Most of you know that I’m a fan of the blues and the history that surrounds it. One of my cigar box guitar friends is Keni Lee Burgess who, among other pursuits, is a street busker in NYC. Keni recently posted an audio/video number he made with some friends on YouTube and the photos he chose took me rushing back to summers I spent at my Uncle Johnny’s grocery store in Columbia, SC.
Boswell’s Grocery sat smack dab in the middle of Columbia’s largest black neighborhoods. It was on the corner of Wheat and Lincoln Streets, both of which were nothing more than dusty dirt roads. The houses in the neighborhood were unpainted shotgun shacks with zero amenities. The people were poorer than the mosquitoes that made their evenings miserable.
Wheat ran along side the Boswell’s and at the end of it sat a makeshift building thrown together from found materials. I don’t know what it was used for during the week but on weekends it became the neighborhood juke joint and it came alive. I didn’t know what a juke joint was, just that we kids weren’t allowed near the place on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Armed with the knowledge of an adult I sure wish I could go back in time and see it all first hand and not from the pages of a history book.
I’m including an embed of Keni’s video and a photo of a building he included that somewhat reminds me of the one at the end of Wheat Street. A sort of framed structure sided with used tin roofing, Royal Crown Cola signs, and anything else that might keep the people in and the weather out.