JUNE 1, 2006 -- It's hard to find someone who still uses a typewriter. It's even harder to find someone who still repairs them.
Typing on a keyboard at a workbench in his shop outside Burgaw, Ron Ely practices a trade that is almost extinct. If there's a typewriter in need of repair anywhere around here, chances are, he's the man who will fix it.
At 75, Ely is still at it. He says people are loyal to their typewriters, but even they use the machines less and less. And as typewriters are in less demand, so is Ely.
"I cover a 150 mile radius and don't work but about one or two days a week at it. I've had to pull my advertisement from the telephone book because I don't get enough business to pay for it."
Although Ely's phone isn't ringing off the hook, typewriters are a part of a larger calling that has taken the repairman all over the world. Deep in Africa, Ely teaches ministers oversees how to repair typewriters so they can spread their faith.
"I was told 20 years ago I'd better learn to do something else because it was going to go away completely in five years. Well it hasn't gone away completely and never will."
And as long as people continue typing, they'll need Ely to keep their machines clicking.