The South Bend miniature house has a two-part story, beginning with its initial construction in the fall of ’77, and its re-hab in 2005 for a new owner. In both cases it has found a happy home—first in California, and now at The Kentucky Gateway Museum Center in Maysville, KY. We worked long hours between August and November to make a timely delivery to its owner in So. California. Part of the rush was to exhibit it at another NAME miniature show, as we had discovered that was our best way of getting new orders, plus we enjoyed the feedback after the solitary months of bringing a project to life. Normally when we finished a house we corralled some friends to help take it out to the beach for a photo session, but the deadline and a spate of bad weather quashed that idea. Instead we packed the house in the van and headed south along the Oregon coast, hoping to find a likely spot for shooting, but again the November rains worked against us. We pushed through to Weed, CA for the night. Weed is an old lumber town high in the mountains near Mt. Shasta, a place Noel wanted to see because it was one of his dad’s regular stops when he traveled for Long Bell Lumber.
We awoke to a cold, clear morning with Shasta shining in the near distance. Time was running out—we would have to locate a picturesque location along I-5. Winding down the mountain we found a siding with a good rise in it that would allow us to shoot the house from below as well as at eye level. They weren’t great shots, but we got a decent record of the house in the hour we spent there. It wasn’t until we were driving away that it dawned on us we had set the house, and ourselves, at the top of one of those emergency gravel hills they make for semi’s when their brakes fail on steep downgrades. They can steer into the siding at full speed and run right up the rise until, with luck, the weight of the truck stops it before they crash over the edge. The miniature gods must have been watching over us, and the truckers, that morning. Later, in Los Angeles, our friend Harry Liles, a terrific professional photographer, would painstakingly shoot the interiors, as he had before and would many times in the future—thanks again, Harry, you make us look great!
When we sent the slides off for prints, the processor (who had printed our house slides for several years, and knew what we did for a living) called to ask where this house was—it was just what he wanted to live in. I had a tough time convincing him this house existed in miniature only, that the photo was of a miniature, not a real house we had made a model of.