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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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James Roy Reaves

After a thirty-year career installing glass in high-rise buildings in Memphis, James Roy Reaves decided it was time for a change. With the help of a relative who owned a barbecue restaurant in McKenzie, Tennessee, James Roy and his wife, Verna, already locally known for her delicious cakes and pies, opened Westside Barbecue in 1988. Roy and Verna crafted their restaurant into a true family establishment, employing almost all of their family members and making sure the restaurant was family-friendly, complete with tables James Roy hand-crafted and a toy train that runs along the ceiling. Despite almost being destroyed by a fire in 2006, Westside continues to serve the people of New Albany, as well as neighboring towns, who come in search of good barbecue—and cake.

Two interviews, James Roy Reaves and Verna Reaves, are featured for this establishment.

Date of interview:
2010-07-16 00:00

Meghan Leonard

Meghan Leonard

Download Transcript Download Transcript 2



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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