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October 3, 2015
Darkroom at our house, being gutted.

Darkroom at our house, being gutted.

My daughter and her husband purchased a house at 620 Ross in Santa Ana, California. A bungalow. Wow. You couldn’t live in it because it had been open to the elements for I don’t know how long. Evidently rain had gotten in and the oak floor warped and peeled. Did I mention the glass was gone from many of the windows? The plaster was cracked, the ceiling popcorn was sketchy. Rats had taken over. Clara found a rat in the stove.

I don’t remember how much the house cost. The figure $270,000 sticks in my head. Maybe it wasn’t that much, but in Southern Cal houses cost a lot. Ordinary houses cost a mil. A measly $270 K gets you a house that is barely standing, not inhabitable. Luckily, they got a bank to loan them the money to, well, not move in, but fix it up.

We had a great time working on the house, banishing the rats, introducing a fine gray cat. I helped them rewire the house. Brian’s dad painted the kitchen cabinets. What a great time it was!

I wandered around downtown Santa Ana and found a junk store with a book about home maintenance. In post war America, houses with GIs had darkrooms! To develop the films, to print them.

I mentioned the darkroom I had as a 6th grader in my closet, then, in my basement. Then when we moved to another place in Missoula my bedroom became my darkroom. When we moved to Dillon I tried the basement, but getting it dark enough was a problem, so I used my bedroom closet. Throughout life I’ve had darkrooms in garages in California, then a spare bedroom in Missoula, then basement rooms in Billings. That’s where I am now.

Every 20 years, or so, I gut my darkroom and plumb and wire it anew. That’s where I am now. In my Billings basement. I gutted, I reframed, I am now adding wires. I made a 3-way switch so that I can turn off the lights when I’m over by the sink. I think I’ll just use some old tables and counters and shelves for my supplies and working surfaces. I got an old table from a neighbor’s discard in the alley. I got the counter from a thrift store.

First I’ll finish wiring all of the outlets. Then I’ll sheetrock and tape and mud the walls and ceiling. Then I’ll move back in. Perhaps this weekend.

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