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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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John C. Johnson

Established in 1881, the Pendennis Club was founded as Louisville’s premier private men’s club. The place is steeped in history. It’s where the club’s first headwaiter, Henry Bain, created his now-famous sauce and where Louisville lore says the Old-Fashioned was invented. In 1952, at the age of sixteen, John C. Johnson got a job washing dishes at the club. After working his way through the ranks, Johnson was promoted to head waiter, only the third person to hold the title since Henry Bain did seventy-one years earlier. Johnson is a walking encyclopedia of information about the club and has collected more than a few stories over the years. He also witnessed a groundbreaking moment in the club’s history: its integration. After fifty years at the Pendennis Club, Johnson tried to retire, but he just couldn’t stay away. Today, he serves as director of membership relations and continues to train new employees in the art of good service.

Date of interview:
2008-01-16 00:00

Amy Evans

Amy 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.


Alex Raij Txikito

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