Gene Crutcher

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Gene Crutcher

Eugene Long Crutcher Jr (born April 23, 1925 in St Louis, Missouri; died October 20, 1997) was a mainstay Five Points South store owner and local photographer.

Crutcher met his wife, Bettie while a student at Peabody College in Nashville, Tennessee. The couple moved to Birmingham in 1954 where he worked as a printer and for the postal service, then took a job at Smith and Hardwick Books when it was located downtown.

In 1962 Gene and Bettie opened Gene Crutcher Books, which became a cultural center for the Five Points South neighborhood until it closed in 1974.

Gene and Bettie had six children, Annie, Beth, Kay, Bill, David, and Sara. In addition to the bookstore, Crutcher was an amateur photographer, known to take portraits of most of his customers. After the store closed he ran a photography studio and The Darkroom photo processing business for a while, and also drove a taxi cab. Among his hobbies were home-brewing beer and reading science fiction.

Gene Crutcher in 1969. Photograph by William Perlis

Crutcher was one of the central characters remembered in Celebrating Southside, 1960-1985 organized by Steven Ford Brown. A filmed interview of Crutcher by artist Ned Mudd was screened during the event.


  • Swindle, Michael (2005) "The 'City Lights Bookstore' of Birmingham, Alabama, Prop. Gene Crutcher: A Remembrance" in Slouching towards Birmingham: Shotgun Golf, Hog Hunting, Ass-Hauling Alligators, Rara in Haiti, Zapatistas, and Anahuac New Year's in Mexico City. North Atlantic Books, pp. 163-170. Rpt. at Personal Stories from Southside, ed. by Steven Ford Brown

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