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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

Gerri & Stephen Grady


Stephen and Gerri Grady married in 1986, the same year they established their eponymous barbecue house. The newlyweds purchased the pithouse from Mr. Grady’s brother, who lasted only one day in business (he found the hardwood smoke overwhelming). Grady says he always knew how to cook a pig; by the time he was “big enough to walk,” he was helping his grandfather, the neighborhood pitmaster for hire. Mrs. Grady, who, like her husband, grew up on a farm in nearby Seven Springs, also remembers helping her family roast whole hogs in ground-dug pits. The Gradys call what they do the “old-fashioned way.” Tea is brewed on the stovetop. All items on the generous vegetable spread are peeled, chopped, and cooked daily. The whole hog is still slow-smoked over oak and hickory coals. Grady’s Barbecue was launched as a post-retirement pursuit for the pair; plans to close their business, dates circled on the calendar, have been made and passed over. But now Stephen and Gerri want to take their first vacation in three decades, and they acknowledge that their barbecue run may soon finally end. Modest and grateful, the Gradys live by the axiom “this day is the last this day.”

Date of interview:
2011-12-07 00:00

Interviewer:
Rien T. Fertel

Photographer:
Denny Culbert

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