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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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Cheryl Lay

For years, Roger “Rabbit” Smith worked for Pullman Standard, putting brakes on boxcars. On weekends and holidays he cooked barbecue for his family at home. When the company he worked for went out of business, Roger looked to barbecue to earn his living. His in-laws offered him the vacant side of their store on Warrior River Road, and Roger jumped at the opportunity. In 1980 Rabbit’s Bar-B-Q was born. Roger designed the pit after the one at Leo & Susie’s Famous Green Top in Dora, Alabama, but the barbecue was all his own. His wife Linda developed their sauce, as well as their sides. Their daughters, Cheryl and Lisa, worked with customers and developed barbecue skills of their own. Today, Cheryl runs their new location across the street from where it all began. Roger still starts the fires and checks the pits from time to time.

Date of interview:
2006-10-05 00:00

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.


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