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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.

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ORAL HISTORY

Patricia Cummings


Patricia Cummings, born in 1957, grew up in Buffalo, New York. She got her first restaurant job working in a Italian restaurant in 1972. Cummings and a friend moved to Los Angeles after high school graduation in 1976. A visual artist and photographer, she found work producing production stills during the booming 1980s. She balanced her freelance career by cocktail waitressing in hotels and serving in fine dining restaurants.

When Cummings and her then-boyfriend drove to New Orleans in their camper van in 1993, she was taken with the city. It became her home. A professional server, Cummings got her start in New Orleans serving at the DoubleTree Hotel on Canal Street upon her arrival. She worked at Marigny’s Feelings Café from 2000 to 2018. She presently works at Gabrielle Restaurant. When she is not in the restaurant, she uses her artistic skills to produce faux finishes in historic homes. Waiting tables, as Patty points out, affords her the freedom to pursue her art professionally without having to worry about landing her next commission, contributing to a healthy work-life balance.

Date of interview:
2019-08-14

Interviewer:
Justin Nystrom

Photographer:
L. Kasimu Harris

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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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