The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

3 September 2005

Something's missing

The first two sidewalk plaques have been placed in Deep Deuce, in honor of James "Doughbelly" Brooks, guardian of Deep Deuce history and beaming presence at the Golden Oak Barber Shop, and Russell M. Perry, publisher of the Black Chronicle and operator of a statewide radio group. (A dart to Leland Gourley of Friday, who was so proud to be there, and who misidentified Perry as the publisher of the Black Dispatch.)

At the dedication ceremony, Mayor Cornett recalled some of the fabled places of Deep Deuce (all addresses are on NE 2nd Street unless specified otherwise), including:

  • The Aldridge Theater at 303, run by music teacher Zella Page Breaux; her students included Jimmy Rushing and Charlie Christian.

  • Ruby's Grill at 322½, despite its name and unassuming address a huge nightclub.

  • The Black Dispatch office at 324 (formerly a gas station), Roscoe Dunjee's pioneering newspaper. (Dunjee had originally set up shop on 1st.)

  • Anderson Building at 327, named for oilman Forest Anderson, which housed the Golden Oak.

  • Randolph's Drug Store at 331, possibly the state's leading soda fountain in those days.

  • Calvary Baptist Church at 300 N Walnut, launching point for civil-rights activities.

There were many, many more, but with the exception of Calvary Baptist, which is now Covenant Life Center, the one thing they all have in common is absence: this block of Deep Deuce was bulldozed years ago.

It's wonderful to have people actually living in Deep Deuce again, and it's good to see the city remembering its heritage, but there's still the sensation that maybe they waited just a little too long to remember.

Posted at 10:26 PM to City Scene