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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to

< Back to Oral History project: Hot Tamale Trail


Tamara Calhoun

Airport Grocery (formerly The Shanty)

Jonathan Vance, a native of Benoit, Mississippi, owns Airport Grocery in Cleveland, Mississippi. When he opened the restaurant in 1992, Jonathan wanted to honor the Delta hot tamale tradition. His grandfather was a friend of renowned tamale-maker Joe Pope of Joe’s Hot Tamale Place, a.k.a. White Front Café, in Rosedale. Mr. Pope was generous enough to share his expertise with the Vance family. Pope’s tamale recipe has been used since the beginning. Tamara Calhoun makes the tamales for Airport Grocery according to Joe Pope’s method.

NOTE: When this interview was conducted, Jonathan Vance operated two restaurants in Cleveland: Airport Grocery on Highway 8 and The Shanty on Highway 61. Today, Vance operates just Airport Grocery, which is in the old Shanty location on Highway 61.

Date of interview:
2005-06-23 00:00

Amy C. Evans

Amy C. Evans

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


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