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There Was a Crooked House: 1962

There Was a Crooked House: 1962

Shorpy being the Historic American Photo Archive, and me being American and at this point in my life historic, I present from my archive a nighttime photo experiment I performed in winter 1962 while a teenage camera geek. This is how I made this time-exposure of our Larkspur, California house: I turned on all the lights in the front-facing rooms, also those on the porches and front walk, and added one more (my desk lamp) below the front porch. I set up the camera (an old c. 1920 folding job) in the cactus garden, opened the shutter, ran down to the bottom of that stairway and wrote out my name with a little flashlight, then ran back up and closed the shutter. Voilà! I used that old camera, a Kodak Folding Autographic Brownie 2A, because it was the only one around the house then that could take time exposures. No tripod receptacle, so I had to balance it on something or other. (I know it's winter because of the burlap sacks covering the lantana for frost protection. Oh, and before you ask, no, we're not related to the Addams family.) Scanned from the original "116" 2½ x 4¼ negative, slightly cropped at top. View full size.


It’s Paul, isn’t it? Not Rau.

[Shhhh! -tterrace]

Miraculous Photos

It looks like Veronica Leucen's miraculous Bayside photos, where stuff like "Jacinte 1972" appeared in the night sky in cursive script. That was supernatural in origin.

The Polaroid corporation attested that there was no known explanation for it.

Was your house built by Robert Heinlein?

As I scanned the comments, I had a browser window open to...

"'—And He Built a Crooked House—'" is a science fiction short story by American writer Robert A. Heinlein, first published in Astounding Science Fiction in February 1941.


Old Camera I Loved and Lost

Tterrace, did your brother's projector take slides in those horrible aluminum mounts that I DIDN'T hate to see the last of? I love your mirrored shot!!! I feel as though I can dive into a pool of memories.

If Tom Wolfe was still around, he could probably describe this '50s Anscoflex II best. Maybe a "Loewy styled 620 format top viewer olive green not really TTL baby" or something like that.

Mine, NOS in the box with the matching goodies, disappeared in a yard sale my wife snuck in when I was out of town. AAAGGGHHH.

[The projector must have taken those metal/glass slide mounts, because that's what my brother used for the roll of Ektachrome he developed in the kitchen sink in 1955. I finally extracted them for scanning a few years back. -tterrace]

Vintage camera rally

I'll go with Jim Page's idea with this shot that includes the Kodak Folding Autographic Brownie 2A I used to take the time exposure of our house. This also dates from 1962, and I took it with yet another folding Kodak of similar vintage we had around, but whose identity I've forgotten; it took 120 roll film. Also is the Kodak Brownie Starmite I got for Christmas 1961 that could at last let me shoot 2x2 color slides, but not time exposures. Slide projector was my brother's from about 1955 and also two of his Kodak slide boxes.

Nifty Shot and Nifty Camera

We ought to have a grouping of treasured old cameras that our spouses would love to see us toss!

Here's an old favorite of mine that is now a paperweight in my office: A Minolta 110-cartridge zoomer that we used to call a "Big Mac" camera.

Brownies and Butchers

A wonderful photo! The twilight in black and white is both mysterious and innocent at the same time.

Your mention of 116 size film makes my shutter button finger tingle. I've got a small collection of antique cameras that are fascinating to use, the varying sizes of extinct film being just one of the challenges. They like to go out for walks. Last week I shot my first roll of film in my 1913 "Butcher's Watch Pocket Carbine." It was designed to take 117 size film, but I sanded down the end flanges of a 120 spool -- very carefully -- until it fit. No digital image can satisfy like a roll of 12 perfect images emerging from the fixer.

Just Another Wednesday Night?

I like how you positioned your desk lamp to throw a silhouette of the latticework onto your house. What I don't understand is why no member of your family is looking out a window in an effort to answer, "What is that boy doing out there?"

[They stopped asking that question long before this. -tterrace]


Your story makes this a very cool picture.

Your name

is Rau? Cool shot. What does the house look like now?

[Current owners had it looking like this in 2015. -tterrace]

Other Artist

I believe MC Escher would like this photo.

Tim Burton-esque

I love the crookedness which, due to the ghostly lighting and the pipe-like thing sticking up (sorry; don't know what it actually is), resembles the tilted cityscapes in Burton films. The long flight of steps (I count nineteen) is charming, as is the shadow produced by the latticework. Fascinating shot.

[Pipe-like thing is the tall flue atop our fireplace chimney. - tterrace]

Wish I had thought of it when naming my kids

"Rau" is a very interesting name.

The eyes have it.

I think you have unknowingly presented us with an optical illusion.

The glassed in porch, at first glance, appears to project from the front of the house, yet there appears to be an archway into the front room of the house. Upon closer inspection, it's obvious that the archway is actually the entrance from outside to the porch and not into an interior room.


One of the best pics I ever took was as a pre-teen with a Brownie. Don't know the model, just that it was a Brownie. My brother was on a swing. He is stop motion, everything else blurry. I ever find a print, might post it (if he agrees).

And by the way, you might not be related to the Addamses, but the picture says otherwise!

Good picture.

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