Brokerage Days: From Penny Ante Alley to A “Wirehouse” – Part 7

Part 7 of 7

Mr. Donald, being a prominent citizen of the town along with being the proprietor of the new brokerage firm, went before the City Council and asked them to change the name of Penny Ante Alley to “Wall Street,” which they did. For a brokerage firm, even one in Orangeburg, SC, that was a far more suitable street address. Last time I drove by, and that was thirty years ago, Penny Ante Alley was still known as Wall Street.

Mr. Donald did not suffer fools, to put it mildly. And people told me he had been thought a bit tough as a businessman when he was a younger man. But I knew him in the last years of his life and he had become a kindly curmudgeon. While he no longer had an ownership interest in the brokerage firm, he had a desk and phone there, and came by everyday for a few hours and that is how I got to know him. He had known and liked my grandfather and we used to talk.

He explained many things to me. Why did the stock market go up? “More people buying than selling.” Why did it go down? “More people selling than buying.” I have always remembered this advice along with, “buy on rumor, sell on news,” a classic Wall Street (in New York) saying.

Mr. Donald was also convinced, as people with money are during any era in American history, that his wealth was being taxed away. “Son,” he told me one day, “if this keeps going like it is (taxes, he meant) people who have been eating steak will be eating hamburger and people who have been eating hamburger will be eating steak.”

Looking south east down Wall Street Orangeburg, SC in November 2007. It was formerly named Penny Ante Alley.

[Image courtesy of the Google Maps Street View.]

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website:

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