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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. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to annemarie@southernfoodways.org.

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Lewis Shuckman

Shuckman's Fish Company & Smokery

Lewis Shuckman’s grandfather, Isia, taught him to be patient. He told Lewis, “Just do your thing. And once you get started with something don’t change it.” Isia, a master butcher, moved from Chicago to Louisville, and in 1919 opened Shuckman’s Meat Market and Grocery. He raised his family in the apartment above the store. During the Great Flood of 1937, Isia moved inventory upstairs as customers rowed boats to Shuckman’s as he distributed groceries out the window and kept tabs for later. Using recipes written in his native Russian, Isia made sausage and smoked fish. When his son, Alvin, took over the business in 1954, he had many of those recipes translated into English. Lewis chose the family business over a career in radio and took over in 2001 after his father died. Over the years, Shuckman’s transitioned from a grocery and meat market to Shuckman’s Fish Company & Smokery, focusing solely on fish (salmon and Kentucky trout, among others). Lewis continues using old family recipes but has added new ones, including salmon sausage and Kentucky Spoonfish Caviar, which is harvested from paddlefish – a prehistoric fish. Today Shuckman’s remains a family affair: Lewis works with his wife, Vicki, and daughters Lauren, Whitney, and Shannon.

Date of interview:

Sara Wood

Sara Wood

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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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