on Jul 27th 2008
by Vashon Townshend, Landmark student, May 2002
In an effort to learn about the history of Putney, Vermont from the perspective of one of its citizens, I interviewed Mr.Curtis Tuff, an African American, who owns Curtis’ Barbecue in Putney. The following are the results of that interview.
Curtis arrived in Putney many years ago following his involvement in a counterculture community, which he said was mostly a recreational experience. He explained that his life was very “laid back” and peaceful. From the beginning of his time in Putney, he enjoyed living in the mountains and the open spaces.
Typically, while working in his barbecue business (Curtis’ Barbecue), he enjoys the conversations with the locals who visit his establishment. He derives great pleasure from socializing with the people who live in Putney, meeting the different people who stop by while visiting Putney, cooking good food, and watching others enjoy it. He said he is known throughout America for being “Curtis, who sells the best barbecue in southern Vermont.”
Curtis said he has seen Putney come a long way, even though in some ways it still remains the same as it was when he arrived. When he first arrived in Putney in the late sixties, Landmark College was the Windham County College. A lot of new things have come in like the two new banks. Visitors have been more frequent and more diverse in their cultures; there has been a presence of more ethnic minorities. After gay marriages were legalized a couple of years ago, more people of gay lifestyles also inhabit the area. The new arrivals in Putney have been a “good thing,” he says. The increase in the population has resulted in an increase in his business profits.
Curtis’ barbecue business started as a result of always being chosen to roast the pig in the sixties when he lived among his hippie friends. His reputation for good barbecue spread, and he opened up a little business by the side of the road in 1970. His food earned a good reputation, and he began to cater parties and retreats in Putney, and in 1979 opened up his own take-out barbecue restaurant. He is especially popular with area bikers, and with Landmark students on those nights when campus food just doesn’t appeal to them, or with area residents on nice days when it’s more fun to eat ribs by the Connecticut River than to stay at home.
Curtis is very proud of his business, which is a family-run business along with his wife, Christine, and two daughters, Sarah, a teenager, and Rachel Bennett, an adult. He enjoys working for himself.
Personally, I found this interview to be very interesting because I have known Curtis for the last five years. As he began talking about his establishment, he seemed to become relaxed with the interview, which lasted about ten minutes. Afterwards, I bought some barbecue and thanked Curtis for the opportunity to interview him. He congratulated me on my upcoming graduation. He said he looked forward to meeting my family. I enjoyed my barbecue sandwich.
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