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Got a letter from a friend name Young From Ms letter got terribly stung He said, come to Washington, D. C. To manage club for a woman—do-ra-me,
And said, take the next train and leate
It was cold as hell and I thot I freeze
He met me at the train
In the ice and snow and rain
He said to me I know she will he please
We sent in the place
And the oil stove hit me in the face. , . .*
The place that so stank in Jelly's nostrils was a nightclub
upstairs from a U Street hamburger joint in Washington's colored section. There, as partner to one Cordelia—a lady who apparently had nothing better to do with her money than to lose it in a badly run night-spot, Mister Jelly Roll nursed his sorrows for several bitter seasons, playing master of ceremonies, producing sorry little revues, acting as bouncer on occasion, mixing drinks for important guests, sometimes even cooking New Orleans dishes for his friends. This place was variously called The Music Box, The Blue Moon Inn, The Jungle Club; every time it failed, Jelly gave it a more primitive name, thus hinting at his low opinion of Washington night-club patrons.
Cordelia was a nice lady in her way, good and kind and generous, but her fuzzy-minded, small-town approach to the business drove Jelly wild. He had big ideas, as always. Sometimes his enthusiasm would carry them both through a re-decoration job, a new neon sign for the front door, new acts imported from New York, and a new stock of liquor for the bar. Then Cordelia would balk at a few more dolars for a really good band or she would drop the cover charge for some of her Tbw-class" friends or lower the tone of this little bit of old New Orleans in some other way (at least that was his story), and Jelly Roll, King of Jazz, would give up and sulk in
* From an article in The Record Changer by R. J. Carew, 1943.