By Linda Emley
I grew up in Richmond in the 1970s and was part of the “hippie” generation. I had the long, straight “Peggy Lipton” style hair and wore bell-bottom jeans, so I looked like my friends but my heart was always in the past.
I was really a 1950s girl because I always dreamed of hot rod cars and James Dean. When I think of the 1950s and the early days of rock ‘n’ roll, I’m sitting in a booth sipping a soda and listening to a jukebox.
The jukebox got it’s name from the 1940s “juke joints,” roadside bars known for being rowdy. There were a few rowdy joints in Richmond like the Black Cat, but we will save that story for another day.
Jukeboxes were popular in the 1940s and were still being used in the 1970s. I remember picking out songs to play on a jukebox. After you pushed the number of your favorite song, you had to wait your turn for it to start playing. When a song started and it wasn’t yours, you would look around the room and try to figure out whose song it was.
It was always a thrill when your song started. We live in a totally different world today because now you can have your favorite 1,000 songs play anytime just by touching your phone.
After asking a few of my friends, I found several places in Richmond that had a jukebox. Some of the locations were, the bowling alley, Seek’s Cafe, the Shack at 10-13, The 210 Supper Club, Teen Town, the Taxi Stand and Tony’s Cafe that was under Ben Franklin.
David Driskell shared a story about a local jukebox that hit near and dear to my heart because it was about a good friend that passed on last year. This one is for you Kerry Farris Woods.
David recalled, “I remember going to Hardwick’s Drive-In with Dean Park, Kerry Woods and Jim Halterman and listening to Bob Kuban and the In Men’s recording of “Harlem Shuffle.” (You can hear the song at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1aG7KTvBek
). Dean took his guitar and that is how they learned the song so they could play it in their band.
David and the guys had a band called the “Vandals” and they played their share of gigs around Richmond in the 1960s. Hearing this story reminds me of the 1981 Foreigner song “Jukebox Hero,” which is a song about “that one guitar made his whole life change.”
There were many other jukeboxes around town and so please let me know where you remember playing your favorite songs so we can start a Jukebox Hall of Fame list .
For all those people to young to remember the joys of a jukebox, it’s your lucky day because the jukebox in this picture will soon be a part of the collection at the Ray County Museum.
You can also see it in action on the stage of the Farris Theater in an upcoming production. The Ray County Museum loaned this vintage, fully functional jukebox to the Ray County Community Arts Association for “Nunsense: The Mega Musical,” which will be at the Farris Theatre Aug. 9-10 at 7:30 p.m. and Aug. 11 at 2 p.m. Reserved seating tickets are available at the Farris Box office – $8 for students and seniors $10 for adults. Tickets sold at the door will be $10 for students and seniors and $12 for adults.
I can’t wait to see our jukebox on the stage at the Farris. After this production is over, the RCCAA will be moving the relic to its final home on the hill at the Ray County Museum.
The Ray County Community Arts Association is a wonderful group that I joined earlier this year. I started attending meetings because I wanted to get them involved in a program for our upcoming “Battle of Albany Reenactment” in 2014. After attending several meetings, I somehow became the secretary, so now I am one of the RCCAA crew. Please come join us the first Tuesday of each month at the Eagleton Center. Our meetings start at 7 p.m. and we always have fun as we plan our next adventure of bringing the arts to Ray County.
Have a favorite jukebox tune you’d like to nominate for the Jukebox Hall of Fame? Email Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org.