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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

Roger & Christopher Dean


Roger Dean was 18 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 1950’s, 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 was tapped by his father to come on full-time when he was 30, 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 23-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:
2010-11-30 00:00

Interviewer:
Ashley Hall, Southern Foodways Alliance

Photographer:

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