Mark, where did you grow up?
If we had ribs they were either spareribs or country ribs and my mom usually baked them in the oven in a covered porcelainized roasting pan. IIRC she would sprinkle them with salt, pepper, and flour and they’d develop a golden crust, but I never cared for them. I don’t recall ever having them while eating out, but in the Rockford IL/WI stateline area back then barbecue was pretty much unknown to my family. I might’ve had some pork ribs at some point prior but the first ones I ever ate that I really remember were at Rendezvous in Memphis in May, 1998.
I can’t remember for sure if we ever had beef ribs when I was a kid but my first commercial exposure to them came at Stuart Anderson’s Cattle Company in Des Moines, Iowa in the fall of 1981. They probably were grilled and not barbecued, but were still pretty good.