August 13, 2018

CHAMPION–August 13, 2018


One driving by the Skyline VFD Picnic grounds on Sunday afternoon could hardly discern that anything had happened there at all.  Everything is tidy and back to rights, thanks to the efforts of hardworking volunteers.  It was a beautiful picnic.  A few sprinkles on Friday night scarcely made a difference and Saturday night was warm and wonderful with a huge crowd.  The music, the food, the prizes and games were all that we have grown to expect from this great event.  New to the picnic this year was a five car barrel train pulled by a Farmall Cub tractor.  It rolled around the grounds all night carrying kids of all ages.  Friday evening Brenda Coffman Massey tried it on for size and had to be prized out of a barrel and pulled to her feet by a brave young fire fighter.  She was seen riding again Saturday night, apparently having learned how to get out without assistance.  Brenda knows how to have fun and how to spread it around for every good cause.  The Prominent Champion took the last tour of the evening, relaxing after all his hard work.  The best thing about the picnic is having the chance to get together with friends and neighbors, many of whom we only see at this event.  The community comes together to support the rural fire department that is vital for the safety of our property and our lives and the fire department hosts this gathering in support of the community.  It is a symbiotic relationship—win-win.

Darrell and Barbara Cooper celebrated their wedding anniversary at the picnic again.  This year was their 46th.  They had a good time and are planning a Wednesday trip to Champion one of these days when their schedule opens up.  Barbara looks very much like her sweet mother and Darrell said she is just like Ruby, ready to go to the picnic at 3:00.  The crowd sang that happy birthday song to Dean Upshaw again.  His birthday is the 13th of August.  He and his brothers are always some of the first to arrive.  They set up their chairs to get a good view of the stage, but not too far from the concession stand.  Andrew Hardin worked the P.A. system.  He reported that Bud Hutchison’s Memorial Trail Ride will start at the Fox Trotters Showgrounds on September 3rd at 10:00 a.m.  This is a National Trail Ride.  Andrew said that Bud’s Champion Ride will take place toward the end of September.  He also said that he is glad to know that Wilma is getting out and about and that she has become a regular attendee at the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam.  He knows that music is as good for us as a good horse.

The Champion School Reunion will be on September 1st, the Saturday before Labor Day.  Nostalgia will rule as old school chums and their descendants gather together once more.  They will come from far and wide:  from Texas, Arkansas, and maybe Kansas, from Springfield and other places at the end of the great Champion Diaspora.  They will bring pot luck dishes for a lunch (dinner) on the grounds and their lawn chairs to sit around and visit with one another, hopefully in the shade or at least on a mild afternoon.  The Walk of Ages may take place in some permutation depending on the descendants of Ezra and Sylvia Henson.  As the new year has begun for Skyline R2 School students, parents and grandparents are highly aware of the many benefits of our little rural school.  It is one of the last such schools in the county.  Our students will be coming together in future decades to remember this wonderful time in their lives.  Though the world has changed a great deal since the Champion School was consolidated into Skyline, the children are the same—hungry for knowledge and the skills they will need for success in this age.  Although many area residents do not have children or grandchildren in school here, they recognize that the future is in the hands of these young people.  All of society benefits from a well-educated population and the community only stands to gain by supporting our little school, its teachers and staff.  Champions all!

On September 2nd Vernon Upshaw’s family will be throwing a party to celebrate his 80th birthday.  It will take place at the Vanzant Community Building from 2:00 p.m. until 4:00.  His younger brother says that everyone will be welcome.  Perhaps he will provide his famous peanut butter ice cream along with the fun.  This is a busy time of the year.  The Wall That Heals is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial replica and mobile education center.  It will be on display at the Fox Trotters’ facility from September 20-23.  This is a great opportunity to learn about a time that is so important to a great many Americans.  Thereafter, in early October, the Pioneer Heritage Festival of the Ozarks will take place over at Chapel Grove.  There will be lots of good news about that as time draws nigh. This is a dynamic, happening part of the world.

Friends gathered on Saturday afternoon to celebrate the life of Ronnie Yocum who passed away in early February this year.  He did a lot of interesting living in 64 years and gathered many friends along the way.  Those who became acquainted with him when he married Janice Lorrain in 2013 were sorry not to have known him longer and better.  We knew that if he was OK with Janice, he was an OK kind of guy.  He was into gardening, flying model airplanes and working on the cabin with Janice.  Many public buildings in Ava have examples of his fine photography and graphic design skills in posters celebrating our pioneer heritage.  He used black and white photos from the Historic Society as well as many of his own shots to remind us of our local past.  The community will long and well remember him.  Friends had stories to share—the kind of gathering he would have liked.

The mailbox at received a couple of interesting notes this week.  One responding to an earlier article concerning the nature of truth quoted Abraham Lincoln who said all that the South wanted the North to do was to “Cease to call slavery wrong and join us in calling it right.”  Another wrote in with the advice:  “If you never heal from what hurt you…you’ll bleed on people who didn’t cut you.”  It is something to ponder.  There are reports that the weather has moderated to some degree in the west which is helping firefighters to make progress on controlling some of the devastating fires still burning there.  While we have experienced some discomfort here this summer due to the hot, dry conditions, we are acutely aware of our good fortune over all.  All across the country and all across the world there are people in much less desirable circumstances.  An appropriate song for this situation is “Count your many blessings, name them one by one…” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


August 6, 2018

CHAMPION—August 6, 2018


Pausing for a photo, a hawk on the way to Champion.

Fires in the West and floods in the East make Champions glad to be Middle-Americans.  There is plenty room for gratitude.  Many are suffering across the country.  We are at about the midpoint of summer and it has turned hot and dry.  There are precautions to take in hot weather just as there are in winter.  It is a good idea to have a hat in the car or a parasol in case you have to walk.  Cell phones are good things if there is a signal.  It is good to carry water with you, but not to leave it in a hot car.  It is still green in Champion but the swirls of golden walnut leaves twirling down remind us summer is a swift season.

Deer are out in numbers.  On the way to Champion from any direction at any time of the day young deer can be seen browsing along the roadsides.  They are beautiful to see and their numbers make venison aficionados optimistic for a full freezer this fall.  Rabbits are frequently in the road in certain locations.  The presence of hawks keeps them undercover in other areas.  Monday morning a small hawk was spotted in the road.  He paused to have his picture taken and then flew up into a tree for another pose.  A few days ago friends over north of Brushy Knob took pictures with their game camera of the bear who comes to their apple tree every year.  He is getting to be a big fellow.  Champion wildlife makes this a great place to live.

Caught on a game camera north of Brushy Knob.

By the time this is in ink the primary election will have taken place and the votes will have been counted.  The FCC Fairness Doctrine lasted from 1949 until 1987 when President Reagan made his judgment on the matter.  The gist of the doctrine was to afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views on issues of public importance.  Certainly it would have been a good thing to have had some clear conversation about “Right to Work.”  Each side had figures and anecdotal evidence to support its point of view, though one side was significantly more elucidated around here.  Go to for alternate views, to add your two cents in the comment section, and to enjoy views of Champion with its School Reunions and Spring Flings.  Share anything you like at or by the excellent US Postal Service at The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  Recently a supporter of The Champion News wrote in to explain the RICO Act.  RICO is the abbreviation for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization.  RICO crimes include money laundering, extortion, gambling, murder, bribery, securities fraud, dealing in obscene material, drug trafficking and embezzlement.  “That’s how we got Al Capone,” the note said, but research shows that it was tax evasion that brought the mob boss down.

Out on the wide veranda of the Recreation of the Historic Emporium a number of locals were discussing hay.  They looked up at the field to the north and talked about how Larry Wrinkles had complained that the field was all up hill.  Several of them were very familiar with that field.  These fellows are old enough to remember bucking hay at a penny a bale.  The Prominent Champion said that he and Lonnie Krider had hauled more than a thousand bales out of a field over by Gentryville and stacked it in the barn.  He made $50.00 and thought he was rich.  They speculated that there is probably not a young man in the country who would buck hay today for any amount of money and would likely not bend over to pick up a penny.  MODOT workers spent a leisurely lunch break out on the veranda.  They have been doing some nice work in the area.  One old Champion told them how much she likes the white lines along the edge of the road.  It is a good reference particularly as you meet someone who takes his half out of the middle.  They said that those folks who drive down the middle probably pay higher taxes for their road use.

School will be starting soon and teachers and staff are already getting ready for the arrival of our wonderful student body.  Skyline School students with birthdays in August include third graders Caleb Harden, on the 5th; Jaycee Hall, on the 10th, Cryslynn Bradshaw on the 12th.  John Brown is in the second grade.  His birthday is on August 15th.  Gina Hollingshad celebrates her birthday on August 6th.  She has a beautiful voice and plays a variety of instruments.  The 6th is also the special day for Lavon Carter over in Ava with her lovely smile.  The 7th is for Bobby Three-Sticks.  He is a Vietnam Veteran with a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart among other commendations.  He is currently waging warfare against egregious venality and his Champion friends commend him for his sterling effort and wish him all success.   At 50 now, a Wiseman claims to be the New Kid on the Block, as he considers he is now on the young end of old. Dean Upshaw knows all the words to all the songs that get sung at the Vanzant Jam.  His birthday is on the 13th.  His friends will be sure he gets celebrated Thursday evening.  David Richardson was there last week talking about a band due to play at the Skyline VFD Picnic on the 10th and 11th.  The name of the group is “Just a Few.”  David is a funny guy and a great musical performer.  He can be seen at any good cause anywhere in the area, particularly if there is music attached.

There will be great music attached to the Skyline VFD Picnic–the last of the summer picnics—the grand finale.  The weather will be perfect. Volunteers have been getting things ready for the fun.  This year the big prize is a 30 inch gas (propane) smoker.  It is a Masterbuilt Signature Series by John McLemores.  It features four big shelves and push button ignition. It will be a fine addition to a lucky person’s patio.  Local merchants, who had already been approached for donations by any number of organizations, continue to share valuable items and services for door prizes.  Last year a visiting cousin said that he could hardly believe that an event such as this could be held without armed security.  He is from a big city and folks around here who met him are uniformly glad that he went back there or anywhere.  Just like the old boy says, “Everybody’s got to be somewhere.” You are likely to run into people you have not seen since the picnic last year.  Bring your lawn chairs. The Skyline VFD membership will be making cakes for the cake walk and pies for the concession stand.  Perhaps David will sing, “I don’t need much, that ain’t no lie.  Ain’t running any race.  Just give me my country pie.  I won’t throw it up in anybody’s face!” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Champion Wildlife!

July 30, 2018

CHAMPION—July 30, 2018


Steve Moody on stage and the Veterans from the American Legion Post 30 in Mountain Grove, kicking off
the Holt 4-H Picnic with the National Anthem and the presentation of the Colors.

The longest lunar eclipse of the century was visible in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Africa and Asia and the final stages were visible in parts of South America, but not in Champion or any part of North America. The moon, however, shown in its full splendor between the clouds and after they had dissipated and moved on. Mars the Red Planet glowed–a brilliant red dot. Celestial events offer us an expanded perspective–a good thing. Marvelous weather made for a great Up and At It 4-H Holt Picnic. Sherry Bennet, Sharry Lovan, David Vaughn Jr. and Pete Proctor posted pictures and reports on the internet for those who were unable to attend–great music, great food, games with good friends and neighbors—-all for a good cause. The young folks of the 4-H Club pledge: “My Head to do clearer thinking, my Heart to greater loyalty, my Hands to larger service, my Health to better living for my club, my community, my country and my world.”

Sonja Hodges is a Health Educator with the Douglas County Health Department. She was at Henson’s Store on Friday doing blood pressure screenings and promoting a program to help prevent type 2 diabetes. Risk factors for people 45 years old and older are: being overweight, having a family history of type 2 diabetes, being physically active fewer than three times a week, or having had gestational diabetes or having given birth to a baby that weighed more than 9 pounds. The health department is offering a free Prevent T2 program. Contact DCHD at 417-683-4174 for more information. Sonja says having prediabetes means your blood sugar level is higher than normal but not enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. This raises your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. It is not just a matter of having better quality of life—feeling better, but the financial costs are significant to you and to your overall community.

Poverty charges interest. If you cannot pay to clean your teeth, next year pay for a root canal. If you cannot pay for a new mattress, next year perhaps you can pay for back surgery. Low wages are not good for anyone. The statutory measure, Proposition A (Right to Work) is on the ballot because hundreds of thousands of people in Missouri signed a petition to give voters a choice in the matter. There is some evidence of economic advantage in right to work states. But evidence is lacking that right to work, rather than other factors, is the cause. The whole point of the bill is to diminish permanently the power of unions. There is no evidence what-so-ever that unions pose a threat to the people of the state of Missouri. They only pose a threat to the profits of greedy corporations. Unions have always been a benefactor for every worker in the state, regardless of union affiliation. Work place safety, hourly wages, benefits, 40-hour work week, paid vacation, fair bidding and a long list of positive working conditions all come directly from collective bargaining by strong worker unions. The ballot language is designed to be confusing. The gist of it is if you own a helicopter, this bill is for you. If you cannot afford a helicopter then you cannot afford to pass this bill. President Ronald Regan said, “Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost.” One Old Champion has new-found appreciation for the gentleman, a union member and former union president.

Cathy and Bonnie

Cathy Odneal did not know if she would be able to stay for the whole evening at the Vanzant Jam on Thursday, but she did. After her fancy procedure up at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, she was cautioned to ‘take it easy’ for a while. She is following directions, but she was ready to be out among friends again and to enjoy the music. She said she left feeling better. That seems to be the case for many of us. Music has healing properties and the wonderful pot-luck is the best meal of the week for a number of bachelors. Supper is at 6 p.m. and the music starts at 7. Everyone is welcome. Bring your acoustic instruments and your singing voice and have some wholesome fun at the Vanzant Community Building every Thursday.

The summer picnic season is on. We have just enjoyed the Vanzant Picnic and the Holt 4-H Picnic and now the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department Picnic is coming up on the 10th and 11th of August. Merchants are already setting aside nice things to share for door prizes. The picnic grounds are being groomed and excitement is building. In addition to providing some great family activity and entertainment, the proceeds from the picnic go toward operating expenses of the fire department. This is a vital organization for the community. Our firefighters are all trained first responders. They protect our homes and property and are there for us when we have serious health issues or accidents. The picnic is a great way to show your support and appreciation for our volunteers. They are all Champions.

Gardeners are busy with the harvest. Beans and black-eyed peas are going in the jars. The garlic braids are hanging and herbs drying against the winter when they will help us remember glorious summer. A few beautiful cool days have had some old folks out planting for a fall harvest…more cucumbers and squash. Perhaps some beets and greens can go in soon. Meanwhile, a big sliced tomato on the table at lunch is a wonderful treat. Cool weather has encouraged weeding that might otherwise have gone undone or have been done under duress. The garden always has some chore ready to be done.

School will be starting again soon. Hopes are that teachers and staff have all had a good break and are ready to get back to the important task of educating our young people. We need bright, critical thinkers to take over. Soon enough they will be running the world, a very different world than the one where we old retired people grew up. Thanks to the hard work and caring of our education professionals, they stand a pretty good chance of salvaging some of the messes we have made. The ‘Save a Label’ program is still going on. All those bar-codes from the Best Choice and Always Save grocery products can be redeemed for cash that gets put to good use in our little school. Most of the General Mills products have Box Tops for Education coupons that are worth $.10 each. Just collect them and the bar-codes and drop them by the school or send them in the mail: Box Tops, Skyline R2 School, Rt. 72 Box 486, Norwood, MO 65717.

Happy birthday to Clark Shannon on August 3rd. Some of his friends call him Sparky behind his back. In the U.S. there are about 10,800 births per day. Jim Reeves sang, “Welcome to my world. Won’t you come on in. Miracles, I guess, still happen now and then” in Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!

A very tidy Champion garden!

July 23, 2018

CHAMPION—July 23, 2018


It was a hot game of ‘burn out’ on the Champion Square Wednesday.

What a joy it is to gather with old friends and new ones to celebrate the life of a mutual friend. Neither a birthday party nor a wake, it was just a party in acknowledgement of what good friendship means. In his presence, friends regaled him and each other with particulars of adventures they had shared and with the many instances when he was exactly the help that was needed. He has always been generous with his time and his many skills, as well as his excellent good humor and kindness. All of that goes along with a wide streak of orneriness and a keen wit. When it comes right down to it, we all have a limited time here and we never know when it is going to be over. A full life full of friends is worth rejoicing anywhere along the path. Mr. Jones—a Champion!

The tragedy on Table Rock Lake breaks our hearts for those who have lost loved ones and makes us more keenly aware of the preciousness of our own family and friends.

School will be starting again soon. Summer is slipping away. Skyline’s teacher, Mr. Prock, celebrated his birthday on July 20th. Eighth grade student, Grace Crawford, celebrates on the 25th. Teegan Cannucci, in the 5th grade, shares her birthday on the 27th with 4th grader, Jaci Borders. Teacher, Mrs. Sartor, celebrates on the 29th and 1st grader, Eugene Elliot, has his day on the 30th. Other birthdays include those of Ethan Alexander and Zee Heffern who had their observances on the 19th. John Webber parties on the 25th and probably other times as well. Roberta, the beautiful maker of pies and great music, will have that song sung to her on Thursday, though her birthday is on the 28th. Karen Ross, our intrepid Rt. 72 mail carrier, will have her birthday off from work on Sunday the 29th. Elitta January was born August 1, 1938 and passed away on September 24, 2011. Her friends remember her well and speak of her often. Talented, attractive, and bright Champion grandson, Seamus Alexander, has his birthday on August 2nd. The third is for an old boy, R.D., who will be 66! Like the old boy says, “Everybody’s got to be somewhere.” He has breakfast with important people on a regular basis and is likely to spin yarns based in local history. For example, he said that Uncle Hutch had recently put new windows in a rent house when he got news that the house had burned. “My windows too?” he said. Sweet Lena’s infant brother had been passed through the window to safety and there was no loss of life. That must have been seventy years ago, more or less. My, how time flies!

To be joyful in the struggle is an admonition well expressed. In a time when anti-intellectualism and anti-science run rampant with truth decay, it is a challenge to stay positive. With ample information available at our fingertips, it is more import than ever to apply the concepts of critical thinking, i.e. reasoning and logic to new or unfamiliar ideas, opinion, and situations. Child psychologists say that critical thinking is integral to children’s mental growth as it makes them differentiate right from wrong. It enables them to remain clear, accurate and relevant while mulling over an issue. Fact is something that has actual existence—a piece of information presented as having objective reality. Mathew Henry was quoted in the first issue of The Champion News on August 28, 2006. “If truth is once deserted, unity and peace will not last long.” Henry was born in 1662. His ‘Complete Commentary on the Bible’ is available on-line. The free press is called The Fourth Estate in reference to its de facto position as an additional check on executive, legislative and judicial powers. It is not a part of the government, but it serves a regulatory purpose on both private and public enterprise. Truth still struggles to survive amid blurred reality. As for unity and peace, they may recover with some rehabilitation. Champions are compulsively optimistic. Your vote matters. If it did not, there would be no effort to suppress it. Billionaires would not try to buy it and other countries would not try to hack it. Use it August 7th and every chance you get.

Wednesday was one of those delightful summer days—not too hot—not too humid. The horseshoe pitch was still too muddy for action after the recent rains. Yet, the wide veranda at the Recreation of the Historic Emporium was full to capacity as spectators enjoyed the spectacle of a couple of “boys of summer” playing “burn-out” on the square. Baseball is said to be the most sophisticated of all the gladiator sports. It might be a stretch to call either of these fellows ‘sophisticated,’ but they have both traveled extensively and seem to have well developed world views, albeit different ones. Baseball is a fine American pastime. Gardening is another. Like fishing, gardening is a perpetual reason for optimism. It is also a gamble that the hard work will pay off before the bugs or weather or rabbits, raccoons, groundhogs or deer get the harvest. As gardeners get older, the paths in the garden get wider and the beds get narrower. Still, every little bit of home-grown food is nourishing in ways that cannot be replicated in grocery store food. Canning kettles and pressure cookers are already getting a work out. It is a blessing to get to live the country life.

The Vanzant Bluegrass Jam was another delightful evening. Having missed the week before due to the picnic, musicians were ready to jam. It was a real treat to see Wilma Hutchison in the company of the fair Lena Wagner. Sitting there with Janet Johnston, they were like a trio of high school girls–their laughter its own music. The duo of Bobbie and Mary Joe almost had to be called down for their raucous enjoyment. Bob Berry warned them that they would wind up in The Champion News. That did not seem to be any kind of deterrent for their jubilant behavior. A new study has discovered that music therapy reduces depression and raises self-esteem in children and adolescents with behavioral and emotional problems. Imagine what it can do for the rest of us! An old song says, “’Oh where are you going?’ said the soldier so free. ‘I’m going to the river. It’s sparkling for me. I’m going to the river down by that great spring just to watch the water glide and hear the nightingale sing.’” Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Janet Johnston, Wilma Hutchison, and Lena Wagner–“Girls just want to have fun.”

July 16, 2018

CHAMPION—July 16, 2018


The Vanzant Picnic got off to a good start Friday.

The Champion News subscribes to an email from Merriam-Webster called Word of the Day. On July 2nd the word was ‘canicular.’ It means of or relating to the period between early July and early September when hot weather occurs in the northern hemisphere. The canicular season has been tempered by sudden showers. One visited the Vanzant Picnic on Saturday evening. The Prominent Champion Girlfriend, ring-toss volunteer said, “It was a loving feeling having the rain come down and people still wanting to play the game, and, yep, we let them. We stopped playing when the lightning came and the picnic was called off at 9 PM. I was wishing for nice slow, steady rain overnight and cooler temperatures.” The heat did not appreciably impact the fun quotient at the picnic on Friday either. Pete (Lyman) Proctor was there with the American Legion Post 30. They presented the Colors at the singing of the National Anthem. Pete asked that all the Veterans in the crowd raise their hands. It is inspiring to see how many of our friends and neighbors have stepped up to serve. He said, “Thank you for your service and welcome home.” There was a great deal of welcoming as old friends reunited to catch up on their news, to issue their health reports, and to compare the merits and talents of their respective grandchildren. Teresa Wrinkles had help in the bingo parlor and did a lively business. Brenda Coffman Massey kept her great smile beaming from behind the steaming funnel cake cauldron. All the hardworking volunteers seemed to be having as much fun as the rest of us. With the good food, great music and all the drawings and games, these picnics are canicular high spots.

Sweethearts, Savanna and Travis

Elizabeth Bock and River Stillwood whooping it up.

Dean knows all the words to all the songs!

Gardeners are pleased with the little pop-up showers when they linger a little while over the summer crops. It is preferable that they come with not too much wind, as it is a chore to stand the corn back up and it beginning to ear. Those luscious early crop cucumbers are about over now and little replacement plants are ready to go in the ground. There are a number of crops that can be planted in late July that will have time to yield. Look on the seed packet to see how many days to maturity and decide. It seems that the garden produces more than food. There is some comfort that goes along with the exercise. In times such as these it is pleasant to be doing some simple, basic chores. It is quiet except for the raucous song birds early in the morning.

Ruth Fish Collins and granddaughters

Good news comes from Elmwood, Illinois. Native Champion, Harley Krider, is home from a hospital stay where he had an overhaul on his heart. Reports are that he is making a good recovery. He is receiving calls and restoring his sense of humor. Champion neighbor, Cathy Odneal is also home again after a similar journey. She was in St. Louis at the Barnes hospital for a fancy procedure. She says that not moving around for a few days in a row really takes a toll on a person’s strength. Her friends know that she will do all the hard work it will take get strong again. Their Champion friends and family wish them good luck in their healing processes. They have good support systems and Cathy was quick to say the Barnes nurses and staff were all wonderful to her. Everyone has or knows someone who has significant health issues. It is part of that phenomenon known as the ‘swift passage of time.’ Good luck to all of us. Tina is one of the nurses who work for the Douglas County Health Department. She will be in Champion from 8:30 to 10:30 Friday morning, July 27th doing blood pressure checks and blood sugar tests. She will be there the last Friday of every month. It is a great service to the community—helping us take care of our health. Champion!

The General said, “Everybody had a good time at the 2018 Vanzant Picnic, but some may not remember.”

A person can go on-line or stop at the court house to see a sample ballot for the August 7th primary elections. It is good to have the chance to read those propositions in advance. They are often written in such a way as to make you think you are voting one way when, in fact, you may be voting against your real choice. It is a privilege to vote—to participate in our democracy. Opinions are like ‘noses,’ they say, everybody has one. Back in 1987, President Ronald Regan spoke about the Fairness Doctrine of 1949, which required the nation’s radio and television stations to “afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views on issues of public importance.” He said, “This type of content-based regulation by the federal government is, in my judgement, antagonistic to the freedom of expression guaranteed by the First Amendment.” Now days, an Old Champion woman, who has for decades been apt to spit on her own kitchen floor at the very mention of his name, finds him almost reasonable. His repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, however, has put us in the awkward position of being bombarded by bias. It is reminiscent of the stark description of cult brainwashing. We cherry pick information to support our preconceived versions of “truth.” When it comes right down to it, my prejudices are better than your prejudices.

Bristow, Oklahoma’s Tom Paxton wrote the song “My Dog’s Bigger Than Your Dog.” He was a fan of Woody Guthrie, who wrote many good songs that seem applicable today. Woody died in 1967. On the 50th anniversary of his passing his daughter, Nora Guthrie, said she had been surrounded by her father’s songs for her entire life. She listed a few of the teachings that his songs have imparted: “We belong to the family of man. We are against racial injustices. We are against social injustices. We are against greed. Fight fascism. We support and respect the workers in the world who built this world, and everyone has or should have, a good job of work to do. Learn history. Children are to be respected, and adults could learn a lot from children. True love makes you want to be a better person. True love makes you want to jump up in the morning and do something good. Each person is unique and each individual has something wonderful to offer. Our religion is so big that no one is excluded from it, and no one can get out of it! Learn as much as you can about the world. Give as much as you can to others.” Nora says the list goes on. The song that comes first to mind when we think of Woody Guthrie is “This Land is Your Land.” The last verse says, “In the squares of the city—In the shadow of the steeple—Near the relief office—I see my people –And some are grumblin’ and some are wonderin’—If this land’s still made for you and me.” Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Picnic Fun
Front row smiling:  Linda Clark, Barbara Anderson, Kenneth Anderson
Behind them…Upshaw brothers David, Dean, and Dailey