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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

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Roger & Christopher Dean

Dean’s Barbeque

Roger Dean was eighteen months old when his mother opened Dean’s Truck Stop on what was then a major trucking route between Pennsylvania and Florida. Many decades ago the highway moved a few miles over, but Dean’s Barbeque, as it’s been known since the 1950s, is in the same building and location as the day it opened. Roger started working at Dean’s as a curb hop when he was nine years old. The second-youngest of eight children, Roger’s father tapped him to come on full time when he was thirty, and he’s been there ever since.

Dean’s Barbeque is as traditional as you get. The Dean family cooked over an actual open pit (no chimney) until the mid-eighties, when the federal government made them build a brick pit, now enclosed by a screen-porch-like structure. They still only cook hams, and only cook over local hickory. Roger’s son Christopher Dean pulls two twenty-three-hour pit-side shifts a week to keep an eye on the fire and the smoking hams. And though Roger’s health prevents him from working long hours, you can still find him perched behind the counter telling yarns and chatting up the regulars.

Date of interview:

Ashley Hall, Southern Foodways Alliance


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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.


Alex Raij Txikito

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