Gale Partridge


Hometown: Chattanooga, Tennessee

Occupation: Bar Mistress, The Pickle Barrel

Favorite Southern saying: “Bless your heart.”

What is your inspiration?

I want to do more than just survive. If I’m going to be black and a woman in America, I need to be better. I work hard and want to reap the benefits of travel and enjoying other cultures.

What’s the most rewarding thing about your job?

The people. I enjoy the patrons and my co-workers. I like being the best and the fastest at what I do. It’s important to me. I had the honor of being nominated Best Bartender of Chattanooga. I’ve been told I am the most caring. Sometimes bartenders might not notice or pay attention, but I’ll tell a patron I care too much about their well-being and offer them water if I’ve noticed they’ve reached that point of bliss.

What is your biggest challenge?

Patience, definitely.

What is your idea of the contemporary Southern woman?

Without the black? Because you know there is a difference. White Southern women are free to do whatever they want with minimal consequences.

And black Southern women?

Personally, my God, my Jesus is understanding and forgiving instead of vengeful. My church and religious upbringing didn't focus on the guilt of hell. More so, humans make mistakes and it's important to ask for forgiveness and try our best to do better; be a better people. We go to church, and then after service we say ‘who’s up for a cocktail?’

Black Southern women also have more respect for family traditions. They view traditions as not just a time to recognize the holiday, but the importance is placed on the family coming together. There is more emphasis on being with everyone rather than it being Christmas, or whatever.

And cooking is also really important. Southern black women organize family cookouts and put a lot of energy and pride into the preparation of food. We also believe that if you are rich in health, that’s all you need. You may not have $5 to your name, but if you have your health, then you are good.