Listening to Blues singer Charles Brown and his song, Please Come Home For Christmas has become a tradition for our family. He’d sing to us from Thanksgiving Day throughout the Christmas holiday. If you ask any one of my cousins, they can sing the entire song, including the lead guitar interlude. It is forever seared in our brains. There was a time when we’d cover our ears trying to escape the anguish of repetition, now we cannot wait to hear it played to signify the beginning of the season, but this song will ring differently for me this year. Covid-19 has made sure of that. As I pen this, we have had over 300 thousand deaths and 17 million cases of the virus in America alone. As a result we have been asked to make some changes, and forced to create new normals and reminisce about the times before. With all of these new limitations one cannot help but wonder, exactly what it means for Christmas? How are we expected to celebrate the holiday without our families?
Christmas with no family reminds me of spending Christmas overseas while I served in the Navy. Yea, it’s Christmas, buuut...Where is my family? Where are the hundreds of pies scattered about the house? Where is the laughter and the mess? And what about Charles Brown bellowing throughout the house?
“Ring, Ding, Ring
Bells will be ringin’
The sad, sad news”
My earliest memories of Christmas are often jarred by the smell of freshly baked Sweet Potato pies and Charles Brown’s “Please Come Home For Christmas”. In my mind’s eye I see my grandma in her kitchen scraping goodness from the bottom of one of her pots, the Aunties laughing and joking with one another about who was supposed to bring what item and forgotten it, older cousins sitting in the corner conspiring about things that did not include everyone else, boy cousins huddled in the back room playing video games, younger cousins running through the house aimlessly, hyped off sugar, until someone yelled, “Sit down!” and like that command was somehow connected to their limbs, they’d instantly stop mid-stride and plop down wherever they stood. There are friends, and friends of friends entwined with the rest of us. They’d arrive with the look of uncertainty about the scene laid out before them- all of the people, food,excitement, and residue from opened gifts scattered everywhere, that was shortly replaced with one of contentment and satisfaction. My grandmother’s home was a place where friends, and friends of friends became family. All of this joyousness going on in my grandmother’s 2000 sqft home was both comfortable and cramped at the same time. If you got up from your seat, you’d best put something or someone in place to guard it or else it was surely gone at your return.
“Ohhhh, what a Christmas
To have the Blues
My baby’s gone”
It wasn’t just because of the gathering, No, there were other reasons to celebrate the day in my family-one being, the restaurants were closed and that was reason to exhale a sigh of relief, Whew! You see back then, the Pits, as we called them, were only closed two days out of the year-Thanksgiving and Christmas and we did everything we could to make those 24 hours feel like 48. Christmas was one of two times when we didn’t have to worry about what was going on at the restaurant. We didn’t need to think about who would go open the doors, lock up the doors, get supplies, wonder who was working, or didn’t show up to work, who’s making sauce, picking up meat, doing payroll, going to the bank, or making links? For two whole days we didn’t think about ribs, links, beef or chicken and that was refreshing. That day we didn’t have to be co-workers. We could just be family. And you could feel the sense of relief in the air.
“I have no friends
To wish me greeting,
But not everyone could relax that day, there were still a faithful few who were busy working away in the kitchen creating our holiday feast. Dinner most often consisted of Turkey, ham, Cornbread Dressing, Giblet Gravy (made from the chicken giblets that grandma made the restaurants save beginning in October), grandma’s special recipe of Collard greens with Cabbage and smoked turkey, Candied Yams, Auntie Angie’s Macaroni and Cheese, Auntie Helen’s Banana Pudding, Cranberry Sauce-lots of Cranberry Sauce, , and my little cousin, Auzerais’s homemade cookies and cakes. She was little-7 or 8 years old when she started baking cupcakes and cookies for us to share at Christmas. Let’s just say they were desserts that only a mother had to love and be expected to eat. But because she was so young we all encouraged her by saying they were absolutely perfect. Wink.
“Choirs will be singing,
I know everyone thinks their family is special, but mine really is. Back then I had seven aunts: Virginia, Dorothy, Shirley, Mary, Helen, Katie and Angie, and one uncle, Allen. Them along with my mother, Annie (Pearl) and father James Jones (the Jones of Everett and Jones) started a chain of restaurants named Everett & Jones Barbeque in 1973-in the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Area-in the middle of an economic recession. Someone forgot to tell my family that it is not wise to start a business in the middle of a recession, or if they did, they didn’t listen. Probably because we believe that, “all things are possible to them that believe” and are willing to work for it. So, for them, the timing was perfect, and they were right. We will be celebrating our 48th anniversary in 2021.
“Please come home for Christmas,
If not for Christmas,
by New Years night”
I am the first female grandchild and second oldest behind my cousin Lamont (Monty) who is only 5 months older, and I remember the good ole times especially around Christmas. When I was younger, one of my fondest memories was going to my grandmother’s house on Christmas Eve night. It was my mother, father, brother James Jones Jr., but everyone calls him Scooter and younger sister LaShaun who we call Shaun, and me piling in the family car headed “up the hill”. The plan was for all of us,and I do mean ALL OF US (grandma’s 9 kids and their families) to spend the night on her living room floor while waiting for Santa. It was a great big Sleepover. We’d arrive in our pajamas with a pillow and sleeping bag in hand, full of the excitement that Christmas, family, and the unknown brings. I could hardly wait until everyone was there because that’s when the real fun began.
Every cousin came wearing the same smile, twinkling eye, and excitement that I had, and no one ever complained about being there. We would make our beds on the floor, pass around the bowls of snacks and goodies, and laugh and play until we were tired. The Aunties would initially hang around leading us in games and dance competitions, making us laugh so hard we’d get yelled at by grandma to keep it down. After we were yelled at a few more times, the Aunties would slowly migrate into the kitchen leaving us grandkids to entertain ourselves. It never failed, before the night ended, someone grown up would threaten to light the fireplace so Santa could not come down the chimney if we didn't go to sleep, causing us to sing in unison Noooooo!
“Friends and relations
On a few occasions they would get one of the restaurant’s employees to dress up like Santa and come through the door yelling, “Merry Christmas!” We weren’t fooled though because they always smelled of smoke-like they’d just gotten off work. “That’s Red” someone would yell, or “That’s Russell”. My mother even dressed as Santa one year. I guess she thought she could do a better fake-out job than the men, but she didn’t, because my baby sister gave it away when she started crying, “Mama”.
As the night dwindled and just as we were about to fall asleep, one of the Aunties would come through the door after working the late shift wearing a dirty apron folded down at the waist, smeared makeup, a shiny forehead, and a charred smelling afro. Nothing says Christmas in the Everett and Jones family like Charles Brown, Sweet Potato pie and a charred smelling afro.
“Sure as the stars shine above.
This is Christmas, Christmas my dear,
The time of year to be with the one you love”
The record player would sometimes shift from his Please Come Home For Christmas to Christmas Comes But Once A Year, or Merry Christmas Baby. It wasn’t Christmas unless the Blues were whining loudly through the classic solid wood stereo console radio-record player with three speeds, built in speakers with vinyl records stored underneath. BB King once said, “I could see the blues was about survival”. Maybe my grandmother was thinking about her grandmother, who was born a slave in the harshness of the southern slave trade, who couldn’t even imagine the life my grandmother was now living. Maybe she was reminiscing about growing up in Choctaw County, Alabama during the Jim Crow era. She never liked to talk about those times. When asked, she would always say, “those were terrible times''. Maybe she was thinking about leaving Alabama with her three small children for a better life in California, or how she managed to raise her nine children, after she divorced my grandfather, with limited education and very little money. She’d say, “I never thought I would make more than $2 a week”. Maybe she was thinking about the tough times in the 60’s after they assassinated many of our Black leaders. Or maybe grandma was thinking about how she managed to open a restaurant with nothing more than a small personal loan, limited line of credit, great friends, a willing heart, hard work and prayer-lots of prayer. Whatever she was thinking of while stirring them pots only added to the sacredness of the day.
“So, want you tell me,
You’ll never more roam
Christmas and New Year’s
will find you home”
My grandmother was the head Chef in Charge. She ran her kitchen crew with the same efficiency and expectations as she did her restaurants. She had 3 better-be’s:It better be clean, and it better be hot, and it better be good. She was a hard-working woman who never stopped trying to give her family a better life than the one she lived. She could always be found in the kitchen Christmas morning. One by one she would recruit helpers as they walked through the door. This wasn’t Santa’s workshop. This was Dorothy’s Den, but she operated like his workshop: somebody was chopping bell peppers, onions and celery (down south called the holy trinity), another was peeling mounds of sweet potatoes for yams and pies, while another was trying to stay on top of all the dirty dishes that were rapidly piling up.This was usually my Aunt Katie’s job. She’d fuss the whole time about being the only one washing dishes, but year after year find herself in the same position. We quickly learned that if you’re smart you would stay clear of the kitchen or they would quickly find something for you to do. The men folk were only responsible for going back and forth to the grocery store, which averaged about 6 times a day.
Grandma and her helpers managed to cook about 30 Sweet Potato pies by Christmas Eve which were strategically placed throughout the house so she could watch them. We were only allowed to eat the “ugly ones” on Christmas Eve. They were the ones that burned around the edges, or were damaged during the cooking process.
“There’ll be no more sorrow
No grief and pain
And I’ll be happy, happy once again”
As some things changed, others never did. On Christmas Eve, someone is always coming through the door with dirty aprons, smeared make-up, shiny foreheads and charred smelling afros, jerry curls, braids, dreads,wigs and weaves in this family. There are always Sweet Potato pies scattered throughout somebody’s kitchen and dining room.The last time at grandma’s house, Auntie Katie was still fussing about washing dishes, Auntie Helen was still carrying away leftovers in Tupperware dishes, The Aunties were still laughing and joking around, and kids were still running. But eventually the family grew too big to sleep on grandma’s floor and she kicked us out to sleep at our own homes and instead we came over the next day. We got too big to eat around the dining room table, so they moved everyone outside underneath the carport to a 30 ft. long table. Honestly, we didn’t care where we ate as long as we ate dinner together. We outgrew the carport and moved to the restaurant in Jack London Square. Although it was closed for business, it was the only place big enough to hold us all.
As grandma got older she spent most of her time in her bedroom away from the family. She was tired a lot, she’d say. She would give instructions from her room trusting the others to carry them out and make the day great. At dinner time she would come and sit with the rest of the family for a while until it became too much. With her eyes failing her hearing never did. She would still say, “You guys are too loud!”
“Oohh, there’ll be no more sorrow
No grief and pain”
Now we’re all grown up with families of our own, and grandma is no longer with us. We don’t have my Auntie Virginia who was the oldest and Captain of the Fun Train. We don’t have Auntie Angie or her infamous macaroni and cheese, and we no longer have Auntie Katie to fuss about washing the dishes all the while still doing it . All we have left are precious memories of the past and videos my Auntie Shirley captured during those precious times. My little cousin Auzerais went to Culinary school, studied her craft and became a very successful pastry chef. She is the owner of an online pastry business called blondery.com. Her love for dessert making has taken her all over the world and brought well renowned accomplishments. My grandmother would be so proud.
This is how we spent Christmases growing up. Those were the memories I thought of while serving overseas in the Navy, and what I think of now living in North Carolina, quarantined with my husband, but away from the rest of the family. Covid-19 has closed most restaurants around us, and loved ones are no longer near but far, let me encourage you this season to remember the celebrations of Christmases past and draw on the joy they brought you. Embrace the newness that 2020 has forced upon us, “looking toward the hills from where comes your help”. Remember the loved ones who are no longer with us and what they brought into our lives . Remember Jesus and how His birth also ushered in a newness. He is truly the reason for the season. And cling to the words Charles Brown’s song,
“And, I’ll be happy, happy once again” .
from my family to yours,
Charles Brown. Please Come Home for Christmas. King Records.1960
The Bible. KJV.Mk 9:23
B.B King and David Ritz.Blues All Around Me. Harper Collins Publishing.1996
The Bible. KJV. Ps 121:1
The Rooms Where it Happened: My Grandmother’s House,
Uncle Allen, Aunties, Cousins and Grandma
By Shirley Everett-Dicko
For the first three years of our existence we were next door to greatness. Everett and Jones Barbeques’ origin story is forever entwined with the East Bay Dragons; we are a product of our time and place, steeped in Black History and the Black Biker culture. We had been next door neighbors to the baddest brothers on the planet! Hell it couldn't help but rub off.
So one can imagine how hard it was to learn that the man, the myth, the legend, Mr. Tobie Gene Levingston, (who had been the one and only president of the East Bay Dragons since 1959) passed away peacefully in his sleep on Monday, July 7, 2020 at the age of 86 years old.
Tobie Gene and the Dragons were our first customers. It was Memorial Day weekend in 1973; the East Bay Dragons were hosting their annual Memorial Day family picnic at Robert’s Park in Oakland. Tobie Gene paid us to cook all the BBQ for the picnic that first year and for many years afterwards.
Hundreds of Black bikers from throughout California came roaring into Oakland on their motorcycles for the picnic. The motorcycles lined both sides of East 14th Street for blocks, and in front of our brand new BBQ restaurant. These bad boys Mama had warned her girls about were right outside our door. And the all black, all male, East Bay Dragons, the baddest of them all, were our next door neighbors.
It was raining men outside! There was a sea of motorcycles of every color and style lining the streets outside but you could tell the Dragons because they only rode Harley Davidsons. The Dragons, the Chosen Few, the Defiant Ones, the Outcast, the Soul Brothers, the Fresco Rattlers, the Richmond Road Runners, and other black biker clubs put on the original Oakland sideshows that weekend. The bikers were popping wheelies, burning rubber, and roaring up and down the streets of East Oakland. They were loud, black and proud.
My seven sisters, one brother and I were mesmerized and watching in awe and side-eyed, from the BBQ Pit’s bay windows. We tried our hardest to work, but were totally distracted by what was going on outside.
Tobie Gene had made mom a promise to keep the bikers on their best behavior and away from her girls...yeah right! She had forbidden me and my sisters, whose ages ranged from 13 to 26, from stepping outside the door; trying to shield us from all the male testosterone and groping eyes coming from the bikers. She was trying her best, but it was a losing battle. Bless her heart... because it wasn't the Bikers who needed watching. As soon as mom wasn’t looking, we were out the door and in the Dragon’s clubhouse, or on the back of one of their Harleys roaring up and down the streets. We were cruising all up in the Oakland hills with our new brothers, the East Bay Dragons.
All the Dragons called our mother Mom. The Dragons watched over the restaurant when we went home for the night and even escorted us to our cars after locking up. If a customer acted the fool and got out of hand... guess what? We called the Dragons and they handled the situation. They were our bodyguards and big brothers. You know we talked shit!
To show our appreciation for their protection we named a BBQ sandwich after them called the “Dragon Sandwich”. It consisted of our homemade beef links on white bread with BBQ sauce for $1 dollar, but you had to be a member of the club to get it.
For three years Everett and Jones Barbeque and the East Bay Dragons were close neighbors and family. We have fond memories with Tobie Gene and the Dragons, but also there are scary memories.
I remember the food giveaway debacle following the Patty Hearst kidnapping in 1974, when in response to the demand for her release by the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) Patty’s father William Hearst arranged a food giveaway for the poor people in East Oakland, right down the street from us and the Dragons. The food giveaway turned into a riot with looting and violence, and the Dragons were right there protecting us. We were scared, but comforted by their presence standing guard outside our door. They were our heroes that day!
It was perfect until that fateful night in 1976, when everything changed. While celebrating our third year anniversary, at a house party at Mom’s house, word came that the pit was on fire. We all rushed down to the restaurant in our party dresses and stood outside crying and hugging one another as firemen worked to put out the fire. The Dragons were outside with us. The restaurant was burned and damaged beyond repair forcing us both to move.
Months later we opened up a new BBQ restaurant, one block from our original location, on the corner of 91st Avenue at 9101 East 14th Street (International Blvd). And the East Bay Dragons moved up the block also to its present location, on 87th Avenue at 8731 East 14th Street (International Blvd). Although we were no longer next door neighbors, we remained family. The Dragons still came in to get their “Dragon Sandwiches” and we still cooked for their Memorial Day picnics.
Tobie Gene was not just the President of the East Bay Dragons for 60 years; he also published a best-selling memoir in 2003 called, “Soul on Bikes” The East Bay Dragons MC and the Black Biker Set by Tobie Gene Levingston, with Keith and Kent Zimmerman. The foreword is by Ralph “Sonny” Barger of the Hells Angels MC of Oakland. To purchase the book from the Dragons click here Soul on Bikes
Our brothers, the East Bay Dragons, would be honored and enshrined forever in the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC as one of the 1st all Black Biker Clubs in American history; photographed in front of another Oakland BBQ restaurant.
Recently Jay Leno came to meet the legendary Tobie Gene and the Dragons. He brought his own motorcycle and cameras to film an episode for his Jay Leno’s Garage show on CNBC. Jay also got the chance to ride with the Dragons around town and up in the Oakland hills. The episode recently aired here is the link Jay Leno's Garage
amc show Riding with Norman Reedus and Steven Yeun join the historic black motorcycle club, the East Bay Dragons, on a ride through the streets of Oakland.
Everett and Jones Barbeque went on to accomplish some historical greats and so did Tobie Gene and the Dragons. I can picture Tobie Gene, on his Harley, riding up to the pearly gates of heaven and the gates automatically open and close behind him. Ride on Tobie Gene and rest in peace, our condolences to his family and our brothers the East Bay Dragons. Here is a link to his obituary in the East Bay Times. What a legacy!
- Mandatory Face Mask and Social Distancing -
All hail, the true King of Bay Area BBQ! Destined from birth with smoky royalty in his blood, forged by oak-burning fire, the master of pits, pretender of none, others choke on his smoke…the GOAT, Oakland’s own, Lamont Payton!
He is the first of his generation. Everett and Jones’ first BBQ baby was born with tongs in his hand and a purpose to smoke the hell out of some BBQ. He’s the Fresh Prince of the Bay Area. He was raised by his grandmother, the Queen Mother herself, Dorothy Everett– the Mother of Oakland-Style Barbeque. He was well-loved (spoiled) by his aunts and uncles who helped guide him along the way. Lamont (we call him Monty) was groomed to produce quality BBQ in the traditions of his Black ancestors.
When Everett and Jones Barbeque first opened in 1973, at 5 years old Lamont was in the background soaking up history-his story-Black history. By age 7 he was helping to make the family’s famous BBQ sauce. By the age of 10 he was helping to make their famous homemade beef links. And by his teenage years he was cooking and mastering the huge fiery brick pits. Here he is 1975 surveying his future kingdom.
But every Prodigal son has a process.
Before accepting his rightful position as the true King of BBQ, he was a child of hip hop. Lamont ran Oakland’s streets with many of hip hop’s greats like Too Short, Tupac, and Digital Underground as the undercover DJ "Under" spinnin’ records, Oakland-style, with a smokin’ beat. He found his soul in music as a DJ and tapped into its power. Behind the turntables he was the master chef of jams-chopping it up-undercover-committed to satisfying the crowd. Black BBQ has always moved to a different beat.
Black history and culture are very important to Lamont. In 2009, Lamont dusted off his DJ skills and curated a playlist for the historic 55 hours bus trip to President Barack Obama’s 1st inauguration which he helped organize. He also brought culturally revelant movies on board for the long bus ride to witness history.
Pretenders can’t touch Lamont’s skills. You can’t learn what he knows from watching Food Network and these fake BBQ competitions that have been whitewashed for public consumption, and an attempt to offer a false history of American BBQ. In fact, he is not a pitmaster (a one trick pony); he is the Pit’s master. He has mastered the brick pit, the Southern Pride smoker, the JR smoker, the cook shack smoker, the Weber smoker, the steel barrel smoker, the Kingsford smoker and any other off brand name smoker or grills. All BBQ apparatuses we have used in our 47 years history know them well. Lamont is on a whole other level!
Whenever folks need a celebrity pit’s master for a mega event they call-Lamont. He is not only the master of wheels of steels, but also the grills of steel. This human octopus can throw down and control 3 or 4 grills at once- drop it, flip it, rub it down...Oh noooo!
Lamont has played a pivotal role in Everett and Jones Barbeques’ 47 years history. With impeccable credentials and pedigree he is destined to go down in history as one of the best pit’s masters that ever came out of the Bay Area. He has helped define Oakland’s smoky and colorful place in the American BBQ story. He was born into it, trained to do it, positioned to lead it and has mastered it. M.C Hammer said it best, “Can’t touch this”! He is the man, the myth, and the legend, brilliant, full of knowledge, equipped and ready to reign. All hail! The true King of Bay Area BBQ - Yayy Area!
by Yvette Jones-Hawkins
and Shirley Everett-Dicko
This Isn't Stacking Up
The History of the Take-out BBQ Food Container
In celebration of Black History Month here is some brief barbecue history of the take-out food container. Back in the day in the early 1970’s, before microwave ovens were in every kitchen our very first barbecue container consisted of a cheap white paper plate with a torn sheet of wax paper laying on top. You got the same cheap white paper plate whether you ate it onsite or took it home. We’d buy those plates in packs of 100 and a large roll of wax paper.
Everyone's very first duty was to learn to “stack plates". You'd, pull up a stool, sit at the counter and one by one, build towers of plates. The kids like to see how high they could go before toppling over; Plate. Paper. Repeat. Mom would walk through the restaurant like an Army General, and if she caught you doing nothing she'd yell, “You could be stacking plates!” Eventually we'd get out of tearing up all of that wax paper by switching to pre-cut 10 x 10 inch sandwich sheets, but that created another problem, absorption.
Regular customers knew you had about 10, maybe 15 minutes, before the barbecue sauce soaked through the paper plate and brown paper bag. If you could not grab one of the limited counter seats to eat your ‘que onsite, your best bet was to either eat it from the hood of your car, or while sitting on the side of the street curb. If you were taking your ‘que home or back to work, regulars knew to grab a few of the free Classified Flea Market newspapers on their way out the front door to place underneath the bag. This added an extra barrier of protection between their food, clothes, and the seats of their car.
Rib Tip #1: Contrary to what you might have read BBQ served with BBQ sauce is the number one preferred way.
Customers started asking for extra BBQ sauce because of their disappearing sauce, so we switched to pre-cut aluminum foil sheets to prevent the BBQ sauce from being absorbed into the paper plate. This was in the 1980's y'all.
Rib Tip #2: 1980's more and more people and businesses started getting microwave ovens. Aluminum foil lined plates were not good-in fact, they were a hazard. Ask me, I know. . . you could not nuke your BBQ without sending sparks everywhere… That's how I know. So we changed food containers again because of the microwave oven.
By the late 1990’s, we switched again, this time to 3 compartment Styrofoam food containers, and the end of the stacking plates era was no more. Hallelujah! Let the church say, "Amen". Unfortunately that victory was short lived because in the 2000’s a ban on Styrofoam food containers was introduced in the Bay Area. Food containers now had to be either plastic or biodegradable cardboard. So the more things change, the more they stay the same. Get ready because plastic food containers will soon be banned and we will be right back to stacking plates.
By Shirley Everett-Dicko
By Shirley Everett-Dicko
Ronnie Stewart, of the West Coast Blues Society, center, acknowledges an audience member as Oakland City Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney, left, and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, right, attend the unveiling of 88 plaques for “The Music They Played on 7th Street Oakland” Walk of Fame in West Oakland on March 6, 2015. Photo by JIM HARRINGTON | firstname.lastname@example.org | Bay Area News Group
We are proud and honored to announce that Everett & Jones Barbeque will have a plaque on Oakland’s Walk of Fame. "The Music They Played on 7th Street, Oakland Walk of Fame" pays tribute to the great musicians, club owners, record companies, related independent businesses and others that put 7th Street on the map as a top entertainment destination. A total of 88 brass plaques — the number of keys on a piano — will be embedded into both sides of the sidewalk along 7th Street, between Center and Wood Streets. The plaques will honor those that helped earn 7th Street the nickname “Harlem of the West.”
Ronnie Stewart, the executive director for the nonprofit West Coast Blues Society, has been working on the Walk of Fame since 1990. The first phase of “The Music They Played on 7th Street, Oakland Walk of Fame was completed in 2015.
The second phase has begun and needs your support for completion and the maintenance of the plaques. According to Ronnie Stewart the second phase of plaques will be between Peralta and Woods Streets, in the true heart of the entertainment district, and is expected to be completed in 5 to 6 weeks.
Jim Harrington of the East Bay Times reported "The Music They Played on 7th Street, Oakland Walk of Fame" is part of a $5.1 million project to renovate 7th Street and the surrounding neighborhood, which has received funding from the Oakland Redevelopment Agency, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and BART, among other sources.
The Oakland City Council Resolution on April 3, 2012, states that "The Music They Played on 7th Street, Oakland Walk of Fame" is hereby and forever more recognized as an historical treasure in the City of Oakland and celebrated accordingly in the City of Oakland, and throughout the State of California. Please support and donate to the Go Fund Me/Oakland Walk Of Fame thank you in advance.
Some of the historical businesses that were on 7th Street before urban renewal wiped out the commercial district. Map by https://projects.journalism.berkeley.edu/7thstreet-archive//
Please support and donate to : Go Fund Me/Oakland Walk Of Fame
Dear Mr. Franklin,
I am curious did you purposely choose Oakland for your 1st-ever Hot Luck Road Trip because of its already well-established rich BBQ culture, or was it because of the national media attention we've received lately about our phenomenally, massive, successful, anti-racist BBQ’n-while-Black push-back event (in Oakland in response to the viral #BBQBecky incident that was turned into a new annual cultural celebration)? If you are coming to showcase Oakland’s rich and diverse BBQ culture and legacy, and want to help in the fight against racism, welcome to Oakland. I am concerned though because instead of reaching out and partnering with Oakland’s well-established, black, BBQ community to jointly showcase their truly universal appeal, and its regional BBQ style it seems, to me, that you are not coming to Oakland to embrace our diverse BBQ culture and community, but to leech off of it.
Lamont Patton from Everett and Jones Barbeque cooked up a feast at the BBQing While Black event on Sunday at Lake Merritt in Oakland, Calif. Laura A. Oda/East Bay Times, via Associated Press
If I look at your promo ad for your road trip to Oakland, it doesn't seem you are coming to help fight hand-in-hand against racism. It appears you are trying to exclude Oakland's very own Black BBQ community by not acknowledging the locals. Are you trying to kick us out of our own BBQ history and legacy in our own backyard? That’s so disrespectful. Your promo ad gives the impression that you are showcasing the best of regional BBQ styles with no one from Oakland. You have Mr. Rodney Scott of South Carolina, you from Texas and then you include Mr. Farr, your friend, who is not from Oakland, but just opened a restaurant in Oakland 3 months ago (burger & BBQ restaurant) Excuse me Mr. Franklin but Mr. Farr does not represent Oakland-style BBQ. He’s not even from California the region you’re featuring but you already knew that.
It also seems to me that you want the benefits afforded you for being in a city with a rich black BBQ culture and legacy and ignore-even distance yourself from the people who created it. You could have easily staged your event at Mr. Farr’s patio location in San Francisco, but you didn't. I wonder if it’s because you wanted to help in his attempt to co-opt Oakland's rich BBQ legacy and culture to exploit for his own purpose making you a co-exploiter Sir.
Mr. Franklin, you have been made the de-facto face and ambassador of BBQ by the national media and those who seek to rewrite BBQ’s history. I am here to tell you that BBQ has no national standard so stop trying to make one. Slow your roll. BBQ has regional prefaces and taste based on where you were born and grew up. You are choosing to use your platform of privilege to disrespect and marginalize Oakland’s Black BBQ pitmasters in an attempt to elevate, your friend, Mr. Farr to the top of Oakland’s BBQ hierarchy; even though he has not earned it and not from Oakland or California; but another region altogether. Wait! Stop-the-presses, he's not from here-we’re being set-up, for crying out loud, somebody call McCloud, Ironside don’t you let ‘em slide, Whodunit? It's a BBQ mystery. So I’ll ask, “Who’s representing our region?” Sounds a lot like the parents in the college admission scam who cheated and paid to get their kids into college. It is a blatant attempt of cultural appropriation. You do not get to come to our city and disrespect the people and the culture that produced it. You either come correct or not at all.
Let me help you. Oakland’s historical Black BBQ culture has been around for well over a century before Mr. Farr’s burger & BBQ decided to move to Oakland 3 months ago. News flash to the national media: California has a well-established, rich, diverse BBQ culture and regional styles too. No disrespect to my Indigenous brothers and sisters who were here before we came, but where do you think the black people leaving the south went to? Our BBQ culture followed us from the south and was perfected in the West-(California that is- swimming pools and movie stars). My mama and daddy were both born and grew up in Alabama, and every year there is a family reunion in Alabama. The Jones of Everett and Jones was a funky young soul brother from Idalou, Texas. So what we ain’t gonna do is act like Black folks in Oakland and California need a white savior(s) to come to town and show us how to do BBQ the “right way”- I mean the white way. Are y'all trying to whitewash Oakland's national BBQ reputation and create something right for Oakland-I mean white? Sorry, I keep sneezing.
One more very important thing Mr. Franklin before I get off my Soap Box, it's astonishing to me that you are coming to Oakland and didn't have the decency or respect to invite the home-grown champions-black female pitmasters, who are from Oakland to participate in your 1st ever road trip to Oakland event. Why is that? Is it that the Black BBQ culture in Oakland is led by black women. That’s right Margaret Flintroy led the legendary Flint's Bar-B-Q after her husband died, and Dorothy Everett, with her eight daughters and one son, built Everett and Jones Barbeque into the legendary powerhouse that continues today with her grandchildren. Sorry, but the bottom rail is on top here.
This kind of misogynistic, sexist, dismissiveness of women is not Okay Mr. Franklin – Not in Oakland! We push back against people and systems that try to erase us and all we have accomplished in the midst of oppressive national norms. You don't get to come here and not acknowledge and/or greet the neighbors. The Everett and Jones Barbeque sisters are legends in Oakland and have been in the BBQ game longer than you or your friend Mr. Farr (1973). In fact, we are right down the street from your road trip location, how ironic? But I have a feeling that you already knew that.
No! We will not let you take credit for our hard work, nor will you act as if what we have isn’t good enough because you fail to acknowledge it. In fact, we have 46 years of proof that it is. I’ll say it again, you cannot come here and hijack our culture and stories of struggles and benefit from our black experiences here in Oakland. Surely you know Oakland is home of the black-power resistance movement, and not the place to try and bring white-male privilege, superiority ideologies. Wakanda Forever!
Cleveland and Dorothy Everett and their nine children; (From left to right) Angie, Shirley, Mary, Virginia, Yolanda, Annie, Helen, Dorothy Jr., and son George.
Mr. Rodney Scott with much respect from the pits of my soul, game recognizes game, but I know your mama taught you better. Shame on you for participating in this sexist/racist attempt of a ruse to exclude Oakland’s black female pitmasters from an event that you are featured in, in their own backyard. You were born a king. Lift up your queens and uphold the centuries of knowledge and traditional BBQ cooking methods that lives in our DNA, and was passed down from our ancestors stolen from Africa and brought to America. Think it over my brotha and help make sure your sistah’s voices are heard and respected.
Maya Angelou said it best “You may shoot me with your words, you may cut me with your eyes, you may kill me with your hatefulness, but still, like air, I'll rise!” Mr. Franklin, if we exclude the obvious and your shameless culpability in this ruse and you truly want to make amends; you could use your platform to speak out and use your voice to amplify the national debate about displacement and eradication of fellow African Americans and their contributions to the history of BBQ in America; it is our story too. Whew Lordy! I had to get that off my chest. #Oaklandbbq #Ourstory2
BBQ is Our Story Too:
By Shirley Everett-Dicko & Yvette Jones-Hawkins
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff says that she will bet some Everett and Jones Barbeque, a pound of Blue Bottle Coffee, a pound of Red Bay Coffee, and a box of Ocho chocolates. Let's go Warriors!
By Yvette Jones-Hawkins
"Blues singer, Charles Brown became a part of the family. He’d sing “Please Come Home For Christmas” from Thanksgiving Day throughout Christmas day"
I’m the second oldest grandchild behind my cousin Lamont (Monty), who is only 5 months older and I remember the good ole times around Christmas. When I was younger, I remember going to grandma’s with my family: my mother Annie Jones, father James Jones, brother (James Jones Jr. aka Scooter), and little sister LaShaun in our pajamas.
My earliest memory of Christmas was the smell of Sweet potato pies baking in the oven, Charles Brown bellowing “Please Come Home For Christmas”, grandma in the kitchen, aunts, cousins, friends, and friends of friends all crowding in my grandmother’s 2000 sq. ft. home. This is how we spent Christmas growing up. Those were the good ole days that I thought about while serving overseas in the Navy and what I think of now as I live in North Carolina with my own family. It was always a special time for me and our Everett & Jones Family.
It wasn’t just because of the gathering it was also because the restaurants were closed and that was reason to celebrate. They were only closed two days out of the year-Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was one of two times when we didn’t have to worry about what was going on at the restaurant, or who would go and lock up. We didn’t think about ribs, beef, chicken, or links (nor was it on our Christmas dinner menu). No one had to go and make sauce or get supplies. This was one day we could spend as family, and you could feel the sense of relieve in the air.
Blues singer, Charles Brown became a part of the family. He’d sing “Please Come Home For Christmas” from Thanksgiving Day throughout Christmas day. If you ask any one of the grandchildren they can sing the entire song including the lead guitar instrumental interlude. It is seared in our brains. There was a time when we’d cover our ears trying to escape; now we can’t wait to hear it played to signify the beginning of the season.
Just like the restaurants, grandma Dorothy Everett, Head Chief in Charge, also headed this kitchen crew in her home. She was a hard, working woman, who never stopped. Grandma could always be found in the kitchen either sitting at the table picking the meat off of cooked chicken necks and gizzards for her homemade dressing, or stirring in one of several pots. By the time we’d arrive she had accosted plenty of help in the kitchen. One was chopping bell peppers, onions, and celery, another peeling mounds of sweet potatoes, while another was trying to stay on top of the dirty dishes that were rapidly piling up. This was often Auntie Katie’s job and she’d fuss the whole time. If you were smart you stayed clear of the kitchen because they would quickly find you something to do.
Grandma had managed to cook about 30 sweet potato pies by Christmas Eve, which were strategically placed throughout the kitchen and dining room so she could watch them. She’d only let us eat the “ugly ones” on Christmas Eve-the ones that were burnt around the edges, or had either gotten damaged during the process.
As some things changed others never did. Someone is always coming through the door with a dirty apron with a smeared smutted faced and charred Afros, jerry curls, or weave in this family. There is always Sweet Potato pies scattered throughout somebody’s kitchen and dining room and The last time at Grandma’s house, Auntie Katie was still fussing about washing dishes, and Auntie Helen still carted away leftovers in Tupperware dishes. However one thing did change, my cousin Auzerais no longer serves us indescribable looking cookies and cupcakes. She went on to culinary school and received a Bachelor of Science degree in culinary science. She now works for Aramark as a pastry chef. We like to remind her that we endured the hard times together with her desserts. Through the process we all smiled and encouraged her all the while inconspicuously discarding them in a napkin. She now has her own web-based pastry business www.blondery.com/
Eventually the family grew too big to sleep on grandma’s floor and she kicked us out to sleep at our own homes and instead come the next day. We got too big to eat around the dining room table, kitchen table, and kids table, so they moved it outside under the extended carport at a 30 ft. long table, which was dressed for the festivities. We didn’t care where we ate, just as long as we ate together. Eventually we outgrew the carport and moved it to Everett & Jones restaurant in Jack London Square because it was the only place big enough to hold us.
Now we’re all grown up with families of our own, and Grandma is no longer with us. Some of us are struggling to recreate the memories of the past, while others are taking on new ones. Let me encourage you to remember family this year. We have everything we need to survive- Jesus Christ, good food, love, and family.
Most important let’s remember why we celebrate this season. No it’s not because the restaurants are closed although that’s good too, but it is the fact that God loved us so much that He sent us a Savior that we might be saved. Grandma was good, and did a wonderful job, but it is because of God’s grace and mercy that we are blessed beyond measure. Don’t take it for granted. It’s not just a cliché that He is the reason for the season because He really is. We are family-the Everett & Jones Barbeque family. Merry Christmas family I love you.
- Remembering Love Ones In Heaven This Christmas -
By Shirley Everett-Dicko
Back in the 70’s James Jones was the quintessential cool. This tall, dark, strong, handsome brutha from Lubbock County, Texas always looked like he stepped off the set of some Blaxploitation film. The Mack (Max Julien), Dolemite (Rudy Ray Moore), Superfly (Ron O’Neal) and Shaft (Richard Roundtree) had nothing on him. He smelled good, looked good, had an easy smile that made the girls blush, and a quiet voice which made you lean closer in to hear what he was saying.
You'd find him wearing his signature cowboy boots buffed to perfection, blue jeans starched to attention, big belt buckle that shine bright as a diamond, and a Stetson hat that sat perfectly on his head cocked to the side, along with his groovy polyester suits, 5 inches wide neckties and full-length leather coats. And the brutha had a perfectly shaped afro, can you dig it? Yes, you can! No! He wasn’t a gangster or a pimp. He was Jones and the coolest mutha (Shut yo mouth!) to ever grace the streets of Oakland, California.
He was a super cool sexy black cowboy, before Kool Moe Dee and Will Smith. He had that Wild Wild West original vibe. He was an urban cowboy cruising down the streets of East Oakland in a crème and gold colored Lincoln Continental Mark IV with the matching leather seats and interior. You could spot him anywhere. When his car passed, it felt like it moved in slow motion just so you could see the sun dance off its body. Dope as hell!
. . . diamond in the back, sunroof top diggin' the scene with a gangsta lean wooh-ooh-ooh.
Jones, called by his last name from his military days, was a veteran of the United States Navy- A third class Boatswain Mate and the original master link-maker for the family business-Everett & Jones Barbeque. He put the Jones in Everett & Jones. This black funky soul brutha from Texas wrote the book on the art of making delicious homemade beef links. Lawd, that man could make some tasty links. It ought to be a law against it! Jones took you to church with those links. It didn’t get any better than biting into a perfectly smoked, perfectly seasoned, coarsely ground, juicy beef link; make you wanna dance, make you wanna shout, and for no reason at all run and testify. I ain’t one to gossip and you didn’t hear it from me, while Jones and Mama Dorothy came up with the recipe for the homemade beef links, it was Jones who was the link-meister, the architect-the master craftsman-the Guru-the wizard-the almighty link god (ahhhh…) let the church say amen. Amen!
We are often asked what gives Everett & Jones Barbeque its delicious taste and unique and wonderful smell. The answer is obvious, it's the beef links, baby. Say it loud, “Black folks love them some links!” And after 45 years of bbq'n (while black) that’s a Black-Fact, Jack and not just my opinion. Black folks don’t play. If we were out of links, they would walk away cussing you and your mama out. Jones had been anointed with the divine gift and talent of making superb-tasting, award-winning beef links. The same care he took in his wardrobe and car was put in his link making. Watching the master at work was almost spiritual. How did he do it you ask? That’s a closely guarded, protected, threat of death, family secret. Seriously, if I tell you they’ll come after me (looking over my shoulder) . . . Ok here’s the missing link (see what I did here) but you didn’t get it from me.
Jones was born and grew up in Idalou, Texas the son of Johnny Jones and Cora Lee (Minnie) Smith, and he enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1961. He was a complicated yet simple man. As the story goes, Jones met Dorothy while she was working at Jenkins Original Barbeque on 7th Street in West Oakland. Dorothy would feed him and a few of his Navy friends whenever they were portside and wanted a home-cooked meal, especially during the holidays when they couldn’t go home. Our house was always full of Sailors. Mama Dorothy eventually introduced Jones to her daughter, Annie Pearl, the second oldest of her eight daughters and one son. They were married a year later in 1966 and three children followed (Yvette, James and LaShaun).
Johnny Jones and Cora Lee (Minnie) Smith and their son James Jones in his Stetson hat
Siblings Yvette Jones-Hawkins, James Jones Jr. and LaShaun Jones
To the sisters he was the big brother we never had. He took us on ship tours during Fleet Week, he was also the bodyguard at the restaurant, the prom date for the dateless, and the high standard for future husbands. Since Annie Pearl was the first of us to marry we named the restaurant Everett & Jones.
After an honorable discharge from the U.S. Navy, Jones settled down in Oakland continuing the diaspora of Blacks moving out of the south to a better more urban life. He got a job working at General Motors in Oakland, where he worked for 19 years until it closed and then at Nummi (New United Motors in Fremont, CA) until retirement. Making links was his part time gig y’all. Just imagine what those links would taste like if it was full-time.
Siblings Virginia, Angie, Dorothy Jr, Mary, Annie, Yolanda, Shirley and mother Dorothy and Jones
This legendary slow-walkin’, smooth talkin’ Texan-Gentleman-Husband-Father-Brother-in-law, ex auto worker and United States Veteran changed the game in Oakland’s rich BBQ history. The King of links, James Jones, helped lift Everett and Jones Barbeque heads above the rest and positioned the family business for its long reign as a top tier BBQ restaurant and destination.
Jones ushered in future heirs to the link throne, like his son James Jr., his nephews and grandsons, and they honor his legacy. On special occasions Jones can be coaxed out of retirement to make some beef links for us, reminding us all of our delicious history. “Ummmm” as I chew this perfectly smoked, perfectly seasoned and coarsely ground beef link, The King of Links lives.
Jones making a small batch of beef links at daughter Yvette's home
Keeping up with the Jones and Hawkins' families with this photo slideshow. Thank you for your service this Veteran's Day.
Jones inspired his first born, Yvette Jones-Hawkins, son James Jones Jr. and one grandson Jalen Hawkins to join the military to serve our country. Daughter Yvette married Sean Hawkins also a Navy veteran. Thank you all for your service.
Salute to all veterans this Veterans Day.
Today marks the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI. Honoring all who fought, died and their families. Thank you for your service and sacrifice #VeteransDay2018
3 generations of service to our country. James Jones, daughter Yvette-Jones Hawkins, son James Jones Jr., grandson Jalen Hawkins (not pictured Sean Hawkins and son Kenan Hawkins) thank you all for your service.
What was Everett and Jones Barbeque
like in the 70's?
If you hear any noise, it ain’t the boys getting down; it’s the sisters running thangs! These nine beautiful, classy, sassy, sexy, big-legged (they got it from their mama) queens made history and have come to take their rightful place on the throne.
Fair Deal Meat Market was the barber shop for BBQ joints with its old time charm and friendly faces.
There was a place in Oakland at 3605 Market Street where Flint’s, Everett and Jones, Carmen’s and other BBQ business owners gathered to socialize; usually in the morning, way before the sun could melt the dew off the meat trucks.
The Barbeque Legacy of West Oakland's Historic 7th Street
Blues was the music they played on 7th Street and barbeque was the food they ate. Oakland-style barbeque is the Blues. Just like the Blues, American barbeque was birthed out of hard times on slave plantations, and is the pride and grit of the Black Power in the late 1960's. 7th Street to Oakland was what Beal Street is to Memphis. People went there to eat and be entertained. The Barbeque Legacy of West Oakland's Historic 7th Street
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