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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

Lynn Dale Coleman


Coleman’s Sausage & Specialty Meats

Coleman’s Sausage and Specialty Meats is tucked away in the Iota countryside, a few miles outside of downtown, on Des Cannes Highway. It’s called the “new store,” but it’s actually the only store they’ve ever had.

Mr. Howard Coleman started the business in 1964. He had worked in the oil fields, but learned from a neighbor how to make sausage. He started making it as a hobby at home, and when he realized that he could earn a good living at it, he left the oil fields and started producing sausage full time. His house was his headquarters. He’d grind and stuff the sausage in the kitchen, and then take it to the smokehouse out back for cooking. There wasn’t a public storefront with a display case; buyers would have to place orders in advance, and then his wife, Winnie Jo Coleman, would make area deliveries in her car. Friends who knew the family well might stop by the house to pick up their order of sausage. Occasionally, as SFA member and Coleman’s customer Jim Gossen remembers, the Colemans would have a hot meal waiting for him in the kitchen when he’d stop by in the evenings to pick up big orders.

In 1997, after a fire destroyed the smokehouse in the backyard and almost burned the house, Mr. Coleman’s son, Lynn Dale Coleman, rebuilt and moved the business to its present location out on the highway. Once they moved to the “new store,” they expanded. The extra space allowed them to prepare not only sausage, but stuffed chickens and stuffed catfish. And it was at the new store that they developed the now-popular boudin recipe; the original Mr. Coleman had never made boudin.

The expanded menu makes for happy customers. Despite the store’s rural location, they never lack for shoppers. Most items are sold pre-packed for cooking at home, but hot boudin links to go are available for passers by wanting a quick lunch.

Date of interview:
2009-02-08 00:00

Interviewer:
Mary Beth Lasseter

Photographer:
Mary Beth Lasseter

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