April 11, 2021

CHAMPION—April 5, 2021


Blaine and Dad

Champions making an infrequent trip to town like to go in one way and come out the other. Going into Ava on 14 Highway one might note that Don and Reba either did not burn any fire wood at all through last winter or that they have next winter’s wood stacked already. Firewood stacking is good exercise. The bright yellow and blue paint around the reconfigured square is a nice surprise as are the marked crosswalks. The town is updating. It looks like Gib & Todd’s Barber Shop has moved north. Hopes are there is still room in the new spot for the Wednesday morning jam. From Eliz Arts on the southwest corner all the way around to Jean’s Healthway, merchants and businesses around the square are glad the work is winding up and glad for the improvement. Champions around the stove in the Historic Emporium are not so very impressed. They think it will be hard to round the square with any kind of trailer. To leave town on Jefferson Avenue going out past the cemetery to connect with Highway 76 is an adventure in dodging pot holes. An update to that stretch of the road might save some suspension and tire repairs. Heading back home on 76 finds a new facility, just east of J & R Gravel, across from the Hamilton’s place, bagging rocks. Hundreds of pallets of rocks neatly done up in plastic bags are laid out in long rows waiting to be transported to city stores like Menards, Lowes and Home Depot. City folks can decorate and improve their landscapes with Bryant Creek gravel.

Richard Stumpp

Eight month old Champion Blaine Denlow Woods made a visit with her Dad to the Historic Emporium on Saturday. She brightened up the Bright Side though she might have been ready for her nap. Babies always give us encouragement about the future. After pleasant visit around the ancient wood stove, Emily’s folks headed back to their Centennial Farm just as the Wilbanks arrived at the store. Jerry needed diesel and Dianne needed to see some people. Like many, they have been staying close to home for many months. Spring and the prospect of a professional hair cut have her flashing her beautiful smile.

A Champion smile.

The Herald reports that in March of 1921, Willard Luttrell was hurt when a baseball came in contact with his nose. That was back before General Fast Pitch was pitching. The General claims that a no hitter means you did not hit the batter. Richard Stumpp pitched some real no hitters for the Angles minor league team, throws right, batts left. Richard was a regular visitor to the area for a while and made friends while he was here. He won $20.00 off a Champion on the Super Bowl game. Perhaps they will root for the same team this season. Examples of good sportsmanship could inspire good behavior across all strata of society.

Week to week changes in the countryside seem especially dramatic this time of the year. Flowering trees are making themselves visible. Clusters of blooming bulbs mark a long ago home place. Somewhere north of Prior, out in a field on the east side of 95 Highway stands an unusual grouping of animals: a deer, a hog, a wolf, a bear, a mountain lion—all standing stock still together in a pose that has not changed from week to week. Maybe they are friends of Waterhole Ike. Perhaps they are fiberglass products of a budding business venture or the eclectic collection of an animal lover. Every twist and turn as the road winds through Mountain Grove reveals some new spring delight including a chance meeting with a seldom seen country friend. Donna Moskaly said that as Joe was leaving the hospital after having his hip replacement surgery, he had a heart attack. She said that he is fine now and making a good recovery. That is the kind of good news we appreciate hearing.

Animal Effigies

The geographic confines of Champion seem to run from one end to the other, about a 50 mile stretch from Ava to Mountain Grove. Larry Wrinkles told a story one time (well, maybe many times). He said someone “fell out of a barbed wire fence a straddle of a cherry tree and tore himself from now ‘till tomorrow morning. The doc said he didn’t know if he’d live from one end to the other.” Larry was born and raised in Champion —Looking on the Bright Side!


April 1, 2021

CHAMPION—March 29, 2020


Nelson Park

Good things that happened this week started with a pleasant “Hello!” from an occasional reader of the Douglas County Herald in the St. Louis area.  Julie Heyer enjoyed the birthday tribute to Robert Burns in The Champion News and had pleasing things to say.  An unexpected kind word goes a long way toward keeping the Bright Side bright.

Grandma’s Chocolate Zucchini Brownies
[enlarge to read]

Unexpected Azalea delight.

Detail Azalea delight.

The next good thing had to do with Grandma’s Chocolate Zucchini Brownies.  Champion Wyoming Snowbird, Marge Carter, shared the recipe and had just shared fresh baked soft ginger cookies with neighbor, Lonnie Curtis, who stopped by.  Marge said, “Be sure to tell readers to fold in chips and nuts into batter, makes it better.”  She reports that Tammy over in Washington is fine, though travel restrictions had kept her from coming for hunting season last year.  Marge and Doug are hoping she will be able to make the trip this coming fall.  Meanwhile she is studying to be an RN.  That is good news.  As some of us gain age, which sounds nicer than get old, we are more appreciative than ever of people willing to be health care providers.  The past year has shown us exactly who the essential people are keeping things working for the rest of us.  We look forward to hearing Ruth Collins sing Alan Jackson’s “The Older I Get.”

Dandelions are showing themselves among the violets.  They say that every part of the dandelion is edible, and that in earlier times people would dig up grass to plant them.  Edie Richardson, an herbalist and a transplant from Texas, says, “I drink dandelion tea! make dandelion pesto, and sauté the greens with garlic yum yum.”  Missy Street says, “I make dandelion wine.  It is a beautiful flavor—the taste of sunshine in a glass.”  Edie and Lee Richardson were just sworn in for their elected seat on Missouri University Wright County Council and will start teaching adult gardening classes next month at the extension office.  The Richardsons were almost Champion neighbors, but settled in Wright County where it turns out Karen Ross is their mail carrier.  Karen is also an avid gardener and a baker of scrumptious cookies.  It is sweet to see their friendship blossom.  Look for “L and E Organic Farm LLC” on the internet and watch them hoop it up.

Peter Cottontail has hopped down the Champion Bunny Trail so Easter with all its religious and cultural significance will soon be upon us.  Years back the competition between Spotted Hog and Champion for the most elegant Easter Parade was the subject of much discussion particularly by the then Admiral who deemed Barbara Krider’s hat and matching armadillo handbag stunning.  April Fools Day on Thursday will see fun at Vanzant where pranks, shenanigans and tomfoolery do not seem to need a special day.  A certain singular Sister has become the self-appointed Instigator in Chief there, so figure that all the stops have been pulled all the way out.  You pump organ fans understand the significance.

Other good news comes from “The Book of Delights,” shared by the elder of many favorite nephews.  The author’s eye lands upon wonder at every turn, shining light on the countless small miracles that surround us.  Find joy wherever possible and they say the possibilities are endless.  Books make great companions.  The General and William Chaffey have been reading Dan Brown novels and have discovered that St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City is round.  Send your discoveries and your delights to champion@championnews.us or to TCN Rt. 72 Box 367 Norwood, MO 65717-9446.  We are delighting in these beautiful days in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Wilbur delights In the dandelions and violets.

March 26, 2021

CHAMPION—March 22, 2021



Phyllis Proctor is about to have her second vaccination.  She said Pete had chills and felt bad for a while after his second shot, but it sounds like he is doing better.  He and other members of the American Legion have stayed busy this whole last year officiating at the funerals of Veterans.  They were sometimes called on twice a day and were often called far afield.  It is a moving ceremony for the families of those Veterans being honored and they appreciate the solemnity and dedication of the Legion officers.  Recently another post up north of here has been certified to perform the ceremony which will ease things for Pete and our other local officers.  When Thomas Edison needed a wheelchair, his friend, Henry Ford, bought one too so they could have wheel chair races.  That is a mark of real friendship.  Phyllis said that the American Legion has wheel chairs out on loan to local Veterans.  If you have one you no longer need, they will gladly accept it as a donation and will put it to good use.

Elderberries, lilacs, dogwoods and those beautiful non-bearing Bartlett pear trees are swelling and budding and leafing.  March is marching on as we progress into Spring.  Does that make us progressive?  Two people looking at the same field may see it differently.  One sees a sea of weeds to be dealt with, while the other rejoices in the wildflowers.  Attitude might be the difference.  Looking back through the archives here, the same bunches of daffodils, the same creek crossings and distant vistas show up about the same time every year.  The website began to regularly have photos attached in about 2014.  For the seven years before that, all the pictures were painted with words.  Music links came along a couple of years ago, so progress is being made.  A neighbor in Vera Cruz called to introduce TCN to Lou and Peter Berryman who are purveyors of old time music in the folk/cabaret tradition.  There is something about the old time music that is comforting and reassuring.  Describe what progress you are making or what comforts and reassures you in an email to champion@championnews.us or let John deliver those good words in a letter to The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717-9446.

Some of the synonyms for the word ‘liberal’ are tolerant, unprejudiced, broad-minded, open-minded, enlightened, and forbearing.  Others are abundant, ample, and generous.  Marge is liberal in her use of chocolate chips when she makes cookies for Doug.  She has not been baking much lately, so he has had to eat store-bought cookies.  “Poor Doug,” she says, but he is not complaining.  (She did write that she made brownies using their abundant garden zucchini that she shredded, froze and brought with her from Wyoming.)  Esther always liked to cut her pies in five pieces so that everyone had a generous slice.  Days are suddenly getting longer and warmer with copious amounts of sunshine.  Among the few complainers concerning the changes of the seasons are those with ample dislike for lawn mowing and picking ticks, yet they forbear to keep peace in the family.  ‘Family’ is another of those words full of deep good meaning, though there are hardly any other words that convey that special significance.  If you are lucky enough to be part of a tolerant, accepting, affectionate family then you are liberally blessed.  Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


March 20, 2021

CHAMPION—March15, 2021



The soothsayer said, “Beware the Ides of March!” We can be wary any day of things unknown and we can celebrate any day for the good things we do know. As to good things, the 15th of March is the birth anniversary of Justice Ruth B. Ginsberg, U.S Supreme Court, of Sam Lightning Hopkins, Texas blues man, of Jacob Masters, 3rd baseman batting .400 and of his second cousin, several years his senior far over the sea. Champions stay on the lookout for good things every day of the year, unconcerned about the unknown. We know about St. Patrick’s Day, however, and will enjoy our individual and family ways to observe the occasion. We think of corned beef and cabbage, shamrocks, leprechauns, sparkling castles on the Emerald Isle and sweet Molly Malone. Many of us are descendants of the Irish emigrants who arrived here a hundred years ago. R.D. says, “It’s like the old boy says, everybody’s got to be somewhere.”

Knowing full well that Champion’s official last frost date is May 10th, gardeners are eager and struggling not to be too early with their efforts. The on-line almanac says the 21st and 22nd will be excellent for sowing seedbeds and flower gardens. Lawns will soon enough need to be mowed, so let the grumbling begin.

Champion mail. [enlarge]

A favorite percussionist favored the Sometimes Porch Band at Champion Wednesday with her spoons. Spoons themselves are prehistoric, and you can say there have been spoon players around since the invention of the spoon. Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all played spoons and now a retired foot-soldier of the USPS is a master of the art—a virtuoso. She is a fan of The Champion News and is known to have at least one article preserved in her bible. That one was about Cowboy Jack when he landed flat on his back in a cold creek a few years ago. A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then. Hopes are the water going over the Clever Creek Bridge will recede enough by Wednesday to allow the band to meet up again for a few more tunes. Music is one of the great unifiers of people and a great medicine for what ails you. “Keep a little song handy where ever you go and nothing can ever go wrong.” That is what Rudy Valley said.


How delicious it is to have our wonderful water table recharged with gentle rains as our daffodils are blooming to herald the emergence of all the other spring delights. Among those are the mushrooms that are considered treasures in this particular part of the world. The season begins after a few warm nights. The seasons change, times changes and the configuration of the community changes as people pass on or move away and as others arrive looking for a home. We are reminded that in the big picture, we are all transients. So we welcome our new neighbors and enjoy hearing from Champions who live elsewhere now, but still consider this home. Hovey Henson writes from Houston, Texas to say he and Dawn have recently celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary and to proclaim they are still hopelessly in love. While he is at it, he shamelessly brags about their brilliant granddaughter, Avery. Dawn says he is obnoxious about it, but he does not care. We enjoy his kind words and are reminded that words count and have consequences. An off-hand remark or one carefully constructed can have unforeseen and unintended effects. In hopes for peace and understanding, we endeavor, though not always with success, to choose our words wisely in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


March 12, 2021

CHAMPION—March 8, 2021


Green to Gold to Green again…

J.c. says “Meet Becky. Abilene’s legacy…”

An Old Champion is working to get the potatoes in the ground before St. Patrick’s Day. That is what his Mother-in-law told him to do, and he took everything she said to heart. His yield was not very good last year on account of the borers, but planting time is always a wonderful time for optimism. He favors the Yukon Gold and has ten pounds of seed to show he is serious about it. Young Felix the Farmer is probably seeing garlic he helped to plant poke up through the mulch. Children with their hands in the dirt will be feeding us the healthy stuff in years to come. He has some great teachers to show him how. J.C. Owsley up in Cross Timbers (or over in Jordan), has heirloom tomatoes sprouting. He has Lone Star Abilene long-horn fertilizer, as well as all the horse hockey he wants to spread in his patch. He will tell you himself that he is a lucky man—lucky for having the lovely Kay by his side and exceptional children and grandchildren. He also seems to enjoy what he does for a living. Not everyone can say that. Perhaps he will join a Champion Trail Ride sometime in May and will lollygag out on the wide veranda to describe how he weathered the winter.

Due south of the Vanzant Convention and Wisdom Center, at one time known as The Bloated Goat, the “Chateau B & G” is serving up Biscuits and Gravy to a select clientele. With possible rare exception, it would seem a person needs to be blood kin of the cook in order to get a table. Food critics rave about biscuits from scratch. Does he use butter, shortening, or lard? Buttermilk? His secret is safe in the family. Ice cream season is on the horizon, however, and it is said that standards loosen so that practically anyone can enjoy the famous fancy frozen delight in an al fresco experience if invited. ‘If invited’ is the caveat. There will be time to curry favor before summer.

Spring Peeper

The green that turned to gold in December is green again and the swift subtle shifts in color enchant the eye. “I wandered lonely as a Cloud That floats on high o’er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host of golden Daffodils; Along the lake, beneath the trees, Ten thousand dancing in the breeze.” Wordsworth paints the picture for us. See the whole poem in the March 5th, 2018 posting here and wander through the archives of Marches going back to 2007, if you have forgotten what glorious spring wonders are soon coming our way. Linda Clark over Ava way reported hearing a chorus of spring peepers and Ms. Oyl in Champion East was pleased to report the same.

Bob calls down to Champion from way up on Fox Creek every week or two to say they are well and miss their visits to the Bright Side. He calls early in the morning while Ethel is probably doing the breakfast dishes. Then she will spend some pleasant hours opening gates for him. Farmers do the hard work no matter what the weather and we have them and many others to thank for the relative ease with which we have passed these recent months. They have been significantly more difficult for countless others. The time changes on Saturday and we look for good changes for those suffering hardship around the country. For us, we are counting on garden starts and music to help us keep our hearts light as we Spring forth in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


March 6, 2021

CHAMPION—March 1, 2021


What is the best way to water a Christmas cactus? Donna DeWitt and a young nurse at the Douglas County Health Department had that conversation while Donna and Jim were waiting the requisite 15 minutes after their vaccination to verify no reaction. Others, who were also waiting, joined in the discussion. Some say watering from the bottom is the best. Another heard that a few ice cubes every now and then was the best way. The nurse said her plant came from her great grandmother and that many in her family have descendants of the same plant. Fifteen minutes is enough time for a lot of conversation. Jim was happy to get his vaccination on the occasion of his 80th birthday. He had received some funny birthday cards which he very much appreciated. He was looking forward to being comfortable about being more active. Donna thought he was active enough, reporting that he had multiple episodes of snow shoveling during the recent storm. They weathered it well, but some of their children in Texas had serious problems.

February was fraught with difficulties. Meteorologists are saying the Valentine week ice storm was not necessarily a ‘one off’ event as climate change advances. In the future, southern building contractors may be adding insulation and rethinking running a water line through the attic to the ice maker in the refrigerator. Driver education classes may enhance the curriculum for driving on snow and ice. Learning from complications is progress. Does that make us progressive? We march into March with optimism and a willingness to learn.

National Guard troops shepherded scores of second timers through the vaccine maze on Saturday. Local health care personnel, firefighters, law enforcers and others joined the Douglas County Health Department in generating another efficient event. A fleet of golf carts driven by civilian solid citizens ferried folks from and to their distant parked cars on a beautiful day when they might have otherwise been playing golf. Alighting from one, an Old Champion complimented the driver on the excellent organization. He said that he really appreciated hearing that. His hat said, “City of Ava.” She asked, “Do you work for the city?” “I’m the Mayor!” said Burrely Loftin, “I love this town!” “Then, you’ll read about yourself in The Champion News!” He was pleased to say he knew a lot about Champion. Stan Lovan had told him about Wednesday gatherings at the Historic Emporium. Besides that, he had been well-acquainted with Clifford and Esther Wrinkles as well as numerous others in the area. He said Esther was a good friend and he enjoyed dinner at her house on occasion after their move to Vanzant. In the brief encounter it was clear that he is enjoying being Mayor of the Treasure of the Ozarks. City administrators have serious responsibilities and seem to be doing an excellent job. For some reason, other administrators come to mind these days: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, real Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!

The buzzards are back!

February 25, 2021

CHAMPION—February 22, 2021



Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious pre-spring by the appearance of Wilbur the Champion Groundhog, awake from his long nap and strolling about the grounds reacquainting himself with the compost pile, his favorite Osage Orange tree and the derelict chicken house. Perhaps he will be more amenable to Jonnie the Friendly Dog than he was last year, when he rudely shunned every friendly overture. Exclusion is one of the saddest forms of bullying. Yet, he is just being himself, adhering to long established Rodent Rules and Jonnie will continue seeking friendship and acceptance because she is affectionate by nature.

Again, Champions are appreciative of the efforts of all the road crews for getting roads cleared so well so soon after such a winter blast. While snow still lingered on fields and hill sides, topography revealed itself and gave us a new view of our neighborhood. We live in a beautiful part of the world enhanced by seasonal changes. Mud is on the way. Some spots of some roads can transition snow into a particular axle sucking mud with slick slivering sliding attributes to rival solid ice. Proceed with caution and the possibility that you may be in a position to pull someone out of a mud hole, or be pulled out yourself. Neighbor helping neighbor is a Champion concept.

Jim and Donna Dewitt will enjoy a scenic trip to Ava on Saturday to get their second vaccinations. They will be glad to feel more at ease getting together with family and friends. Hugging grandchildren will be a gift for many twice vaccinated old folks. Elisabeth answered the phone at the Douglas County Health Department on Monday to reassure the community that the mass vaccination clinic will indeed happen again on Saturday the 27th. She was pleased to accept the compliments on the well-ordered efficiency of the last episode on behalf of the DCHD, local health care providers, fire departments, and the National Guard. Good things happen with people working together.

Some family and friends are struggling these days. Some, after years of distress, have finally stopped thinking about turning the American flag upside down, and others have now actually done it, an alarming and sad sight. If hatred, anger, fear and vitriol could run a power grid, lights would be blazing from here to yonder, no matter who might be in charge. Still, all the stories of neighbors helping neighbors during these difficult times lift our spirits and help us feel less stressed about our various differences. We are all in this together. Recovery will be a long ongoing process for many in Texas and other parts of the country where buildings and infrastructure were no match for the brutal weather. We are mindful of their difficulties and are feeling blessed to be here in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!