McAllister Street, San Francisco, 1967.


Fillmore and McAllister was action central for pimping, prostitution, drugs and, half a block away, a 1910 time machine of second-hand stores, soul food dives, beer bars, before redevelopment tore most of the funkiest and best old-time neighborhood down. Replaced with stuccoed plywood box apartments. The Fillmore died. butterphoto©1967. First printing, 2016.

I bought a pre-WWII Rolleiflex twin-lens reflex 2-1/4 x 2-1/4 for $65.00, a cheap light meter and 20 rolls of Perutz b&w film at Adolph Gasser’s on Geary, from salesman Gene Saunders, who I later worked with at that store when I moved back to SF permanently in 1973. Gene worked for Ansel Adams as a printer and was a pied piper of photography at Gasser’s. Willie, my friend who’d been a photo student at SF Art Institute, took me there after I expressed interest in his Dorothea Lange book from NY Museum of Modern Art. The McAllister Street photo above was one of the first I made with the Rolleiflex, thus becoming a photographer 49 years ago.

I never printed any of these at the time. Had a fun day looking through my 60’s box, scanning and editing. I was inspired by Terry Manning’s photos of Dr. King in Memphis, taken hours before the murder. Terry had never looked at or printed the photos he took in 1968 until 2015. It reminded me to take a look at my own forgotten work. I am thankful that Willie and Gene Saunders got me hooked on photography. The pre war Rolleiflex is a great portrait camera, with an excellent Zeiss f3.5 Tessar lens which allowed me to get sharp focus and fine grain images the minute I walked out of Adolph Gasser Camera, hopped on the Geary bus at 21st Ave and hopped off taking pictures at Fillmore St.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: