Saturday, November 19, 2016

Louisiana: Opelousas: Highway 190 West of Town

Highway 190, west Opelousas, Louisiana. October 2015.

On a sunny day in October 2015, I explored a bit the part of Highway 190 that's on the west side of Opelousas.

Club 190 West, Opelousas, Louisiana. October 2015.

The structures there told a story of a time back in the 1950s, for the most part, when there was a line of happening little nightclubs, like Club 190 West and the Southern Club, and other small businesses.

The Southern Club, Opelousas, Louisiana. October 2015.

A slideshow below, playing to a vintage Bessie Smith tune:

Off of Highway 190 is a tree-lined area, home to the defunct Oaks Motel and Lounge, which closed in 2014.

Oaks Motel and Lounge, Opelousas, Louisiana. October 2015.

From the Daily World:
The Oaks Motel and Lounge, an Opelousas landmark for decades, is going away.
" ... It was an icon,” ....“Man! I can still taste that red draft in those frozen mugs. ...."
Colver Lafleur built the club and adjoining apartments. They opened at 218 S. Liberty St. in Opelousas on Sept. 13, 1957.

If you were a young person looking for a good time, it was the place to be.
The Oaks was famous for its red draft beer. “It was about two fingers of tomato juice then topped off with draft beer and served in an ice cold mug straight out of the freezer,” remembers Lainey Prejean Smith, Lafleur’s granddaughter. “We also had cherry Coke with real cherries for those not old enough to drink.”

[When The Oaks opened in 1957], [r]ock ‘n’ roll was in its infancy, and the joint had a jukebox that played all the hits of the day. “I danced many nights away in front of that jukebox, cher,” Smith said.
And by nights, she meant all night. “Until the blue laws were passed in the 1970s, the Oaks was open 24 hours a day. You would start the evening with a draft beer and end the morning with the big, hot cup of coffee and a hot sausage,” Smith said.

Sports writer Bobby Ardoin remembers the place always had a card game going on in the back room. “There was always a big black pot of stew or gumbo cooking. You would grab a bowl and just sit down and play,” Ardoin said. “Many a bourrĂ© game was played there,” posted Cindi York Cooper.

Randy Herpin remembers those all-night card games well. "Dr. (S.J.) Rozas was a regular. He was one of those doctors who still made house calls and would take chickens as payment,” he recalled.
The club and its iconic neon sign reached an audience beyond Opelousas when they surfaced in the music video of Sammy Kershaw’s 1994 chart topper “Third-Rate Romance.”

Vine and Liberty, Opelousas, Louisiana. October 2015.

Someone received a public warning.

Off Highway 190, Opelousas, Louisiana. October 2015.

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