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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.


Barbara Pope

Born in 1924, Joe Pope was the oldest of ten children. His family moved from Alabama to the Rosedale area in the 1930s. Joe held different jobs over the years, but in the 1970s, after a friend shared a recipe with him, he began selling hot tamales. It is said that the friend, John Hooks, got the recipe from a Mexican migrant sometime in the 1930s. A side-job at first, Joe’s Hot Tamale Place, also known as The White Front Café, became so popular that Joe made it a full-time business when he retired from his day job. Joe passed away in December of 2004, but his youngest sister, Barbara Pope, is still making his famous tamales. Barbara worked by her brother’s side for seven years, helping to fill and roll the tamales by hand. Today, Barbara, her sisters, and their ninety-seven year-old mother, Emma, can be found at the White Front, cooking and selling the same hot tamales that Joe made famous.

Date of interview:
2005-07-21 00:00

Amy C. Evans

Amy C. Evans

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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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