Captain Jug's Tavern
I’ve received favorable comments on my compositions arranged from various sites and photographs. This one is comparatively clumsy, and it precedes the one I posted two days ago. In fact it is one of my first “composites.” The hotel is along historic Route 66, west of St. Louis. It no longer stands–even the sign has been removed. I looked at that place for twenty years on my travels back and forth between Fort Worth, Texas and St. Louis, Missouri. I’ve watercolored the hotel several times, and may post some other renderings of it in the future. The derelict brick building covered in growth was my Uncle “Jug’s” tavern called Riverview Inn. It faced the Mississsippi River front at Neely’s Landing in southeast Missouri. The tavern was backed up against a limestone cliff, and the cooler room where beer was stored was actually a hollowed-out cave in the face of the cliff. The building had no back wall of its own–it was the stone bluff itself. Of course the building is gone now. My uncle has been dead for decades, and the river flooded it enough times that it finally came down. But everytime I look at this painting, I still smell the stale cigarette smoke and the beer, and remember the blinking lights and bells sounding from the miniature bowling lane that operated when you put dimes in the vender. I spent many a night on the Mississippi River dike across the railroad tracks from my uncle’s tavern, fishing for catfish and alligator gar. Occasionally I would cross the tracks for Cokes, candy, popcorn, and to listen for a few moment’s to one of my other uncles playing steel guitar in the band that played there every weekend (first time I heard “Your Cheatin’ Heart”). I don’t know what the liquor laws were, back in those days, but the remoteness of Neely’s Landing guaranteed that the music would go on and the beer would continue to pour long past 2:00 a.m. I know that because I always fished the river till the sun came up, and sometimes the last of the cars would be leaving about then.
Because of the railroad tracks that were there, and because Neely’s Landing is probably now completely gone, I chose to add a switcher locomotive I found at an abandoned mine in Pacific, Missouri. So–the hotel from Route 66, the switcher from Pacific and my uncle’s tavern from southeast Missouri combined for one of my first attempts at creating a fictional environment. I don’t find this composition as convincing as my later work, but at least it marks for me an early attempt at creating a space that could appear to the casual viewer as real. Thank you for pausing to look.
Oh! One more thing! For any of you who have been following my recent blog entries, I just looked at this watercolor, and there is something else–my uncle’s tavern has a wing attached to it in this picture. It doesn’t belong there. If you will look, you will find this wing attached as a front porch to an old two-story house in my entry about my “First Gallery Sale.” The house near Union, Missouri. The wing attached to this tavern actually was the front porch of that house inUnion. So–this picture combines Route 66, Pacific, Neely’s Landing, and Union.