Blog » What's In a Photograph? (1/20)

If you missed the series introduction, you can read it here.

A cross roads store, bar, “juke joint,” and gas station in the cotton plantation area, Melrose, LA., ca. 1940.

Photo: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

To paraphrase a line I read not long ago about pictures, they capture a moment but can contain a world. A Juke Joint at a cross-roads in Louisiana about 1940. A place of refuge and rejuvenation. And who could have known that such places would also give birth to a musical genre that all artists all over the world consider to be the musical staff of life, as basic and necessary as breathing. “Hey Mr. Johnson, play me some Blues.” And who is that guy sitting there with shoulders so weighted down that we can almost feel it ourselves? We can’t see his face but we can see he’s big and we somehow know he’s pretty old. We’d like to know more about him and that place. They say if you look at a picture long enough it will give you the answers to the questions you ask. Let’s look at it some more.

Visitor Comments

Tony Colley
01/20/2012

Wonder what those two gentlemen are talking about this day... and how long they sat there. Do they know about the wars in Europe and Asia that are about to engulf their world, and perhaps take their younger brothers, sons, or grandsons?

Who took this photo ... and why? Was the photographer just passing through and thought this moment captured the essence of central Louisiana, whatever he/she thought that essence was?

I see unhurried, or perhaps lethargic. I see run-down, but perhaps there are some indications that things are finally getting better after the long Great Depression.


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