It appears that as soon as jook joints started to register on the radar of official record, they acquired a reputation. The FWP Florida guide tracks their first authoritative mention to a murder case, suggesting that as jook joints were brought into official discourse it was in outlaw terms; "Will McGuire, in his 'Note on Jook,' published in the Florida Review, says the word was originally applied to Negro bawdy houses. It gained legal recognition in connection with a murder case in the prairie cattle country of Florida. Witnesses testified that the killing took place in a 'jook joint,' and the term was later incorporated in a state supreme court decision" (133).

A hovering cloud of infamy penetrates most formal descriptions, and makes jook joints particularly appealing subjects of local color pieces. The tone of these local color treatments of jook joints could range from the less-affected descriptive to the playfully humorous and ironic, to dramatically grave, but the effect was usually, to some degree, of a caricature.




Juliet Gorman, May 2001



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