“Nothing says Christmas in the Everett & Jones family like Charles Brown, Sweet Potato pie, and a charred-smelling Afro.”
Blues singer Charles Brown became a part of our family. His record “Please Come Home For Christmas” would be played on repeat 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.
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 a 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 a family, and you could feel the sense of relief in the air.
But while everyone else was relaxing there were still a faithful few who were busy working away in the kitchen to help prepare the Christmas dinner. Dinner most often consisted of Turkey, Ham, cornbread dressing, gravy, cranberry sauce, yams, green & cabbage, cornbread, Auntie Angie’s Macaroni and cheese, Auntie Helen or May’s Banana Pudding, grandma’s delicious sweet potato pies, and my little cousin Auzerais’ infamous cookies and cupcakes. Ever since she was little Auzerais started baking cookies and cupcakes to share at Christmas dinner. Let’s just say that they were desserts that only a mother could love–and eat.
I know that every family thinks that theirs is special, but mine really is. I have seven aunts: Virginia, Dorothy, Shirley, Mary, Helen, Katie, and Angie, one uncle Allen, my grandmother, and of course, my parents Annie Pearl Everett Jones and James Jones, who started the chain of Everett & Jones Barbeque restaurants in 1973 in the middle of a recession. Someone forgot to tell my family that you don’t start businesses in the heart of recession, but they did it anyway and beat the odds. They took the same tenacity to make Christmas a special time for us.
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, father, brother (James Jones Jr. aka Scooter), and little sister LaShaun in our pajamas. The plan was for the entire family to spend the night on Grandma’s living room floor while waiting for Santa Claus to arrive. I could hardly wait until everyone was there because that’s when the real fun began. Every cousin came wearing the same smile, the same twinkling eye- the same excitement. No one ever complained about being there. We’d make bed pallets on the living room floor with our blankets and pillows. The Aunties would hang around with us initially playing games, and making us laugh, but slowly migrate into the kitchen with grandma leaving us grandkids to entertain ourselves. It never failed that a grown-up would threaten to light the fireplace so Santa could not come down causing us to sing in unison NOOOOOO!
On a few occasions, they would get one of the 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 “Russell.” My mother even dressed as Santa one year, I guess she thought she could do a better job than the men, but she didn’t because my sister gave it away when she started crying, “Mama.” But hey, she tried.
Right when we were about to fall asleep one of the aunts would come through the door after working the late shift at the restaurant. They would still be wearing a dirty red or black apron, smeared makeup up, and a charred-smelling afro. Nothing says Christmas in the Everett & Jones family like Charles Brown, Sweet Potato pie, and a charred-smelling Afro.
Just like the restaurants, Grandma Dorothy Turner 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 arrived 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, 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, a smeared smutted face and charred Afros, jerry curls, or a weave in this family. There are 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. 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. Look at her now Blondery
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're together. Eventually, we outgrew the carport and moved it to the Everett & Jones Barbeque 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 your family this year. We have everything we need to survive- Jesus Christ, good food, love, and family. Most importantly, 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 is. We are family-the Everett & Jones Barbeque family. Merry Christmas family I love you.
We may not have a cent to pay the rent but we’re gonna make it
I know we will
Dorothy Turner Everett said "I thought that I would never earn more than $2.00 dollars an hour. With nine children I always believed that God would make a way for us. I had a dream. I wanted to build something that my children could fall back on. He answered my prayers."
Growing up this song by Little Milton was on repeat in our house. By then my mom was a single parent. My dad and mom divorced and Dad moved to Albany, New York. She played this song to encourage herself that everything would be alright.
We’re Gonna Make It
Sung By Little Milton - May 19, 1965
Written By: Billy Davis, Carl Smith,
Gene Barge, Raynard Miner
We may have to eat beans every day
but we’re gonna make it, I know we will.
And if a job is hard to find
And we have to stand in the welfare line
I’ve got your love and you got mine
So we’re gonna make it, I know we will.
We may not have a home to call our own
But we’re gonna make it, I know we will
We may have to fight hardships alone
But we’re gonna make it, I know we will
Cause togetherness brings peace of mind
We can’t stay down all the time
I’ve got your love and you know you got mine
So we’re gonna make it, I know we will
Our car may be old, our two rooms cold
But we’re gonna make it, I know we will
We may not can spare a roach a crumb
But we’re gonna make it, I know we will
And if I have to carry around a sign
Sayin help the deaf, the dumb, and the blind
I got your love and you know you got mine
So we’re gonna make it, I know we will
We’re gonna make it
We’re gonna make it, baby
It might seem hard sometime
But don’t worry, darlin baby
We’re gonna keep on tryin
My mother was born Dorothy Turner on July 28, 1932, in rural Choctaw County, Alabama. She was the oldest daughter of eight children from her mother Maybelle Everett. Her father Leslie Turner and her mother Maybelle were never married.
Dorothy worked at a domestic cleaning house in Alabama until, as part of the wave of African Americans leaving the segregated south looking for a better life. She migrated to Oakland, California in 1952, with her husband the late Reverend Cleveland A. Everett, and three young daughters.
Dorothy’s first job in California was cleaning houses in the city of San Leandro. Dorothy later worked at Wolf’s Records in West Oakland on the historic 7th Street selling popular black records- they were called "race records" back then to the growing Black population in West Oakland. Dorothy also worked as a waitress at the Continental Club on 12th Street in West Oakland, where she saw legendary Blues performers live, and later as a cook at the Original Jenkins Bar-B-Que on 7th Street in West Oakland.
Two natural forces were born in 1973, Hip Hop and Everett & Jones Barbeque, both will celebrate 50 years in 2023. Five decades of Everett and Jones Barbeque, which continues to succeed and inspires the third generation of family pitmasters and BBQueens. My late mother and five deceased siblings' legacy will live on! Black Girl Magic!
To read more about West Oakland's famous and historic 7th Street BBQ and Blues Legacy, click on the link 7th Street Barbeque Legacy
Boy, do I have a barbeque story to tell, and it is like none other! This past weekend I got confirmation that my enslaved 5th great grandfather, Joe McLean, was born in 1775, in Barbecue, a small Township, in Harnett County, North Carolina. Thanks to my newfound DNA cousin Robert Lucas, who lives on Barbecue Church Road, and his family, we followed their car on a guided tour of the land where my ancestors toiled in the fields as slaves. We parked our cars on the grounds of Barbecue Presbyterian Church, near the cemetery. I had arrived.
That Sunday morning, I had dressed in layers with black pants under my skirt for church. My niece Yvette told me that I was going to be too hot, but I had my reasons. I wore the bracelet Yvette had given me for Christmas that she had made for me that had pictures of my late Dad, Mom, and five deceased sisters, Virginia, Dorothy, Mary, Yolanda, and Angie. I had been determined to bring my family with me when I walked on the land where our ancestors had lived. As soon as the car stopped I jumped out, I quickly got rid of the skirt grabbed my Everett and Jones Barbeque 50th Anniversary apron, and ran to my destiny. I had come home.
It was my family’s destiny to go into the barbeque restaurant business. It’s in our DNA! That burning passion I have for smoking, grilling, history, researching, storytelling, and late nights on Ancestry led me to Barbecue Church Road, in Barbecue Township, North Carolina. I brought my family with me to share in this moment of acknowledgment and fulfillment. Dirt from North Carolina and a small pinecone sit on my desk in a sealed mason jar. A daily reminder of my full circle moment. Barbeque is more than a meal it is a lifestyle!
On May 15, 2023, I posted this story on the Saucy Sister’s Blog some history of Barbecue Township https://www.everettandjones.com/saucy-sisters-blog/dna-confirmed
Not only is there a Barbecue township, but there is also a Barbecue church, and the church sits on the corner of Barbecue Church Road. Barbecue Presbyterian Church is older than the country. It was founded in 1757 by Scottish Highlanders from Scotland (At the time it was spelled barbeque). The church was named after the nearby Barbecue Creek. But check this out, there are no barbecue restaurants in Barbecue! I guess they want you to bring your own barbecue. . . Lol! There is however a Barbecue Creek Park.
So, I kept digging and found out that the origins of the name Barbecue came from a famous Scottish explorer and colonizer named Neill McNeill, who arrived in the Cape Fear River valley, North Carolina in 1739, according to historian Malcolm Fowler in his 1955 book “They Passed This Way.” The story goes those mists rising from a creek reminded Neill of barbecue fires smoking in the West Indies (Barbados). He named the creek Barbecue Creek. It became a named landmark on early land grants. He is given credit for naming the township Barbecue. Guess what . . . 3% of my DNA is from Scotland.
Update: from my notes
This same book said that the Scottish explorer and colonizer Neill McNeill is also given credit for introducing barbecued meat to the valley. I’m sure the Native Americans might have something to say about that. Neill’s barbecues were legendary. A whole beef, surprisingly not pork which North Carolina is known for, would be prepped and barbecued over wood charcoal by a man of African and European ancestry (a Black man) named Abraham Carter. He was the one doing the actual work. He was Neill’s servant from the West Indies (Barbados). If a whole animal was cooked that means it was probably cooked in a pit dug in the earth. Awe yes . . . the old hole-in-the-ground cooking technique perfected by African Americans. Was Abraham Neill’s slave? Was Abraham, a Black man, the first pitmaster in North Carolina? Technically Abraham Carter from the West Indies (Barbados) introduced barbecued meat to North Carolina and not the Scottish explorer Neil McNeill. . . I’m just saying.
Here is an update to the DNA Confirmed story.
Follow #dnafamilyfestival2023 for more photos and videos
While you are here ....
Please join us for the Everett & Jones BBQ 50th Anniversary featuring an Art Exhibition by Fine artist Kenneth McGhee & the new book titled “Brickhouse” by Shirley Everett-Dicko on her families history in the barbecue industry and the history of “brick ovens” and Black women as pitmasters ! We’ve got Art talks, book signing & reading, Blues, BBQ & Beer, demos and sample tastings. And more. Be sure to follow us on Instagram and Eventbrite! That’s Saturday, July 1st, 6-9pm. See you soon’
Tomorrow, May 16th is National BBQ Day! Perfect time to share this news. I took a DNA test and traced my enslaved fifth great-grandparents, Joe & Jenny McLean, to a small town in North Carolina called Barbecue. I kid you not, there is a small town in Harnett County, North Carolina, called Barbecue. Let me say that one more time for the people in the back. My fifth great-grandparents came from a town called Barbecue. I was born and raised for this...Legacy! Smoke runs through my blood. I was born to BARBEQUE! I am about to choke from all this smoke!!! These stunna shades are on to block out the haters. This girl is on fire!!!
Of course, I had to do some digging. I began by Googling Barbecue, North Carolina. Not only is there a Barbecue town, but there is also a Barbecue church, and the church sits on the corner of Barbecue Church Road…LOL. Turns out the Barbecue Presbyterian Church is older than the country. The Church was founded in 1757 by Scottish Highlanders from Scotland. The Church was named after the nearby Barbecue Creek. But check this out, there are no barbecue restaurants in Barbecue! They want you to bring your own barbecue to... wait for it…Barbecue Creek Park.
So, I kept digging and found out that the origins of the name Barbecue came from a famous Scottish explorer named Neill McNeill, who arrived in the Cape Fear River valley, North Carolina in 1739, according to historian Malcolm Fowler in his 1955 book “They Passed This Way.” The story goes those mists rising from a creek reminded Neill of barbecue fires smoking in the West Indies. Neill named the creek Barbecue Creek. It became a named landmark on early land grants. Neill is given credit for naming the township Barbecue. Guess what . . . 3% of my DNA is from Scotland.
July is National Grilling Month!
Join us at the BBQueens Art Exhibit & BBQ
Shout out to the Swingin’ A’s! Today, April 16th at the Oakland Coliseum, is the reunion of the 1973 World Series Champions the Swingin’ A’s. Those were the days, of the 1973 team from 50 years ago, Reggie Jackson, Vida Blue, Sal Bando, Blue Moon Odom, Catfish Hunter, Bert Campy, Billy North, Rollie Fingers, Joe Rudi, etc., heroes from 50 years ago are still remembered.
1973 is a monster year for me. Not only is it the 50th anniversary of my family business Everett and Jones Barbeque it is also my 50th high school class reunion. The first restaurant had only been opened a couple of days before I graduated from Fremont High School in Oakland where I was a head song girl (we danced during halftime and at rallies). Because my school’s colors were green and gold, we got asked to participate in some of Swingin’ A’s special events - like World Series victory parades and rallies. I’m living my life like it's golden - Jill Scott.
So, while I got your attention, I am looking for the mighty, mighty tigers from the class of 1973! Our 50th class reunion will be held on September 16, 2023, at Geoffrey’s. Check out the information below. See you there!
Relive the Swingin' A's 1973 World Series. Go A's!
By Shirley Everett-Dicko
It was a day for the history books! Flint’s, KC’s, Carmen and Family, and Everett and Jones Barbeque, four legendary Bay Area BBQ dynasties now led by 3rd generations of Black women, were recognized and inducted into the Bay Area Barbeque Hall of Fame on Saturday, March 25, 2023, at an event held at the African American Museum & Library in Oakland.
Everett and Jones Barbeque sisters Shirley Everett-Dicko and Helen Bellamy created the Bay Area BBQ Hall of Fame back in 1993 in celebration of its business's 20th anniversary. In an afternoon event in celebration of Everett and Jones Barbeque’s 50th anniversary, the sisters saluted fellow Black women for their outstanding contributions to the rise in prominence of Bay Area barbeque on the national scene.
Shirley Everett-Dicko told the crowd that we have to change the narrative that is excluding Black women from the American BBQ story and highlight and tell our own stories. Everyone in attendance received a jar of Everett and Jones Barbeque ‘Super Q” sauce after a lively BBQ history quiz. It was a fun-filled afternoon of women empowerment packed with BBQ knowledge. The future of BBQ is female. When Black women lead, others follow! Happy Women's History Month.
The History of Everett & Jones Barbeque’s Toy Drive
As tributes pour in for football great, Hall of Famer, John Madden who passed away, December 21, 2021, some may reflect on his contributions to the game of football on and off the field, but here at Everett & Jones Barbeque he holds a special place for a different reason. We are thankful for Madden '90. No, not the video game bearing his name that caused a craze in the gaming industry. The Madden '90 I am speaking of was the year he started the Everett & Jones Barbeque’s annual Christmas Toy Drive and Giveaway.
Annie Pearl Everett-Jones, sister #2, tells the story of how their friendship began in1990. She was sitting in her office at the Pleasanton location (Yes! There was a Pleasanton and Dublin location before it became the metropolis it is today) when Mr. Madden approached the counter asking to speak to the owner. Pearl says she came out, he introduced himself and complimented her on how much he enjoyed the food.
That conversation led to many others which included tours of his famous RV (The Madden Cruiser), meeting of his wife Virginia, family, friends, and work associates. She even visited the family home in Black Hawk and the production studio where he filmed his commercials and other productions. During one of their conversations, Mr. Madden said he wanted to buy some toys and donate them to kids for Christmas and asked if she would help? There were two stipulations: Pearl had to agree to distribute the toys to kids in the community, and he wanted to remain the secret Santa. The deal was made and the relationship between John Madden, Everett & Jones Barbeque, toys, and happy, smiling kids began.
Mr. Madden donated over 300 toys that year and each year afterwards for the next 5 years. The toys were delivered to the restaurant, by his wife and team, carefully wrapped and labeled according to age and gender. The same great coach who led the Oakland Raiders to victory in Super Bowl XI, also changed the game for Everett & Jones Barbeque and their community outreach.
When it was time to throw a pass, other sisters were there to receive it. They started purchasing gifts and seeking other donors to continue what he started. Shirley Everett, sister #4, took the toy drive to the Fruitvale location in Oakland in 2005. She opened a novelty store called Santa’s Crib, adding a live Santa, and giving the kids an opportunity to take free pictures with him, elevating the game.
Mary Everett, sister #5, took the toy drive to the Berkeley location in 2010. She partnered with the Bay Area Corvette Club and added extra flair by trading in Santa's red sleigh for a shiny yellow Corvette, matching the kid’s bright smiles. Touch Down! With what John Madden started Everett & Jones Barbeque has successfully distributed over 10,000 toys to Oakland-Bay Area boys and girls ages 6 month to 16 years old since 1990.
There is no doubt John Madden will be remembered as a game-changer for many great things. It is because of him that the Oakland Raiders were Super Bowl Champs in 1977, Video gamers have enjoyed playing football games from the Madden series since 1988, and Everett & Jones Barbeque has had an annual toy drive for the past 31 years.
We are grateful for his contributions and motivated by his inspiration. We honor him and will continue to build upon his work. For more information about the annual toy drive and giveaway please contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
By: Yvette Jones-Hawkins
Looking for an agent/publisher for a proposed new barbeque book from a Black woman's perspective 50 years in the game.
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