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Kodachrome Living Room: 1955

Kodachrome Living Room: 1955

December 17, 1955. Tony W.'s baby shower photo, with the fireplace and shelves full of photos, books and bric-a-brac, was so exceedingly redolent of 1950s living rooms in general, and ours in particular, that I couldn't stand it, so I dug this one out, showing our fireplace and shelves full of our photos, books and bric-a-brac. That's my sister, with her future husband on the right, and my godmother's son on the left. That's him in Army uniform in the photo on the shelf above. My brother, bless him, wrote the actual date on the slide mount, but we can tell it's near Christmas by my sister's home-made angel ornament hanging in the niche as well as the box of tree ornaments in the lower right foreground. Another point of interest is the candle burning at the extreme left. It's functional, not ornamental; this was taken during a power outage occasioned by the record Northern California December 1955 storms. Also on the table next to the candle is my sister's Kodak Duaflex camera with flash attachment. View full size.

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Not clever title. Amazingly well lit.

How was this scene lit if the power was off? No shadows. Certainly not the candle. After looking again, maybe a bright, on-camera flash that not many would have had in 1955. And looking even more closely at the full-sized photo I can see shadow from flash above and to the left of the lens. Surprising still that the foreground is not blown out, but I'm not a flash photographer.

Was that the same storm that caused flooding? I remember that in both 1955 and 1957, serious flooding hit. In the 1957 storm several houses slid in our town. Cut and fill up hillsides.

[You can see my brother's camera and flash attachment here. The papers in the immediate lower-right foreground are mostly blown out but I toned them down in Photoshop. And this was the winter 1955-6 storm that flooded our Russian River summer house in Guernewood. -tterrace]

Larkspur, huh?

Very nice. I live in Santa Rosa and recognize a lot of the
geography in your posts.

What town is this?

Where is Northern California is this house?

[As practically everyone knows, Larkspur. Idyllic Larkspur. - Dave]

Please tell me how to zoom

Please tell me how to zoom in on all the details of the
in photo of interest on this site. I know there must
be a way ... the comments tell me I am missing much. Thank You.

[Clicking any of the the "View full size" links under the photo should do it. There's at least one "View full size" link in each post; usually there are two. Three if it's offered as a print. - Dave]

Thank you

Thanks again, tterrace. Even a Mississippi "girl" can relate to photos of the era. I wore white at my Confirmation and we used to gather in the living room just like your family when the lights go out.


Details, details

First of all I want to congratulate Mal Fuller on making exactly the same kind of comment I would have under the circumstances. Sister's previous hairdos can be seen in two photos on the top shelf to the right. As often as I've studied this photo, I never noticed Alfred's argyle socks before. By a strange twist of fate, late last year I bought a pair exactly like those, giving into a long hankering to revisit my own clothing styles of a half-century previous. The rabbit is indeed papier maché, and is towing a cart in which has been placed a more recent vintage sugar Easter egg, one of those with hole in the end to view a little scene inside. My folks bought the house in 1941 for $3000; my mother sold it in 1987 for $189,000, and it sold again a couple years ago for $1.5 million. Below, the 2-1/4 square Anscochrome transparency my sister took of this scene with her Duaflex, showing my brother fiddling with his Lordox camera, possibly preparing to fire off the Kodachrome.

Beautiful Message

...about growing old. Well dagnabbit, I forgot what it was.

A la Audrey

I think it was Audrey Hepburn who popularized the "pixie cut" when she had her long tresses shorn in "Roman Holiday," just a year or two before this photo was taken. I think it was (and is) illegal to refer to either Audrey or the hairstyle without using the adjective "gamine."

Middle Middle to Upper Middle

I kind of wonder if any of the people in these Northern California homes would have ever had a clue that someday their smallish middle class houses would eventually become extremely expensive and basically unaffordable to most everyone except those in the upper middle class.

My favorite thing about this picture

Mr. Left is wearing pink argyle socks, and totally owning it. Some things, like men in Oxford shirts with the sleeves rolled up to the elbow, never go out of fashion. And thank goodness for it. I love the decorative detritus over Argyle's shoulder: sea shells and a bunny statue. Why not?

Okay, I'll bite.

Why was the fireplace full of photos?

Pixie pix

The short hairstyle seen in this photo was called a pixie cut. It was indeed common and popular in the 1950's.


Was quite the gamine. Carolyn Jones!

Tempus Fugit, indeed

It is an amazing trick of nature -- everyone around you gets older, but you don't "feel" older except when mirrors are involved. That's a great picture just because of the reality of the setting; the imperfections are its strong points.

Ahead of the curve

Was your sister's hairstyle popular in the mid-50s? It looks like more of a mid/late-60s cut to me. Very cute and modern.

Thank you also for all of your contributions here. It's really nice of you to share all these great photos with us and I know everyone here appreciates it even if they don't get the time to comment.

Great Knickknacks

On the bookcase shelf to the right is a wonderful 1920's solid blue marbled McCoy "Onyx" line vase. Left bookcase has what looks to be an early 1900's German papier mache Easter rabbit. This decor hung around into the late 1960's in my neck of the woods.

Happy Anniversary

I'm glad to see a tterrace post today. I've enjoyed all your photos for the past year! Looking forward to year two!

Tempus fugit

To think that these three are all in their seventies now ... Whoosh. Blink and you're old!

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