Writers’ FriendMary Adelman

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Born in Belgium as Marie Golinski, her family fled the Nazis to London, and then Canada, where she got into a long-distance relationship with Stanley Adelman, who survived five concentration camp internments and had emigrated to the U.S. He worked at a typewriter repair shop in Manhattan; she married him in 1954, and they bought the shop when the owner retired in 1968. He worked in the back, doing repairs; she worked the counter, dealing with customers. Osner Business Machines, named for the man who opened it in 1941, was the place for New York writers to take their machines. The Adelmans kept their machines going so they could write: screenwriter Nora Ephron (When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle), novelist Joseph Heller (Catch-22), playwright David Mamet (Glengarry Glen Ross), novelist Philip Roth (Portnoy’s Complaint, American Pastoral), and many others. “Every time you’d go there, it was always filled with people, that little shop — crammed with people,” said playwright Peter Shaffer (Equus, Amadeus). “It was like the cabin scene in ‘A Night at the Opera.’ You couldn’t get in the door.” Mr. Adelman was injured in an accident in 1984 and retired (and died in 1995); Mrs. Adelman hired technicians to continue the repair work. But business slowed down as more and more writers left typewriters behind in favor of word processors, and then computers. “Just press the button, and the computer will do it,” she sighed. Sure computers are easier, but the transition “has done away with craftsmanship,” she complained. Adelman closed the shop in 2001, and died November 22, from dementia. She was 89.

From This is True for 26 November 2017