Many people in Sedalia know Elder Noah Eugene Poole, 74, as someone who helps in the community, but what many don’t know is that he loves to dance and doesn’t plan to stop any time soon.
Poole has been dancing since he was 3-years-old, beginning at his mother, Sarah Poole, and father, Ellis Poole’s restaurant that was located on North Osage Avenue between Jefferson and Pettis streets. He’s adept at dancing the camel walk, the jitterbug, the mashed potato, the mess around, the two step and the boogaloo — just to name a few.
Poole reminisced about when he first began dancing at age 3.
“We used to have a restaurant,” he said. “I used to dance at the restaurant. They would give me a little change and I’d get out there and do my thing … doing the camel walk.
“I was doing at least three turns before Michael Jackson was born,” he added “I could turn somersaults, split and slide and turn three times and never miss a step.”
Poole is married to Arwilda “Cookie” Poole and has 11 children, 39 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. Although busy, he and his wife still take time to dance.
For many years he was involved in community affairs. Poole was the president of the Sedalia-Pettis County National Association for the Advancement of the Colored People for 11 years and vice-president for 12 years. He was active in the local arts community, ran for city council, was on Mayor Larry Foster’s Black Advisory Board, served on the Pettis County Human Rights Commission and was on the Scott Joplin International Ragtime Foundation Board.
Always staying busy, at present, Poole is a member of the Sedalia-Pettis County NAACP, a member of Diversified Community Outreach and he recently organized a dinner for homeless veterans and collected water to be sent to Flint, Michigan. Poole has also been a minster for 25 years and is “fellowshiping” with True Vine Church of God In Christ.
On April 23, he received a framed recognition for his community efforts from the Sedalia-Pettis County NAACP during their annual banquet.
Through the years, and never far from his heart, is the love of music, rhythm and fancy footwork. Years ago Poole had a seven-piece band called Change of Souls where he taught others how to get in the groove.
“I taught them choreography and I was the band manager,” he said recently at his home. “I was known as ‘No. 1’ for awhile here in Sedalia. They used to call me James Brown because I had his moves — if he brought it out, I had it.”
Change of Souls featured saxophone, trumpet, lead guitar, bass guitar, drums and keyboard. Poole added that he would teach others how to dance to the music of Earth, Wind and Fire or Kool and the Gang.
“I taught the moves for them, and I did pretty good, I used to play at the (Whiteman Air Force) Base quite often,” he said.
Poole and his band also spent time playing in Lexington, Boonville, Higginsville, Marshall, Slater and Columbia. For a time he used to teach a woman’s choreography group that often performed at WAFB. He said doesn’t particularly have a favorite dance per se but enjoys and does them all.
Competitions were something Poole enjoyed as a young man. He would often compete at local clubs such as the Main Street Bar, The Palace, the King’s Club and the Harlem Club.
“If people knew where I was, they would come and get me to go down and dance against them,” he said smiling. “They gave me respect. Not only did they give me respect, I never had to pay.”
He added that he would have loved to have been on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” if it had been around at the time. He also noted that he would have enjoyed running a dance academy.
“When Soul Train came out I was probably one of the first who could ever do the Soul Train in Sedalia,” he said. “I probably introduced it to Sedalia.”
He still has his moves and still loves to bust a groove. If he and his wife go out and there’s music, they will dance.
“I won’t let anyone my age come up and set me down,” he said laughing. “If they think they’re going to set me down, they better think twice. I still have a few moves.”
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or @flbemiss.