June 25, 2022

CHAMPION—June 20, 2022


Happy Father's Day!

Father’s Day again has given every man and woman and child a chance to say out loud what we want our fathers to know or wanted them to have known before they passed on. The “Mom and Dad Waltz” is an old tune that sums it up for many of us. “In my heart joy tears start because I’m happy and I pray every day for Mom and Pappy.” Every family is different, as is every father/child relationship. Where would we be without our fathers? We wouldn’t.

Kitty Clover Potato Chips

Glen Brandstedder can find live music most every day or evening of the week. At Vanzant on Thursday, he mentioned that Royce Henson, whose passing was marked last week, had been one of his teachers in Mansfield back in the day. He reckons it was in about 1953 or 1954 when he was in Mr. Henson’s woodworking shop class in the basement of the Mansfield High School, where he put together a cedar chest. It was a three story school building. Glen remembered an instance when an unruly student was ‘kicked in the butt’ up every step to the principal’s office. In such places as that, in those days, the board of education was often applied to the seat of learning. This extreme heat is keeping Glen and others from being out as much as they would like. He said he might not make it to the McClurg jam Monday. He used to deliver Kitty Clover Potato Chips to the store there back in the 1960s. He did that kind of delivery work for twenty five years all over the Ozarks. He has stories to tell.

Banana Pudding

Summer officially arrives on Tuesday, but it has been here for a few days already. It is prime time for family visits. Having young folks in the house is exciting for Old Champions. For days ahead of their arrival, the old folks plan chores, activities, and meals for company. Stories will be told, and memories made. It is the time we dream of during long, dreary winter days. Feed them on banana pudding and take them to the creek. Send them home with as many mementos of their visit as you can get them to take.

Old folks, our gardens are beautiful, but they need to be tended early in the morning and late in the evening. Take care. Drink water. Let those city kids visiting harvest the potatoes. Edie Richardson’s Garden is the kind of garden we would all have if we were as knowledgeable, resourceful, enthusiastic, and as well supported as she is by her handsome husband. The first tomatoes to show up in one Old Campion’s Garden is on a cherry tomato plant shared to Champion by our charming previous mail carrier, Karen Ross. (Our new mail carriers are also charming.) Karen is also a great gardener and has shared plants with her friends here often over the years. She and Edie are friends and Facebook has helped others of us stay in touch with them during these busy days. It turns out that as we accumulate more experiences and age, it takes less and less to keep us busy in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

A cool Champion creek...

June 22, 2022

CHAMPION—June 13, 2022


An Old Champion's Garden

“Summertime and the living is easy” or at least it was last week before the thermometer got all out of whack with the calendar. Summer routinely arrives on June 21st. Summer school is out for the Skyline students, who finished the session with a fabulous fishing trip on June 3rd. Photos of excited young fishermen filled the internet. Skyliner, Ava Hurt, had her birthday on June 8th and Zachary Ambroziac’s big day was the 14th. Jacob and Jenna Brixey had big days at the Tri County Fair with their Jersey cows. They and the other 4H members are on their way to being the farmers who will feed the country in the future. So, summertime is really here. The sweet, wet, cool spring has made our gardens lush.

Banjo David Medlock had a birthday on June 6th. Most likely someone brought it up at the Vanzant Jam on Thursday. Probably they sang that song to him, and chances are he plinked out, “Shave and a haircut six bits!” That is some of what certain bluegrassers call ‘closure.’ Champion Wayne Sutherland enjoyed his birthday on the 7th. Mr. Sutherland was 85 in 2015. You do the math. The Southerland family has a long, interesting history in Champion. Wayne’s father, Ed Sutherland may have been part of the fabled A.S.S. Construction company, made up of an Anderson, a Sutherland, and a Smith. Wayne’s daughter, Laine, who passed away in 2014, said that her grandfather, Ed, had once described her as “the ‘darnedest’ thing that ever peed behind a pair of tennis shoes.” He was just one of many colorful Champions of days gone by. There are still an interesting character or two in these parts, not naming any names.

Champions are polishing their reading glasses in anticipation of Letters to the Editor in The Herald. What reaction will local high strung epistolary fiends have to say about the ongoing January 6th Hearings? We are taught not to discuss politics and religion, but perhaps not doing so has made us inept at it. Knowing full well that we have friends and family members who believe fervently the opposite of our beliefs, how do we keep our relationships intact? We all love our Country. Surely, we all want peace and prosperity and wish harm to no one. While it can be excruciating to attempt to see things from the other point of view, it is worth the try. Or is it? While there may be no point at all in arguing with someone incapable of entertaining alternate perspectives, Aunt Eavvie said, “Can’t we just get along?”

A warm, sunny week with no rain has haymakers rolling in it. Our wet spring may produce yields per acre likely to surpass all records. Farmers know to keep their equipment in good repair, to keep themselves hydrated, to watch out for snakes and bears, and to keep a good song in their heads as they go up and down, round and round the fields in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

An Old Champion's Garden

June 16, 2022




It is with sadness that we mark the passing of Champion Royce Henson on May 28th at the age of 88.   He grew up in Champion, the oldest son of Ezra and Sylvia Henson.  Ezra was a farmer and later on became the sheriff in Ava.  Sylvia wrote the Champion items from the same place it is being written today.  Royce, his two brothers Kenneth (Hovey) of Houston, Texas, and Andy of Columbia, Missouri, who passed away a few years ago, and their sister Eva Loyce Phillips of Bella Vista, Arkansas, walked the mile and a half from the farm to the school. He was rewarded with a silver dollar for perfect attendance when he was about 10 years old.  Royce said that as a kid in school he would never have imagined that the old building would ever have electric lights and gas heat.  Everything was lit with or run on kerosene in those days and the schoolhouse was heated by a big wood stove.  He went on to higher education at Southwest Missouri State University and along the way married Minnie Jo (Jody) Lorette from up at Oak Forest.  Their children are Valli, Victor, Vaughn and Jan, deceased.  Their grandchildren are Alex and Evan Mills, Whitaker Taryn, Carlyn and Zach Henson, Victoria Henson and Katrina Rute Lynn.  For the last twenty-eight years Royce and Jody have operated their business, Lawn Salon.  Royce was able to mow once this season and he really enjoyed it.  Jody enjoys it too and is taking care of three lawns herself these days.   For several years in a row, he and family members made the “Walk of Ages” tracing the path all the way from Cold Springs, down past the old home place, to Champion to attend the Champion School Reunion.  Covid has interfered with the school reunion the last couple of years, but Jody is hoping it will happen again this year just because Royce always loved it.  He and Jody made the trip from their home in Springfield for every Champion School Reunion, for the Champion Spring Flings and The Pioneer Heritage Festivals. He loved being a Champion.  He brought about twenty of his family members to Champion to celebrate his 80th birthday.  It was a blast, finishing up with a trip to Rockbridge.  His brother, Hovey, and his wife, Dawn, along with Jody and Valli, enjoyed another lunch at Rockbridge on Wednesday after having visited the Historic Emporium on the North side of the Square in Downtown Champion–Looking on the Bright Side!


June 10, 2022

CHAMPION—May 30, 2022


Perhaps as many as fifty people showed up for the 36th Annual Denlow/Fairview School Reunion Saturday which turned out to be a beautiful day. Johnnie Cox, Kaye Johnston, Robert Upshaw, Vernon Upshaw, Karen Fae Krider, Jessie Mae Miler, Dean Brixey and Shirley Brixey, were the Denlow alumni. Of the Upshaws, Robert, Kaye, and Fae also attended Fairview along with brothers Pete and Frank Proctor. Pete led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance. After a bountiful lunch, they, along with many friends and kin folks, repaired to the pavilion where a great deal of silliness and good visiting occurred. On display was a 70 year old friendship quilt made by Denlow students. It is in remarkably good condition. It sparked the intention of an alumnus descendant, Tanna Wiseman, to solicit participation in a similar project for next year’s reunion. Resolute, alleged, unrelated, actual, unrepentant, steadfast, probable, unindicted, suspected, staunch, improbable, clueless, significant, presumed, and proud members of the Robert Upshaw Fan Club bid against each other and sometimes against themselves in a lively auction conducted by Mike Bearden, spouse of LaShell, one of eleven Upshaw cousins in attendance.

Denlow Alumni

Fairview Alumni

70-year-old Friendship Quilt

Upshaw Cousins

Ray Hicks, brother of Champion Ruby Proctor, was down from Iowa for the reunion with some good memories of the area. He said that up in his neck of the woods there is an active barn restoration organization as he learned that Orville’s barn up on Cold Springs Road is deteriorating. He asked about recycling in this area and said that Iowa is one of the states that have container deposit laws. At $.05 each, perhaps his Douglas County friends could finance a trip to see him with a truck load of recyclables. Here at home, on Memorial Day some of Denlow’s finest participated in the re-dedication of the century old monument to The Grand Army of the Republic.

Since it is the end of May, it’s about time that we share the poem shared to a Prominent Champion back in his youth by a local poet:

‘Twas in the month of May when the Jack began to bray,
The Jenny came around the barn.
Said the Jenny to the Jack, if you jump on my back
We’ll help lift the mortgage off the farm.
Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!

Jenny and Jack

May 27, 2022

CHAMPION—May 23, 2022


Trail Riders: Jeannie Kapraun, Cindy Hufham, Inguna Sotelo, Andrew Harden, Dana Harden, Lydia Harden, Bob Wheeler, Jeff Alcorn

Bud Hutchison’s Champion Trail Ride has been called his Memorial Trail Ride since his passing in 2018. At the end of the ride on Wednesday, May 18th, there were still stories circulating about him out on the wide veranda of the Champion Store as the riders relaxed with their ice cream. Andrew Harden leads Bud’s rides these days and reported that Wilma, who used to document them meticulously is now in an assisted living home up in St. Louis near her family. No bad dogs, bears or treacherous creek crossings marred their journey this time and no run-away horses. It was marked by beautiful scenery and good conversation. New to the ride was Inguna Sotelo. She lives in Gainesville and was riding her 16 year old ‘plantation’ horse, Gray. Jeannie Kapraun of Dora rode Lilly, Cindy Hufham from Rogersville was on Diamond, Jeff Alcorn worked with Dusty, which he bought recently from Carl Loftus. Bob Wheeler was on Rosie, who is officially called Reflection of a Rose. Lydia Harden was on Mable and Dana Harden on Diamond. Their dad, Andrew, was riding his 25 year old Ginger. He was excited about the 4C Summer Youth Rodeo for kids 18 and under over at the Cold Creek Cowboy Church. The first of the seven summer rodeos was May 22nd. The next one will be June 12th with events like Mutton Busting, Calf Riding, Chute Dogging, Goat Tail Tying, Calf Roping and more. Champions will look for more of these rodeo hands on future spring and fall trail rides through the Bright Side.

Fifty-six Skyline R2 School students are enjoying ‘Jamming into Space’ with the STEM activities going on in summer school. They have until June 14th to soak up science, technology, engineering, and math along with some other interesting things. Karen Tamblyn reported that everyone is having a good time. Conner Jonas had a good time on his birthday back on May 12th. He is a seventh grader. Jennings Harley is a prekindergarten student with a birthday on May 24th. That is also the big day for Chase Cauthron’s mom, Mandy. Jacob and Jenna Brixey did not go to summer school but enjoyed an adventure with their mom and grandmother on a ferry across the Big Muddy and then on into deep caves, horse parks, waterfalls, mountains, and pyramids. They know how to adventure. More May birthdays include Teresa Wrinkles on the 22nd and the lovely Lena Belle Wagner on the 26th. That may also be the big day for John Webber, granddad of Thomas, though at Vanzant on Thursday he indicated tat his birthday is some months hence. Ed Henson’s birthday was May 27, 1903. We miss him. Champions of a certain age have precious memories of the lovely gentleman. Brylee Clark was born May 28, 2010 the day after her great grandmother’s birthday. The 28th is also the birthday of Dale Thomas. He and Betty started the Pioneer Heritage Festival. It is still going on in a different permutation, but a pleasant affair nonetheless.

Jessie Mae Miller’s birthday is May 28th. Friends will look forward to seeing Jesse Mae again at the Denlow/Fairgrove School Reunion on her birthday. The General expects that there will be another good crowd, though in years past (see the May 12, 2008 post here) he has referred to them as “you thieves and thugs, scoundrels, bootleggers and bushwhackers.” Look for a full report of the 36th annual affair next week.

Meanwhile, we celebrate Memorial Day. Its history goes back to the American Civil War when citizens placed flowers on the graves of those who had been killed in battle. We honor all our Veterans along with our many dear loved ones and ancestors who have found their places in our cemeteries. We will find our way there too, but until then we will be Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!

Bob Wheeler and Rosie
Bob Wheeler and Rosie
Jeannie Kapraum and Lilly
Jeannie Kapraum and Lilly
Rosie's Rubdown
Rosie gets her rubdown.
Jeff Alcorn and Dusty
Jeff Alcorn and Dusty
Inguna Sotelo and Gray
Inguna Sotelo and Gray
Off they go...
Up the hill.

May 23, 2022

CHAMPION—May 16, 2022


Cloud cover obscured the lunar eclipse Sunday night for those of us here on the Bright Side, and while some were disappointed, others were grateful for the gentle rain on new gardens and for the absence of damaging storms.  Many splendid images of the event taken from all over the country and shared profusely on the internet prove to us that it really happened.  ‘Twas in the month of May.

The program handed to all the parents, grandparents, family, and many friends attending the Skyline R2 School Eight Grade Graduation ceremony said, “Your future holds endless possibilities. Congratulations to this year’s class.”  Members of the 2022 graduating class of our Skyline R2 School are Alain Ambroziac, Maddie Johnson, Jenna Brixey, Lydia Harden, Aaliyah Irby, Gracie Nava, Mason Solomon, Lane Watkins, and Shelby Wilson.  Six of them will be going to Norwood in the fall.  One will go to Ava, one to Lutie and one to some place in California.  Among them, in the future, they plan to be veterinarians, photographers, brain surgeons, barrel racers, pro-motocross racers, welders or mechanics, zoo workers, famous archers, forensic scientists, YouTube professionals or cops.  Their aspirations may change as time goes by, but the solid foundation provided by Mr. Luna, the Board of Education, the dedicated Teachers and staff of our outstanding rural school will stand them in good stead no matter what lies ahead for them.  Go you Tigers–Champions every one!

Bud Hutchison’s Memorial Trail Ride is scheduled for Wednesday and hopes are that the weather will cooperate.  A tour through The Champion News online archives (www.championnews.us) finds a report of this trail ride each May for the last 14 years.  The first report in the May 12, 2008, issue began, “Pamplona, Spain has the Running of the Bulls every year.  Champion has the Champion Spring Trail Ride.  It came off again ‘without a hitch.’  Bud Hutchison has played a major role in its success for many years, and it has been going on for a long, long time.  It was reported that there were about forty riders this year, that they took their regular route and had a good time.”  Last year there were ten in the bunch and a full report can be seen in the May 24, 2021, posting.  Andrew Harden has taken the reins of the trail ride since Bud’s passing in 2018.  He came in third, on foot, in the adult division of the Skyline School 5K Fun Run back in April.  Does Andrew prefer riding to running?  Champions want to know and want to express appreciation to him for his part in continuing the long standing tradition, part of what keeps Champion Looking on the Bright Side!


May 13, 2022

CHAMPION—May 9, 2022


‘Twas in the month of May!  Mother’s Day had phone lines and the internet buzzing with good wishes for the women who nurtured, protected, and taught us how to take care of ourselves and to be good people.  It is lovely to know how many were able to get together with their Mothers in person.  We are reminded to acknowledge them while we have them.  Many of us have long since lost our Mothers, but the memories of their good lessons and good humor are with us every day and we know we were loved best by them.  It is as wonderful to be one as it is to have one.

These sunny days find Champions busy in the garden.  One uses newspapers for mulch and does some of her best reading there.  Jason Hoekema does an excellent job covering local school sports, and by the end of an article, a person feels like she has been to a ball game.  The positive attention to our schools must surely encourage the students.  They are our future and some of the best reasons we must be optimistic.  One laughs about the letters to the editor.  It is almost as if we have the F.C.C.’s Fairness Doctrine back.  It was repealed in 1980 by President Regan and deregulated the media.  Before then, on controversial issues of public importance, there was a requirement to fairly reflect differing viewpoints.  (Even our hearing aids are marked red for the right and blue for the left.)  The conservatives and liberals contributing to The Herald are the two wings that keep the bird flying.  While it is the opinion of some that newspapers are best used for the bottoms of bird cages, it is fun to stand out in the sun to recycle the news in the garden.


Kenneth Anderson


If good fortune should allow us to become octogenarians, hopes are that we can do it the way Kenneth Anderson did, surrounded with loving family and friends.  Sons, Doug and Matt, and their families poured in from Buffalo, Iowa and Arcadia, Florida.  Those and other family surprises from all over the country, as far as California, brought lumps to the throats of family and friends alike.  Barbara was smiling all day.  Congratulations to Kenneth for his interesting life journey since 1942, and to whoever in his family orchestrated the lovely party.  Attending were many notables, including The Gypsy and The General and numerous of his children, grandchildren and nephews, all Kenneth’s kinfolks, together with Herbie’s aunt and uncle.  There were several regular readers of The Champion News there including Sandy Newspaper, who recalls having had to edit the article occasionally in years past.  Kenneth’s party was on Saturday, but his actual birthday is on May 8th, sharing this year with Mother’s Day and every year with VE Day, Victory in Europe, which we are all hoping for these days.

Drop us a line at champion@championnews.us or at TCN, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717, or show up in person for some beautiful scenery, nostalgia, and optimism.  You know where it is–Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

An Old Champion’s Bright Side