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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.

< Back to Oral History project: Sorghum: Southern Sugars

ORAL HISTORY

Ronald Jenkins


Jynx Sorghum Syrup

Ronald Jenkins was born in Jackson, Mississippi in 1957. His family moved to Bruce, Mississippi in 1959 to be closer to family. His father ran a country store in the community and his mother worked in a garment plant. As a result, Jenkins spent much of his childhood with his maternal grandfather, E.L. Steele. Steele cooked sorghum for the community, and Jenkins spent time with him. Mose Tuggle, who worked for Steele, often helped him cook for the public. A full time job and a family kept Jenkins from growing and cooking sorghum himself. After his grandfather became too old to cook sorghum, Jenkins still spent time with Tuggle each fall when he cooked sorghum.

When Jenkins retired, he decided to make sorghum again. Both his grandfather E.L. Steele and Mose Tuggle had passed away in the early 2000s. He bought Mose Tuggle’s mill and restored it to working order, repainting it the original red and rechristening it “The Old Tuggle Mill.” Jenkins built his own evaporator pan and plants an heirloom variety of sorghum seeds Christine Tuggle, Mose’s widow, gave him. Every year, he plants, harvests, and cooks sorghum.

Date of interview:
2018-10-02

Interviewer:
Annemarie Anderson

Photographer:
Annemarie Anderson

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