Gentle Lee Rainey

Delta Fast Food
701 S. Davis Ave. @ HWY 61
Cleveland, MS 38732
(662) 846-8800

Gentle Lee Rainey is the third generation of his family born on Dockery Plantation. The one time home of Charlie Patton and Howlin’ Wolf, Dockery is widely considered the birthplace of the Blues. For Gentle Lee Rainey, it was the birthplace of the Delta hot tamale. Rainey’s grandfather, Sylvester Blaylock, began making his own version of this Delta delicacy, using cornhusks from the fields, in an effort to earn extra money on the weekends. Eventually, all of the men in Rainey’s family learned the art of tamale making. They would peddle their homemade bundles in the nearby town of Ruleville on Saturday nights. Today, Rainey owns and operates Delta Fast Food in Cleveland, where he has served hot tamales and other take-away foods since 1995. He still makes his hot tamales from his grandfather’s recipe. When Rainey’s not tending his store, he can be found tending to the old True Light Cemetery on Dockery, where his grandfather is buried.

Date of interview:

June 23, 2005

Interviewer:

Amy Evans

Photographer:

Amy Evans


Different people used to make tamales out on Dockery. I don't know why they got started…My grandfather used to do it…We use basically the same recipe that we used then. Nothing changed too much.

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