Little Joe’s supper club
Published 8:19 pm Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Now is the time to ask: Who remembers Little Joe? I promise that you have been asked a lot of questions when people learn that you are from Lake Mitchell, a real show-place, if you will. It was very possible that you might see anyone who was anyone at one time at Little Joe’s, especially those of us that like to remember all our rich heritage.
You might not think of Little Joe’s as a “show-place,” maybe picture it in Hong Kong Harbor, see what I mean. It had class to begin with, built in sections of 12 feet square, and after about 50 years, it spanned 75 feet, all with that “rusted tin” look with a few old signs patched carefully in perfect spots.But when you got inside, it got a little rustic, if you know what I mean. It even had a hole in the floor just to the left of the dance floor for the children to fish and watch mommy dance. Very convenient.
Where is this place located, you might ask? Well, if it were still with us, it’s proper location would be Fixico Creek (all of Fixico). Don’t know the folks I have seen way up in Weogufka or Hatchett looking for it. They didn’t exactly advertise, you see. I found my way in there first via Sylacauga, and I could never find my way back! It was worth the trip, though.
I asked Little Joe once after I had gotten to know him pretty well: How and why did you locate here? He answered, “I guess you have never seen it by air—prettiest place on earth!” Why, I asked, and then a smile crossed his face. He told me that he had lived in Chicago in the bad days, worked with some bad people and had a bad disagreement. He said he grabbed a little money, hired a plane to find the most desolate place he could find. Didn’t he do a good job?
You see there were no hours or dress code, which brings us to another story. Back in the old “hay days,” Coosa County was “dry.” Over a period of years, Little Joe had gone, and the county voted wet. We all wondered if Little Joe’s widow Mildred would get the proper license and go “legit.”I was so proud that she got her license. She really got mad every few days, though, when a couple of ABC officers would show up telling her all the things she couldn’t do. She said, “Look, I have operated this place without license, I get license now you are always hanging around telling me what I can’t do, what’s the difference?” She said the officer just looked at her new license. She got the message, said she took the thumbtacks out and handed them to him. He smiled and said, “Have a nice day.” I laughed as I thought, after the drive in there, the ABC board thought it just wasn’t worth it.
Little Joe’s, like a lot of us, just gradually fell apart and went away. I miss it; I miss Little Joe, Mildred and all the folks you would have seen there. By the way, another thing Little Joe brought to Lake Mitchell was the art of shocking fish (telephoning as we know it). This was in the late or mid-1940s, and it wasn’t illegal then. He had a large deck boat and would go out on Saturday Nights, shocking fish with a generator, and the others would pick the fish up in their smaller boats.
I wish you had a Little Joe’s, you could ignore them or go way up into Fixico (tell ‘em I sent you) and visit or just look down your nose at them. By the way, if you care, I believe most of the story that Little Joe told me and haven’t told anybody else since. Y’all keep cruisin’.