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House Movers: 1919

House Movers: 1919

San Francisco circa 1919. "Truck moving house" ("Vista Grande"). Even for 1919, this rig looks ancient. Note the soapbox racer on skate wheels. 5x7 glass negative, formerly of the Wyland Stanley and Marilyn Blaisdell collections. View full size.


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The Wicked Witch of the West

Extreme measures were required to extract her remains from under the house.

All wheel drive?

What in the heck is keeping the front end on the truck on the ground. Seems to me it should be popping a wheelie.


One of the best photos I've seen as far as details go. Awesome.

Not Many Horses

It's amazing what could be done with maybe 60HP, nowadays there's people cutting 2/10 acre lawns with 24. If I had a time machine I'd go back to this task just to listen to that thing working.

Monkey Blood

I'm with Kelpie - if this was a pick-up the boards in the background would likely be compressed into the soft topsoil. Also, the lack of piers or a stemwall, along with the general countenance of ad hoc engineering exhibited by the three guys on the right suggests their plan is to back that heap of a truck up until they are satisfied with placement, build a temporary support frame, ease the truck out from under the structure, and then leave the whole rickety mess for stonemasons to build stone piers under the corners and center joists.

Ol' Goober had a street racer not unlike "No.9" featured here. The front right skate had some bad bearings, and my maiden run ended when seized wheels caused the contraption to veer sharply in that direction throwing my gravity over the left of center axis resulting in a rollover and road rash on my left ear and head-bone. I remember my grandmother trying to debride the wound of tar and dirt while I wailed and writhed on the front porch. The only thing worse than tweezers and hot soapy water was the monkey blood *shudder*.

Goober Pea

Solid Rubber Tires & Chain Drive

Though I can't identify the truck, I do see many enjoyable details in this photo !

The truck has solid rubber tires and a chain drive. If that chain breaks, there will be no "engine braking", and the driver will have to hope the mechanically-linked brakes are sufficient.

The truck has acetylene headlights, but the seem to be disused - which implies daylight use only.

Note the hand crank for starting. This goes along with the acetylene headlights; the truck dates from before vehicles had electrical systems.

The hurricane-style kerosene lantern seems to have a red globe. Perhaps it is used as a warning light when something has to be left on the street overnight.

At times when one's modern. computerized vehicle is in the shop for some complex and expensive repair, one might wish for a simple vehicle such as this, but then one remembers the blessings of things like two-section hydraulic power brakes, real headlights, and the electric start ! Not to mention an all-weather cab !

I might add that the driver looks like perhaps he did not start the day in clean clothes!

Birth of the RV

Dodge Ramshackle


This is a Mack Sennett/Charlie Chaplin movie waiting to happen.

[Buster Keaton in "One Week." -tterrace]

Earthquake relief shacks?

This reminds me of the little houses that were built for temporary housing after the 1906 quake and fire. In 1974 I lived in a house made from two of them at 300 Cumberland Street - they are still there, and they DO have a "Grande Vista" over downtown: I imagine moving them was a bit like this.

50-50 Chance

I wonder if this is a pick up or a delivery. I'm going for delivery.

The Writing on the Wall(s)

Ed was here in 1919; "Vista Grande."

Why Doesn't the Truck Teeter-Totter?

When I look at the length of the truck bed and the length of the side of the house, I'd guess that the house must be about 4-5 feet longer than the truck. Given the house's weight, I don't understand why the truck is not tipped on its back wheels with the front wheels in the air. The house must be about perfectly balanced on the truck.

And even if it is perfectly balanced, I would think that going over the curb would cause the truck to tip. (This is where we need Paul Harvey to tell us "The Rest of the Story.")

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