February 8, 2016

February 8, 2016

CHAMPION—February 8, 2016


A typical scene…

        It was just a year ago that Champions were surprised to see the ancient tree that had served as home plate for ball players, now in their nineties, had been pruned down to a 35 foot tall stump.  It was thought to be a threat to the old Champion School building, now a church, because of its enormity and a slight list.  The bee colony that has occupied the tree for decades survived all the way through to the beginning of winter.  On a sunny day soon Champions will discover if the bees have wintered well and speculation will begin about whether or not the stately old tree will make another effort to live.

        One of the interesting items brought for inspection at a recent gathering was a flintlock pistol made in 1848.  It was said to have been picked up on the battlefield at Little Big Horn.  It was the property of an elderly lady who bequeathed it to a grandson who subsequently sold it to Rob.  Rob always has something interesting to share.  People unfamiliar with pistols in general are surprised to discover how heavy these old firearms are.  It would take a substantial person to wield such a weapon effectively.  Not to be outdone, The General came in brandishing two flintlock handguns.  One had a filigreed hatchet attached to the end balanced with an ominous hook.  Like Rob’s, the metal work was ornate and the stocks were a dark heavy wood.  Rob’s gunstock was probably American walnut.  The wood for the stocks of The General’s guns was probably harvested in the hills overlooking the Turkish town of Smyrna.  Most likely these antiques were manufactured as toys or as tourist baubles.  From Denlow to Smyrna and back—what an adventurer!  His nephews, Dailey and Dean Upshaw were among the crowd for the first time in a while and seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves.  Reba Bishop came with Don and met up with old friends.  Hopes are that JoAnn Anderson might make a visit with them one of these days.  Her friends miss seeing her out and about.  Community is a gift to be enjoyed.

        Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson said, “There is a growing strain of anti-intellectualism in our country that may be the beginning of the end of our informed democracy.”  Champions consistently work toward maintaining an informed populace and to that end have begun to offer elocution and vocabulary lessons to wayward sojourners of the hinterlands and backwaters north of Romance.  The first step toward knowledge is a willingness to admit abject ignorance.  A gracious admission of that circumstance was followed by a recitation of the week’s lexicon which included the surprising discovery of a related word, ‘dogmatic,’ which seemed to excite the student.  An ancillary benefit of the interchange seemed to be in the realization that apologizing does not always mean you are wrong and the other person is right.  It means you value your relationship more than your ego.  The best apology is changed behavior.  Having embraced humility, the sojourner took his leave.  “There are no constraints on the human mind, no walls around the human spirit, no barriers to our progress except those we ourselves erect.”  Words of his hero, R. Reagan, pounded in his heart.

The Gipper

        The Champion News is pleased always to acknowledge birthdays.  Recent celebrants include Cowboy Jack, hopefully not flat on his back, on February 7th.  Aidan Acree is a preschool student at Skyline who celebrates on the 8th, and shares the day with Sarah Rucker, lovely mother of Champion granddaughters.  Joshua Garner, a third grader, shares his day with Sondra Powell, who is a grownup alumnus of Skyline School.  An impromptu birthday celebration for Ronald Reagan (his 105th) was held on Wednesday the 3rd of February.  It is figured that he was so well regarded in this area that he chose to come back from the grave for a Champion birthday.  His birthday was February 6, 1911, but knowing what a rocking place Champion is on Wednesday, he chose that day for his post mortem appearance to the amazement of all present.  Seizing the moment, your intrepid Champion News reporter posed the question, “Respectfully, sir, whom among the current contestants for the highest office do you recommend?”  He must not have been keeping up on contemporary events since his demise as he had no recommendations other than that the winner should be from his own party.  His idea was that the government could not solve the problems of society, because the government was the problem.  The upcoming election will be a referendum on that very dichotomy.  A local pundit suggests that Democrats generally believe that government can and should fix the problems of society, while Republicans believe that government is the cause of the problems.  President Reagan said, “We can’t help everyone but everyone can help someone.”  “Peace is not absence of conflict; it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.”  “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.  We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream.  It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”  By today’s standard, these are down-right centrist sentiments.  Champion!  This week there was a photograph of Susan B. Anthony circulating on the internet.  Her birthday is February 15, 1820.  In this photograph she had been knocked down in the street and beaten by a group of men in top hats.  She had been trying to vote.  It was 1872.  She was arrested may times in pursuit of women’s suffrage.  She lived until 1906.  It was not until 1920 that women won their right to vote.  February 17th is the last day to register to vote in order to participate in the important election coming up on March 15th.  In the primary election, while the actual ballot is secret, one must declare his party.  No intimidation is allowed at the polls, so, Ladies, everyone, vote your conscience.

        “Let me call you sweetheart.  I’m in love with you.  Let me hear you whisper that you love me too.”  Romance is in the air with Valentine’s Day on Sunday.  The Cowboy will be crooning to Joyce.  Bob will be flashing his winning smile at Ethel.  The Prominent Champion will woo the Prominent Champion Girlfriend, who will bat her big eyes at him and smile that sweet smile.  Elmer and Frances will exchange some pleasant words.  Wes and Pat of Champion West will have plans, and Louise and Wilburn up the hill always have something going on.  Then there is St. Janice nee Hill, who lives just north of Romance.  She is in for a raft of flowers, candy and jewelry from her narcissistic spouse who fears his remarks about her in public and behind her back may get back to her.  Well earned, dear Lady!  Dave and Sue will be harmonizing.  That is how they met—in a big hall, singing.  Their voices blended perfectly and they found each other.  They sing over in Vanzant on Thursday evenings at the Bluegrass jam, always a pleasant evening.  Pot luck at 6:00 then music.  Bring your voice and your instruments or just your appreciation of an old fashioned music party.

        Weather patterns have favored the area so far with a few warm and lovely days, a few bitter cold days, a little rain, more warm days, maybe a skiff of snow, a blast of artic wind and then a few more warm days.  Any complaint is short lived because the weather changes.  Gardeners are getting excited about the soil again, some wishing they had a good layer of manure and mulch over the whole thing just ready to be tilled in and planted again.  Gardeners are at least as optimistic as fishermen.  Come down to the wide, wild, wooly banks of Aulde Fox Creek for a step back in time.  You can buy a picture postcard to send to loved ones who languish out in the great elsewhere, longing to be back in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

February 1, 2016

February 1, 2016

CHAMPION—February 1, 2016


A walk in the woods…

        Seventy degrees on the last day of January seems a little unusual, but the new norm for weather the world over now seems to be ‘unusual.’  Daffodils are beginning to emerge, as well as some surprise lilies and the flowering quince is making tiny globes among the brush that will, before long, burst out into brilliant color.  Meanwhile it was a chance to open the windows and air out the house.  Gardens are calling.  Some folks have little seedlings of various kinds up already and are thinking about getting peppers started.  The swift passage of time is on everyone’s mind and in Champion it is tempered with gratitude for another day and awe for the amazing present.  Want-to-be Champion, Melissa Masters, posts on the internet, “Happy last day of January.  Only 48 days until Spring!”

        Zack Alexander lives up in Springfield, but he has Champion grandparents and is often in the neighborhood.  His birthday is February 1st.  Mr. Cooley celebrates that day as well and has been doing so since 1940.  Ground Hog Day gets its own celebration but is also enjoyed by a number of fine folks as a birthday.  They include Judy Sharon Parsons, Charlene Dupre, Angie Heffern, Connie Grand, and Irish Poet and novelist James Joyce, who was born in 1882.

        Rebecca Turcott made her way to Champion again on the last Tuesday of the month.  She works for the Douglas County Health Department and does free blood pressure screenings for people from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. at the Historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square.  Her next visit will be February 23rd.  Cowboy Jack was one of a number of individuals who took advantage of this excellent community service.  Rebecca is also an appreciator of horses and she was overheard confirming that they like the same farrier.  The Cowboy just has two horses these days and that is enough for him.  In the process of dumping a big wheelbarrow load of that good garden additive that horses make, he caught his heel on a rock that has been in his way for decades and took a flying trip down hard flat of his back.  He said he fell harder than he did when he fell in the creek on Bud Hutchison’s trail ride a few years ago.  It knocked the wind right out of him.  He was glad no one was there to see him lying on the ground looking up at the stars twirling around in his vision.  It would have been embarrassing.  He was about over it and was there at the store thinking about his wife’s birthday that day.  He said that Joyce plans to retire exactly a year from the day.  It will be nice for the Cowboy to have someone looking after him full time.  They will be having fun.  A neighbor asked him if he frequents the Wednesday gathering.  He said that he does but he tries to get out of there before ‘it gets crowded.’  Indeed there were reports of a packed house on Wednesday with many of the regular visitors, some infrequent ones and a few new ones.  Some of the same shenanigans were being pulled and the good natured regulars are, so far, still willing to sit through them even with the metaphorical aroma of old fish.  When you lose once sense, others are enhanced, they say.  When you lose your sense of humor, your sense of self-importance seems to be enhanced.  Good humor is endemic in Champion.

        Saturday morning was warm and glorious, a perfect day for an adventure.  A group being called The Facebook Ladies made an expansive tour of Champion.  They are mothers, daughters, sisters and friends.  Shirley Crouch, Carol Barton and Stacie Sperlazza, from Houston, Missouri, met up with Cindy Phillips and Jane Means, of Springfield to see for themselves the place they had discovered on the internet.  They posed for pictures, remarked about the bee tree and the flood debris so high up in the trees along the creek.  They seemed satisfied with the look of the place.  They headed into the store to visit for a spell and to get some Champion post cards to be able to prove to the folks back home that there truly is a beautiful place on Bright Side!

        Tuesday, February 9th, the Skyline VFD Auxiliary will meet at Henson’s Grocery and Gas at 6:30 in the evening for another planning session for the upcoming Chili Supper, which will be on the 12th of March this year.  Everyone is welcome to come and take part in the process of getting good community support for the wonderful little rural volunteer fire department that is here to protect our property and to save our lives when necessary.  All the volunteer firefighters are trained in CPR and First Responder skills.  They are often first on the scene for auto accidents and for home health emergencies.  The annual chili supper is a chance to acknowledge these volunteers for their sacrifices and good works.  David Richardson has agreed to play again and to round up some other good music for the evening.  David is a friend to every good cause in the area.  Someone called him the other day and he could not talk because he was busy unloading a mule.  When asked about it later it turned out to be one of those Kawasaki kinds of mules.  He often joins the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam on Thursdays.  A pot luck dinner gets on the table about six and then the music starts.  It is a welcoming bunch.  One of these days Foster Wiseman will be playing over there with his great uncle Fastpitch.  He played Doyle Lawson’s “Little Country Church” for his mandolin recital and did a bang-up job.

        A note comes from Jeanne Curtis saying, “Skyline School would like to invite District Patrons to come out to an open forum to learn about the proposed tax levy increase.  The Board has placed on the April Ballot a tax levy increase from $2.95 to $3.43 (state required minimum).  The Board and administration will discuss the need for the increase and how much funds the increase would generate for the District.  After a short presentation the Board and Administration will field questions from patrons.  For more information contact Superintendent Jeanne Curtis at 417-683-4874.”  The forum will be held at the school at 7:00 p.m on February 11th.

        While shoveling that good soil additive that the horses make, one was left pondering ALEC.  She asked Lem and Ned who had come to chore for her if they knew anything about it.  Regular readers of The Champion News will recall these fellows show up from time to time to help out around the place.  Lem does not have much to say, but Ned is what Festus Haggen might ‘category’ as plum ‘jabberty’ and a mite ‘eruditious.’  Ned leaned on his shovel handle, looked up at the blue sky and commenced, “ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, is a pay-to-play club with secret meetings where corporate lobbyists and state legislators write ‘model bills’ that change our rights in ways that often benefit the corporations’ bottom line at public expense.  Participating legislators bring those proposals home and introduce them in statehouses across the land as their own brilliant ideas and important public policy innovations—without disclosing that corporations crafted and voted on the bills.  Now that is what I call a real load of first-rate soil additive!”  Lem and Ned have been pleased that the winter has been so mild that a sweet turnip can still be unearthed.  Ned reminds us that an important election is coming up on the Ides of March.  Educators in all the local high schools say that they have programs in place to encourage seniors who are turning 18 this year to register to vote.  There is a responsibility to being a citizen, even for rusty ankled hillbilly boys.  Lem likes Roy Acuff and can be heard singing “Way back in the hills as a boy I once wandered…” in Champion– Looking on the Bright Side!


The way home…

January 25, 2016

January 25, 2016

CHAMPION—January 25, 2016


January Robins

        On Saturday night the big full yellow moon made its way through the clear sky.  It was cold.  It was a great night for a birthday party for a couple of talented young men who do not know each other–Missouri Kyle and Oklahoma Oliver.  The next day red, red robins came bob, bob bobbing along in the front yard.  It was January 24th!  Are they harbingers of Spring, or are they just taunting us?  Whatever the weather, the days are passing one after another and Champions are uniformly grateful for the dawning of each new day.  The big old yellow moon made its path through the clear night sky on Saturday and shown in on sleepers warm and cozy.  Ah!

        Skyline preschool student, Cody Coonts, may be related to middle school teacher, Mrs. Coonts.  In any event they share a birthday on January 25th.  Is it possible that they are both related to Cowboy Jack?  Brooke Johnson is in the 4th grade at Skyline.  Her birthday is on January 26th.  Kaye Heffern Alexander was a student at Skyline back when she was Kaye Heffern.  Her birthday is on the 27th and she can expect a card in the mail.  Erika Strong is a third grade student.  Her birthday is on January 30th.  If James Brixey was 40 years old on January 30, 2012, how old is he now?

        Lannie Hinote has had some adventures since she returned to Alaska after the holidays.  She has been coaching basketball again and very much enjoying it.  She also posted this:  “You know it is time to be grateful your feet are back on the ground when the pilot of the little tin can you have been flying in says it is okay to be scared because he is too….however a free roller coaster ride…. E.B.,  I know how you felt, yesterday but I refuse to say thanks for the experience.”  Lannie is a Champion surrogate adventurer.  Thanks!

        The Wednesday dusting of snow was scant enough that gravel showed through on the county roads and travel was safe.  A number of regular attendees made the effort and were rewarded with a mostly pleasant gathering down on the wide, white, wooly banks of Aulde Fox Creek.  A celebratory chocolate cake from the day before was polished off and some interesting conversations ensued.  Ethel is trying to find the name of a western movie she once saw where the two main characters were sworn enemies, but circumstances forced them to cooperate in order to survive.  They determined that when they reached the river they would resume their hostility.  She did not say how the movie ended.

        The subject of General Custer came up in connection with Ethel’s inquiry about the movie and in connection with that a famous local farrier correctly identified Custer’s marching song as Garry Owen.  He said that the 7th Calvary was serving in Viet Nam when he was there in 1966 and 1967.  They thought their unit was jinxed on account of Custer.  He thought they were jinxed because they thought that way.  They showed him the empty pen that had held the 7th Calvary’s mascot mule.  He was told that the animal had wandered out in an open place and had got it from all sides.  Asking the Google folks later, “What happened to the mascot mule of the 7th Cavalry?” a number references confirm that she did not survive.  Her name was Maggie.  She… “—got blown away by a nervous guy on perimeter guard.”  There are a number of books that tell the story.  The mule was named after Lieutenant Colonel Stockton’s wife.  (There may be an interesting story there.”)  There was some idea that the mule had been named after General Custer’s wife, but her name was Elizabeth.  Elizabeth ‘Libby’ Bacon Custer was only 35 when she became a widow.  In that day women were not supposed to work, but in 1877 she found a part-time job in New York as a secretary at the Society of Decorative Art, an organization that trained impoverished gentlewomen in practical arts (such as needlework) so they could earn a living.  In 1881 Libby traveled to Washington to ask for increases in military widows’ pensions.  Because women were not supposed to talk about money, this was a difficult effort for her, but she was effective.  In 1882 her pension increased from $30.00 to $50.00 and by 1890 the government was paying widows $100.00 per month in benefits.  She lived until 1933.

        Meanwhile, the song Gary Owen (Garryowen) has been around since the 1700’s.  Beethoven got hold of it and composed two arrangements of it in 1809—1810.  These interesting Wednesday conversations always lead from one thing to another and then to exciting research that continues to prove that the past has informed and shaped the present.  It is fascinating.  It was a lovely day Wednesday, cold and snowy, and hardly spoiled at all by an aging self-confessed prevaricator again shaming all honest fishermen with a preposterous tale invented on the spot for no other purpose than self-aggrandizement, and fishing for a fight, casting stink bait across political and ethical lines.  “Let no man pull you low enough to hate him,” said a wise person, Dr. King Jr.  “When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser,” said Socrates, though in this case it was more egocentric pontification than debate.  Garry Owen is more than a song.  And it is not a person, as many people might think.  It’s a place.  Translated from the Gaelic, it means “Owen’s Garden.”  Look for a more about this mid-February for the St. Patrick’s day episode of TCN.

        As per last week:  Road conditions are passable; gardens are burgeoning; passive aggressive behavior is still an enigma.  This week January 25th is celebrated for Robert Burns.  He was a republican fan of the French revolution and a great lover of the American Revolution.  It is fitting that his birthday should be celebrated here in this land of freedom and democracy…”for he sprung from the people, remained to the end one of the people, and his heart was ever with the democratic institutions of the United States.”  There will be special dinners with music and poetry for him this Monday night.  (My love is like a red, red rose that sweetly blooms in June.  My love is like a melody that’s sweetly played in tune.)  Burns was a great fan of George Washington and of all things democratic.  In Mountain Grove a person can register to vote at the Division of Family Services in the Cedar Center, at City Hall and at the drivers’ license bureau across from the Post Office.  Serious efforts to impede voting are going on in a number of states, Missouri included, under the guise of preventing voter fraud, which turns out to be minuscule.  It seems that a low voter turn-out works to the favor of some.  Then there are those who say it does not matter who you vote for, it only matters who counts the votes.  Who owns those voting machines anyway?  Champions everywhere are urged to become informed and participate or to quit your bellyaching.  An important election will occur on March 15th.

        Foster Wiseman was featured on the internet Sunday playing his mandolin.  He is just getting started and is showing some real promise.  He comes from a musical family.  Everyone can remember starting something new.  Children are expected to learn new things all the time.  It is education.  It is growing up.  Old folks often fall into the ‘old dogs-new tricks’ category.  They lament the loss of the effortlessness of their youth and are cowed by fear of failure or of ridicule.  Others embrace their ridiculousness with humor.  Share your curiosity, your questions and answers, your songs and slogans and fearlessness at champion@championnews.us or bring them with you down to one of the world’s truly beautiful places…Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

January 18, 2016

January 18, 2016

CHAMPION—January 18, 2016


Sunlit debris along Fox Creek.

         Champions are a forward looking people.  Some are looking forward to mushroom season already and are now looking up into the woods grateful for the nine degrees Fahrenheit that may be doing away with some of the ticks and chiggers that plague even the most stalwart mushroom hunter.  They are also most grateful for the warmth of the flame and for the keepers of the fire who bring in the wood and haul out the ashes.  These are the same fellows who keep the water flowing and the truck running and the snow shoveled when it snows.  Respect for those hoary heads is amplified by the list of responsibilities they assume with no expectation of reward other than to keep the home operating smoothly.  Hooray for the menfolk–and for the womenfolk who do that kind of stuff too!  What Champions!

        The Skyline VFD Auxiliary got together the other night for a good meeting.  They are planning the chili supper that will take place on March 12th.  The next meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 9th, at Henson’s Grocery and Gas in downtown Champion.  Everyone is welcome to come and to participate in the hard work it takes to make a lovely event like the annual chili supper happen.  This happening is usually one of the first of its kind in the year and it is a chance to get rid of the winter doldrums, to visit with old friends, many of whom only get together at these festivities.  The year is off to a great start with support for the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department.

        Infrequent visitors to the Bright Side are in for a surprise.  The old farm house on the southwest corner of the crossroads is no more.  It was probably built back in the 1930’s by Ivy and Pearl Hutchison who eventually sold it to Clifford and Esther Wrinkles who lived there for many years before trading it to J.T. and Betty Shelton.  Harley and Barbara Krider acquired it a few years ago and now the property has passed into the hands of the Cothran family–Welcome to new neighbors!  The house had been unoccupied for a while since J.T. moved to Springfield and, consequently, it has made a rapid decline.  Some nice people with heavy equipment came and dug a big hole and pushed the old building into it.  It is buried now and will turn back into soil eventually.  Meanwhile, the foundation for the new house is going in a little higher up the hill and young Chase, who just turned two, will have the extraordinary good fortune to grow up in Champion!  Change is exciting, unavoidable, and constant in Champion and the world over.

        There was a nice young family who used to live up off C Highway back in the late 1970’s, Chris and Fae Giacalone.  They had a son, Chad Knight, and two younger ones, Caesar and Sicily who were born here.  They moved to Republic and later back to Michigan.  The children are all grown up and hopes are that they have started their own young families somewhere away from the poisoned water of Flint.  Even if there were not individuals with whom we have affectionate connections there, the lead poisoning of the water supply is an ongoing tragedy that will play out for generations.  Lead mining and smelting are an important part of Missouri’s history.  It has remained the dominate lead-producing state in the nation.  Wes Smith can point to a spot downstream of the slab across Clever Creek at the junction of County roads 243, 237 and Fox Creek Road where there was a vein of lead ore that local people mined.  Like other minerals and elements with useful attributes, there is definitely a down side to lead.  The Missouri Department of Health says, “Lead affects almost every organ and system in the body.  The effects are the same whether it is breathed or swallowed.  Lead damages the brain, central nervous system, kidneys and immune system.  Lead in the human body is most harmful to young children under six years of age.  It is especially detrimental to children less than three years of age because their systems are developing rapidly.”  There are some treatments available and their success rate is better with early detection.  The test is available at the Douglas County Health Department–a simple finger stick.  The lead the people of Flint are dealing with did not come from rocks in the creek, or old peeling paint or the mini blinds, but from the blundering of individuals whose responsibility it is to husband the resources and provide safe water for the inhabitants of the city.  Whatever their motivation for the catastrophic choices they made, they will surely be held responsible.  The next batch of elected officials will have them as an example of what not to do, meanwhile the full extent of the damage may not be known for a long time.  It is a reminder that choosing the right people for any job is a responsibility that has consequences.   In Douglas County a person can register to vote with the County Clerk in the Courthouse, at the drivers’ license bureau, the office of Family Services and on-line with the Office of the Secretary of State.  Call the County Clerk in your county to find all the places where you might register to vote.  Encourage your high school students about to become 18 to register to vote and to participate in the important decisions that determine quality of life.  There is to be an election on the Ides of March, always an ominous date.


Evening colors.

        The well-practiced fish story was again trotted out for the amusement of the Wednesday bunch, this time perhaps a little longer, with one parenthetical phrase after another until it was finally over and the mark, this time, Larry Dooms, was prime to take the bait.  But he did not.  It got a little quiet.  The erstwhile fisherman/story teller was almost up against it when the Knuckleball Champ stepped up and said, “Well, (pause) if it got away,(pause) how did you know how much the fish weighed?”  Face was saved, and the conclusion was finally reached. “I read the scales as it swam off.” Sigh.  It is plain to see that The General’s retirement will work to the benefit of the weekly meeting.  He also keeps the coffee pot perking over at Vanzant for the Thursday Bluegrass Jam.  He probably just naps the rest of the time.

        Special local birthdays include those of River Stillwood whose day was the 17th.  Mary Beth Shannon and kindergarten student, Jacob Kyle Brixey share their day on the 18th.  Sharon Woods will be celebrating on the 20th and third grader Kyle Barker on the 21st.  First grade student, Elisabeth Hinote, has her birthday on the 22nd and percussionist, Oliver Holden-Moses over in Oklahoma will be 17 on the 23rd.  Enjoy your voyages into another year with health and happiness!

        Next week’s subjects for consideration will be road conditions, garden plans, passive aggressive behavior and, as always, music.  Send any thoughts on any of these subjects to champion@championnews.us or to The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  Go to www.championnews.us for a look back over the neighborhood for the past decade.  Come down to the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek and stand on the broad veranda of the Historic Emporium.  You will be standing in sunshine, sheltered from the cold north wind and can “Count your many blessings.  Name them one by one..” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

January 11, 2016

January 11, 2016

CHAMPION—January 11, 2016


From the South side of Clever Creek…
Plenty of conversation.

        John Buchan said “The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.”  Heard around the round table where, supposedly, no lies are told because they come around like Karma to get you, “I throwed that little mackey out there….peeled the line off for 300 yards…finally caught my drag…fifteen minutes later…waves moving around the line…got his head up….lips all full of hooks…trying to get him off…broke the line and had to watch him slowly move back out into the creek….”  The story went for three paragraphs, one adverbial clause after another, with comma after comma until a thought was finally completed, the gist of which was:  The biggest fish he ever caught was 26 pounds 8 ounces, but this one that got away was 39 pounds and one ounce.  Pause.  In the quiet room, the sucker asked, “If it got away, how do you know how much it weighed.”  “Well, I’m glad you asked, Wilda,” he said.  Pause.  “I read the scales as he swam off.”  This would have been bad enough, but he had told the same story the previous Wednesday, pretty much word for word, (he rehearses).  On that occasion the dupe had been the illustrious store keeper.  She knew what was coming, as did Bob Leach, who flashed his smile and nodded in encouragement, “Listen to this one.”  Amusing conspiracies and collusions aside, being snookered sometimes is just part of life.  Lessons learned the hard way stick.  Stories like this one have gone on around the same wood stove for generations.  It is a Champion kind of thing.

        Among the interesting artifacts for group inspection was a powder horn, beautifully outfitted with brass and in good working order.  Mr. Partell thought it might be an exotic African animal horn.  Speculation was that it was not buffalo because of a blonde area in the horn.  Mr. Stone happened to have an actual buffalo horn with him.  It was kind of nasty, having only recently been separated from the remains of the rest of the buffalo, and it was definitely all black.  A new regular to the bunch, General Knuckleball, stepped out to his truck to retrieve his rifle.  Jaws dropped as he slowly withdrew the piece from its sheath.  The relic brought every man back to his childhood.  Hand saws and horse rasps in adolescent hands shaped this weapon more than sixty years ago.  It has held up well with a fencing staple for a site and a history of having slain many an imaginary foe in the dense forest in the land of the Upshaws.  Champions all!

The General’s creation stands inspection by Stan and George.

        The first person asked about predictions for the coming year had such dire and cataclysmic expectations for just the next few months ahead that the inquirer abandoned the project altogether and has no plans to pursue the survey further.  The chance stranger to the table may not yet have caught on to the mode o’ day in Champion which is, “Looking on the Bright Side!”  Deward’s Granddaughter on the other end of the room sat in stunned disbelief, her eyes wide asking silently, “Is this for real?”  Certainly the world is big enough for widely divergent philosophies, but the breadth of the difference among people in such close proximity can be staggering.  Stagger on down to the wooly, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek and see for yourself.  It is good to remember that in any given gathering there may well be people (polite people) who believe exactly the opposite things and in most cases they are indistinguishable from each other by their looks.  For your own peace of mind, be sure you are registered to vote and participate in your democracy.  It is a sure bet that “they” do.  The last day to register to vote for the 2016 Presidential Primary is February 17th.  Register with the County Clerk in the Court House.  The Primary Election will be March 15th—the Ides of March, historically a fateful day.

        Wilburn Hutchison shares his birthday with Bob Liebert of Teeter Creek fame on January 11th.  When they were boys, some while back, Wilburn and Fleming Gear saw a dirigible motor over the field they were working.  Diane Wilbanks celebrates on the 13th.  She and Jerry drive white mules and are probably taking the high road out of their place these days.  The Bryant filled their front yard.  The 13th was also the birthday of Norris Woods, who departed the scene recently and has many missing him still.  Willis Masters will have open heart surgery on his 73rd birthday the 14th.  Bert Godkin will be smiling sweetly and celebrating on the 15th.  Judy Ing called him ‘Father Bert.’  Champion grandchildren, Miley Schober and Rese Kutz, are cousins who celebrate on the 16th and 17.  Jacob Kyle Brixey is a kindergarten student at Skyline.  He celebrates on the 18th.  He has a sister and a mother in the same school with him—a lucky guy.  The 19th is the birthday of the singularly hardest working person in Champion, as well as the most pleasant and modest one.  She shares the day with the generous patron of The Champion News, J.C. Owsley, who rides a big white mule named Dot and comes to the Bright Side as often as he can.  Wishing you all a Champion Happy Birthday!

        Weather does not pay attention to the calendar so it can wreck local thoroughfares at any given time.  Those charming men who do the road work for this part of Douglas County are again to be commended for making the country lanes safe and passable so that Champions can receive visitors and can venture out, if they must.  Area residents may not deliver the cookies to the county shed that would say, “Thanks, fellers,” but they appreciate the difficulties of the job nonetheless.  These cold bright days with a good stiff breeze make the birds look fat.  It may be that ticks and chiggers are being frozen out of existence.  Seed catalogues and musical instruments help to pass the time when the cold wind blows and fortunate folks do not have to be out in the elements.  It turns out that Josef Franz Wagner (1865-1908) wrote Under the Double Eagle (“Unter dem Doppeladler”).  The double eagles were on the coat of arms of Austria-Hungry.  The 1893 march has found its way through John Phillip Sousa, Benny Goodman, Monty Python and any number of good bluegrass musicians.  Some of those musicians still play it and Listen to the Mockingbird.  “I’m dreaming now of Hallie, sweet Hallie….and the mocking bird is singing all the day” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!