This passage from the Federal Writers' Project state guide went for a relatively straight description, though it didn't neglect to mention the reputation of violence:

Strung along the highway west of Jacksonville are many 'jooks' of the type found on the outskirts of almost all large Florida cities (see Folklore). These establishments, variously defined as roadhouses or suburban saloons, are gathering places for urban and rural patrons who drink and dance to the music of a 'jook organ,' a nickel-in-the-slot, heavy-toned, electric phonograph. The reputation of jooks depends on their record for fights and disorders, and they also differ in the kind of music played. Those featuring old-time or mountain music are known as 'beer joints,' and their walls often bear placards requesting customers to conduct themselves as 'ladies and gentlemen.' In others, groups of youngsters congregate to huddle about a booming loud speaker and stamp their appreciation of the latest swing pieces. Both Negro and white jooks are numerous (429).

Interestingly enough, this description of jook joints is one of the only in the state guide to reference white jooks as well as black, which may in part account for its relatively even tone. Descriptions of black joints usually affected a more dramatic air, falling further into the conventions of the local color voice because they were depicting a "peculiar" space necessarily farther from the mainstream.




Juliet Gorman, May 2001