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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

Jason Gross


Pat's Snack Bar

Jason Gross grew up in Manchester, Kentucky. As a child, he frequented the pool hall with his grandparents and parents. Gross’s great-grandfather racked pool at Pat’s for thirty five years. Both of his parents grew up around Pat’s Snack Bar. For Jason Gross and his family, Pat’s was a family affair.

Gross’s great-grandfather, James Cottrell, was an itinerant preacher from Virginia who traveled to Clay County, Kentucky, on a preaching circuit. He never left. Everyone in Manchester referred to Cottrell by his nickname, Preacher. Cottrell worked at a hot dog stand until it went out of business. Then, he began to rack pool for Pat House at his pool hall called The Hole. In 1950, he helped to build Pat’s Snack Bar with Pat and his brother, Clyde House. The building was finally finished in 1952. Preacher racked pool at Pat’s from 1952 until his death in 1987.

Following in his family’s footsteps, Jason Gross worked at Pat’s as a young man. In attempt to garner better wages, he left eastern Kentucky and worked as a truck driver and a utility service crewmember in South Florida. After a few years on the road, he returned home to be close to his family. Gross became a cook at Pat’s Snack Bar again.

Jason Gross continues to carry on the family tie to Pat’s Snack Bar. Along with two other cooks, Travis and Johnny, he cooks a new pot of chili every day. Each cook has a slightly different way of cooking the chili, adding his own spice blend to every batch. On any given day, you will find Gross serving up hamburgers and chili buns and kidding the regulars who walk through Pat’s doors.

Date of interview:
2016-11-01

Interviewer:
Sara Wood

Photographer:
Sara Wood

Download Transcript

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