March 15th, 2006


Doug Keister's Mobile Mansion photography

Motion picture cameraman John Roy Hunt had a long career in the film business starting in 1904 at the St. Louis World’s Fair where he was a film operator. He opened a theater in Fresno, California, in 1905 and then worked as a cameraman. Some of the feature films he photographed were A Daughter of the Gods (1916), Beau Geste (1926), and I Walked with a Zombie (1943). His last film was The Juggler (1953) with Kirk Douglas. A consummate tinkerer (he invented several camera improvements and was a ham radio operator), Hunt built this vehicle in the late 1940s with the hope of manufacturing many more. That dream never came to pass, but many of his innovations were later incorporated by other manufacturers when motorhomes emerged from one-of-a-kind vehicles to mainstream transportation. The main deficiency of the Hunt Hollywood house car was its woefully inadequate power plant, a 1939 Mercury V8 95-horsepower engine (modern motorhomes have at least 300 horsepower). Those 95 ponies were hard pressed to push the 18-foot, 2-1/2-ton house car up any significant grade. A major restoration of the exterior skin of the Hunt was undertaken in 2005 by Monty Osborn, who spent over three hundred hours sanding and polishing the Hunt to achieve a lustrous shine. Courtesy Vince Martinico collection.

If you have an interest in unusual mobile homes, Doug Keister's site is a treasure trove.

This Very, Very Old House

You know that your grandmother paid $15,000 for her house in 1951, and it's now worth $250,000. That sounds grand, but most of the increase is simply matching inflation. An analysis Shiller made of home prices in the U.S. going back to 1890 showed an average annual increase of a meager 0.4 percent. By way of contrast, Jeremy J. Siegel of the Wharton School of Business has calculated that over a 200-year period, the stock market had an average annual real rate of return of 6.8 percent. It's only in recent years, Shiller says, that huge increases in real-estate prices have become the norm and that people have come to expect them.

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