Wall Street

The Wall Street Alley, Bakersfield, CA, c.1987

I was racking my brain trying to remember the name of the Californian photographer who Slim hired to do the cover for “Here Comes a Lily.” It was Ed Homich. Thanks to the Californian for digging through their file; they published several other images from that shoot. The Californian has done a remarkable job of printing facts rather than hearsay about Slim. The article by Robert Price will probably expire soon, so if you’re at all curious I’d read it now. It cuts through the melodrama to more tangible facts. It was a good memory jog. I forgot that Phil Lutrell gave Scott the name “Slim DeWayne”—I went to Foothill High with Phil, and later worked with him at Sun Stereo. Price implies that Phil was the source of the Hank Williams allusion. Not as I recall; that was Scott’s own modification of the gift, dropping the “DeWayne” in favor of “the Drifter.”

I didn’t know Ed Homich, but I remember that when he put his Leica M6 up for sale other photographers from the Californian warned me against buying it—“Ed just drags his cameras on the strap behind him.” It’s strange the things you remember; I couldn’t remember his name, but I’ve got a picture of him shooting pictures around here somewhere…

It’s also strange what you can find around here. I was looking at the Half-Price Books on Ford Parkway and ran across Bakersfield Picture Album compiled by Chris Brewer and Don Pipkin in 1986 from various sources. There were a few interesting shots there; including some of the infamous Wall Street Alley.

I.O.O.F. and the Californian building, southwest side of Chester Ave. at Wall St., Bakersfield, CA. c.1880

I can’t remember what side of the alley (all that is left of Wall Street) Jerry’s Pizza is on, but it would either be where this building was or across the street from here. Guthrie’s Alley Cat would be about halfway down Wall St. just out of the frame.

Chester Avenue from the corner of Eighteenth street looking north at the west side of the street, Bakersfield, CA, c.1890

The gap between the rows of buildings would be the Wall Street Alley, pretty much as it exists to this day. I was also intrigued by this view just about a block away, diagonally to the northwest:

View of Nineteenth Street looking east from Eye street, Bakersfield, CA, c. 1890.

Notice the sign for a photographer’s gallery? Just behind the camera position, about a halfway down the block toward H street, was the location of Towne Photo. That’s where I bought my first developing tank and supplies back in about 1974 when I was learning how to be a photographer. It seems to me that photography studios are an important part of historic downtown areas; it’s a pattern that seems to repeat. Towne photo is long gone now, and I wonder if any of the old photo places like Henley’s still survive.

Growing up in Bakersfield, there were three shops– Mercury (which transformed into Mestmaker’s photo when Bud Mestmaker split), Henley’s, and Towne Photo (which transformed into Southside Camera when Jim Doyle split and moved out of downtown). I worked at Southside for a several years. It seems like Cheryl is still keeping the family tradition going (from what I can tell via google). I’m pretty sure Jim sold Southside to someone else.

3 thoughts on “Wall Street”

  1. Also, the Californian didn’t dig up the shots. I went through my personal files when I heard he passed and gave them to the Californian for the obit piece on Scott.
    BTW, Scott never hired me. I shot him for a story once and shot him again as a favor. The photos from the latter were used on his album.

  2. Such are the hazards of recording second-hand reports. The mistaken model number was my hazy memory, the other error simply what Scott told me (as I recall it, at least).
    Thanks for the correction Ed.

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