October 15, 2019

CHAMPION—October 14, 2019



Today expectations are that Foxtrotters, equestrians, and cowboys all will enjoy the marvelous change in the weather for Bud Hutchison’s Fall Trail Ride that heads up in Champion on Wednesday the 16th! Mountain Grove cowboys already have it on their calendar. The Square will be full of trucks and horse trailers in the morning. Many of Bud’s friends from around the area will gather to go off on a wide ramble around the countryside. By the time they get back in the early afternoon, the Sometimes Wednesday Porch Band should be tuned up and jamming. A recently retired mail carrier has pledged to join the ensemble with her spoons. We miss Bud and these trail rides help his friends smile, remembering good times they had with him over the many years. It will make Wilma happy to know that his friends remember that he had a great smile and could spin a yarn with the best of them. When the Jimmy Brown the News Boy (John) brings the Douglas County Herald to Champion on Friday, we will already know the stories of this ride and plans will be underway for the next one.


Skyline R2 School students celebrating birthdays soon are first grader, Wyatt Shannon, on the 19th; fifth grader, Haylee Surface, on the 22nd; sixth grader, Emily Mayberry, on the 23rd and prekindergarten student, Grant Strong, on the 24th. Happy birthday all you Skyliners! They are getting ready for Halloween over there and it is going to be an exciting time on the spooky Tiger Trail. Vladimir Putin’s birthday is October 7, 1952. He is big in the news these days. Steve Connor’s birthday is October 11th. Janet Chapin celebrates on the 12th, and Cathy Baldwin does that on the 13th along with lovely banjo picker, Carol Green. Among the interesting people who have birthdays on October 14th are Dwight D. Eisenhower, Eva Clark, Jill Godshall, Dea Friloux, Leslee Krider and Bonnie Rogers. They do not know each other. Joe Moskaly has his big day on the 15th. Corinne Rogers, Darlene Connor, and Carson Cline all enjoy the 18th. Marty Watts will have his party on the 20th. Anna Henson’s birthday was on the 21st somewhere around 1903. She is well remembered in Champion yet. Another Old Champion says that on October 21, 2046, just 27 short years from now, she will be 100! Donna Moskaly enjoys the 22nd as her special day, and Esther Grace Oglesby will be two years old on the 23rd. Her aunt Breauna Krider celebrates on the 24th, but she was already celebrating with her sweetheart on the 14th. Endeavor to enjoy every day as much as you do your birth anniversary because time is whizzing by.

It will be sad to see Mountain Grove’s Downtown Pawn Shop close. Marjorie Carter and Linda Keys have been serving the community in that business for a long time. They will close their doors November 1st and Mountain Grove will have lost another business on the square. Their friends will miss the ladies and wish them well.

Persimmon spoons.

An old Champion friend once lamented that he had had to ask his son-in-law to help him with the firewood and that he felt bad about it. He was asked to recall a time when, as a young guy, he had the chance to help some old man do something. Did he recall how good it made him feel to be of genuine help? So the old guy was admonished to consider that he was doing the son-in-law a favor. It is hard to ask for help, but, at some time or the other, everyone needs it. Lem and Ned might walk up your driveway and ask if they could do a few chores in exchange for a few turnips. Let them. Whether you are getting help with your firewood or find yourself in the hands of capable, competent, caring health care professionals, your hope may be that your benefactors feel satisfaction in their efforts commensurate with your gratitude. Salute to the Step-Down Unit at Cox South! To lend a healing hand or any hand at all is Champion!

A much-loved grandmother, Sarah Emaline Hector, who was born in Haleyville, Alabama and lived in West Texas much of her life, would suggest that any new Yankee to arrive in the neighborhood should be treated to a Country Pie—a nice green persimmon pie. Here in Champion the persimmons seemed to have started ripening early, along with the pawpaws. Summer turned to fall overnight. Weather forecasting lore says to look at the shape of the kernel inside the persimmon seed: if the kernel is spoon-shaped, expect plenty of snow to shovel. If it is fork-shaped, plan on a mild winter with powdery, light snow. If the kernel is knife-shaped, expect frigid winds that will “cut” like a blade. The prognostications of persimmon seeds or of Punxsutawney Phil are not scientific in any kind of reliable way. Adopted Champion granddaughter, Greta Thunberg, is encouraging all of us to listen to the science. She has been traveling around the United States and Canada recently helping to raise awareness of the climate change happening to a planet near you. She gets a lot of negativity pointed at her for this activism, but she is not deterred. What a Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!


October 1, 2019

CHAMPION—September 30, 2019


Ken Felts leads on the trail back to Arkansas.

Ken Felts and Randall Burnette both drive wagons pulled by three mules—three ups. They picked up another wagon in Seymour which joined them on their return trip through Champion Wednesday. The new guy, a Texan turned Arkansawyer, Dave Somebody, drives a nice little reproduction Springfield wagon. They camped out in our favorite burgh Tuesday night and proceeded out early Wednesday on their way back to Arkansas. They all reported having had an exceptionally pleasant and untroubled trip. Harkening back to a simpler time is one of our favorite pastimes. Truth be told, though, those times were not all that simple. Their troubles were no less dire then than ours are today. Existential crises always seem to be unprecedented. Perhaps those pioneer creeds will carry us through these uncharted waters. Maybe that is the virtue of nostalgia.

The Pioneer Heritage Festival of the Ozarks will represent serious generational nostalgia. This event gives us a chance to experience some of what was real life for our forbears. The spinning and weaving, the blacksmithing, the flint knapping, the soap making and myriad other skills remind us of the strength of those that lived that austere life. That inherited strength we adapt to deal with today’s craziness. We thank our predecessors and entreat you to enjoy some great music, food and family fun Saturday and Sunday out at the New Haven Event Park, formerly Chapel Grove. Ray Bradley will be the emcee this year, so you know that there will be lively entertainment. There will be music all day starting off at 9:15 with the National Anthem led by Bradley. He has a great voice. There will be a chance to win a Mini Branson Vacation as well as a number of other things. It looks like the weather is going to be just right for it this year with a little hint of fall finally. Among the crowd you will surely meet up with many old friends you may not have seen in years. See you there.

Those good looking Mountain Grove cowboys were on the Champion Square early Friday morning. They planed an excursion up County Road 239. They will have had some great distant vistas to enjoy from one of Douglas County’s high spots. Actually, these guys are not necessarily cowboys just because they ride horses. Perhaps in the future we will call them equestrians if it turns out they do not have cattle. Jim, the tall one with the big hat was happy. The previous day he had been able to get the landscapers and the tree trimmers to do what needed to be done at his house so his television dish was no longer obstructed. We can observe that people are generally willing to tell you in dreary detail about all the things that are wrong or going badly, so when someone comes along willing to share happiness, no matter how inconsequential it is to us personally, it is still a real treat. If you are happy and you know it, clap your hands. A nice broad smile is good for everyone in its beam.

Champions are happy for Shirley Emerson. She has been with the Douglas County Health Department taking our blood pressure readings on the fourth Friday of the month for some while now. Friday was her last day with us. She is finishing up her last prerequisite course and will be enrolled in the Cox College of Nursing in Springfield this fall. Her aging friends out here in the country will miss her pleasant company, but congratulate her on a fine career choice. The more heath care professionals the better, says the aging population. Our new blood pressure monitor is a charming young lady from Mountain Grove. Shelby will be looking at our systolic and diastolic for us on our fourth Fridays in the future. We look forward to getting acquainted with her and hope that more people in the area will take advantage of this great amenity. She sets up in the Meeting Room at the Historic Emporium from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. ready to help us take care of our health.

Mrs. Brixey, prekindergarten teacher at our wonderful Skyline R2 School, Lydia Harden 6th grader, and Myson Loveless, first grader, all celebrate birthdays on the first of October. Pete Mullins, Bonnie May Brixey’s sweetheart, shares that day also with a Champion wood worker, producer of trinkets, whose motto is, “If you act like you are having a good time pretty soon you will forget that you are acting and you will really be having a good time.” Well, that may not be his motto, but there are those in Champion who try to remind him of that about this time every year. William Tucker Clark was born on October 2nd, 2015. He shares his birthday with Mahatma Gandhi, the political ethicist who taught us about nonviolent resistance, born in 1869. Grandpa Clark and Evan Homer, a kindergarten student, share October 3rd. Malachi Fulk, 7th grader, celebrates on the 4th. That happens to be the birthday of Champion/Denlow twins. One is a few minutes older than the other, but after a certain period of time, a few minutes do not matter much. After all, in 17 short years they will both be 90. Ms. Betty Dye and popular Democrat, Vicki Trippe, will have their special day on the 7th. Theresa Toast and Glen Masters will have their big day on the 8th. Madelyn Ward was born on October 10th, 2006. Time flies! Birthdays are big important days to some people. Others would like to forget them. However you feel about this kind of celebration, we are all here. We all matter. We are Champions!—Looking on the Bright Side!

Good looking cowboys in Champion.

September 24, 2019

CHAMPION—September 23, 2019


The Wagon Train resting on the Square as seen from the Wide Veranda.
[click here or scroll down for more pictures]

The West Plains Wagon Club pulled into the Champion Square about 11:00 on Tuesday morning, a little earlier than they have routinely done in the past.  They made an early start out of John Webber’s place that morning, expecting a hot day.  They got it.  Jim Cantrell says that they do not mind the rain.  They never get wet unless it is time to harness or unharness.  So far, they said the trip had gone well with no significant incidents.  What a gift it would be to sit in around those camp fires as the Wagon Train moves along, to hear those stories.  Randal Barnette figures he will have traveled 3,300 miles before the year is done.  He said that he averages 20 miles a day, though once he covered 47 miles, making for home ahead of an ice storm.  Little Joe, a loyal little terrier, is his traveling buddy.  The mule train made its way up through Mansfield and Marshfield to Seymour.  Barnette and Ken Felts will retrace their steps and be back in Champion Wednesday evening.  They are on their way back to Arkansas, Felts stopping at Viola and Barnette going four hours more over to Warm Springs, arriving there sometime next week.  When asked how much time he spends on the trail, Barnette said, “All I can.”  The Champion News camera battery played out just before they took off up the hill toward Cold Springs, but there are pictures of this bunch on the Square Thursday and wagon train pictures going back to 2008 on-line at www.championnews.us.  The Wednesday Sometime Porch Band jam was in full swing during the wagon train visit and new-comer to the wagon train and to Champion, Dennis Pierce, of Seymour, suggested that he might come back some time with his fiddle and his guitar.  He says his big problem is that he finds it hard not to dance when the music is lively.

I’ve traveled this world over, a million miles or more, but a moustache on a cabbage head I never did see before.”  That is a line from an old country song that causes laughter to break out in an audience.  It comes to mind when some old Champions broke out in aggravation at ‘a computer in a washing machine.’  The blamed thing would not do what it was told.  The remedy was provided by David Lehmann and came in the form of an old fashioned Maytag minted before laundry equipment was computerized.  It is nice to harken back to the old days, but not so far back as the rub-board.  Mr. Lehmann has a fine old fiddle that he brought it with him when he came to pick up the discarded computer-infested machine.  He tuned up and played “Old Indiana,” “Sweet Betsy from Pike,” and a couple more tunes.  It might be a temptation to have appliance trouble just to get him back in the neighborhood.  He says he likes to have a guitar playing along to help keep time as he has trouble patting his foot.  It just goes to show that almost everybody has some kind of trouble.

Donna Eslinger, one of the tireless organizers of the Pioneer Heritage Festival, says that this year a couple of cowgirls will be riding their horses at the Festival 11am to 3pm both days, October 5th and 6th.  Both “cowgirls” are experienced horse riders and will be available for photo opportunities as they welcome Festival goers and ride around during the Festival.  They are Emma Dry, an 8th grade student, and Devin Rowe, a junior.  Both attend school in Ava.  Watch the weather and bring a hat if it’s going to be hot and sunny.  Bring a lawn chair and an appetite for all the good food, good music and the chance to visit with your friends.  As you walk among the many exhibitors and demonstrators you might think you have stepped back in time.  The old fashioned games of horse shoes and sack races will keep the kids busy, yet some local pioneer history might rub off on them.  A number of Skyline students, and doubtlessly, many Ava School students, are the descendants of some of those old time pioneers to this part of the world.  Skyline superintendent Donnie Luna’s family came over from Kentucky or Tennessee way back in the 1840’s.  When it was suggested those folks came to avoid the Whiskey Tax, he said that after a flood here a few years ago there washed up a big coil of copper, giving hard evidence of the rumor of family-moonshining in previous generations.

Tristian Jeffry is in the 5th grade in Skyline.  His birthday is September 25th.  Fourth grader, Colt Mayberry, celebrates on the 28th.  Melanie Hall is a first grade student with a birthday on September 30th   Graeme Laird, a charming Scotsman, was 42 in 2013 on September 26th.  He has written some great songs, among them is “Now’s the end of the beginning!”  Cathy Alsup Reilly celebrates on the 27th.  She has more than a little family history here, though she lives in Tennessee.  Beck Heston and Lucile Gayman will both be celebrated on the 29th—Becky in Austin or Belize, and Ms. Gayman up in the lovely assisted living facility just north of Mountain Grove.  She will have family and friends wishing her well.  Xue Lynn’s dear old dad may stroll into downtown Champion on foot on his birthday on the 30th.  Birthdays give us the chance to be acknowledged for existing in our shared world as Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!


2019 Wagon Train


Randall Barnett’s three-up are Jericho, Chief, and Junior. Randall is from Warm Springs, Arkansas.

Randal Barnett and Little Joe.

Jim Cantrell chewing the fat with Randal Barnett on a rest stop at Champion.

Jim and Judy Cantrell of Mansfield. Their mules are Long Ears and Patty.

This is the outfit of Ken Felts of Viola Arkansas. His mules are Rebel, Bill, and Kate.

Ken Felts’ Rebel, Bill, and Kate.

Jerry Sanders and Toni Amison relax with Toni’s dog Hooch. Their mules are Black Jack and Peaches.

This was the first trip through Champion for Dennis Pierce of Seymour. He has borrowed mules…Lady and Thunder.

Dennis Pierce is also a fiddle player and plays guitar. He said he might come down to Champion
from Seymour some Wednesday for the Sometimes Porch Band jam.



September 16, 2019

CHAMPION—September 16, 2019


Purslane–edible heirloom.

By the time this gets into ink and then makes its way via the wonderful United States Postal Service all the way to Champion, the wagon train will have come and gone.  If you missed it, you can go to www.championnews.us and look for the West Plains Wagon Club in the ‘Champion Neighbors’ category on the right hand side of the page and there you will find pictures and reports of the wagon train going back to 2008.  The wagon train has a much longer history than that.  Back in the 1970s when a young couple had just purchased what is still called the Ezra Henson place, they looked up from their chores that first fall to see a whole string of wagons going by, north up Cold Springs Road.  There were matched pairs of miniature mules in beautiful harness pulling all kinds of little wagons.  There were bigger outfits too, and one or two being pulled by a three-up.  It was a surprise and a delight for the newcomers who figured they had found the right place in the world to make a home.  As the years have gone by the wagon train has become shorter and shorter.  It is not an inexpensive hobby and not many young folks are taking it up.  With their rubber tires, spring seats, and CB radios, we know that these rigs do not compare to the Spartan pioneer wagons of the distant past, but it gives us an idea of how sturdy and resilient our ancestors were as they made their arduous journeys west.  See you next year.  Wagons Ho!

Terri Ryan says, “Thank you, FCS Financial for providing all our kindergarten through 4th grade students with a free book each month through May.  Our students will love it!  We appreciate your investment in our Skyline community.”  It is great to see area businesses supporting our little rural school.  One of the ways we can help is by saving the bar-codes (UPC codes) from the store brands, Best Choice and Always Save.  Also find Box Tops for Education on many General Mills products and Ziploc brands.  You can drop them off at the school or mail them to Skyline R2 School, Rt. 72 Box 486, Norwood, MO 65717.  These are the young people who will soon be running the farms, businesses and the government.  We better give them all the support and encouragement we can.  The Beach Boys sang, “Be True to Your School.”

The 28th Annual Starvy Creek Fall Bluegrass Festival is going on this week.  Many of our local musicians will be up in Conway camping and jamming until way in the night.  They will be back at their regular jams next week happy for their experiences and ready for more music.


The Pioneer Heritage Festival of the Ozarks will happen on the first weekend in October, the 5th and 6th.  In addition to all the great music from local bands, there will be opportunities for young people to show off their musical talents and their art work.  There will be demonstrations of traditional skills and crafts, as well as lots of good food, games and contests.  This will be the third year for this family-friendly festival and it looks like it will be another great success.  Among the exhibitors this year will be Jeffrey Goss of Gainesville, who will demonstrate foraging for native foods.  Incidentally, the mailbox at champion@championnews.us has received a New York Times article extolling the virtues of purslane.  It is a succulent, considered a weed by many and a delicacy by others.  Purslane has many beneficial nutrients and there are as many as forty varieties of purslane cultivated for the tables of people across the world.  Gretchen Boisse wrote in to say that they had harvested 24 pounds of pawpaws in about an hour.  She is freezing some for pawpawsicles for next summer.  She says they are extremely nutritious, “It even has an impressive amount of protein.  The pawpaw is fun to harvest, easy to process/preserve, nutritious, delicious and free for the taking for those of us fortunate enough to live out here in this unpolluted beautiful spot on the globe, so full of the resources that we need to not only survive, but to thrive.”

Retired mail-carrier, Patricia Kim Smith, had a birthday on September 15.  Donald Krider, who used to live around here, celebrates on September 18th.  Louise Hutchison passed away in November of last year.  She is well remembered for her good humor, her beautiful singing voice and her service to the community.  Her birthday was September 21st.  That is also the special day for Champion granddaughter in Austin, TX, Zoey Louise.  She shares the day with her distant cousin, Penelope, who lives in the same town.  Adopted Champion granddaughter, Greta Thunberg, will be 17 in January.  She is still up in New York and will speak at the Climate Summit at the United Nations on the 21st.  Her biological grandparents back in Sweden must also be very proud of her.  Sandy Chapin, of “Searching for Booger County” fame, celebrates on the 24th.  Wishing you all marvelous, joyful birthdays from Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Greta Thunberg