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Basement Wonderland: 1965

Basement Wonderland: 1965

The model castle my friend and I made from cardboard, construction paper and Christmas tree lights in my basement. It's about three feet tall; openings gave views into three-dimensional mini-diorama scenes. From the left, a Victorian parlor opening to the hall where Alice in Wonderland (a cut-out from a comic book) meets the talking Doorknob. Out of sight above, a window shows her fall down the rabbit hole. Next, Alice's forest meeting with the Cheshire Cat, who appears and disappears via a rear-illuminating blinking light. The castle has a moonlit courtyard, bright ballroom and a fire-lit dungeon. A chapel with flying buttresses and rose window has pipe organ music supplied by a small loudspeaker inside. We cut up the strings of lights to get them into the right positions, joining the wires with electrical tape. It's a wonder we didn't burn the house down. The inspiration was the diorama scenes inside Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle. This Kodachrome really doesn't do it justice, but trying to get a good exposure was devilishly difficult. I'd been describing my work on this project to my new acquaintance in our sophomore year at Redwood High; it fired his imagination and soon we were collaborating on it, and thus began a lifelong friendship. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

So now I know

Where my ex-wife got the plans for that house we never built. Seriously, that is one nicely created project and I wonder if He Whom I Won't Name is done pounding sand.

Missed Point

Chiming in late, of course, but I think Tom just missed the point; all pictures are perfect as they reflect a time or a place that can only live in our memory. In 30 years, this picture will be as treasured as any peek into the past, regardless of origin. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

Tom, take a flying leap

into other parts of cyberspace. I think I can speak for others when I say, "We LOVE Tterrace's stuff!"

Keep 'em coming tterrace!

tterrace, you keep those pics coming regardless of what the likes of Tom and other bellyachers say. I always look forward to your pics, and feel I know your whole family now!

Anyway, back to the diorama - fantastic work! This is the type of creative work from children that seems so lacking today. I'm gonna show this pic to the kids tonight as they are Disney heads like their old man.

Bobby Sherman

When he was about 12 years old, 1960s teen idol Bobby Sherman built a replica of Disneyland's Main Street. I was a studio teamster and during a delivery to his house, he showed it to me. It was a bit dilapidated, but amazingly well built and detailed for a young boy to build. I Googled it to see if there was anything on the web about his old diorama and found that he built an even larger and grander version for his kids.

Tom just doesn't get it

I've been collecting old photos for years - tintypes, CDVs, studio portraits, snapshots, even old photo albums. If I came across color snapshots at a flea market I tossed them aside as too "new." I became a fan of Shorpy because it gave me a daily fix of black-and-white life from long ago. Then tterrace started posting his family photos, many in color, many from the 1960s and '70s. Maybe it's his skill as a photographer or maybe it's his storytelling ability and keen sense of humor, but I've been hooked on his images from the start. Keep 'em coming, tterrace, and when you finally publish that photo book we're all waiting for, I'll be the first to buy it.

Parallel Universe

I am about the same age as Tterrace. I am also of Italian ancestry. In the time I’ve been viewing the photos on Shorpy, I have not seen a single photo by Tterrace that has not made me smile, or moved me to tears, as it captured the essence of his life and family through the years; so much in parallel with mine. If anyone is in tune with the spirit of Shorpy, he is.

Post on, paisan!

RE: Tom's complaint

Brings to mind the old Chris Ledoux song "Five-Dollar Fine for Whining." Shorpy is not Tom's to run, so he can go pound sand if he's not happy.

Humble (but strongly felt) opinion

Well, first here's a definition of Shorpy from the site:

By creating a free account on Shorpy you can share your own vintage photographs. Visitors to the site are particularly interested in images from the dawn of photography to the 1940s.

This sounds like a friendly guideline, not a hard and fast rule. tterrace's posts here fall into the category of vintage photography so I'd say they are appropriate.

I cherish the whole albums and groups of photos in my collection because they provide a deeper look into the time, place and people, including the photographer. Here at Shorpy I'm a big fan of tterrace for the same reason, plus we get commentary by the photographer, plus he's amusing (and evidently has always been that way.)

If you wanted to placate the complainer, could you offer two types of subscriptions - one for just official blog content and one that includes user submissions as well?

I stand amazed!

What a great snap of an even greater creation! Ingenuity and creativity abound! Can't help but ask, "What ever became of this construction paper fantasy?" Kind regards, Anthony

RE: Tom's complaint

At some point, I hope to start uploading some of my old Family photos (including the famous "Bicycle built for three" of my at that time very young newly wedded parents, circa 1956). Not having been born since 1966, Tom's criteria don't work in that case for many of the most interesting photos I could upload.

So I say "Nay, Nay, Tom.... any OLD photo, of a different, now long gone, era, is somewhat acceptable, if it meets Dave's criteria... and I've never seen Dave say there was an absolute cutoff of 1950. As such, expect a few early 1970s and maybe, just maybe, a few early 1980s pictures at some point from ME."

Oh, and if I can find some working 610 film, I might break out my antique camera and take a few modern old time photos.

[Our photo submission guidelines prohibit images less than 20 years old. - Dave]

Re: Subject: Improper Photograph

I can't wait for the torrent of emails in response to this query. Perhaps Tom could create and maintain his own photoblog.

Keep 'em coming tterrace and Dave and thanks for all you do.

Subject: Improper Photograph

From Tom, who perhaps is not familiar with our long tradition of weekend posts by Tterrace, and the hundreds of photos he has submitted:

On 8-20-11 tterance posted a photograph entitled Basement Wonderland: 1965. This photograph should not be in Shorpy for several reasons. It is not an historical photograph during the Shorpy stated period up to 1950 but rather a photo of a high school project from 1965. While the work is rather good for a high school student it is a waste of my time to receive photos of this nature. It belongs in a Yahoo hobby group where it would be appropriate. If Shorpy starts allowing this type of photo the usefullness for Shorpy will be severly impaired. I enjoy Shorpy and refer to it regularly. Please don't diminish its quality.

I liked this picture and suggested that tterrace submit it. What do you think?

The Joy of Being a Teen

I and you tterrance, were apparently soul mates, or at least brain mates, 3000 miles apart and about 5 years different.

The joy of being a teenager in the summer was that you had an adult body with all the hand/eye coordination, tools and skills of an adult. But you had a child's responsibility. There was nothing to do.

I too made dioramas in my bedroom. I had a wall of "bookshelves" in that room and I made each one into a different room of a Barbie scale home, creating curtains and rugs and even upholstered furniture (carving and covering styrofoam forms with fabrics to get a bed and a couch). Like yours it had electricity. I made a lamp shade out of toothpicks and silk, and added a tiny bulb on top of a battery. The battery was decorated to be the lamp body. No fire danger in my diorama lights. They were basically flashlights without the flashlight body.

I also trained a bird to sit on my finger and sewed clear plastic seat covers for my car.

I still have the perfect little bed and one of the wing back chairs I made that summer, but when I left for college, my family's house was sold, and with it went the wall parts of the display.

We only had a Polaroid camera and I was not allowed any of its expensive film! But I did get one picture of the bird sitting on some of the furniture. My parents would have it, if it hasn't faded to total brown over the years.

Ah to have all that time again and all that maid service -- never having to cook or clean or do laundry. Just having to find things to do.

Look at this, Uncle Walt!

Let me tell you, Uncle Walt would be amazed and proud of what you did with limited resources.

Castle comments

The castle was a purely personal hobby pursuit, not a school project. Nothing of it remains. I don't remember how long it lasted, but definitely not past about 1978, when we remodeled that part of the basement into my video room. Here's my friend and me in 1985 having a typical conversation:

Old Friends Are Best Friends

The friendships I've maintained since high school have been the most rewarding.


Tterrace, this reminds me of color photos I've seen of the 1939-'40 World's Fair at Treasure Island. The red and purple lights, the monumental shapes, the magical glow -- it's truly beautiful and ethereal. What happened to the diorama?

Holy Mackerel Andy!

This production would be incredibly complicated for ANYONE, let alone a high school sophomore, and I'm feeling mighty inadequate recalling how I used to smugly "WOW" my kids with the baking soda and vinegar paper mache' volcano. I guess this points out the difference in standards between truly gifted creative geniuses and copycat fakers, you being the former. Surely you have kept this amazing invention stored somewhere as a tribute to your ambition and skill. It definitely is a genuine masterpiece and I hope you got a TRIPLE A +++ for your project grade. Just brilliant! Thanks for sharing.

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