Tag Archives: Georgia Juke Joints & Bars

The Famous Get-A-Way, Zebulon

Mississippi soaks up all the attention for juke joints, and rightfully so, but they were once common in Georgia, as well. When I was growing up, there were still a few around and I remember that the word juke fascinated me. Some contend the origin of the term is the African word juga, meaning bad or wicked. Others suggest it comes from juice, which referred to early electric guitars and those who played them.

The Famous Get-A-Way in Zebulon is one of the best examples of an authentic old-fashioned juke joint that I’ve come across. It also served as a pool hall and sold gas and perhaps sundries from time to time. I got the impression it meant a lot to this community and luckily, the owners have preserved it as a landmark. My guess is that it dates from the late 1930s to about 1950.

It obviously grew in popularity over the years, as evidenced by the addition of this green cinderblock wing.

It’s one of just a few surviving such places to be found in Georgia to my knowledge.

A blacked-out Coca-Cola sign identifies the place as the “Famous Get-a-way”.

The gas pumps were probably a later innovation of the business but indicate that it was a successful enterprise.

And if there were any question about the reputation of the place, this sign on the porch suggests that the owners didn’t suffer foolishness.

Juke joints were places of revelry and community but they were also usually operated in a very business-like manner.

Pinkie Master’s, 1953, Savannah

Savannah has always been a drinking town and Pinkie Master’s dive bar at 318 Drayton Street was its epicenter from 1953-2016. Luis Christopher Masterpolis, better known as Pinkie Master, wisely located his establishment across Drayton Street from the old DeSoto Hilton, in its day Savannah’s hotel of choice for politicians and businessmen. Masterpolis loved politics and over the years local and state elected officials made unofficial campaign stops here. An urban legend that Jimmy Carter announced his presidential run standing atop the bar has been refuted but Carter dropped in on the evening before St. Patrick’s Day 1978 and paid tribute to Pinkie, who had died about a year earlier.

The perfection of Pinkie Master’s, as anyone who ever drank a beer there would tell you, was its lack of pretense. It was a dive bar in the truest since, serving cheap American tallboys and never taking credit cards. The booths and seats were often sticky and the smell of stale beer and cigarettes (long after the smoking ban) lingered in the air. You had to walk up to the bar and order as there was no table service. And fist fights were common from time to time. Just what you’d expect in a dive bar.

A good friend of mine who owned the building at one time stated that he loved having Pinkie’s as a tenant. There were occasional complaints, he noted, but Savannah loved the place and the complaints generally went unanswered. With new ownership came myriad changes. Legal issues brought on by unclear ownership and the sorts of things one might expect to befall a dive bar came front and center and a new owner took over by early 2016. A PBR sign still hangs outside, but a new nameplate identifies the restructured establishment, The Original Pinkie Masters. Varying camps will debate whether it’s anything near the original, but I’ll leave that to locals, being just an occasional patron myself.

The Cypress Bar & Lounge, Darien

This watering hole is a favorite with locals and I’ve always appreciated its mural of a cypress swamp. I believe it was named for the adjacent Cypress Cabin Court, (originally Delta Cabin Court, tourist cabins still standing and in use as apartments).

Their newest sign got my attention, and a laugh.

The Anchored Flint, Circa 1978, Lake Blackshear

If you’ve ever driven between Cordele and Americus via Lake Blackshear you’ve probably noticed this eclectic structure, built to look like an old river boat. It was a popular restaurant/nightclub known as the Anchored Flint and is still in use today as a banquet facility at Lakeshore Marine on the Sumter County side of the lake. The “flint” in Anchored Flint refers to the Flint River, from which Lake Blackshear was created. Thanks to Lydia Cook for the identification.

Ferguson Store Sign, DeSoto

The Ferguson Store was located on the ground level of the DeSoto Masonic lodge. It was most recently known as Disco D’s Warehouse, which I assume was a nightclub.

 

Red Carpet Lounge, Brunswick

The Red Carpet Lounge has been a gentleman’s club and lounge in downtown Brunswick for over fifty years.

The Rah Bar, Jekyll Island

I was surprised to learn that the Rah Bar is closing. Though not a landmark in the traditional sense, it’s become a bit of a local and tourist favorite for its welcoming, laid-back vibe. It’s not really a dive, but compared to many of the fancier establishments on the coast, it almost qualifies for that status. I’m saying that’s a good thing. Apparently, the restaurant with which the Rah Bar is associated, Latitude 31, is to be rebuilt. Let’s hope the atmosphere in the “new version” remains as cool as it was at the Rah Bar.

Dub’s Place, Baker County

baker county ga dubs place pool table disco photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2016

This is a pool hall and disco (juke joint), in the middle of the pinelands of Baker County.

Juke Joint, Calhoun County

Calhoun County GA Purple Shed Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanihsing South Georgia USA 2016

I first though this was a juke joint, considering its small size and location just outside the city limits of Morgan. Shawn Weathersby wrote that it might be associated with the Milner Grist Mill but Toni Milner writes: It is an old beer joint. My grandfather Sonny “Plunk” Milner sold beer out of it back in the day. The Grist Mill is housed in the building to the left of this building.

Beeline Springs, Kite

Kite GA Little Ohoopee River Public Swimming Pool Overgrown Ruins Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2016

Approaching Kite from the east on Highway 57, you cross the Little Ohoopee River. The remains of a very large swimming pool stand between the river and the buildings discussed later in this post. Martha Claxton Hill writes: The swimming pool was called “Beeline Springs”. Earnest Claxton owned all of the land around the pool. It was a special place in its day. In a time when private pools were a domain of the wealthy, public pools such as this were among the most popular recreation spots of their day.

Kite GA Little Ohoopee River Public Swimming Pool Ruins Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2016

Ernest Claxton’s daughter, Lynn Paul Neal penned the following remembrance in Emanuel County’s 2013 Bicentennial Celebration Book. Thanks to Mary Ann Smith for bringing it to my attention and procuring permission from Mrs. Neal to share it here.

Remember Bee Line Springs?
Earnest Claxton built the Bee Line Springs Swimming Pool and Recreation Park just outside of Kite on the Ohoopee River. It had a skating and dancing pavilion that was also used for reunions and family get-togethers.
Three artesian wells supplied icy cold water for the swimming pool. One side of the pool had dressing rooms and there were cabins that were rented on the property.
Several nationally known bands of the late 1920s and 1930s played there. Ernest would find a band enroute from Miami to New York City or vice-versa and book them to stop on their way to play for a one-night dance. These occasions drew tremendous crowds.
You can still see the old swimming pool outline thru the trees on the south side of Hwy 57 near the ‘Hoopee River.

Kite GA Little Ohoopee River Public Swimming Site Johnson County Granitoid Building Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2016

Many public pools featured skating rinks, bowling alleys and/or restaurant, but this structure is too small to have been either of those. And Martha Claxton Hill notes that it was not here when the pool was open. Grady C. Riner writes: That block building was built years after the pool was grown over and broken. It was built as a juke joint ( in todays words a bar) It had the juke box for music and dancing. After it was closed as a juke joint it was used as a house. My aunt lived in it for years with her two young boys.

Kite GA Little Ohoopee River Public Swimming Site Granitoid Building Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2016

A shed-sized structure is located just to the left of the larger building.

Kite GA Little Ohoopee River Public Swimming Site Outbuilding Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2016