The Public Market’s Ten Cent Author Tells Tales on his Typewriter

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Everyone has a story, and if you go to Rochester’s Public Market, Karl Smith could be the one to tell it.

“I believe in making the world a stranger and more whimsical place, you know?” Smith said. “Whimsy is something that’s sorely lacking in this world.”

Using an old Montgomery Ward Model 22 typewriter purchased at a garage sale for five bucks, the PhD candidate in biophysics takes requests which pretty much run the gamut.

“When I first started doing this people would always ask for stories about their dogs,” Smith said. “People will ask me for advice about things that are troubling them, like I have some sort of insight into the problem in their lives. It’s really interesting.”

Now all of this does come at a price; a very small price.

“You know, I don’t make much money with it,” Smith said. “Then ten cent story thing, it’s just so I’m not sitting her writing free stories.

Smith says his stories do seem to make people smile, and that makes him smile.

“I feel like people, because I’m a stranger, I’m never going to see them again, and because I’m interested in their story, feel like there’s some kind of weird dynamic there and they feel like they can tell me anything, and they really can,” Smith said.

While folks wait for their stories to be told, there’s no room for writer’s block.

“And when it works, man it’s a great feeling,” he said. “You have a weird story and it’s not going anywhere and it’s like, ‘that’s the ending!’”

The ending, the payoff, that’s when Karl Smith knows he just made someone’s day.

“But really it’s about, I love the opportunity to writer, but it’s about the people and the stories, and it’s my love letter to Rochester. That’s what it is.”

Spectrum customers get full access
to all our video, including our live stream.