right up your alley

Tim Spencer Alley (off 2nd), Davis CA

This is Tim Spencer Alley, just off of 2nd Street. It’s funny how the streets have to be “1st, 2nd, 5th, B, F etc” but an alley gets named after a person. Tim Spencer was a UPS driver, according to Davis Wiki, and was by all accounts very friendly and beloved. I don’t have any more information than that. I quite like when streets and places are named for people I don’t know anything about. I’m probably never going to get a street named after me. If I do though, I think I’d like 2nd Street. I had my first job in America on 2nd, at the Avid Reader, and I’ve drawn it loads of times. Not saying that I want a street named after me, I mean it’d be nice, but you probably have to be, you know, in history as it were, before they start naming things after you. That’s probably for the best, it would be confusing. It was confusing enough having the same name as my dad when I was growing up, imagine having a whole street named after you. I’d be well offended if I saw a dog doing a poo on the street me. No, I don’t want a street. Or a lane, or an avenue. Maybe a road. ANYWAY. I was cycling back from the DMV, a building that will never be named after me in a million years, having gone to update my ID card. I was out of there much earlier than I had planned for, having basically expected to go on leave just to wait in line at the DMV. I was in and out very quickly. So I stopped off downtown on my way back to the office to grab a snack for breakfast. The light on this part of 2nd Street was great, so I whipped out my sketchbook and just started drawing the outline, and that lamp-post and street sign, and then decided to go and grab my pastry and get some work done. I would come back on the weekend to do it properly. Saturday morning came, I cycled downtown and stood in the sunlight on that corner, with a hat to keep me shaded, and drew fast and furiously. Early on in the process someone asked me how long I have been drawing, so I said “sixteen inches”. They meant how long in my life. “Oh right, um five foot ten.” I didn’t say that last bit but I really should have. I mean it is kind of a Time Bandits reference and I try to get Time Bandits references in wherever I can, although nobody here seems to get them.

I looked up Tim Spencer Alley to see if I could find out more beyond what Davis Wiki didn’t say. I’m always a bit nervous looking up places named after people in case the story behind the naming is a bit sad, but actually Tim Spencer is very much alive and well and still lives in Davis. There was an article in the Enterprise last year in fact, a conversation with him. He retired from UPS back in the year 2000 and was so well-known around downtown that there was a move to have the alley named after him – he even said in the article “I thought that only dead people had streets named after them. I guess not.” He does sound like a friendly bloke and it’s one of those day-making things to learn that our town honors people such as him. I’m glad I finally drew his alley!