Here in Junior's Juke Joint I talk about the similarities between African American juke joints and redneck honky tonks, but, until now, I haven't shown any pictures of honky tonks so y'all can see the similarities for yourselves.|
Check out the picture on the right. This is a marvelous honky tonk.
In the background, that's the pool table against the wall, directly beneath the red Budweiser light. The bar sits to the right of the picture and runs along the wall from foreground to background. The front door is to the far right, the back door to the far left.
The bandstand, used on occasional Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons, is also to the far left. A large Confederate battle flag and a sun-bleached cow's skull adorn the wall behind the bandstand. Yes, I know, I should have taken a photograph of that wall.
As you can plainly tell, the roof leaks badly. During rain storms, the table in the foreground sports a 5-gallon bucket in its center. During the same rain storms, the ceiling in the background sports an improvised gutter made from a piece of used corrugated roofing tin which drains a finger-sized trickle of water into a 5-gallon bucket on the floor.
This marvelous honky tonk sits in a flood-prone area. You can't see it in the picture, but there's a watermark about 6 inches down from the roof. In other words, that red Budweiser light over the pool table was submerged.
They don't close this honky tonk until the water level reaches floor level. I once waded flood water to get in the front door. When the water gets too deep to easily wade, they use a 4-wheel-drive truck and ferry customers from the nearby road to the honky tonk's front door. Just climb in the rear of the truck, and the driver backs the truck's open tailgate right up to the front door.
Believe it or not, y'all, that happens at least once a year.
Here's Dot the bartender behind the bar.
Regular visitors to Junior's Juke Joint will recognize Dot's name from "A Sunday Afternoon Delta Juke Joint Fish Fry." Dot loves blues music, especially Bobby Blue Bland.
Dot hates high water because it means she's out of work.
She's a good bartender, and I don't know if y'all know it or not but God has a special place in heaven for good bartenders. I suspect there's more good bartenders in heaven than preachers.
Here's a shot of Dot the bartender and Johnny the customer with their cold butts backed up to the wood heater. You can see the heater's flue running up and out of the wall behind them.
You mean your favorite tavern in New York City doesn't have a wood heater?
Some psychologist should go to a wood heater equipped juke joint or honky tonk and do a study of wood heaters and personality types. In my favorite honky tonk, every regular customer opens the wood heater's cast iron door and diddles around with the fire. I believe it's the Neanderthal in us all. We've got to poke that fire. Our genes spent too many years poking the fire at the front of our cave.
But maybe we're divided into fire-diddlers and non-fire-diddlers. Maybe it's the alcohol. The more we drink, the more we want to diddle.
It's a great philosophical question, and it needs answering.