Atlanta 2010 Update #6

Heard on the mic:

Cooter, introducing DJ Butch Metcalf (a very large man): “That thar ee-yuz the original Round Man of Rock. When Butch was a whole lotta years yenger he were a Ladies Man, in’ that right Butch? Had ta beat ’em off wiffa stick, dincha’ Butch? Things have changed a lil bit now, tho, han’t they Butch? Now I betcha cay-yunt even bay-yund down and pick UP a stick, can yew Butch? Yessirre, that thar Butch is a hunka hunka HUNK a burnin’ love.”

Cooter, bringing Jackie to the stage: “Every year Grand Nationals comes round and ah comes and hangs around Jackie a lil bit. And ah realize not only why ah am not married, but why ah quit datin’ alltogether. I swear, ain’t *nuthin* good enough for alla that. Poor Charlie.”  Royston’s response: “That was *not* funny Jackie. I am *not* laughing. I will not *be* laughing. Until I get my check.”

Jackie, introducing and thanking sponsor Jim Hern: “This person kept callin and callin me, Ah don’t generally talk to strangers on the telephone so ah traaad to head ‘im off. But he was ver persee-yus-tant ‘n jest kept callin and callin and callin and wouldn’ leave me alone. Now ah have a bay-yud habit of orderin’ things. All kindsa things. And then fergettin I ordered ’em. Charlie asks me wha’d yew order this time and I say well Charlie ah jest don’t know.   We spay-yund a lotta money mailin’ things back. One tom ah ordered a ironin’ board with no corners cause ah thought ah needed to hay-yuv an ironin board with no corners. Way-yul, anyway, one day I get a package, and Charlie asks me Jackie what did you order and ah said Charlie ah don’t know and it was a large package, quite large, and ah opened it and it was water. A whole lotta water. Way-ul this man that had been callin me sent me water. Most people don’t send you a big package of water. And then the man called agay-yun and said Can Ah Come To Your House and Talk To Yew?  Ah said no you caynt. But since he sent me that big box of water ah thought maybe ahd meet him – but in a safe place like a restaurant cause ah din know if he was crazy or not. Well ah told him about Grand Nationals and he said Way-yul! Anything I can do to hay-yelp? And ah said way-yul, yew can offer some water.  For the people compet- DONE! he said. Anything else? Way-yul yew could sponsor the Junior Sha-  DONE! he said, anything else? Yew could sponsor the T-Shir- DONE! Anything else? Yew could sponsor Grand Natio- DONE! Mr. Hern ah said Mr. Hern do yew know how much it is? The Grand Nationals ah mean? DONE! he said. Mr. Hern Ah said Mr. Hern ahm likin’ yew more and more.

“Mr. Hern gives us all our water, all our T-shirts, he sent trucks of water for Hurricane Katrina, last year he gave a merit scholarship to Brennar, he sponsors young adults at the USOpen”

Mario’s response to this story “I guess you see why I say there’s never been an event director like Jackie. Jackie and what’s-his-name.”

Charlie, at Awards: “Well, we’ve come to the part of the weekend where we start giving away money, which is not my favorite part of the weekend.”

Jackie “I want to say thank you to Craig Hutchinson, the man who made me and Charlie do what we do. By forcing us. He wanted us to spread shag, so he forced us, kickin and screamin,  to go to the USOpen. In 1989 he forced us to go teach a workshop in Oklahoma. Ah had never been out of Georgia. Oklahoma? Ah thought we were gonna be teachin a bunch of Indians or something. We went to Oklahoma and the first person ah met was Annie. The second person ah met was Jack. The third person ah met was Mario. The fourth person was Ramiro. The fifth person was Sylvia. The sixth person was Lance. And they are all here in this room tonight. It was scary. Ah was the only girl in pants. And flats.”  Jackie went on to tell the story, right from her heart, about their early years teaching shag, and the start of Grand Nationals – lotta old-timers in the audience looking teary-eyed. She said “People always wonder about the volunteers, why all these folks would want to work so hard in the background. Well, it’s because we buy them a lot of liquor.”

Jackie, later in the story: “Nobody can convince me that I didn’t do the right thing with Grand Nationals, cause I know I did. Without it Brent wouldn’t have met Kellese. Sam wouldn’t have met Lisa. We wouldn’t have these children.” And then, in tears, unable to talk, she called Annie up, who walked up the steps, grabbed the mic and said “I didn’t hear a thing you said all night until you said ‘Annie.’ I’m old. I can’t hear.” Jackie said “Yeah she may be old, but she will Wear. You. Out. I have had more security calls on Annie than on anybody else, in these sixteen years. Annie won’t leave. You turn off the music, she goes and finds a boom box. The biggest reward for me in all of this is Annie. Without it I never would have found Annie.”

And then at last Charlie came and stood beside her, said a few words, and Jackie and Charlie, both in tears, announced that they had always hoped that they’d know when it was time for them to leave. And they do know, now is the time to give Grand Nationals over to new, young blood. So after 16 years they pass the helm to the new event directors Michael and LeAnn Norris. And they bid a final goodbye with the beautiful verse from Timothy 4:7 “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

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