July 21, 2014

July 21, 2014

CHAMPION—July 21, 2014

        “Home” can almost be defined by that feeling that sweeps through a body returning there after a noteworthy absence.  A few hours, a few days, or longer in the great elsewhere, near or far, can bring a fresh perspective on the hat hanging place, where shoes are left by the door and the hair is let down.  To round the bend and see the house still standing when the iron might have been left plugged in and turned on is a joyful feeling.  Gratitude is Champion.

        The Douglas County Museum and Historical Society has posted on line a couple of pictures of the Champion School.  One is from 1947, a side view of the building.  The other is from November of 1920, showing the 33 first through the fifth grade students lined up in two neat rows with their hair combed and looking studious.  The names are all there and their faces match up to tell the stories we know as history.  This was bustling burg back then.  “Facebook” has its well-earned detractors, but it is a delight that this post was picked up by Sharon Tate Williamson who flung it around on the internet for Robert Upshaw and many others to ‘like’ and for THE CHAMPION NEWS to pick up.  Some kind of cyber-magic will soon enough have these great photographs posted at www.championnews.us in the School Reunions category.

        The Champion School Reunion is just around the corner!  The Summer Social Calendar is bulging.  The first Skyline Community Market Day is coming up August 1st.  It is a morning event from 8 am to noon.  Since it is pre-election, the hopes are that viers for public office will show their faces and state their cases and spread some political largess around.  Some of them attended Skyline and might benefit from seeing the old place again.  The Market is being organized and sponsored by the Skyline Community Teachers Association with proceeds from booth rentals to go to the CTA Scholarship and the Youth Empowerment Program.  The Skyline R-2 School Foundation will have a booth selling interesting things (and taking donations) to raise the $3000.00 necessary to provide new drinking fountains for the school.  The following Friday and Saturday, the 8th and 9th, will be the high point of the summer at the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department Picnic.  The East Fairview District 46 School Reunion will be held on the 9th at the Vanzant Community building.  There will still be time for those attending the East Fairview Reunion to make it down to the Skyline Picnic for the music and for the exciting drawings.  The hand-crafted red oak, cedar lined blanket chest (cedar chest) is drawing a great deal of attention over at Recreation of the Historic Emporium on the north side of the Square in Downtown Champion.  Bonnie Mullins has sent in money for her tickets.  She and Pete are doing all right up in Wichita.  She is glad their family reunion is there this year and hopes to get back this way one day soon.  Some special arrangements will have to be made to get that cedar chest to her if (when) she wins.  Good luck to all.

        A smart dog has only one skunk experience.  Rudy has recovered from several episodes of snake bite, but Friday evening’s face off with the King of Stink will surely have set him on a lifetime path of strict avoidance.  The Annual Table Rock Lake Bridge and Food Frenzy got off to a slow but memorable start as the Oklahoma team mascot met his olfactory match.  Rudy travels with the doo wop quartet, known on the bridge circuit as the Mister Sisters.  They are a curious mix comprised of a watch maker, a card reading Gypsy word slinger, a construction goon contralto, and Tim, who learned bridge as a wee lad at his Old Grannie’s knee.  They were formidable opponents for the Fortnight Bridge group.  When the shouting was over, each team left with a prize, new friends, and an enhanced knowledge of the game of games.  Norwood’s Linda, on the Fortnight team, came home with the grand prize.  (Champion missed it by a mere 2000 points!)  Rudy’s Jill took the nickels home. (There must have been a pound of them!)  Elegant, commodious accommodations, gourmet dining, stimulating companions in a tranquil setting made the two day get away seem like a tropical cruise.  Fortnighters and Mister Sisters alike are refreshed, renewed and ready for fun.  Whose deal is it?

        One of the treats of travel is the opportunity to see unrecognizable names on political signs in yards and on fences as counties and congressional districts change through the windshield.  Perspective is a tricky subject.  People rarely change their political views even when faced with the possibility of those views having been discounted, discontinued, or disregarded by the very namesakes of the philosophy.  Words are tricky and political word trickery is an art.  The proposed Amendment Number One might look better to some if it were called the International Industrialized Intensive Factory Pig Production and Monsanto Protection Act.  Some would argue that folks in Missouri already have The Right To Farm, and as it is, the Ozarks boast some of the cleanest and most bountiful fresh water in the Nation.  Now there is something worth protecting!

        Often by this time of the year summer looks ragged and brown, parched a little around the edges.  This year seems the exception to the rule and no one is complaining.  Come down to the broad inviting banks of Old Fox Creek with your garden riches to share.  Linda’s Almanac from up at The Plant Place in Norwood reveals that July 24th and 25th will both be most fruitful for root crops and transplanting.  The 26th will be good for corn, okra, beans, and other above-ground crops.  All those days will be good for planting seedbeds and flower gardens.  It is acceptable to brag about your garden glory and not share it, but the proof of the pudding is one of the favorite of puddings.  Ethan Alexander and Zee Heffern probably had pudding (banana) on their birthdays on the 19th.  Terry Prock had a birthday on the 20th and Rosie Gunter on the 23rd.  They both teach at Skyline.  Grace Crawford celebrates on the 24th.  She will be in the 4th grade there this fall.  Jaci Borders will be five years old on the 27th and that puts her in kindergarten this year.  “Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come!”  That is the name of the last book in the series of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library.  The Skyline R-2 School Foundation has sponsored this program with some great success–the love of reading being one of the favorite of loves.

        Share your favorite loves, your news, views and summertime adventures at champion @ championnews.us or mail them to The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO. 65717.  Find out how to get tickets for that handsome cedar chest there as well.  Play favorites out on the spacious veranda at the Historic Emporium.  Hum some tune that makes you think of home (“in the good old summertime, in the good old summertime, la la la la la la with your hand in mine”)  It is acceptable to sing right out loud if you know the words and have a good voice.  Otherwise, just hum and smile.  You will be in one of the world’s truly beautiful places—Champion!  Looking on the Bright Side!

July 14, 2014

July 14, 2014

CHAMPION—July 14, 2014

        Every season has its charm in Champion.  Currently, farmers and gardeners are dealing with the unusual weather, trying to get their hay in and fight the blight on tomato plants from too much rain and not enough sun.  “Dry heat” is a fiction in these parts.  Around here ‘steamy’ goes with ‘hot’ like ‘dogs’ does—awkward language notwithstanding.  There is plenty of language, awkward and otherwise, in those intervals between hard work, as agrarians gather for a schmooze on the spacious veranda. 

        Vanzantians are most likely resting up from their wildly successful picnic on Friday and Saturday.  (The General is away from his phone.)  The weather could not have been better and attendance was excellent.  The big old yellow moon hanging in the sky added to the magic of the event, full of music, laughter, fun and games.  The food was good and the flood of familiar faces was just fine.  It is nice to see old friends and acquaintances, if just during this festival time of the year.  Many of the same bunch will be looking forward to the Skyline Picnic next month and the beat goes on.  Every week end will feature some area happening and a person could keep his social calendar full with little effort.  It was great to see Bob Berry and Mary Goolsby back in the neighborhood.  They are enjoying summertime and still take the Studebaker out for a spin from time to time.  Their Champion friends will be glad when they have re-relocated back to the area.

        Sometimes in the summer the countryside around Champion seems to pulsate with the resonating sounds of haying equipment.  Sound is curious in this part of the world as it moves mysteriously up hollows and around hills.  Sometimes, when the air currents are just right, or very still, people in near North Champion can hear the train rumbling through Norwood.  A house on the side of a hill can act almost as an ear magnifying the sound of distant machinery that turns quiet when a person steps outside to locate it.  In the early spring, a disembodied conversation from over the hill might be as clear as a bell and yet a child twenty yards away can be deaf as a post when admonished by parent or grand to, “Quit teasing that cat!” or “Come in and clean-up for supper!”  Children are as mysterious as sound.  One of the new tyrannies that old folks are experiencing is the conscious lowering of volume so that the interesting thing is being said just below the hearing range of the interested old person.  Who would ever have thought that a child could be too quiet?  It might be considered passive aggressive behavior much like the chronically shy person seems to get extra attention to be drawn out, to be begged to participate.  The ‘confidential’ tone in an aside, speaking to oneself, is a way to make cryptic remarks pertinent to the conversation that are somehow otherwise inappropriate, kind of a back door communication.  The voice in volume and tone, a terrific tool, can say more than words.  “Those with an ear to hear …” might find solace in music.

        Charlie Haden has passed away.  He was 76 years old.  He started his music career as Cowboy Charley, a yodeling toddler, with the Haden Family Band, often playing on The Ozark’s Jubilee.  His older brother taught him how to play the bass and as his voice was affected by a bout of polio in his youth he became more proficient with his instrument.  He became one of the most influential bassists in the history of jazz.  He played with all the jazz greats of his time and was recognized as a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master in 2012.  He received a lifetime achievement honor at last year’s Grammy Awards.  He said, “The beauty of it is that this music is from the earth of the country, the old hillbilly music, along with gospels and spirituals and jazz.”  Haden has cousins and other family over in Smollett, out in South Fulton, Tennessee (Hello, Darrell), and over in Nowata, Oklahoma (Hello, Ethel).  He has admirers all over the world.

        Myrtle Harris has an open book that says, “Welcome to my garden.  My flowers want to see you.”  The book is a concrete statue in one of her many flower beds and her garden is delightful.  Tall ‘tree-lilies’ and phlox in standard purple and unusual pinks, stand with day lilies in brilliant yellow and reds, dinner plate hibiscus, white with red centers and the huge deep red ones.  Begonias, geraniums dianthus, impatiens, marigolds and more are showcased against a deep bed of mulch.  Myrtle has an eye for color and design.  It is a joy to stroll around her garden.  She is full of plans about what will be transplanted where and how to keep some color going all season.  Visitors are amazed at the effort and energy that have gone into planning and maintaining this stunning garden/park with the many sculptures and unusual stones placed just so among the flowers.  Myrtle is a transplant herself from Connecticut, but has had the Ozarks as her home since the mid-1970’s.  She claims to have the best neighbors in the world.  The neighbors can say the same.

        A mistake is a good reason to revisit a subject.  That handmade cedar chest on display down at Henson’s Grocery and Gas is not white oak lined with cedar as has been reported here.  It is red oak lined with cedar.  What a prize this will be for some lucky winner at the Skyline VFD Picnic in August!  It will be one of those family heirlooms that may cause some jealousy some day when one inherits it and another does not.  Families will have to work those things out for themselves, but whoever is in possession of this exquisite chest will know that their precious items inside are protected from dust, light, insects, and prying eyes.  The eye will simply stop at the chest (as so often happens, even in polite society).  Meanwhile, plans are coming together nicely for the Skyline Picnic and a meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m., Wednesday, the 24th, up at the Fire House/Picnic Grounds to get a start on all the things that need doing.  Everyone is welcome to attend and help out.  Bring your gloves and your enthusiasm.  There will be cold drinking water on site.

        Lazy summer afternoons find the Historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square a favorite spot to loiter for a spell while things cool off.  Lee Ray was heard to say something to the effect that he had “got his wish” having said a while back that he would a site rather have been beat by a hundred than by the close score of a recent scrabble game with his sister.  She has subsequently trounced him roundly and soundly and he claims to be ‘way down in the dumps and depressed’ about it, but hardly anyone believes it.  He has a twinkle in his eye that belies most seriousness.  In that respect he reminds a person of The General Himself.  They both bring to mind that Kris Kristofferson song, “he’s a walking contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction…”  Submit your lazy summer songs and poetry or find out how to get tickets for that cedar chest at Champion@championnews.us or by snail mail at The Champion News, Rt. 72, Box 367, Norwood, Mo 65717.  Bring your truth and your fiction down to the wide, wild, and wooly banks of Old Fox Creek, take all the right directions to Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

July 7, 2014

July 7, 2014

CHAMPION—July 7, 2014

        Sunday evening’s sunset was splendid. Raindrops sparkled diamond-like on the grass–bright gifts of a sudden shower refracting the last light.  Late night time lightning rivaled Friday’s fireworks for spectacular display and Monday morning’s mist rose from the hay fields like rain-in-reverse to dampen the sky.  There are surely other places in the world that are beautiful, but this is Champion!

        Harley was able to get out of the hay field in time to make it home for the anniversary he shares with Barbara…49 this time on July the 3rd.  Most likely there will be a party next year.  Their Champion friends and family hope to see them back here together long before then.  Anniversaries and birthdays slide and fly by quickly.  Janet Burns had a birthday on Sunday the 6th.  She was seen among friends on the 4th of July at the creek having a very good time.  She probably does not know Kyra Curtis who shares her birthday and is now 14 years old.  She will be in the 8th grade at Skyline this fall.    Lyla Brown had her 6th birthday on the 7th.  She will be a first grader this fall.  Eighth grader Ceiara Carroll will be 14 on the 14th.  Some people call that a ‘golden birthday’ when the numbers are the same.  Golden birthdays stop at age 31 for some reason.  This one will be especially special for Ceiara since it is 2014.  Happy birthday everyone—sing that song to each other.

        The Skyline VFD Auxiliary has a regular meeting on Wednesday the 9th in the meeting room of Henson’s Grocery and Gas in Downtown Champion.  Everyone is welcome to attend.  The meeting starts at 6:30.  The handmade cedar chest is finally there and it is a beauty.  Actually it appears to be made of white oak and lined with cedar.  It has raised panels on the front and the lid has a brass piano hinge.  The lid stays up when it is opened with special ‘friction lid stays.’  It will be just right for someone to store keepsake quilts and family heirloom table cloths and the like.  Ticket sales are expected to be brisk.  The drawing will be held August 9th at the Skyline VFD Picnic.

        The Vanzant Picnic is coming up this Friday and Saturday night.  There is sure to be a good crowd for this event.  The popular gathering place gets a lot of good community use apart from the regular Thursday night potluck bluegrass jam.  The General will have had a big hand in the planning of the picnic so it is sure to be exciting.  In past years fellow committee members have been able to temper his influence and enthusiasm with the common sense that makes it one of the highlights of the summer festival season in the area.  It will be well worth the trip down 95 highway south of 76 or north up from 14 to go east on W to get to the fun.  There is always good parking and golf cart shuttles for those who need them, lots of good food and music and games of all kinds.  There was talk of putting the General in a dunking booth, but since he was summarily transferred laterally from the Navy when they found out he could not swim, the committee thought better of it and just muttered among themselves that he is already ‘all wet.’

        The Skyline Community Teacher’s Association is sponsoring the Skyline Community Market which will be held Friday, August 1st from 8 am to 12 pm.  Spaces are available for rent to showcase and sell your family friendly merchandise on the grounds at the Skyline School during the first community market day.  Registration forms are available on-line through the Skyline R-2 Facebook page, by e-mail from Helen Batten (hbatten@skylineschool.org) , at the school and at Henson’s Downtown G & G.  There is a nominal fee for the booth space which will benefit the CTA.  Forms and fees should be received by July 25th.  This looks like the beginning of something wonderful—Champion!

        Linda’s Almanac from up at The Plant Place in Norwood informs that July’s is the Thunder Moon.  The month’s flower is the pink larkspur and the birthstone for July is the ruby.  The full moon will occur on the 12th.   The 11th will be a good day for planting crops that bear their yield above ground.  There is still time for some fast growing things like summer squash and cucumbers.  The 12th will be a good day for planting root crops.  Radishes, beets, turnips will have time to make and potatoes as well, if a person is just looking for some nice new potatoes to cook up with the green beans.  The garden is a lovely place this time of year.  Ripe tomatoes are coming off the vines already, though some are saying that they are having a hard time with them rotting as they ripen.  That may have to do with the unusual amount of rain in the area.  Every year is different and there are plenty of old time gardeners around who might be able to answer some of the questions that worry the neophyte.  Sometimes the old folks know the answer and sometimes they will just make something up in order to enjoy the fleeting attention of the young people who seem so busy these days.  At least one household has suddenly become very quiet as the young ones have all gone back to the city.  It is time for a nap!

        Busy was the watch word down at the creek for the 4th of July.  Children were in and out of the cold water catching enormous crawdads, investigating bugs and snakes and critters of all kinds between filling their plates with mounds of perfect summer-time food.  Old friends who rarely see each other had leisurely visits under the trees catching up with a year’s worth of happenings.  There were some who had attended the Old Tree Huggers Jamboree back on the Summer Solstice and had information to relate about mutual acquaintances seldom seen.  The prevailing sentiment was one of gratitude.  Everyone seems glad that they are doing as well as they are and happy for the joys and accomplishments of family and friends.  “There’s a time in each year that we always hold dear, good old summer time; with the birds and tree-es, and sweet scented breezes, good old summer time.  When your day’s work is over, then you are in clover and life is one beautiful rhyme.  No trouble annoying, each one is enjoying the good old summer time.”  In Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

June 30, 2014

June 30, 2013

CHAMPION—June 30, 2013

        Thirty days has September, April, June and November…all the rest have thirty one, except February, etc.  The old poem does not allow for an occasional extra day in June.  That is what Champion got by the way of Linda’s Almanac from over at The Plant Place in Norwood.  Do not blame Linda.  One of her longtime friends has been putting the almanac together for her for a dozen or so years now as part of Linda’s birthday present (March 5th).  This year the friend was distracted (planning a great adventure) and rushed to get the entire gardening year’s almanac together before her departure.  It is a process that requires some concentration.  Alas! June was not well represented in spite of being a glorious month for gardening.  Now it works out that by having 31 days in June, July gets to start on Paul Kennedy’s birthday.  He is a bus driver at Skyline school and a lucky man with a birthday on July the ‘tooth.’  One particular Old Champion accustomed to having his birthday on the first, missed it altogether.  Too bad.  It was a real milestone.  He will just have to wait until the fourth to party with his Old Tree Hugger friends at the National Birthday Celebration on the creek.  He will make an early start to get a good seat for the much anticipated Grand Old Flag Parade around the Champion Square and up and down Lonnie Krider Memorial Drive.  The General (who continues to make friends by not participating) is presumed to be in the throes of planning the Vanzant Community Picnic which might be held the following week end.  For various reasons Spotted Hog is not expected to have a float this year, but still Champions will be waiving their flags in different places together … everywhere singing, “Oh! Say does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave…”

        There is no one alive today in the U.S.A. who has firsthand experience with the noxious British rule that led to the Declaration of Independence.  As the wonderful document is celebrated on July 4th, the memory of the abuses heaped upon the colonies by George III and the annoying Red Coats would have disappeared altogether had it not been for history lessons that many slept through in high school and a few good songs.  King George was deeply in debt because of the way he had handled the French and Indian war starting back in 1754.  By the 1760’s taxes and tariffs were working a real hardship on the colonists as Britain sought to recoup its financial losses.  Then the Quartering Act was imposed on the colonists requiring them to house and feed the occupying soldiers and to put up with warrantless searches and confiscations.  The whole ‘taxation without representation’ issue played a significant part in the discontent of the colonists.  By July 1776, they had had enough, and their actions then allow modern Americans this magnificent freedom.   Practically every American can find some flaw with the government currently, but none would like to go back to being ruled by the British.  Today many Scots are similarly vexed by British rule.  Their current arrangement with Britain goes back to 1703, but on September 18th this year.  Scotland will have a referendum and will vote YES or NO for independence.  Of course, it is not a simple issue and the ‘better together’ folks in Westminster would like to maintain control of the significant natural resources of their northern neighbors.  Many Scots are feeling that old pinch of taxation without representation as they sense they are being levied disproportionate to the benefits allotted them by the distant London government which views them with disdain.  Grievances are deep and long standing.  This year marks the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn where the Scots scored a celebrated victory over the invading English which secured Scotland’s status as an independent country until the early 18th century.  It will be most interesting to see how it all plays out.  The history of those islands is ongoing, as is our own.

        Video of Darrell and Max Cooley and Wayne Anderson playing music at the Cooley Family Reunion Saturday was a gift on the internet.  Laine Sutherland has been a gift to the area as she is a prodigious supporter of local music, local folks and has a great perspective and generous world view.  Welcome home!  What a Champion!

        The 4th through the 8th will all be good days for gardening, especially for planting above the ground crops and leafy vegetables.  This comes from the recently edited and corrected version of Linda’s Almanac for July.  Find it on the bulletin board at Henson’s Downtown Grocery and Gas over on the North Side of the Square.  It can also be found on the counter up at The Plant Place and on line at www.championnews.us.  Summertime visitors will be helpful out in the garden.  There are weeds to pull and a few things like cucumbers and squash to pick along with wild raspberries and assorted ticks and chiggers.  The calamine lotion will flow freely.  No word has come as to the first ripe tomato in Champion yet, but there is likely to be a braggadocio around the round table in the Historic Emporium.  The Cowboy and others will have to know that seeing is believing.  If they plan to do much bragging they had better bring the proof with them.  The amiable shop keeper has a salt shaker.  No prize is being offered this year as it is figured that home grown ripe tomatoes should be enough for anyone.

        Summer is whizzing by.  Soon the Skyline Picnic days will be here.  The 8th and 9th of August are the dates set.  This year a prominent local craftsman is furnishing a handmade cedar chest as the grand prize for the fund raiser.  It was reported a while back that this marvelous work of art would be on display at the Recreation of the Historic Emporium, but it is yet to appear.  The eccentric artist will not be rushed, though it has been suggested that ticket sales might be more brisk if the prize could be seen.  “All in good time.”  That is a common phrase and one that suits the situation.  There is no need to be in any kind of a hurry.  Uncle Al used to say, “Take it eeeeeasy.”  Bring your summertime stories, music, poetry, and patriotism down to share out on the wide veranda overlooking the wild and wooly banks of Old Fox Creek.  Someone asked about the ‘wooly’ part of this description.  Some of it has to do with the debris of last August’s flood still stuck high in the trees.  The dense lush growth along the creek bank accounts for the rest of the ‘wooliness.’  Come form your own opinion and feel free to share.  You will be in one of the world’s truly beautiful places (a fact)… Champion!—Looking on the Bright Side!

June 23, 2014

June 23, 2014

CHAMPION—June 23, 2014

        Addressing that age old musical question, “How in the world do the old folks know that it ain’t a gonna rain no more?”  It turns out that they do not know.  Had they known, they would have cut their hay last Monday and would have had it bailed and strung out in neat rows along the edge of the field before the showers started again on Friday.  As it happened, they waited for the predicted rain that did not come until they were peeved — A week wasted—Alas!  But it was not so for all as some gleefully abandoned their gardening/farming responsibilities to frolic with the seldom seen children and grandchildren visiting from afar.  There was blueberry picking, pie and jam making, sewing machine lessons, fire fly catching, pizza dough making, trips to the swimming hole, lots of music making, long walks and the much anticipated trip to the wonderful Champion Store.  The week went by in a blur leaving some old Champions exhausted and happy and looking forward to next summer.

        There was speculation that Larry Casey might not have been able to attend the benefit arranged for him by his family over at the Vanzant Community Building Saturday, but he made it and enjoyed getting to see everyone who came out to lend a hand.  The success of the event speaks to the kind of community that steps up to help when help is called for and so Larry’s medical care will be subsidized for a while and he and his family are grateful.

        Gratitude is being spread around on the internet.  Doni Coonts says that the hard work of Carolyn, Scott, and Justin Whillhite, John Homer, and Roy and Terri Ryan has made the Skyline greenhouse possible.  The project is almost completed so that students will be able to enjoy first hand experiences with growing plants.  Their progress will be followed with interest.  Meanwhile, Abby Homer is volunteering her creative talents with her paint brush to give the school’s hallway a new look.  It will be a surprise for returning students.  Skyline student Alyssa Strong was born June 23, 2003, so she is now eleven years old.  She will be in the 6th grade at Skyline this year.  Lloyd Perryman Jr. is a prekindergarten fellow.  His birthday is June 30th and he will be 4 years old.  Birthday celebrations are a good way to spend some summertime.  Esther Wrinkles Birthday was June 28th.  Eva Powell’s is the 29th and that is also the birthday of KZ88 Radio personality, Butch Kara.  Champion granddaughters, Faith Ann Lansdown and Sierra Parson share the 21st as their birthday.  Faith Ann turned 12 years old and Sierra became an amazing 17.  It goes by so quickly.  Just ask those grandparents.

        The Summer Solstice—the longest day of the year—was a brilliant day for a family reunion.  The 40th Back to the Land Reunion was held at the Hammond Mill Camp over near Dora.  Back in the 1970’s the Ozarks had an influx of “Urban Refugees.”  They were primarily young people, college graduates and drop-outs and hippies of all descriptions pouring out of the cities, looking for a wholesome life in the country to raise their families and to “live off the land.”  They bought farms and raw land and set about to garden organically, to build their own houses, to home-school the children who had been born at home with midwives.  They played a lot of rock and roll music, and had big parties and swap meets.  They ate brown rice and made yogurt.  They were idealists, transcendentalists, environmental activists, and young, often unskilled and generally naive.  Some did not succeed.  Building a house together can be hard on a relationship and more than one ‘blanket was split’ before the roof made it on the cabin.  Many lived in old school buses and tents and shacks they cobbled together.  Local folks shook their heads and made a lot of jokes at their expense, but many like the Champion Hensons, Hutchisons, Hicks, Brixeys, Kriders and Smiths and others also extended a helping hand and were willing to share their life experiences and know-how.  Many of their own children had moved off by that time, as jobs in the Ozarks were few and far between, so they were pleased to see some young people move into the area who seemed genuinely interested in the old ways of doing things.  Some of the immigrants had the hope of merging social and environmental consciousness with the solid skillsets of the people who had been living here for generations.  Forty years later, some of the new-comers who stayed on look just like the old timers to the newer newcomers.  They have contributed to the local culture.  Many are back in the city again and are dispersed from coast to coast, but they all feel that their time in the Ozarks enriched their lives.  Saturday saw about 140 of the Back to the Landers together again at the Old Tree Huggers Jamboree.  They did not all know each other back in the day, and there were new spouses, children and grandchildren in the mix at the big gathering.  Name tags helped keep the embarrassment down as features have aged and memories have slipped, but they all remembered the band, Hot Mulch, playing “Well, I’m moving to the country where everything is fine.  Gonna live in a dome and drink dandelion wine.  When the collapse comes I won’t get the blues.  I’ll have all the back issues of the Mother Earth News.”  The name of that original song is “Ozark Mountain Mother Earth News Freak.”

        Thursday and Friday will be good days for planting above ground crops according to Linda’s Almanac from over at The Plant Place in Norwood.  It is easy to get called away to the creek on these beautiful summer days when the afternoons heat up.  Early mornings and late afternoons are the best times to be out in the garden for older folks anyway.  The creek can reduce a person’s core temperature substantially.  Lee Ray says that at 75 miles per gallon (on his motorcycle) a person just cannot afford to stay home.  Add the savings of not having to run the air conditioner when he is not there and it can be figured that he is almost making money by making frequent trips to the wild wooly banks of Old Fox Creek.  He spends so much time on the wide inviting veranda at the Historic Emporium over on the North Side of the Square that it is a wonder he did not see the low-down sneak-thief vandals that meticulously unbolted the city limits sign on the west side of town and made off with it.  This is not the first time it has happened and since the grass has grown up pretty tall around the sign post, there is every chance that the delinquent criminal trespassers got their britches full of chiggers.  The last time the crime was attributed to jealous marauders from up Spotted Hog way, a community of about the same size but without a sign of their own.  It could be anyone though from anywhere in the world.  After all, everyone wants to be a Champion!—Looking on the Bright Side!