've come back to the Midwest, I haven't had reason to use it, except when going to Chicago for Amtrak block training. I brought it with me this spring, and worked on Things Done and left Undone along with a new post for the blog. But I couldn't transfer it to the floppy. After buying new floppy disks, it was clear that the problem was the disk drive and not the disks.
It would cost too much, I'm sure, to repair the drive in my laptop. And pretty soon, the Windows 95 program won't be compatible with anything. So the old laptop will go into storage. It served me well.