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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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Ricky Parker

Ricky Parker started working at Scott’s Barbecue in 1976 at the age of fourteen, taking over ownership of the business in 1989. He works sixteen to twenty hour days, six days a week. He never stops working, so it’s hard to tell if he is joking when he says he exhausts four to five pair of shoes each year. He is consumed by barbecue, famously repeating that he is more married to the job than to his wife.

Ricky cooks whole hog barbecue. He recognizes that he is “original,” that he is doing something “special,” and that he is “a dying breed.” This may all be true, but at the most fundamental level he respects the craft and tradition of the whole hog and his teacher Early Scott. It is very telling that only recently—after twenty years of owning the business—has Ricky added his own name to the signage, it is now Scott’s Parker’s Barbecue.

We first visited Scott’s Bar-B-Que in 2003 as part of our initial foray into documenting rural Tennessee ‘cue. Visit the original Scott’s Bar-B-Que page.

Date of interview:
2008-07-23 00:00

Rien T. Fertel

Rien T. Fertel

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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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