What Makes Ronnie Roll: A. P. S. On Poke Sallet

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

Mayor Ronnie’s weekend had been a full one—three days of presentations of Poke Sallet Follies, Trash Attack, greeting a new crew training at Leak City for the current Fire College, and the annual Pancake Breakfast at Friendship United Methodist church. We were both kind of dragging, as I had been to a women’s retreat in Houston, and we just weren’t sure what we were going to talk about. Then it became apparent that the theme for this edition of Ronnie was summed up in Kelly’s Studio of Dance owner and Poke choreographer Kelly Nave’s Facebook quote of Helen Keller: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Kelly’s thanks to our community for the privilege of “Poking” is dear and worth the read, whether you were there or not.

So, Mayor Ronnie regaled me with stories of Saturday’s Trash Attack, which was a success in spite of the storms. City Councilman Chris Seibert and his son Brock were on one of the teams, and in the midst of the trash, Brock found a twenty-dollar bill. “Finders keepers,” as they say. By contrast, poor City of Athens Communications Specialist Holly Hollman found a bottle of urine. Limestone County Chairman Collin Daly said, “I had a blast and am looking forward to next year.” (In addition, see Lynne Hart’s Clean and Green column about Commissioner Daly’s “One Bag Challenge”.)

Collin Daly’s joy became the perfect segue for our discussion on Poke Sallet. It was Collin’s first time as a cast member, and he showed up in a plethora of pictures. This year the Follies commemorated the bicentennial by telling several of the “tall tales” of our history, as well as some of our wild and wooly true stories. City of Athens Attorney Shane Black and City Councilman Frank Travis wrote and directed, and while most of the time Mayor Ronnie is his alter ego, Barney Fife, this time he was, wait for it… THE MAYOR OF ATHENS! In his skit he was the reluctant recipient of some moonshine that would have knocked him on his keister had he not been caught by other surrounding cast members. Sheriff Mike Blakely dressed as a woman in a back-handed tribute to his predecessor, Buddy Evans. Back in the day, Buddy used to show up “in drag” for the purpose of busting moonshiners, and apparently Buddy was really good it.

Then, there was the mandatory nod to the “green rock” that fell out of the sky sometime in the early ‘80s. This is one of those “you-can’t-make-this stuff-up” things, and it is no tall tale. The rock was a strange shade of glistening green, and it turns out it was a frozen block of human urine which had fallen out of an airplane!

Around $15,000 was raised to help the Limestone County Council On Aging, and as Mayor Ronnie said, “It was a miracle that once again we were able to pull it all together. There were so many volunteers, so many people who worked to make this happen.” We talked about why something so “frivolous” as follies can be so powerful. First of all, laughter is indeed the best medicine and science along with scripture agree. In addition, things like this build community and improve quality of life. Everybody comes together—young, old, first responders, regular Joes, all colors, private citizens and public officials — to dance and sing, “poke” fun at themselves and each other, and in an odd way, make history.

It was a “pedal-to-the-metal day for the mayor, so we prayed, and then it was time for Ronnie to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner