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.