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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.

ORAL HISTORY

Patsy Frey


Billy and Patsy Frey didn’t start out in the boudin business. They had careers in the oil industry, and even maintained a few rental properties. But they long wanted to work for themselves and, with help from Patsy’s father, they opened their first convenience store in Krotz Springs, Louisiana. Business started slow at Billy’s Mini-Mart, so they added boudin to the store’s offerings to attract customers. It worked; it worked so well, in fact, that they expanded and now make boudin full time.

Today the couple still owns Billy’s Mini-Mart in Krotz Springs, but the new store in Opelousas is headquarters for making boudin. “New store” may be a misleading description; Ray’s was a town favorite for many years before the Frey’s purchased it. Patsy remembers shopping there as a child when she would visit her grandmother in a nearby neighborhood. Ray’s Boudin was such a popular spot, with such a loyal customer following, that the Freys decided to retain the store name—and Ray’s recipe—after they bought it.

Today, hungry eaters can shop at Billy and Ray’s Boudin and order up links of either recipe. Billy’s boudin is spicy and meaty; Ray’s is milder, with more rice. Battered and fried boudin balls are also an option, most popular with drive-thru customers who prefer finger foods. There’s a dine-in option, of course. Customers can walk inside, grab a drink from the back wall of coolers (alcoholic or not), and step up to the counter to place an order. There are tables inside for eating, and a back room with video poker for entertainment. Wherever you eat it, the boudin is served in a red-checked paper tray, stapled inside of a white paper sack with a stamped logo: a boudin man firing pistols for Ray’s recipe, or a pig in a pot, which represents Billy’s hotter style.

Date of interview:
2009-02-19 00:00

Interviewer:
Mary Beth Lasseter

Photographer:
Mary Beth Lasseter

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