Littig’s Jook Joint

This character is involved in several scenes of Bloody Big Dry Blues.

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While today the building’s in this dilapidated condition, about a hundred years ago it was a jumpin’ jook joint. It’s located at these crossroads, which is also a character, one that plays a proverbial role.

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Here’s a quick excerpt from the novel:

“Far ahead two converging motorcar headlight cones indicate a crossroads. He avoids it by taking that hardscrabble trail over a hill, a dale, then across a dusty swale. When reaching these railroad tracks, he sways along from tie to tie, which helps his rattled brain rebalance. After a couplathree miles or so music is heard. As this blues-infused hubbub grows louder, the greater the caution in his by now much firmer step. Just ahead Copeland’s jook joint emanates light. He removes some dollar bills from the space in his left shoe once dedicated to toes before entering. Despite his noteworthy appearance, Freeborn blends into this hot sweat crowd’s voluble uproar. He proceeds to the bar unmolested and gestures for service while sitting down, breathing a deep sigh of relief…Via that dingy mirror behind the bar, Freeborn spends some time observing all these men who aren’t curbing any of their excesses mixing with skimpily clad floozies doing their provocative jobs. The Negro band? Swings pretty good. He listens close. Soon some beautiful-ish bimbo ripe for ravagement physically displaces the woebegone drunk tottering on the stool beside him. Because his head still thumps? Because his whole body still aches? Because more important matters loom? Her temptation shan’t prove stronger than my resistance, he resolves.”

These two characters can be found in Littig, a place in Eastern Travis County that was left behind when a highway was built and passenger rail was discontinued. When the precinct of Bastrop County within which Elgin is situated enacted Prohibition, neighboring Littig remained “wet.” Folks from Elgin would take the train to Littig, partake of the jook joint’s entertainment, and take the last train home, arriving at this depot.

100_1124Today this structure serves as the Elgin Depot Museum, which has been a tremendous resource for Bloody Big Dry Blues.

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