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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

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Payne’s Bar-B-Q (2002)

Essay by Joe York

Payne's Bar-B-QBingo was here before us… his pockets bulging with balloons, his deft fingers drumming the redcounter, his eyes fixed on the smoke-stained menu board, weighing pork against beef, beef against sausage, electing his lunch and handing over the money he made mangling his pocket’s plastic into giraffes and wiener dogs.

Thurman the loan officer was here, too. So was Adrian, the videographer; Rex, the recycler; Eunicia, the life insurance sales rep; Lonnie, the lawn care king; James, the attorney; Davis, the plumber; William, the paining mason; and in the middle of them all Hornton, who in 1972, hung up a pig outside and lit a fire under an ass on Elvis Presley.

But none of them are here right now. Darrell, who runs the place, says it’s too hot, says they’ll be out when the sun gets down a little more, when the short hand gets on the five.

All that’s here of them are the cards and the push pins that hold them fast to the bulletin board to the left of the counter, which stands in its porcine patina a thumb-tacked testament to the power of pork.

Payne's Bar-B-Q

Payne's Bar-B-Q

Payne's Bar-B-Q

Date of interview:
2002-01-01 00:00

Joe York

Amy C. Evans

Other Project Interviews



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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