The Rocket’s Red Glare

In the 1940s and 1950s, when Jacksboro Highway had a reputation as Vice Avenue, a linear Hell’s Half Acre, this whitewashed building was the Rocket Club.

Back then the highway was lined with such nightclubs: the Rocket, the Skyliner, Black Cat, Showboat, the Barrel, the Casino, the 3939, Four Deuces, Coconut Grove. The others are long gone. And the Rocket Club building now houses a muffler shop.

Jimmy Pack has owned A-1 Muffler & Welding for eighteen years. He showed me around. Back in the glory days of the Rocket, only a huge canvas awning covered the center of the building. Beneath the awning was the dance floor. The awning could be retracted so that couples could dance under the stars to the music of B. B. King, Big Joe Turner, and T-Bone Walker. The dance floor is gone, and a metal roof has replaced the awning, but Pack showed me the motor that retracted the awning.

And, alas, the rocket sign no longer lights up. But Pack showed me a photo, taken in 1973, that shows the sign when it could still brighten the night sky over Vice Avenue.

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