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Edge of Night: 1958

Edge of Night: 1958

Castro Valley, Calif., circa 1958. "Accident, Seven Hills Road." One sunburned '55 Ford Fairlane, saved. 4x5 acetate negative from the News Archive. View full size.


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Flash bulbs were powerful.

Press photographers in the 50s typically used GE #5 or Sylvania Press 25 flashbulbs. These had a guide number of about 240 for 100 ASA film - that's 42 feet at f/5.6.

That's a powerful flash

The flash is illuminating the back of the truck, which is awfully far away. Were there such things as extra-jumbo flash bulbs?

Also the dapper tow-truck tech appears to have very highly reflective shoes.


That looks like snow, not faded paint. There are a couple patches on the hood too, where the engine heat could more easily get through to the outer sheet metal, which then condensed in the cold night air and formed frost. But the top is definitely a layer of frosty snow.

[Look up the average low and record low temps for Castro Valley. - Dave]

Yes, well into the 20s and 30s for record lows, and if they came down from mountains, they had plenty of chances to be snowed on. The lighting of the roof snow clearly shows highlights and shadows that indicates a layer of snow, not faded paint. But I was incorrect about the reason for the patches of snow on the hood. I forgot that there are areas where insulation is attached to the underside between the formed crossbeams. So those areas stay cooler and don't melt.

License plates

The license plate frame outlines the shape of California tags prior to 1956. In 1956 all states standardized the size and shape of their license plates. That standard is still in use today.


Besides a fresh coat of paint, I'm guessing the Ford could use a thorough cleaning of the driver's seat cushion after this near-miss.

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