Crossroads Juke Joint Gas Station

Crossroads Juke Joint Gas Station • Melrose, Louisiana. Circa 1940, Marion Post Wolcott

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Title: Crossroads Juke Joint Gas Station
Archive: Library of Congress Farm Security Administration
Copyright: Public Domain

From the Farm Security Administration, Office of War Information Color Photographs Collection, Library of Congress.

Photographed by FSA photographer Marion Post Wolcott in June of 1940, this evocative scene from a bygone era of the American Roadside harkens back to a time when the nation we lived in operated at a slower pace.

A local “juke joint” of the cotton plantation areas in and around Melrose, Louisiana, Frenchie’s Bar typifies the rural roadhouse establishments of the 1930s and 40s that came alive around the blues music blasting from a jukebox, an early entertainment appliance that was designed to play records in exchange for pocket change.

The juke joint was where legends such as BB King, Muddy Waters, and Lightnin’ Hopkins honed their guitar mastery. It was at a similar southern crossroads where bluesman Robert Johnson supposedly sold his soul to the devil, immortalized in his famous “Cross Road Blues.” In exchange, he received the skills needed to unlock the secrets of his six-stringed instrument and take the genre of blues from out the Mississippi Delta and on to the rest of the world.

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