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Joy Boys: 1940

December 1940. Starke, Florida. "Soldiers Joy Cafe, newly constructed for construction workers near Camp Blanding." Acetate negative by Marion Post Wolcott. View full size.

December 1940. Starke, Florida. "Soldiers Joy Cafe, newly constructed for construction workers near Camp Blanding." Acetate negative by Marion Post Wolcott. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

Joy Boys

Well, OK, but the one on the right looks like a sourball. No joy with this dude.

Who dunnit?

LOC says these Starke photos are by Marion Post Wolcott.

[Oops. Right you are! - Dave]

Who built the bar?

The building the bar is in looks like a barracks.

I'll bet at night the neon looked really cool.

Weekend at Joy Boy's

Either the word "JOY" isn't in the fellow on the rights vocabulary or this was the idea for the comedy movie Weekend at Bernie's, 1940 style.

A 1940 Fashion Statement?

The sartorial skills in Starke are seriously lacking. But help is coming lads -- smart, fashionable and practical men's clothing will be widely available after the war.

The gent on the right

Looks old enough to remember the Great War, certainly too old for active duty in the current one.

Jax also Builds Health!

1940's Refrigerator - Tool Box Magnet, probably an ad design by Alberto Vargas.

Best version of Soldier's Joy you'll ever hear

On the "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" album, with John McEuen ripping through the melody and Junior Huskey laying down a killer bass line.

Listen to it here:

Fast getaway

I bet there were nightly face plants from those stairs.

Macabre meaning

Soldier's Joy is a 200-year-old Scottish fiddle tune that Robert Burns eventually wrote lyrics for. His version is of a veteran who is homeless and disfigured from battle, but recounts the joy of having served in the army.

During the Civil War the phrase became synonymous with morphine, as some lyrics written during that time go:

"Gimme some of that Soldier’s Joy, you know what I mean,
I don’t want to hurt no more, my leg is turnin’ green."

Not at war yet

For you "Ice Gang", check the date of the photo, we are not at war yet.

[The reason this bar was built -- to serve the hundreds of construction workers newly arrived to build barracks at Camp Blanding -- and the reason John Vachon was assigned to take these photos, was the War. By December 1940, a year before Pearl Harbor, America was heavily involved in the war effort. - Dave]

Native Floridian at a glance

Starke is in northern Florida and this image was made in December so to a native of the state the weather is very cold. To those new in town it is Florida and 60 degrees is plenty warm -- all we need are sleeves and maybe a light sweater.

It is even more obvious in South Florida when picking out Canadians versus natives at the pool in January. Canadians dive in when natives hesitate to dip a toe.

Three fellows

waiting for a novel to be written about them.

The middle guy and one on the viewer's left look like they could be related. Brothers? But the fellow in the coat and hat --

I bet they all told interesting stories when they were drunk.

Does it really get cold enough in Florida for a coat that heavy?

[Oh my yes. - Dave]

It seems the war

did not stifle the production of beer or neon signs.

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