The Sprats, a real fairy tale couple we can aspire to on Valentine’s Day

 

JackSpratt Valentine

Love is in the air, but in fairy tales, there are not frequently couples we can aspire to.

When you think about fairy tales and romance, you might first think of innumerable princess stories. However, in them, you will find dark themes hiding beneath the surface. Many of these stories were cleaned up by Disney in order to make them more palatable to a 20th century audience, but these original stories are riddled with jealousy, attempted murder, poisoning, and abusive families. Perhaps the most blatant example of “what not to do” in a relationship is the tale of the imprisoned  and abused wife of Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater!

In these romance stories, physical beauty is revered, while those possessing inner strength are often locked away and forgotten to toil on backbreaking chores. If one theme holds constant, it is that in the end, only the most beautiful, and pure princesses find mates.

Spratt

Thinking about this, I found myself searching for a realistic couple I could respect in the fairy tale world. I wanted a pair that exhibited unconditional love for one another, and whose traits make them complete partners by virtue of their opposite strengths. I came to the unexpected realization that maybe this ideal couple is not the most obvious husband and wife. They weren’t beautiful, or wealthy. They weren’t refined. In fact, in all of my travels, I’ve only encountered one (somewhat terrifying) interpretation of them at the Magic Forest.  (Though while researching this post, I did locate a second example at Rock City’s Fairyland Caverns in Chatanooga-Which is going on the list of future visits!)

I digress, the couple in question is Jack Sprat and his wife, Joan. For you scholars, there are additional lyrics to the rhyme, (though most of us only know the first stanza pictured above). I’ve included the song in its entirety at the end of this post. There are several interpretations of this tale, with some believing it is a reference to King Charles I and Henrietta Maria. Others believe it is actually referencing Richard I.

Ignoring British history, let’s read this purely as a children’s rhyme. We get to know Jack and Joan only through one short verse, but it is clear that they work in tandem to accomplish their goals (as most successful marriages do!)  Jack and Joan make due with what they have, always ensuring that the other is cared for.  Throughout the rhyme they both have enough to eat and consistently demonstrate their love one another (just as they are).

In a comedic, but romantic gesture, after they are married, Joan is too fat for the carriage, so without judgement or hesitation, Jack wheels her home in a wheelbarrow. The plump wife, and skinny husband seem perfectly paired. When trouble befalls Joan upon falling out of the wheelbarrow, Jack is first concerned for her safety. Once settled into their roles, Joan brews beer and cooks dinner; while time and time again we see Jack portrayed as a doting husband who makes sure Joan’s clothes are mended, and her belly is full. We see him hunt ducks and buy her anything she needs. Despite the mundane life they seem to lead, we even see two embark on international travel together, while their little cat has adventures of his own.

You’ll find no beautiful princesses here, and no dashing princes. Just two simple people sharing a life together, and there’ something quite admirable about that.

For the full picture of the Jack and Joan Sprat’s life, I encourage you to read their entire story in these lesser known verses below. The thing I love about this is that even though we see both of them fail and make foolish mistakes, their love for one another stays constant. Despite the odds, the love and respect for one another never falters.

THE LIFE OF JACK SPRAT, HIS WIFE, AND HIS CAT.

This one ear’d Cat,
Belongs to Jack Sprat.

Jack Sprat could eat no fat
His wife could eat no lean,
And so between them both,
They lick’d the platter clean ;

Jack eat all the lean,
Joan eat all the fat,
The bone they pick’d it clean,
Then gave it to the cat

When Jack Sprat was young,
He dressed very smart,
He courted Joan Cole,
And he gained her heart ;

In his fine leather doublet,
And old greasy hat,
O what a smart fellow-
Was little Jack Sprat.

Joan Cole had a hole.
In her petticoat,
Jack Sprat, to get a patch
Gave her a groat ;
The groat bought a patch,
Which stopp’d Joan’s hole,

I thank you, Jack Sprat,
Says little Joan Cole.

Jack Sprat was the bridegroom,
Joan Cole was the bride,
Jack said, from the church
His Joan home should ride ;
But no coach could take her,
The lane was so narrow,
Said Jack, then I’ll take her
Home in a wheel-barrow.

Jack Sprat was wheeling
His wife by a ditch,
The barrow turn’d over,
And in she did pitch ;
Says Jack, she’ll be drown’d,
But Joan did reply,
I don’t think 1 shall,
For the ditch is quite dry.

Jack brought home his Joan,
And she sat on a chair,
When in came his cat,
That had got but one ear,
Says Joan, I’m come home puss,
Pray how do you do,
The cat wagg’d her tail,
And said nothing but mew.

Jack Sprat took his gun,
And went to the brook,
He shot at the drake,
But he kill’d a duck,
He brought it to Joan,
Who a fire did make,
To roast the fat duck,
While Jack went for the drake.

The drake was a swimming,
With his curley tail,
Jack Sprat came to shoot him,
But happen’d to fail ;
He let off his gun,
But missing his mark

The drake flew away,
Crying, quack, quack quack.

Jack Sprat, to live pretty,
Now bought him a pig,
It was not very little,
It was not very big,
It was not very lean,
It was not very fat,
It will serve for a grunter,
For little Jack Sprat.

Then Joan went to market,
To buy her some fowls,
She bought a jackdaw
And a couple of owls;
The owls they were white,
The jackdaw was black,
They’ll make a rare breed,
Says little Joan Sprat.

Jack Sprat bought a cow,
His Joan for to please,
For Joan she could make
Both butter and cheese,
Or pancakes, or puddings,
Without any fat,
A notable housewife
Was little Joan Sprat.

Joan Sprat went to brewing
A barrel of ale,
She put in some hops
That it might not turn stale
But as for the malt,
She forgot to put that,
This is sober liquor,
Says little Jack Sprat,

Jack Sprat went to market,
And bought him a mare,
She was lame of three legs,
And as blind as a bat,
Her ribs they were bare,
For the mare had no fat,
She looks like a racer,
Says little Jack Sprat.

Jack and Joan went abroad,
Puss took care of the house,
She caught a large rat
And a very small mouse,
She caught a small mouse
And a very large rat,
You are an excellent hunter,
Says little Jack Sprat.

Now I have told you the story
Of little Jack Sprat,
Of little Joan Cole,
And the one ear’d cat.
Now Jack has got rich.
And has plenty of pelf,
If you’d know any more,
You may tell it yourself.

Here’s to all the really real couples out there that are taking care of each other and making sure their loved ones stay fed and happy!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

 

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Hansel and Gretel – Lost in The (Enchanted) Forest

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The holidays are coming, and soon you’ll begin to smell warm baking sweets wafting in the air.  After your delicious Thanksgiving meal, you too will want to stuff yourself with pies and cakes. But watch out – if you eat too much, you might be offered a long walk deep into the forest. Its starting to get dark early, and it’s very easy to get lost in those woods.

Such is the tale of Hansel and his sister Gretel, whose father reluctantly lured his children into the woods after being convinced by his new wife that the family could not afford to feed four mouths. Hansel, over-hearing the evil plan, cleverly decided to drop a path of breadcrumbs along the way so that the children could easily find their way back home. Poor Hansel, he didn’t account for the birds. On a night a lot like tonight, and after many days of wandering with no food, they had grown very desperate and hungry. The two children could hardly believe their eyes when they came upon a house made entirely of gingerbread, held together with icing, candies, and sweets. Just a little nibble won’t hurt anyone, right?

The Enchanted Forest in Old Forge New York opened in 1956, and at first glance,many would assume that the gingerbread house was built early in the park’s history. In the late 50s and early 60s story parks were booming and the Enchanted Forest was expanding attractions rapidly. In actuality, work on Hansel and Gretel’s house didn’t begin until 1981, and due to the complexity and size it took approximately 4 years to complete. The final cherry was put on top in time for the 1985 season, which means that next summer the house will be celebrating its 30th Anniversary! The Gingerbread house was designed by Jack Molesky who was the park artist for many years, and the level of detail and artistry are stunning to behold. The dripping rooftoops and giant candies really do look good enough to eat!

As you walk through Storybook Lane, the path winds through the ubiquitous tall trees of the Adirondacks, and when you’re deep in the woods you begin to feel as though you are lost too.  Once you reach the end of the path, the first thing you’ll encounter are the tall candy canes and lollipops among the trees, and just beyond those, you’ll catch your first views of the Gingerbread house. Plucked from a child’s dream; surreal, and out of place in nature, the house has dripping ice cream doorways, shingles built from frosted cookies, and candy cane frames. Chocolates, cookies, candy, and pretzels decorate the awnings. Its not until you look into the windows, that you realize the real treat is inside the house!

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As you approach the ice cream door, there is a tiny step for small kids to easily peek inside an open window. I can’t help thinking if this wasn’t designed deliberately to allow smaller children an opportunity to assert their independence. Surely looking in this window is a rite of passage for children eager to prove their bravery to their siblings and parents. Kids can look inside without an adult’s help. In fact, as a full grown adult I had to kneel if I wanted to look inside. I heard mom’s say “What’s in there? What’s inside?” But this wasn’t built for mom and dad. From its bright candy exterior, to the creepiness that lurks inside, the design accomplishes what the house in the story set out to do, to lure in and ultimately frighten children.

There is no sugar coating what’s behind the glass, the sweet candy house quickly turns sinister when you catch your first glimpse of an innocent Hansel held prisoner in the  back of the house, with a forkful of spaghetti and meatballs (still grasping a lollipop in his left hand). In the main room- a kitchen and across the gingham tablecloth, a scowling witch stands watch over a feast she has prepared with the intent of fattening up the lost children.

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Her green face, black pointed hat, and robe are inspired by Margaret Hamilton’s best known role in the Wizard of Oz. The archetypal pointed hat wearing witch with the green face did not exist prior to 1939, and even her angular features are reminiscent of the Wicked Witch of the West’s.

This witch appears to be deep in thought, trying to decide the best way  to cook these two little morsels that have wandered into her house. Hansel’s plans don’t always work out, and he doesn’t look smart enough to hatch a scheme to turn the tables on her in this scene either, so we’ll just have to assume that the story ends well. Maybe Gretel’s got the brains in the family.

witch

The exterior of house was very well maintained and it likely gets a fresh coat of paint regularly. It appears to have gone through some changes over the years, but I was unable to locate any other shots of the interior in my research. (If you’ve got any, I’d love to see more!) I was able to locate a few older images of the exterior. The first shows a very natural earth tone house with biscuits and donuts. This is a vintage postcard and I’m not convinced that this is an actual photograph. It could be a miniature artist’s rendering.  Perhaps it is a model created for concept or promotional artwork.

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Another photo shows a dazzling 1980s rainbow color scheme with bright candy store reds, yellows, and greens as opposed to the current mint green and pastel pink palette used today. This paint job is straight out of Rainbow Brite’s or Strawberry Shortcake’s colorful world.

HanselGretelHouseEnchantedForestEK

 

This house became an unexpected favorite of mine when I found it at the park, and I had to be pulled away from it, like most of the kids there. It’s a little off the beaten path, and can’t be seen immediately. I didn’t expect to fall in love with it, but there was something so wonderful about the mean spirited nature of the story baked into a sweet pink candy house, that I wanted to stay for dinner too.

I hope you’ve been paying attention. If you decide to go out walking in the forest, just remember those breadcrumbs won’t do you any good. Please, be very careful whose house you decide to nibble on, or you could get swallowed up by the woods on your way home…or something worse. And if your host keeps filling your plate this Thanksgiving, make sure you’re not the only one eating. She might still be preparing her feast.

 

And There He Kept Her Very Well

Since its almost fall on the east coast, and pumpkin EVERYTHING is about to start showing up at all restaurants and coffee shops, I thought we’d take a minute to look in on some of the pumpkin-dwelling residents of Kiddieland in today’s post.

Peter, Peter pumpkin eater,
Had a wife but couldn’t keep her;
He put her in a pumpkin shell
And there he kept her very well.

Something about this nursery rhyme has always troubled me (and my Women’s Studies degree), but we don’t hide the truth here at Enchanted Kiddieland so we’re going to delve into this tale of the controlling husband and his poor pumpkin-imprisoned wife.  That said, I’m pretty sure this isn’t what Virginia Woolf had in mind when she wrote A Room of One’s Own.

Enchanted Forest

Enchanted Forest-A heavily medicated housewife peers out of her pumpkin prison

At the Enchanted forest, a listless housewife peers out of a tiny window in her locked up prison house. She was built in 1956 afterall, but at least she is entertained. Among the giant seeds, she keeps books in the kitchen of “207 Pumpkin Recipes”, but still has time to read her “Goose Housekeeping” magazine.  The numb smile on her face seems to indicate that she is heavily medicated, maybe to deal with the mundanity of her daily life, and  to cope with her imprisonment. Please don’t tell Betty Freidan about this.

 

HolidayWorld

Holiday World (Call the Police)

At Holiday World, things aren’t looking much better. Here we have an inbred looking Peter with his adorable victim wife crammed in a way-too-small pumpkin house, (if you can even call it a house!) He has the look on his face that I imagine Lenny must have had when he was petting rabbits to death in Of Mice and Men. Meanwhile, she looks like a terrified horror movie victim whose motivation is “In this scene, you’re about to be baked into a pumpkin pie by a psychopathic kidnapper.” For the love of god,  can someone please help this woman?

 

MagicForest

Magic Forest GUHHHHHHHH!

Alright, that wasn’t disturbing enough for you? Let’s just move on to some nightmare fodder courtesy of the Magic Forest. In this upsetting scene, our homely, green-haired, dead-eyed wife seems to have escaped her pumpkin prison, while her  husband, Peter stands half bent over in some sort of horrific gravity defying stance. Is he trying to run away from her? His ghastly mouth agape, with his disconcerting black wig barely covering a misshapen head, his hands covering his butt, all with a cross-eyed transfixed look of terror on his face. Meanwhile his wife stands by stoically balancing a pumpkin on the back of her poorly sculpted hand. Yeah, we don’t know either, but if I were you, I’d run…Something is about to go down.

 

Storybook Forest

Storybook Forest HAAAAAY!

Now for a slightly calmer scene-Let’s swing by Storybook Forest. This wife appears to be on minimum security lockdown, as there are no padlocks, chains, or doors on her pumpkin. What a relief! Maybe that’s because she’s actually being held captive by a tiny pixie man. We photographed him twice, and he appears to have a flair for fashion, as he was spotted wearing a pastel yellow V-neck in the spring and a sassy little striped tank top in the summer. Despite the wide open doorways, there is however, a window covered with bars. Yeah, I don’t get it either, but I don’t think she’s very scared of him, she’s nowhere in sight and he seems less than concerned about it. We have reason to believe that his marriage might be a farce.

Storybook Land

Storybook Land- Pies for Days

What’s that? Another creep?-This crooked cane-carrying Peter stands guard outside his abode at Story Book Land prominently marked with the letter “P” on the door. He wants to make sure everyone knows who lives there. “You can’t miss it. Its the pumpkin shaped house, right next to the birthday cake shaped house. I’ll be standing outside in my pimp-hat and cane.” Sure, it looks cute from the outside, but inside a disheveled doll-wife is toiling away baking pies day and night. What kind of pies? Well, Pumpkin, naturally! At least it appears that in his infinite kindness, he has built her a little extra room to retire to, so when she’s done baking pies all day long and is sick to her stomach from the incessant smell of pumpkins, she can pop next door and relax insider her…other pumpkin house. Ugh. Nevermind.

 

Storyland

Storyland Everything is cuter in New Hampshire

That’s it, I can’t take anymore of this. Where is Gloria Steinem? Quick, someone please show me some pictures of a cute little small-world-esque  character peeking out of a round pumpkin window in her adorably decorated pumpkin house with wide open doors! OH, THANK YOU STORYLAND!

Ok, Finally, one that doesn’t make me want to call the police. This sweet little abode certainly has a woman’s touch; from the actual working ceiling fixtures (ooh, aaah!), to the sweet little place settings and the complimentary colors of her stove. The sweetest thing might be the working jack-o-lantern clock molded right into the wall. She’s also got a built in extension so she can really spread out here and as for location, her pumpkin house is perched atop a charming little rock bridge. This is finally one that will let me sleep soundly at night.

Feel better, everyone? Good. Now, I don’t know about you, but I could really go for a pumpkin spice latte, and maybe a piece of pie.

Pinocchio: The Wooden Puppet who Dreamt of Becoming a Real Boy

You know the story, The old woodcarver  named Gepetto makes a puppet, and the mischievous marionette wants nothing more than to become a real boy. He gets in a lot of trouble, tells a lot of lies, and learns some valuable life lessons . He gets a little help from a blue fairy and a talking cricket…who may or may not be killed by Pinocchio with a mallet (depending on the adaptation you’re most familiar with)  and eventually the boy becomes an upstanding citizen, and is allowed to fulfill his desire to be a real boy…or does he? In the original serialized version of text, Pinocchio is gruesomely hanged for his sins and lies and he dies at the end of the story.  Later when published as a children’s book, and at the request of the editors, a happier ending was substituted whereby Pinocchio gets his wish granted by the blue fairy and becomes a real boy. Really- I wouldn’t lie to you about this, my nose might grow!

Naturally a tale like this is perfect fodder for any story book park, and the Walt Disney 1940 film adaptation of this already canonized tale cemented the characters in American Children’s subconscious for all time. We’re going to take a look at  a few images of Pinocchio at parks from his Florentine roots to his familiar Disney appearance, and beyond, including those that are unofficially “inspired” by the look of the Disney version of this famous character.

Anyone that has traveled to Walt Disney World in Orlando with kids has probably felt that moment of panic at the Magic Kingdom when the kid’s pizza alarm goes off. There’s only one place in the park to get pizza, and if you use your Disney logic you’ll realize that since pizza is Italian, and Pinocchio is from Italy…OF COURSE-pizza can be found at Pinocchio’s Village Haus! The decor inside is themed like a small Italian cottage and is so charming featuring frescoes inspired by the film, and intricate wood cuts of the characters. (Bonus-if you sit near the windows you can see Small World boats pass by beneath you as you enjoy your meal!) I love the costumes worn by cast members and especially the little Pinocchio puppets held outdoors conveniently located at kid-height to lure you inside.

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Further North, Pinocchio can be found at Storybook Land in Egg Harbor, NJ-But you have to know where to look. Although impressive, this giant Pinocchio statue is only visible from the train, so all aboard for a sight at this giant puppet!

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Also in the Northeast, our friend Pinocchio can be found at the Enchanted Forest in Old Forge, but I want to you prepare you for the nightmare fuel that follows. This one is special as he takes his look from the literary world rather than the films. He is quite disturbing, not unlike some of the illustrations from the text. It doesn’t help that it was a gloomy rainy day when I visited him. Oh man, is he coming toward us? Don’t make eye contact.

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Ok, let’s try to get that image out of our heads for a moment, and go back to something a bit less unsettling. At Storybook Forest (Ligionier, PA) tucked in the forest of Pennsylvania, you may come upon a small house in the trees. If you’re lucky a peek inside the windows will show Gepetto’s workspace, along with his beloved Pinocchio, and a blue fairy doll hanging from the rafters with fishing line. Hey-I think its pretty awesome! The details inside are classic PA with real antique sewing machines and furniture, and a large bound copy of Pinocchio sitting on the desk.

Storybook Forest

 

While we’re on the subject of wood carving, we can’t forget about the larger than life wooden Pinocchio at Storyland in NH that we covered in a past post about bootlegging Disney.

Pinocchio Storyland NH

Or the one we SHOULD have covered when talking about Whales, because-Pinocchio Sitting on Monstro in New Orleans-Duh.

Seems like everywhere we look, we see the little puppet boy. Here is is in a dark arcade in the middle of the day-probably skipping school, we also found him hocking his  70th Anniversary Blu Ray release, and climbing on top of a bakery roof in NJ (WE TOLD HIM NOT TO DO THAT!)

Pinocchio

One thing is for sure, we don’t expect to see him fading into the background any time soon. At Disney parks, you can still meet up with Pinocchio, Gepetto, or Jiminy Cricket for photos. They appear in giant shows like Fantasmic, and Jiminy even narrates the popular “Wishes” fireworks display at the Magic Kingdom. I caught up with the crew earlier in the summer at the brand new Festival of Fantasy parade which premiered at Walt Disney World in March 2014. Despite the parade spotlighting mostly new Disney princesses like the wildly popular Anna and Elsa from Frozen, Merida from Brave, and Repunzel from Tangled, our boy Pinocchio is holding his own. Here is is sitting proudly atop a Monstro float in this brand new parade, which leads us to believe he’s not going anywhere anytime soon!

Festival Of Fantasy

Pinocchio, seriously stop that. Stop kicking your feet like that. Do you even know how high that is? We told you not to do that! You’ll fall…man, this kid really never listens!

Happy Memorial Day from Kiddieland!

MemorialDay

Memorial day marks the beginning of summer, and the opening day of many parks and attractions in the US.

We hope that you hit the road and got out to your favorite boardwalk, amusement park, mini golf course, or tourist trap this weekend to enjoy some food and fun with loved ones. Where did you spend your holiday?

Happy Memorial Day from Enchanted Kiddieland!

Oh My Achin’ Back! The Crooked Men of Kiddieland

If you spend as much time walking around parks as I do, eventually your feet will get sore and your back will start to hurt. Make sure you’re taking breaks or you could end up like today’s featured character-The Crooked Man! Before we knew about things like spinal curvature disorders or sciatica, we were entertained as children with tales of Crooked Men, living in crooked houses with crooked cats chasing crooked mouses.Today we’ll celebrate the simpler times when back pain was the stuff of kid’s stories, and not a reality of our lives! First up the silly crooked man from Storybook Land in New Jersey. Here he lives in his little green house.  almost makes you smile, even though his contorted body appears to be in extreme pain!  He must have some good pain killers. Are they causing him to hallucinate? It that kitten wearing a top hat and coat? Moving on. CrookedManStorybookl   Next we’ll check in on our Friend from Storybook Forest in Ligionier, PA. This park is always very well taken care of, and as you can see from the our Crooked Man’s home,  no detail was forgotten, from his pastel painted abode with a crooked lamp post leading up to his crooked entrance way, to the real wood interiors with uneven windows, pictures, and furniture. Everything here is pretty much perfectly imperfect. CrookedManStorybookF Something interesting that I realized when reviewing my photos is that the old man appears to have moved between my two visits. He used to lean against a fence in 2009, but by 2012, he was practically sitting on a some slate in an overgrown patch. Maybe he finally toppled over? Or maybe he just needed to rest his aching back. Looks like his (pregnant?) cat might have also run off. CrookedMan20092012 When we’re looking for creepy representations of Mother Goose, The Magic Forest never disappoints. Just about everything seems “off” about this scene. From the strange dancing animals, to the demonic dead yellow eyes of our Crooked Man. The best thing about this is that his house is a full size gravity house, where you can walk through and get that disorienting sense of confusion (as if you didn’t already have it after seeing these figures)

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You might think that Storyland doesn’t have a crooked man, but look again! At the entrance he is hard at work as a park employee, building the entranceway! He even has a mailbox and his cat is helping direct the crowds!

CrookedManStoryland

Take note of the details here, because we think that the Crooked Man may have also helped out with building some of the signage in the park! StorylandSignCrooked

The Enchanted Forest in the Adirondack Mountains has a very old man, with a very sore back living in an extremely colorful house. Still, despite the bright colors, something about the man’s face is just very sad. I suppose I see why some of the other artists opted for a silly looking man in their interpretations of this story! CrookedManEnchForest

Recently, I learned is that many of these houses were frustrations to carpenters trained to build things at 90 degree angles. Some legends tell of contractors who walked off the job at kiddie parks when asked to build thing so structurally unstable. One such tale occurred in Maryland’s now defunct Enchanted Forest.  As Martha Anne Clark describes in her book “The Enchanted Forest, Memories of Maryland’s Storybook Park“One particular challenge was the Crooked Man’s house “A carpenter hired to complete the job walked off saying it was impossible to build. It was eventually completed in spite of the difficulty in finding carpenters who could build a house requiring them to go against all of their training”

 

Yet,thankfully-here they are, defying the laws of logic and the rules of building, Our crooked houses occupied by crooked men! EnchantedForestCrookedVintage We hope you enjoyed looking at our crooked houses!

 

Which one is your favorite?