Meet Oscar Poole

             Oscar Poole was born in 1930 of southern parents into a cosmopolitan (tourist) environment in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. People from all over the U.S. and Canada spent their winters on his dad’s old-fashioned tourist camp on U.S. Highway 1 on the eastern coast of Florida. His father had been a successful farmer in South Georgia and moved to Florida in 1924.  They came from Pennsylvania (Dutch), New York, Boston, Ohio, Canada ... from all over the northern U.S. These “Yankees” treated this little boy like family, and he responded in kind.  Even Oscar’s accent was a mixture of these northerners, and later in life, hardly anyone ever guessed he was a native Floridian.  Oscar says his ‘world view’ was shaped from his loving associations within this environment.

             Oscar never had to deal with a racist attitude.  At age 5, he reportedly hugged two little black girls (twins with pig-tails) in his father’s corner grocery store.  His mother said he could not refrain from hugging and kissing these little girls.  Two years earlier at the age of 3, Oscar began attending Sunday School and did not miss a single Sunday for 58 years! Those folks at the church taught him that Jesus loved all the children of the world and he believed it!

             Oscar finished high school in his hometown in 1948 and went off to college at Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, Tennessee.  On his second day there he met Edna Shock from Charleston, West Virginia. To date, they have been married for 57 years.  During Oscar’s first quarter at Trevecca, he made an “A” in New Testament Greek, which surprised him!  He says he found out books were for real, and that he could “do” college work!  One day while taking a piano lesson, the instructor told him, “I cannot teach you. Do you want to help us teach?” So, at age 18, Oscar began instructing beginners at the college — a college music professor at age 18.


             These early experiences strengthened Oscar’s already southern hard—work ethic and created within him a passion for study and inquiry into truth which has never let up!  He went on to complete seminary training and graduate work.  After the  "A" in Greek, Oscar earned two bachelor’s degrees, two masters degrees, and one doctorate. scar says he made his mind his laboratory.  Today he is president of La Vie, a Retreat Center in North Georgia where people gather to inquire into truth and seek new understandings of universal truths.  Oscar identified himself with what he called an ‘‘avant—garde’’ approach to living; never satisfied with the status-quo, but ever questing for further truth. (This “avant—garde” approach got Oscar into trouble on more than one occasion!)

             Oscar spent thirty years as a pastor of churches and received 'Minister of the Year' award three times.  In 1971, the United Methodist Church listed Oscar’s ministry in Hiram, Georgia, as one of the “top one hundred most creative and innovative ministries” within the denomination.

             Always the adventurer and “seeker for truth,” Oscar found himself disillusioned with organized religion.  He began to see that too much attention was given to “form” and very little to “essence.”  In the midst of his successes within religious systems, hierarchies and forms, Oscar asked (like the words in the song), “Is that all there is?”

             Outside the system and, surprisingly, through a business adventure, Oscar saw a new light breaking!  A new dawning!  He discovered he was not alone!  One by one, here and there, he found others on similar journeys of faith, other disillusioned, though committed seekers.  He began to see that he was in the midst of a new stream in history.  The “old” was giving way to the “new.”  For a while, Oscar felt trapped!  He loved the old, but he knew that it was futile, had lost its savor, and was not working.  Then he realized that there probably could not be the new without the old, and this seemed to satisfy him . Now he no longer tries to convert persons to his “points-of-view,” but simply shares how the new light has affected him in his real-life experiences.

             All of a sudden, everything seemed to fit — the old and the new.  A new patience seemed to well up inside Oscar.  He now says, “given time”, all will “see the light” and become transformed “from glory—to-glory” (a phrase from the Bible).  Already steeped in theology and philosophy, Oscar began to sense this “newness” in nuclear physiology. What he saw seemed to be a dynamic relationship.

             One day in 1975, Oscar was sent by his colleagues to attend a science-for-clergy seminar at Oakridge, Tennessee.  A nuclear physicist declared, “Basic matter seems to have the capacity to respond to a loving person!”  That one could speak to electrons, neutrons, and molecules, and somehow, they could he affected. Oscar had a vision!  He “saw” himself beside a patient suffering from cancer (free radicals gone wild and in rebellion), and saw himself talking to them! Oscar was already a Personalist from his seminary days, believing that the universe and all reality are explained as Spirit (or person).

             Later, it was revealed to Oscar that basic matter was “spirit slowed down to visibility” through reading Norman Grubb’s books.  Oscar saw a “connectedness” —— that people and the created order (matter) were dynamically connected.  He spent much time alone in his “thinking laboratory.”  For ten years, he was almost a recluse.  He spent much time ‘listening” to the voice within.  For a time, he didn’t even read books.  He felt he was under a mandate to be quiet and listen.  This he faithfully did (all the while building a world-renowned restaurant in North Georgia). 

             It has only been recently that Oscar has (as he says) “come out of the woods” and been free to speak — this time with deeper clarity (more relevant) and, hopefully, with a clearer voice.  His book, “Speak To It,” represents a part of this coming out.

It was in 1989 that Oscar returned to the mountains of North Georgia.  He spent much time alone in meditation and solitude. He began to speak (out loud) in what he called “confessions of faith.” He especially spoke to himself in personal­ized utterances. He knew that he was programming himself for success.

             It was shortly after arriving in his new home that Oscar and his wife Edna “stumbled” onto a little roadside barbeque shack. This was in East Ellijay (seventy—five miles north of Atlanta).  Oscar discerned an inner voice, “If you go over to that hill and do the menial work, I’ll show the world what I will do.”  He took this to be the voice of God that he had heard several times before.  He talked his wife Edna into joining him, and today, Col. Poole’s Georgia Bar-B-Q, Inc., known affectionately as the “Pig Hill of Fame,” has become a first-class eatery shown across the world on TV, in magazines, on the radio, and in newspapers.

             In 1990, Oscar received the title “Colonel” from the Governor of Kentucky.  Many claim that “as Colonel Sanders was to fried chicken, Oscar is the Colonel of Bar-B-Q!”  One day the “Cultural Counselor” of the Swedish Embassy in Washington dropped by and said, “This place is so tacky, it’s classic! In all my travels across the U.S., this is the most Americana thing I’ve seen”.  Oscar had him write this to the local Chamber of Commerce.

             As a result of someone mailing a picture postcard of the “tacky’ place, John Baeder, a leading folk artist, showed up and asked if he could do an oil painting of the restaurant.  Oscar and Edna agreed.  Within months, a 44” x 66” painting hung in a New York City art gallery.  Today the painting hangs in the Morris Art Museum in Augusta, Georgia, as a living tribute to folk-artistry in America.

             During the same year, the Colonel’s famous “seen around the world on TV” Pig-Mobile was parked on the Capitol steps of the nation’s capital in Washington, D.C., where Oscar fed over 400 Congressmen and their staff members in the Sam Rayburn Building.  

             Colonel Poole’s Bar-B-Q has returned to serve its world-famous Bar-B-Q every year since, including both the House and Senate — a total of eight times!  Not bad for a roadside shack just a few years earlier.

             In the fall of 2003, a photograph of the renowned Pig-Mobile with the famous little cut-out pigs covering the hill behind was featured at Atlanta’s prestigious Lenox Square Mall’s “Artwalk.” During the years, local folks of the small mountain town began to rethink their earlier views of what now has become a North Georgia legend and landmark.

             The eatery has been featured in Southern Living two times, as well as in U.S. News and World Report. National Geographic, and many others.

             When reporters and other media would contact Oscar (now referred to as the “Colonel”), he would chuckle and “laugh up his sleeve” because he knew the secret.  He had sowed the seed much earlier in his “Confessions of Faith” — many of which appears at the end of his book.  What was happening was the workings-out of what he had “said.”

             In 1992, The Colonel began his TV  debut when Pat Buchanan began his entire southern campaign for the Presidency of the United States at the Bar-B-Q.  Over 500 people showed up for the inaugural event, with CNN, ABC-TV, and NBC-TV, as well as nearly all the television stations of Atlanta, Georgia, and Chattanooga, Tennessee.  CBC of Canada and Reuters News Agency also covered the occasion. The Colonel refers to this as his “Day of Infamy!”  The business doubled in one week.

             Many other celebrities and political candidates have stopped by.  Miss America Heather Whitestone, Senator Saxby Chambliss, Congressman Johnny Isakson, Former Governor Lester Maddox, Congressman Nathan Deal, World Wrestling Champion Bill Goldberg, CEO’s of major corporations, and scores of others.   

             Six events have been shown over national television.  Syndicated radio talk shows have broad­cast live from the restaurant, including Ludlow Porch and Al Gainey.  A local newspaper editor commented, “It looks like the Republicans can’t come to town without stopping by Col. Poole’s Bar-B-Q!”

             The famous Joe Kelley  McCutchen, a T.V. talk-show host known as the “Number 1 call-in man in America,” has been a vital part of the success of Colonel Poole’s Bar-B-Q.  

                          As Joe has called into the nation’s top television and radio talk shows, he has often mentioned Col. Poole’s World-Famous Bar-B-Q.”  Of course, this has led to making the business more famous.  When people in Georgia mention the towns of Ellijay or East Ellijay, they think of Col. Poole’s Bar-B-Q and apples (Gilmer County, where the restaurant is located, is known as the “Apple Capital of Georgia”).

             So, what is the significance of all this?  Oscar says it’s his new forum to speak out and counsel on many issues.  He found himself very much involved in the personal lives of his new friends, scattered across the country ... his “new church!”  Also, it is a living, vibrant testimony to what he believes is spiritual truth, especially when it comes to “speaking to it!”  He never ceases to declare that the exponential growth of his business is because he has patterned the Bar-B-Q after the parable of the “Seed and the Sower” told by Jesus in the gospel of Mark.

             It’s all spiritual,” Oscar says. “So is everything else!”  As he has begun speaking at success rallies, he declares, “If we can do it, so can you!” He gets into his “CBA” philosophy — “if you can CONCEIVE it and BELIEVE it, you can ACHIEVE it!”

             Finally, Oscar wants to demonstrate that what he says in this book works. “What good,” he says, “is a philosophy or system of ideas that does not work?” He believes his does, and he believes the success of his business proves it.  It’s a theology where the “shoe hits the road.”  It’s practical; it works!  His focus became redirected from the “way out there in the future” to the “right here and now” — in the existential moment.

             So, where are Oscar and his wife Edna headed?  They spend some time at the restaurant, of course, shaking hands, welcoming guests, playing the piano, and doing mostly PR work. They also spend a good deal of time traveling in their motor home (at the moment of this writing, they have stopped by at Hondo, Texas, where they have done what they like best — meeting new friends). They stop here and there, giving brief piano concerts, entertaining groups, leading seminars, and writing books.


Oscar received two shocks: 


Edna, whose maiden name was Shock - the shock of his life — and the “A” in Greek with his part-time piano teaching!

It’s all spiritual,” Oscar says. “So is everything else!”  As he has begun speaking at success rallies, he declares, “If we can do it, so can you!” He gets into his “CBA” philosophy — “if you can CONCEIVE it and BELIEVE it, you can ACHIEVE it!”

It’s a theology where the “shoe hits the road.”  It’s practical; it works! 

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What Oscar Conceives

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Colonel Dr. Oscar Poole

P. O. Box 690

East Ellijay, Georgia  30539



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