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Video Rewind: Mimeo That!

Updated on December 20, 2017
Sadie Finch (Jean Stapleton- L) wishes Sylvia Barrett (Sandy Dennis) would stop bothering her in Up the Down Staircase
Sadie Finch (Jean Stapleton- L) wishes Sylvia Barrett (Sandy Dennis) would stop bothering her in Up the Down Staircase


Whenever you watch a movie for the umpteenth time chances are you’re going to find something new. At least I do.

When I hunkered down to watch Up the Down Staircase, I found the missing link for this column.

On new teacher Sylvia Barrett’s (Sandy Dennis) first day, she approaches it with nervous excitement. Her excitement turns into mild annoyance when school secretary, Sadie Finch (Jean Stapleton) tries to brush her off while hastily making copy after copy on what appears to be her pride and joy: the mimeograph machine.

Sylvia just wants to know why she has a form for basketball balls (Sylvia is an English teacher after all) and instead of getting an answer, Sadie cranks up the copying. No one messes with Sadie when she’s mimeographing.

I’m not sure if Ditto Stiles (Royal Dano) is related to Sadie, but this teacher in Teachers would rather spend his time at the mimeograph machine rather than teach.

When the school psychologist has had enough on that snowy Monday morning, she erupts like Mt. Vesuvius by covering Ditto in the ink and literally going psycho.

It’s interesting to note that this movie featured security guards, a student/teacher relationship, an abortion and a former student suing for not being able to read. Who would have thought these would be issues today?

The payoff, of course happens in Mr. Hand’s class in Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

If given a choice between a fresh pizza or warm copies off of the mimeograph machine, I think people would choose the latter. How many good sniffs could you get out of freshly (sometimes wet) mimeographed paper? I know I tried to get as much as I could.

Of course mimeograph machines have been replaced by copiers so today kids can’t get that quick cheap thrill. Legally of course.

Maybe we inhaled too much ink during our school years, but for a few shining seconds I think teachers enjoyed the calm it brought.





Ditto (Royal Dano) gets his comeuppance on Monday morning when he hogs the mimeograph machine from his colleagues in 1984’s Teachers
Ditto (Royal Dano) gets his comeuppance on Monday morning when he hogs the mimeograph machine from his colleagues in 1984’s Teachers
Jennifer Jason Leigh (second row left) and classmates would rather sniff freshly mimeographed paper rather than take one of Mr. Hand’s quizzes in Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Jennifer Jason Leigh (second row left) and classmates would rather sniff freshly mimeographed paper rather than take one of Mr. Hand’s quizzes in Fast Times at Ridgemont High

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