At the Crossroads of Blues History in Rosedale


Rosedale figures prominently in Mississippi blues lore. It is thought to be the hometown of Robert Johnson’s woman that lived “by the riverside”, and its Bruce Street was a small-town version of Memphis’ Beale Street or Jackson’s Farish Street. What is not clear is what has happened to Bruce Street. Most of the buildings are gutted, empty walls, or just foundations. As for the juke joints still standing, it seems not at all clear as to whether they are still open for business, or if they too have been abandoned. On one set of walls was spray-painted the name “Poor Eddie.” I was wondering if he had been the owner of the building before what ever happened to it happened, but I soon met Poor Eddie, who was standing with a group of men near the only joint that looked as if it might still be in business. Eddie took it upon himself to be my tour guide (expecting to be paid a little something of course), but he reconstructed the street in my mind’s eye as he named the owners of each building and what went on in them when they were up and running. In my haste to get to Greenville where relatives were waiting for me, I forgot to ask him what had happened to Bruce Street. Perhaps it was simply what had happened to the rest of the Delta-farm mechanization, extreme poverty and people moving away. All a little sad. But I gave Poor Eddie a couple of dollars for a “cold drink” and headed on down Highway 1.


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