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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

Ginger and Harvey Gauthier


The motto at Joyce’s Supermarket – “Where Prices are Born Not Raised” – is as unorthodox as its sausage selection, and it points to the good humor and ingenuity of its proprietor, Lowell Gauthier. Approaching his 70s, Lowell still has a hand in every aspect of the business that he and his estranged wife, Joyce, founded in 1969. Several of their five children also work at the store. Ginger Gauthier happily spent her childhood at Joyce’s, napping on 50-pound sacks of rice in a back room when she tired. By the time she turned 12 or 13 years-old she was at the check-out counter, calculating sales tax in her head. Today, she can’t imagine working anyplace else. Ginger’s younger brother, Harvey, recalls watching his father break down whole sides of beef with just a handsaw and a clever. They didn’t sell fresh sausage at Joyce’s back then, but with seven mouths to feed his parents always had a pot on the stove. These days, Harvey sometimes cooks Joyce’s plate lunch specials—perhaps red or white beans, beef and gravy, chicken fricassee or smothered potatoes. And once the temperatures dip to seventy degrees, the siblings say, their clientele starts asking for gumbo, which they make in sixty-quart batches. For the most part you’ll find chicken and sausage gumbo at Joyce’s, though Harvey and Ginger’s personal gumbo repertoire is much broader: duck, hen, shrimp and okra, seafood with boiled eggs, and even squirrel.

Date of interview:
2008-08-20 00:00

Interviewer:
Sara Roahen

Photographer:

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