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Jeff Whitten: The Pembroke Mafia is back
editor's notes

From the rear lines of the pandemic, continued: The Pembroke Mafia Football League is back.

Well, sort of back.

While many similar mafias are waiting to find out whether or not major conferences outside the SEC will play college football this fall, the braintrust of the PMFL has decided we’ll play through – barring disaster, of course.

That should be good news to the five or six people who regularly follow the exploits of PMFL members, who (or is it whom) I shall reintroduce shortly.

For the uninitiated, the PMFL is the brainchild of B.J. Clark, also known as the French Fry Tater King (but not the King of French Fries, that would be someone else) in at least one circle.

B.J. is retired Navy and a big cheese emeritus up in Pembroke American Legion Post 164, etc. He started the PMFL about six years ago as a way to pick college football games, (think of me as his ventroloquist’s dummy) and League membership has since grown from a handful of pickers to more than that.

It’s actually gotten so big it has its own treasury, and Navy, and executive director of ditch maintenance, and bartender, and so on. It even has a bureau up in Michigan, for some reason. But I digress. Let’s get on with the show.

Other members include:

• Magic Mike Clark. Mike’s an entertainer who also sells tractor parts and write’s bestselling country-rap songs.

He’s the guy we send out to talk to women we aren’t married to whenever someone has to go talk to women we aren’t married to. That occasionally happens. Women love Mike. That’s why he isn’t married. He doesn’t have to be. He’s got groupies.

• District 1 County Commissioner Noah Covington, who doubles as the chairman of the Bryan County Development Authority.

Noah is probably going to be Georgia’s next governor, or lieutenant governor, or the Eternal General Secretary of the Workers’ Party of North Bryan and Eternal Chairman of the North Bryan Defense Development Commission. In fact, Noah already has six or seven ponies. Not to ride. Noah don’t ride ponies. Noah just likes to talk political strategy with them and then give them a friendly pat on the head.

“Hello My Little Ponies,” Noah says. “Want an organic carrot? Say, aren’t Democrats mean?”

“Hello Noah,” they say back. “An organic carrot would be nice. And you’re right. Democrats are meanies.”

Pat pat pat, pat, pat, pat, pat, goes Noah. “Good talk, ponies.”

• District 5 County Commissioner Dr. Gene “Doctor Feelgood” Wallace.

I like re-telling this story about Gene, who is actually a real doctor, or retired dentist anyway. He remarked to someone shortly after taking office that he’d been a dentist for 30 years and in all that time had never once been sued, but he hadn’t even been a county commissioner two months and had already been sued twice.

I blame developers. If they can’t knock a couple trees down every once in a while and put up a couple hundred houses in their place they feel all funny inside and start hiring lawyers, and before you know it you’re in Superior court learning a unified development ordinance is an insult to real Americans like homebuilders.

By the way, you’d probably look at life funny too if you spent half your life digging around in somebody else’s mouth.

I learned this when I said in a group text that people named Jeff (like me) are as a rule great human beings. Wallace responded, “Well, how about Jeffrey Dahmer, was he a great human being? Eh? What? Huh?”

I’m still trying to think of a comeback.

• Bryan County Administrator Ben Taylor.

Ben is from Ashburn, Georgia, the Fire Ant Capitol of the World and home of the World’s Largest Peanut, Ben Taylor. Ben, who stands 4-foot-7, has the finest collection of male hosiery designed by Dr. Seuss ever seen. And I suspect he has his suits – the little fellow actually wears pinstripes – tailored to show off said socks, which have been neon yellow and lime green. I swear once he had glitter on his socks. And Christmas trees. And little Sue Whos. And harps! And squiggles. And fish.

And his monogram, BBT – which is short for Big Ben Taylor. No wonder Ben’s in high demand statewide.

In the meantime, he’s not letting his sartorial or government success go to his head. I’ve heard he’ll even autograph a sock and give it to fans. Go ask him at the next commission meeting, see what he says. Here’s a prepared script: “Ben, I’m a taxpaying citizen and that means I pay part of your salary, so I want you to sign one of your socks and give it to me, so I can tell my grandkids if they ever need to free the house elf Dobby from mean old Lucious Malfoy, their grandpa has just the sock to do it!”

Course, there are rumors out there on certain Facebook pages that Ben is really a freed house elf named Klabby Teawhipper who disguises himself by wearing a people suit, but I promised Noah I’d never tell who started that rumor.

• Pembroke County Administrator Alex Floyd.

Alex, also chairman of the Bryan County Planning and Zoning Commission, is one of those 20-something- year-olds who turn into bemused middle-aged men about the time they graduate high school, and start liking history and old coke bottles and yard sales and talking to unreliable old coots about what happened back when Pembroke was bigger and more fun than Richmond Hill.

“We had our own Ferris wheel and the Eiffel Tower was right over there by where City Hall is now,” they’d tell Alex, and he’d swallow it. “And on full moons you could buy 30 bottles of root beer for a nickel and sit up all night going to the bathroom and watching the cows walk down main street knocking over old ladies and stealing infant children and raising them in the wild on hay and pine bark. Those were sure some good times.”

Inevitably, the friendly rivalry between Richmond Hill and Pembroke would come to the surface.

“Oh, yeah, boy. We used to make them Richmond Hill people say ‘your aunt’s your uncle’ all the time, or else we’d turn them over to the cows,” Alex said he was told. “Course, back then there wasn’t but about 13 of them down there, and they were real skinny, which made it easy to get ‘em all in a headlock and give ‘em a good old Pembroke wedgy. You ever had one?”

Alex said he said yes, just to move the story along. All that changed when somebody decided people from up north would actually spend good money to get eat up by yellow flies and pestered to death by gnats, and Richmond Hill quickly began to outnumber Pembroke. Now it outnumbers Akron on some days. That’s why they’re widening 144 and building more subdivisions. To win the census.

• Bob Floyd. For a man who owns practically every other pine tree in North Bryan, Bob is one of those good hearted souls who doesn’t put on airs and try to be all fancy.

He also doesn’t wear sleeves, preferring to let his armpits breathe and be served up to the world al fresco. To make that even more interesting, Bob is a hugger.

Before COVID-19, Bob tended to go around giving great big bear hugs to unsuspecting people, just to spread the love he has for all things, including people.

“C’mere you,” he’d say, in a cloud of Speed Stick vapors. “I feel a Big Bob Floyd group hug coming on. So let’s everybody loosen up and get in a circle.”

And that’s why he was the PMFL’s designated hugger. If anybody said they needed a hug, B.J. will sic Bob Floyd on them.

“Go give ‘em a good squeeze, with plenty of pits,” B.J. would say, and that would be that. Pembroke Mafia Law and Order would be maintained.

That said, a friendly word of advice: if we ever get back to normal, don’t let Bob get you in a circle. He’ll try.

• Richmond Hill City Clerk Dawnne Greene, also known in some circles as Boston Betty due to her being from Massachusetts and looking sort of like a Betty. In her short time in the league, Dawnne has proven to be one of the best pickers in the Pembroke Mafia. This may be in part because she’s the smartest of the bunch.

Or so she’d probably like to think.

Actually, we let her win.

This because her husband is a fire chief, and B.J. has this fire truck thing (he’s old) and is hoping for a free ride where he doesn’t have to dress up like Santa Claus and throw candy at kids.

B.J. said all he wants for next Christmas is to wear Bermuda shorts and his Navy cap and sit up front in a fire engine and steer, and maybe run over a few kids. The more annoying ones, anyway. That’s most of them, according to B.J.

• Dr. Trey Robertson, Bryan County Schools. Trey, an assistant superintendent of “teaching and learning” is the PMFL’s Minister of Education.

What’s always struck the PMFL as kind of funny is that a school system actually has an assistant superintendent in charge of something that should come second nature in a school system. After all, what’s a school for?


Ah, that’s right, it is. And that’s probably why Trey’s in charge of teaching and learning. The school board knows he’s in the PMFL, where he serves as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. In fact, the PMFL calls him The Galloping Ginger, because one minute he’s there, the next nobody can find him. Oh, and he’s a ginger. Not the carroty kind, but more normal. A sort of strawberry-weasel hue of ginger.

• Ted O’Neal, former assistant editor, Bryan County News.

Our good buddy Ted heads up the Michigan branch of the PMFL. I don’t know why we thought it necessary to have an office in Michigan, but when Ted moved back there it was a great fit. He gives us a presence in the Lake Michigan market without having to freeze our cha-cha’s off, we make sure he’s evacuated in case of a hurricane. It’s a win-win situation.

Ted is more a basketball fan, being 7-foot-2 and a Michigan State alum, but he’s started to become one of the reliable upper middle of the pack PMFL members and may someday challenge B.J. for the Legendary Throne of Stone, which means he’d get to keep score, and that’s often the key to winning in the PMFL. You keep score, you finish first. It’s a grandfather rule practiced by B.J.

Finally, there’s me and a newcomer, the Rev. Lawrence Butler, who will be the new spiritual advisor and provides the PMFL an in with the Man Upstairs.

Welcome, pastor and bless our little hearts.

Now, depending on what happens in the coming weeks, we’ll start up the season when the season starts up. In the meantime, send comments, suggestions, complaints or candy to B.J. Clark, care of this newspaper.

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