May 25, 2015

May 25, 2015

CHAMPION—May 25, 2015

Joann Anderson snaps a photo of Wayne Anderson and Linda Anderson Clark
at a family grave in the Denlow Cemetery. It turned out to be a beautiful day.

        Memorial Day, Decoration Day and late spring reunions of families, communities and schools combined for a nostalgic whirlwind of social commotion amid weather that had been unsettled for days.  Americans who died while in the military service were duly and respectfully honored with flag ceremonies.  Ancestors, long gone, and family and friends recently departed were remembered and commemorated with flowers and gatherings to tell the old stories and remember.  This was the scene across the whole Nation and certainly Champion neighbors over in Denlow made a sterling showing of their combined commemorations.

The General Robert d’Hood Upstart demonstrates Hula hoop magic in hand made, croched multi colored faux lederhosen.

        The Denlow/Fairview School Reunion deserves a paragraph of its own.  There were off and on showers and almost continuous drizzle until early afternoon when the sun appeared to lighten the mood of the crowd, which was by all definitions of the word, pretty ‘light’ already.  Hula hoop contests replaced the traditional hula dance contest, as some are more conservative these days.  General Robert d’Hood Upstart officiated in his custom made crocheted multi-colored faux lederhosen and initiated the action with a demonstration of how it is done.  Fortunately, there were many grandchildren about who were able to more accurately depict the correct moves.  There were some dazzling displays of colorful hoops circling slim oscillating torsos exerting the necessary torque for the centripetal force to keep the thing up and going round and round.  The General shooed the children away with the admonition to ‘grow up’ and then instigated a dead heat contest among himself, The Kentucky Wonder and the Twister Sister.  It was a three way tie.  With the foolishness over, Lavern Miller, who was on his way to a horse auction in St. Louis, took charge and auctioned off a great variety of donated objects, the proceeds from which go to perpetuate this annual affair.  Among the items was the last quilt top that Ruby Proctor had made.  The family had it quilted and donated it for the auction.  Geneva Proctor, down from Oregon for the occasion was the successful bidder.  In spite of some overeager and yet incompetent help, Lavern did his usual good job.  The grassy hillside parking lot was full of cars and trucks with people coming and going all day visiting the cemetery with umbrellas, flags and flowers.  There was reported to have been in the neighborhood of 120 people in attendance.  There was also reported to have been an extraordinary plate of fudge on the desert table, but no evidence of it survived.  Those who enjoy The Champion News on line can read reports of the Denlow School Reunion in the archives on these dates:  June 2, 2014; May 25, 2013; May 28, 2012; May 29, 2011; May 31, 2010; May 18, 2009; May 26, 2008; and May 28, 2007.  These archives only go back until August of 2006, so before that time a person will just have to rely on memory.  There are some sweet ones to be had.

Proctor sisters Geneva, of Oregon, and Alice, from Iowa, are shown here with the quilt Geneva bought in the auction at The Denlow School Reunion. The last quilt top that Ruby Proctor made was finished by the family and donated to the auction. Now it is a family heirloom.

        The Proctor Family gathered at Denlow on Sunday for their reunion.  Pete has been working on getting this together for some while.  They came from Oregon, Kansas, Iowa, Oklahoma and other distant places to the home spot where the heart is.  There were lots of pictures being shared around and a display of ancestral photos going way back.  Jerry Proctor made good presentation of some family history:  “Wiley Proctor, my father, was told by his grandfather, Thomason Clingdon, that when Ransom [Proctor] and five of his six sons left Webster County Kentucky (Andrew was too sick to travel), they were planning on going to relatives that lived in central Missouri.  However, when they got to the Mississippi River, they were told that there was a lot of sickness and fever in that part of Missouri so Ransom then decided to go straight on west.”  That is how the family came to Douglas County.  Jerry has had DNA testing done which reveals that the Proctors can be traced back to the founders of the Jamestown Colony in 1607.  He said, “I tell my grandkids that when the pilgrims arrived in 1620, your ancestors were already here to tell the pilgrims where to ‘park’ the boat!”  “Family” is a beautiful word and this bunch fully exemplifies all the best qualities of the institution.  Moreover, their generosity of spirit is inclusive of strays hungry for a good family feeling otherwise unavailable to them currently.

Jessie Mae and Lavern Miller enjoy the Denlow School Reunion.

        Larry Hicks was at the Proctor reunion on Sunday.  During dinner he received texts from his family at home northeast of Oklahoma City to the effect that a great deal of rain had fallen in a short period of time causing dangerous flooding in his neighborhood.  Areas that have been in severe drought for a number of years are experiencing some devastating results from sudden deluges.  Picturesque riverfront towns have been all but washed away in Texas.  Lives have been lost and others changed forever in the matter of a few minutes.  Gratitude for our own good fortune comes with compassion for those suffering natural and man-made disasters and strife.

        On a quick trip to Norwood the other day a Champion saw cows, horses, dogs, cats, turkeys, deer, doves, turtles, armadillos(dead), squirrels (dead and alive), wild geese, crows, a great blue heron and multiple turkey vultures.  Additionally, there were deep fields of lush grasses undulating over the hills and wildflowers of many kinds.  The forest’s boughs are heavy now hiding mysterious dark alcoves running with seasonal springs.  Pilgrims home for a visit are overcome with the beauty of the place they remember.  They arrived from paved roads and dirt ones by way of old home places.  Some have not been back since the Historic Emporium had its Recreation and Grand Reopening back in 2011.  They have precious memories of Ed Henson and his good memory for faces.  His seemed always the same.  Pilgrims reported that at the same time they miss the Old Champion Store they are very much pleased with the replacement.  The art work, photos and memorabilia on display there and the same wood stove that warmed their forefathers let them feel at home again.  Bonnie Mullins was so happy to see the ramp at the west entry.  She was able to get out on to the wide veranda to gaze across the Square at the Monolithic Bee Tree on the wide, wild, and wooly banks of Old Fox Creek. In 1823, John Howard Payne wrote, “Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam, be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.  A charm from the skies seems to hallow us there, which seek thro’ the world, is ne’er met elsewhere.  Home! Home! Sweet, sweet home!  There’s no place like home.  There’s no place like home.”  Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

May 18, 2015

May 18, 2015

CHAMPION–May 18, 2015

A Champion Fog

        School is out!  It is hard to imagine a year going by so quickly.  Bridge playing friends arrived at the school parking lot early for their rendezvous on Saturday evening and took the time to take an unguided tour of the greenhouse that has been a great learning tool for the Skyline R-II School students this year.  There are neat rows of lettuce and spinach in custom made planters inside the structure and outside an attractive collection of plantings in several beds.  Visitors will hope for a student guided tour next time.  The greenhouse is a modern efficient design that looks like it will serve the school well for years to come.  Heidi Strong will be in the 4th grade when school starts again.  Her birthday is on May 22nd.  She shares the day with Teresa Wrinkles who makes Esther’s pies still, spends quality time in school herself and routinely steps up to every need in the community.  Dale Thomas has his birthday on the 28th.  He is getting ready already for the Pioneer Descendants Gathering in October over on the Edge of the World.  Betty will be sure he has a good birthday.  Joey Kennedy will be a big second grader at Skyline next year.  His birthday is on the 29th.  Summer will fly by and soon he will be back in class.  He and all the fortunate students at this great little school will know that what B.B. King said was true:  “The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.”

        A Champion friend from over around Brushy Knob shares a story.  This is “A story about Mr. P., a beautiful male peacock who entered our lives a couple of days before Thanksgiving-2014.  It was a great day when Mr. P. showed up here looking thin and ragged tail.  He seemed lost and no one seemed to know where he came from, as we contacted country neighbors.  He gradually came to trust us and came closer so he could eat some cat food and cracked corn.  He took up residence and roosted in a tree right in front of the house.  The cats grew to accept him as the dog Victor did.  He wintered here and became a big part of our lives.  Sometimes he’d stay on the deck and almost be covered with snow.  As spring came on he became restless.  He started spreading his tail and dancing for us and vocalizing a lot!  In fact he called off and on all day and night.  By this time he had become such a part of our lives.  He ate his cat food out of my hand and we had long talks.  One of our talks I asked him if he could be a little calmer at night and not talk so much after the tv went off.  This had worked a couple of times before but this night he didn’t call all night.  I even woke up a couple times and thought boy my talk really worked.  Well, the next morning, May 8th, I got up and he didn’t come to eat when I called him.  I know he was lonesome for his own kind!  So on May 8th he walked out of our lives just like he walked into it in November…  Nicholas and I were honored to have him with us during the long winter.  He was such a blessing!  I hope he finds his way back home to his own kind.  Good-bye Mr. P.  We love you and miss you!”

        The Denlow School Reunion takes place the Saturday of Memorial Day week end, the 23rd.  Alumni, family and friends gather for an ample pot-luck lunch at about noon and then hours are spent visiting and enjoying music and fun out in the pavilion.  This year promises to be extra special as Proctors will swarm in from every direction.  They will have their family reunion there the next day.  The General will likely officiate in some capacity and so it is a given that amusement and at least some hilarity will ensue.  Quite a number of Champions are old enough to be getting invitations to their 50th high school reunion.  Some older folks got those invitations last year.  Meeting fellow students from all those years ago can be an eye opening experience.  Some are unrecognizable; some have changed their names several times; some have matured and some have not.  Attendees are reminded as they go by the mirror that everyone is better looking with a smiling face.  How pleasant it can be to renew those old acquaintances and to harken back to hearty, optimistic youth.  At the time of it most were not aware of their youth.  They were looking forward to the future from which the fortunate can now look back.  Smile if you can.  The exciting week of palindrome dates will be over on the 19th.  5-18-15 backwards is 5-18-15.

        Coal oil, soot, sugar, turpentine and sulfur were listed as some of the medicines that were responsible for many people in this part of the world having survived their childhood.  The subject came up as part of the general conversations at the Wednesday Confab in the Meeting Room of the Recreation of the Historic Emporium.  The mean age of the participants is such that health and its decline are often the subjects of discussion.  Reference was made to Little Jimmy Dickens and his song, ‘Country Boy,’ where he says, “Ma doctored me from youngun’ hood with Epson Salts and Iodine, made my diapers out of old feed sacks, my ‘spenders out of plowline.“  Little Jimmy Dickens had been part of the Grand Old Opry since 1948 and made his last performance there just after his 94th birthday back in December.  He passed away in January.  Elmer Banks said that he saw Dickens there the last time he attended the Opry.  Back to the health issues, which are many, Elmer asked one of his friends at the table, “You know how you can get to feeling better, don’t you?”  There followed some questioning looks, some reflection and a few seconds of silence before he answered the question he had asked, “Why, take you a shot of morphine!” The laughter hung in the air, but nobody asked just where a feller might find such as that hereabouts.

        The wonderful rain is having an excellent effect on the garden. Linda’s Almanac from over at The Plant Place in Norwood says that the 21st and 22nd will be most favorable for planting corn, cotton, okra, beans, peppers, eggplant and other aboveground crops.  The next good time for planting will be the 28th through the 31st.  Just now it is too wet to mow or to plow, but those weeds are almost willing to jump out of the ground with just a little pulling.  Solitary time in the garden is a good time for serious thinking.  Certainly, as Ray Charles said, “The world is in an uproar. Danger’s all around.”  Violent weather all around the Nation, and violent conditions and political upheaval all around the world has many millions of people in dire circumstances.  An abundance of appreciation for being spared these woes mixed with compassion for those unable to avoid them can keep a head full of serious thought.  One thought is that the small amount of welfare fraud perpetrated by a few is so egregious to some that they are willing to deny any assistance to the many who desperately need it.  Share your serious thought, your peacock stories, your gardening tips, and music at champion@championnews.us.  Take a gander at the archives at www.championnews.us and see Champion!  Looking on the Bright Side!

May 11, 2015

May 11, 2015

CHAMPION—May 11, 2015

        Mother’s Day in Champion was sublime.  It was written 5-10-15.  Young people showed up.  They called.  They Skyped.  They acknowledged the dear lady with enthusiasm and flowers and with the humility that accompanies genuine gratitude.  Emotion ran high all day, sweet and sentimental.  The internet was overladen with nostalgic photographs of mother and child in years gone way by.  Recognition, if only annually, is a Champion notion and it made the old girls smile.

Bud Hutchison’s Spring Trail Ride.
Sixteen riders left the square and sixteen returned, tired and happy with stories to tell.

        Bud Hutchison’s Spring Trail Ride was an excellent adventure for sixteen horsemen and women.  They took out of town just after ten in the morning—just after Wilma had them all lined up for another great picture.  Look for it in the papers sometime soon.  They ambled back into Champion around two in the afternoon, tuckered out but glad for the ride through the beautiful countryside in great weather, glad for the companionship, and glad for ice cream at the end of the trail.  They relaxed on the spacious veranda and looked out over the Colossus of Champion.

Betty Henson Appreciation Day had the Square busy most of the day on Saturday. The card says, “Dear Betty, Thank you for all the things you do. You are THE Champion!”

        The Betty Henson Appreciation Day in Champion on Saturday was long in the planning, but short on the advertising.  Having an event be a secret for surprise purposes and well known at the same time turns out to be a trick.  Regular customers and visitors to Henson’s Grocery and Gas, (a.k.a. Henson’s Downtown G&G, the Recreation of the Historic Emporium and The Champion Store) frequently enough say to each other, if not to Ms. Henson herself, that they are glad to have such an amenity in the area and are amazed at how much the hardest working woman in Champion gets done.  Friends and neighbors and customers were in and out all day, happy to have the chance to say, “Thanks for all you do!”  Those who missed out on the occasion, which featured lots of good visiting and free hot-dogs grilled on the spot, will still be able to express their appreciation with their patronage.  When she says, “Thank you,” while handing them their change, they can say, “No, thank you.  Thank you for keeping this wonderful place alive and thriving!”  Champion!

        Bonnie Brixey Mullins had her birthday on the 9th of May.  She is planning a trip to Denlow for the Denlow School Reunion in a couple of weeks.  It is always the Saturday before Memorial Day.  This year that will be 23rd of May since Memorial Day is on the 25th.  Her friends and family will be happy to see her.  The Proctors will have their reunion that Sunday and the whole week end looks like it is going to be full of the good stuff.  Good stuff will be happening for a bibliophile, Elizabeth Heffern, who celebrates her birthday on May 15th.  Her Champion granddad says she is a great lover of books.  She was born in 2007.  Time is slipping away.  Linda Cooley shares Elizabeth’s birthday, but in an earlier year.  The sixteenth is shared by Skyline VFD Auxiliary worker, Friend of the Library, and grandmother to many, Karen Griswold, and by the father of Alexandra Jean and Zoey Louise, Champion granddaughters.  He is a busy man, but took time out to call his Mom on Sunday.  His grandmother, Exer Hector Masters, who would be 102 this year, and his cousin Rachel Cohen, still quite a young woman and a dynamic one at that, share their birthday on the 18th.  The seventeenth will be the big day for Meikel Klein.  He is a kindergarten student at Skyline School.  It is still acceptable to be excited about a birthday when a person is of kindergarten age—or any age.

        On Friday the 15th, the Douglas County Health Department will be at the Skyline School doing cholesterol checks for the community.  The service is free of charge.  A person wishing to have the test done will need to arrive at the school in the morning fasting since midnight.

        Loiterers who watched Bud’s bunch clippity-clop out of town included The General, who says he has not been on a horse in many years.  He drives a truck that looks quite a bit like a truck that a well-regarded farrier drives and like one of a youngish rascal in the area.  The trucks are similar enough that The General gets accused of being places where he ought not to be.  That is the story he tells anyway.  Busy days in the garden kept some home on Wednesday.  Weeds are responding with gusto to the rain and mild weather.  Linda’s Almanac from over at The Plant Place in Norwood informs that the 16th and 17th will be good days for planting root crops and good days for transplanting.  Gardeners will try to get ahead of the weeds to join in next Wednesday’s Champion Confab that often enough includes politics.  It is easy enough for some to construct a narrative that is supported by facts that are cherry-picked out of the wide range of media.  People believe what they want to believe regardless of reality, present or past.  Revisionism is the practice of rewriting history books to present a preferred version of what happened.  In his work, ‘Isms’, Nouveau Champion Alan Von Altendorf references Winston Churchill who said, “History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it.”  It did turn out that way.  The glory of victory easily overshadowed some of the darker aspects of the gentleman.  Participate in the process or quit your bellyaching.  Making an effort to be informed and exercising the hard won voting franchise is the best hope for writing a good narrative or one that suits you.

        Johnny Gimble passed away over the week end at age 88.  He was one of the most famous and influential fiddlers to ever pick up a bow.  He fiddled with everyone from Bob Wills to George Strait, including Marty Robins and Willie Nelson.  More sad news comes with tales of twisters and terrible weather around the country in every direction.  Champions acknowledge their own good fortune and hope for relief for those suffering elsewhere.  Marty Robbins sang, “After the storm comes the sunshine.  The clouds are gone and the world is tame.  Into each life there will be showers, but don’t the world look brighter, after the rain?”  Frog, crickets and whippoorwills join in with old-folk’s tinnitus to make soothing evening music in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

May 4, 2015

May 4, 2015

CHAMPION—May the 4th be with you, 2015

Spring Greens…Champion-style

        By the time Bud Hutchison’s Spring Trail Ride bunch leaves out of Champion on Wednesday morning and gets back in the afternoon, the regular Wednesday Confab in the Meeting Room of the Historic Emporium will have assembled and dispersed after politely addressing history, current events, current events related to history, philosophy, agriculture and speculation on a wide range of subjects.  The creak of saddle leather and aroma of horse liniment will herald the return of the adventurers.  J.C. Owsley is planning to make the trip.  Maybe he will be on that big borrowed white mule, Dot.  His Champion friends are looking forward to the chance to visit for a spell out on the spacious veranda overlooking the monumental stump.  Bud’s trail rides have been going on for a long time now.  Perhaps this year someone will ask the questions about when they got started doing this and how long they figure they will be able to keep it up.  No one will ask why.

        You do not have to have had one to be one—that is to say, a good mother.  Friday evening the appreciative children of an underappreciated child, now seventy, threw a lavish surprise party for their mother.  Friends from all around the Ozarks gathered to celebrate the goodhearted, lovely woman who proves that difficult beginnings do not necessarily mandate an unhappy life.  She was truly surprised and satisfied to sit at the table with a number of her children who acknowledge her as having nurtured and supported them unselfishly as they made their way into adulthood.  It is said of mothers that they are only as happy as their least happy child.  This is one of those excellent illustrations of children taking to heart the examples of the good every day behavior and attitude of the one who brought them into the world.  Happy Birthday!  Dovey Dooms was honored on the anniversary of her birth at the McClurg Jam.  It started off with fiddles then voices joined in for that song punctuated with smiles and laughter.  First grader, Gracie Nava, will have her birthday on the 7th.  She will probably have as much fun as the McClurg folks.  Skyline librarian Mrs. Sleep celebrates her birthday on the 8th.  Her Skyline friends all send her their best wishes as she has been experiencing some poor health lately.  Kindergarten student, Conner Jonas, has his birthday on the 12th.  Kindergarten students are the perfect age for fun.  Linda Heffern, of Waldo mostly and Champion sometimes, always celebrates her birthday on May 6th.  Two of Champion Linda Cooley’s grandchildren have birthdays on the 7th and 12th.  She knows who they are.  Grandmothers are like that.

        Mother’s Day is May 10th.  A Champion writes to her daughter-in-law, “As your children are becoming adolescents, they have been with you for a quarter of your lifetime.  Soon it will be half your life time and then most of it.  I hope they always bring you joy.  Happy Mother’s Day.”  Some Champion mothers barely remember their lives before they had children and now that the children are gone from home it is all new.  Champions who have lost their mothers, many years ago or just recently, can call to memory a sweet moment or a harsh one that came with a lesson.  They were not all perfect—just people doing what they had been taught and doing the best they could under the circumstances.  Mothers look back too, to the time when there was so much to be done and the little ones were under foot.  How precious it would be to go back and let that laundry sit in the tub or the dishes in the sink, just to sit in the floor and play with the baby, maybe have a rousing game of peek-a-boo.  The past cannot be changed, but the revisited memories can be selected carefully.  Mothers and children can ponder what Mark Twain said: “Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”

        It is fitting that the day of recognition of mothers should come in spring when new life is burgeoning all around.  New beginnings smack of optimism.  Gardens are being worked up and, optimistically, some down in low lying areas are acting like there will be no late frosts.  Gardening is gambling and with good planning, hard work and luck it sometimes pays off.  According to the Census Bureau twenty-five percent of Americans grow some of their own produce.  Farming has changed over the years and now most of the cost of the food in the clean bright supermarkets has to do with distribution and transportation.  Farmers do not realize much profit and a person wonders why they would go to the trouble while being grateful that they still do.  Regulation and deregulation and political gobbledy-gook plays its part in food prices.  Deceitful word games like “The Right to Farm” gives immunity from prosecution for factory farms that pollute the environment.  Then, of course, there is the “Right to Work” bill which creates a difficult environment for private sector unions and makes it easier to utilize cheap foreign labor instead of having good paying jobs at home.  Pension fund managers sought and got permission from Congress to make cuts in pensions if they are unable to balance the $4.00 outgoing of retirement benefits for every $1.00 coming in.  California Congressman George Miller, a Democrat, and Representative John Kline of Minnesota, a Republican, drafted the proposal.  Kline pushed to get it into the omnibus budget bill that Congress must pass to keep the government running —something that has never been done before.  Then Congress says it has to cut pensions to save them.  Politics!  Esther Wrinkles was on the election board.  She encouraged participation in the political process.  She kept herself informed and was able to debate any issue with great civility.  A Champion!

        Esther’s coconut cream pie has come to the rescue again.  Though she has been gone for some while now, her daughter-in-law honors Esther in this unique way—following her recipe.  The pie was a big hit at the benefit auction for River Stillwood on Saturday evening.  River’s planned adventures have been spoiled but the unplanned ones seem to be gratifying as friends and neighbors step up to help out after the Good Friday tornado did its damage.  There were lots of baked goods and good natured competition for them as the community did what good communities do.

        Come down to the wide, wild and wooly banks of Old Fox Creek for a chance to rest up from your hard farm labors.  The atmosphere on the Square is sublime this time of the year and the convivial store-keeper will greet you with a smile.  If you can yodel like Jimmy Rogers, the way Jerry Sanders does, stand out on the veranda and sing, “Mother the Queen of My Heart.”  If you want to include the old man and you can sing like Lefty Frizzell, you might try “The Mom and Dad Waltz.”  “In my heart joy tears start ‘cause I’m happy and I pray every day for mom and pappy and each night.  I’d walk for miles, cry or smile for my mama and daddy.  I want them to know I love them so.”  Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

April 27, 2015

April 27, 2015

CHAMPION—April 27, 2015

Dogwood and Devastation

        Even with the relentless winds on Saturday some Champions were grateful not to have to be wearing their coats to mow their yards.  Picking ticks out of one’s long handles just does not seem fair.  Fair weather will come in waves intermingled with cool snaps, storms and gentle rains.  If the lilacs can stay on the bushes in this kind of wind, who is willing to complain.  Standing solitarily here and there amid the ravaged aftermath of some particularly brutal logging are a few spindly dogwoods blooming to beat the band.  It is heartbreaking on the one hand to see the devastation and heartwarming on the other to know that those little trees, freed from competition, may reach their full potential.  Change is constant in Champion.

        This is an exciting time of the year for school children.  Teacher Terri Ryan was excited about the cinnamon rolls that would be waiting for her when she arrived at school on Friday.  There had been a ‘Muffins with Moms’ day and there are many interesting days ahead as the school year winds down.  Silvana Sherrill in the second grade has her birthday on the first day of May—May Day.  That is a special birthday.  She shares it with Mrs. Ryan, the cinnamon roll lover, and with bus driver Beth Caudill.  They all share the auspicious day with a special double cousin who lives in the Magic Rio Grande Valley.  Silvana’s mother, Nathaly J. Sherrill, had her birthday on the 19th of April.  She is the owner operator of The Finishing Touch Nail Studio in Ava who will get double business when this very special cousin comes to town again.  Madison Shearer is in the 6th grade.  She shares her birthday on the second of May with (Brenda) Lee Mastin, a good friend who lived west of Ava for some while and now lives in Springfield.  Her granddaughter is the famous Olivia Trig Mastin of Mill Pond crawdad fame.  Madison will be the age of young ladies who are in the sixth grade and (Brenda) Lee will be seventy!  They share their birthday with Nellie Hector Miller, an Arkansawyer, returned to her Texas roots, who will be 100, i.e. one hundred years old.  She was the fourth of four sisters followed by three brothers, cotton farmers in Texas.  Nellie did not spend much time in the field, but kept house and helped her ailing Mother in the kitchen.  These days she goes to exercise class twice a week and teaches Sunday school to ladies 80 years and older.  She admonishes them to keep their eyes open in class, lest they be mistaken for dead.  Aunt Nellie has a sense of humor.

        In 1864, President Lincoln wrote in a letter to Colonel William F. Elkins, “I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country.  Corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.”  He was a far thinking individual who today has admirers across the whole spectrum of political belief—far left to far right and all in between.  There is definitely some trembling going on.  Beliefs are strong and rarely change.  The road to Damascus does not pass through Champion.  A person could get there from here but it would take some doing.  Mr. Hubble was a far thinking man too.  He was born in Marshfield, just a few miles from Champion.  His discoveries and insight are allowing us to see far beyond the limits of our eyes into the amazing and expanding universe in which we are but a speck.  It is good to get a perspective about our relative insignificance, but good also to see that each of us is as significant as any other.  Our participation in the political process is our only tool to preserve the Republic.  Apathy does not fly.  Register and vote.

        Pete Proctor had the honor to sit right down front at the dedication of the Vietnam Veteran Memorial at the College of the Ozarks on Wednesday.  There were hundreds in attendance, veterans, friends and family members as well as students of the College and local school children.  A large group of Patriot Riders and members of the Rolling Thunder had already assembled in Branson preparing to gather, 35,000 strong in Washington D.C. for Memorial Day.  Pete said the dedication was very impressive with a presentation of colors, a 21-gun salute, and Taps.  Little children opened the ceremony laying roses at the base of the statue that depicts three soldiers in combat uniform poised for action.  The statue is flanked by two granite walls that contain the names of all 1410 Missouri Veterans.  Each of the 1410 casualties was represented by a red rose.  Pete reminds us that there are still 1,700 missing soldiers of that conflict.  They have just discovered remains of a young soldier from Centralia, Missouri and his name will be added to the memorial.  Jerry Davis, President of the College of the Ozarks said the project was long overdue.  They have been working on it for four years.  Pete said he shook a lot of hands and that there was a lot of emotion being expressed, “Welcome home.  Thank you for your service.”  He says it is something that everyone ought to get to see.  Take the first exit off of 65 just past Branson.  It is easy to find.

        Saturday found Pete mowing the Denlow cemetery.  He and Robert Upshaw keep the cemetery and the parking area around the church and pavilion in good shape.  They do it just as their fathers did.  It was not unusual to see Cletis Upshaw there in years past just sitting on a bench or out in his truck.  Many Champions would like to go back to spend another hour listening to Cletis.  He knew every nook and cranny in these parts and what happened in each one going way back.  The General posted a note on the internet, “The Denlow School Reunion for 2015 will be Saturday, 23 May (Memorial Day weekend) at the Denlow Church and Cemetery.  This year and future reunions East Fairview and Denlow School will be held samueltam, simitameous, simlar, ah, ah, at the same time.  Hey, we could have a spelling bee:  Fairview vs Denlow students.  I will disqualify myself from the competition as I attended both schools.”  On Sunday of the Memorial Day weekend Proctors will gather at Denlow from all across the country for their reunion.  The family will be reminiscing all over the place.  For example, that beautiful log house just east of Denlow on 76 Highway was built by Andrew Proctor.  He was born in 1869.  The house was last occupied by Dess Coffman.  It has fallen into disrepair, but even as its bones are starting to show, the house shows itself to have been well constructed.  Imagination fills in where history is absent and a person can easily imagine what life might have been like living there in the early part of the last century.  If these hills could talk, or if we had paid better attention to Cletis, less history would be absent.

        The spring social season is well underway.  Bud Hutchison and his bunch will head up the Spring Trail Ride in Champion on the morning of May 6th. They will take off going East or North and go ambling around the way they do.  They will have adventures and stories to tell when they wind up back at their starting point a few hours later.  No word is out yet about whether Cowboy Jack will join the group.  If he does, the outfit will be having more fun. Wilma will come and organize a good photograph and another epic escapade will go down in the books.

        These are busy days getting the garden ready, gathering with family, planning the spring and summer events.  River’s yard sale has been postponed until the good weather on the week end.  A trip for manure might be possible with a few dry days ahead. There is spring cleaning to do and regular obligations that require attention. Meanwhile, many thousands around the world are in dire straits.  The huge earthquake in Nepal has affected much of the population of four countries.  The erupting volcano in Chile has covered large areas of several neighboring nations in ash.  Our own west coast is in severe drought and the east coast is experiencing tornadoes for the first time.  With prayers for those suffering and gratitude for our safety Champions are Looking on the Bright Side!