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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

Helen Turner


Helen Turner’s joint is one of the smokiest barbecue spots around. Located a mile off tiny Brownsville’s town-center, Mrs. Turner cooks on an open pit; a simple, yet effective operation: bricks, metal fencing, hot coals, plenty of smoke, and meat. It is all contained within a screened-in back porch resulting in billows of woody smoke. She admits that the fumes make her cry sometimes.

A long-time barbecue employee of the present location’s various incarnations, Helen seized the opportunity to make the business her own back in 1996. She is one of only a handful of female pit-cooks in the country.


pig chartWe first visited Helen’s Bar-B-Q in 2003 as part of our initial foray into documenting rural Tennessee ‘cue. Visit the original Helen’s Bar-B-Q.


 

Date of interview:
2008-07-17 00:00

Interviewer:
Rien T. Fertel

Photographer:
Rien T. Fertel

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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.

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