August 24, 2015

August 24, 2015

CHAMPION—August 24, 2015

The best spot to watch the garden grow…

        There is nothing wrong with staying at home.  Minding one’s own business and attending to the necessities of the household and grounds are laudable exercises.  Still, a chance adventure off the place during this remarkable August is an adventure.  Whenever in August has it been so green…so cool?  Rain totals keep adding up and there are extra cuttings of hay and beautiful lawns that need frequent mowing.  A trip to town is like driving through storybook land—Narnia—with a picturesque view around every bend.  Though there seem to be extra mosquitoes (very small and vigorous mosquitoes), fewer walnuts and varying degrees of garden success, Champions find no reason for complaint.

        Every part of the country has its charm.  For example, Iowa has any number of things about which it can be proud.  There is the world’s largest frying pan in Brandon, Iowa, the largest wooden nickel in Johnson County, and the world’s largest garden gnome in the Rieman Garden in Ames.  It stands 15 feet tall and is made of concrete.  It is very near the butterfly garden which is said to be one of the best such gardens in the world.  It sounds like a nice place.  Nice people come out of Iowa.  A couple of the Ewoldt brothers came down from Iowa and visited in Champion for a few days recently.  They come every year to enjoy family ties while being inscrutable and enigmatic.  Pleasant Iowa folks are always welcome.

        Take a quarter mile stroll on the new walking path that has just been measured, paved and landscaped at the Skyline School.  Walk around it four times and you will have gone a mile.  It is open for the use of anyone in the community and will get plenty of activity from the school population.  It comes in a grant from the Douglas County Health Department—another gift to the community.  The 23rd of August was the second birthday of Drayson Cline.  He shared it with his great grandfather, Charlie Cline.  Drayson has a little brother, Carson, who will always be his chum.  It is very sweet.  Skyline third grader, Dana Harden, has her ninth birthday on the 25th and Rowdy Woods will be ten on the 29th.  Jenna Brixey and Kalyssa Wiseman will both be eight on the 31st.  Exciting things are in store for these children.  The 30th was to have been the 79th birthday of Wayne Anderson.  He and Jo Ann celebrated their 59th wedding anniversary in May.  His loss is a big one for the whole community because his life was a meaningful one.  Other Champions who have slipped away from us recently are Velma and Gene Schroeder.  They lived in the community for a long time and participated in it the way good neighbors do.

        The Thursday night bluegrass jam at Vanzant was another beautiful evening.  Songs ranged from ‘Bobbie McGee’ and ‘When You and I Were Young, Maggie’ to ‘Blue Kentucky Girl’ and ‘I Wonder How the Old Folks Are at Home’.  Jerry Wagner did a lovey rendition of ‘Just Bumming Around’.  Kenneth and Barbara Anderson were there and the many friends who regularly enjoy this gathering carried on in the usual way, all the while feeling an absence.  Elmer Banks sat outside visiting with Murphy and others.  He wanted it known that the County Road people have done a beautiful job on V Highway.  It is mowed from fence to fence and looking gorgeous.

Ready to watch some fireworks.
Jo Ann and Wayne…Chris, Amber, Miles, London, and Griffin.

        An OHL friend points out “that in some cases there are arguable points about the direction of this country from both ‘sides’, and probably the best answer would include the best ideas and beefs from both.  It may be that you can attract more flies with a little honey and still open minds.”  He goes on to support the free flow of ideas.  “ A liberal….someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people—their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties—someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a ‘liberal’, then I’m proud to say I’m a ‘Liberal’”, said JFK.  The Heritage Foundation says that conservative public policies are based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.  John Steinbeck said, “All war is a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal.”  Abraham Lincoln said, “The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend.”  An Old Champion says, “What a valuable thing is an enemy!  There is a reason, an excuse and fellowship in knowing you are absolutely right and the enemy is wrong.”  Being unified with a bunch of people who believe the same thing that you believe is comforting and makes the world less frightening.  The inflammatory rhetoric from both ends of the political spectrum is worrisome.  There is anecdotal evidence that “Frightened people do stupid things.”  It seems that both ends are trampling over the middle in an effort to destroy each other.  It is like FDR said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

        After her annual August hiatus, Linda will open The Plant Place again in September.  She will have mums and perennial plants and good garden advice for new gardeners and veterans as well.  This will be her last year in business and while retirement may be good for her, Norwood and the whole area will have lost a great resource.  Her Almanac says the 29th and 30 will be good days for planting root crops, fine for vine crops and good days for transplanting.  There is time to get some turnips in the ground for some good greens and in case Lem and Ned come to help out with the fall chores.  It feels like fall on these cool mornings.  By afternoon the wide veranda on the Historic Emporium will be peopled by philosophers and historians as well as by local tourists just relishing the spectacle of the Behemoth Bee Tree and the tranquility of the Village.  It is nestled on the wide, wild, wooly banks of Old Fox Creek where country roads meet the pavement at the bottom of several green hills—Champion!  Looking on the Bright Side!

August 17, 2015

August 17, 2015

CHAMPION—August 17, 2015

A quiet sunny summer Sunday in Champion

        Cool, foggy mornings have mists rising from the valley floors and walnut leaves drifting down in golden glides and in sudden breeze-blown twirls.  The quiet beauty of this rural life is astonishing even to people who have never known any other.  It is the Champion way to be where you are.  That ‘be’ should be italicized to emphasize the state of presence.  Neither a clutching desperation for the past nor a fearful, grasping anxiousness for the future serves peace so well as does recognizing the beauty of the moment.  Champion, indeed.

        School is well underway again.  The summer slipped by quickly.  Some nice landscaping, cool new water fountains, the brightly painted gym and a few new faces met the Skyline student body on the first day.  The year ahead will be full of challenges–the memories and lessons that will usher our children into their future.  New arrivals to this part of the country and old retirees with no children or grandchildren in school find the minimal property tax levy attractive here and may not consider that they have an interest in the lovely little school at the crossroads.  However, in a short twenty years these students will be the adults who are in charge of the important things that the old folk need.  An investment in their future now is an investment in our own.  This could be a case for raising property taxes up to the state recommended levels, particularly in light of the fact that State and Federal funding for schools is based on enrolment.  It is a quandary with which the school board wrestles at every meeting.  The school board has the appreciation and support of their friends and neighbors in the community due them for doing the hard work that it takes to keep Skyline R2 School up and running.  Thanks.

        Lannie Hinote gets her mail at PO Box 32412, Mountain Village, AK 99632.  The other day she was on the internet saying, “Hello World.  I am temporarily connected in between storms.  Mountain Village is a beautiful village and the people are so very nice.  Enjoyed moose stew yesterday from a fresh hunt, but have not been fishing yet due to all the rain.  A note to all my past students that are still in school:  Hope you all have a great start of the new school year this week (we don’t start until August 26th) so while you are in class falling asleep, think of me still enjoying the outdoors!”  A later post revealed that she had been to her first Eskimo dance and that she would soon have the technical capability to post pictures and videos.  Her friends down in the lower 48 are missing her and are pleased that she is willing to share her great Alaska adventure.  Good luck, dear Lannie!

        Skyline students with upcoming birthdays are Dana Harden who will be nine years old on the 25th.  Rowdy Woods will be ten on the 29th and Jenna Brixey will be eight on the 31st.  She shares her birthday with Kalyssa Wiseman who will also be eight years old.  Other Champions celebrating in late August are:  Tianna Krider Ogelsby—the 22nd, Drayson Cline—the23rd, Dakota Watts and Daniel Cohen—the 24th, Barbara Krider—the 25th, Rita Krider—the 26th, Wes Smith and Minnie Jo Henson–the 29th, Wayne Anderson—the 30th and then Jenna and Kalyssa on the 31st.  Happy Birthday everybody—all you Champions near and far know how truly special you are!

        Alvie Dooms was sitting front row center at the Summerscape 2015, the concert conducted by Barbara Deegan on Saturday at the Ava Performing Arts Center.  It was a lovely program full of Salieri and Mozart.  Proceeds from the concert performed by 29 professional musicians from symphonies and universities around Missouri and Arkansas go toward The Ozark String Project, a rural string program providing affordable string lessons for local students.  Mr. Dooms has a great granddaughter attending the String Project and being taught by concertmaster Danyal Collins.  He also spends some of his time and considerable talent supporting the project.  It was reported on Thursday evening at the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam that Wayne Anderson has had a heart attack and is in Mercy Hospital at this time.  Banjo music has taken a real hit.  His friends and admirers all wish him well.  Cards can be sent to Wayne Anderson, Mercy Hospital, 1235 East Cherokee, Springfield, MO 65804.

        It was a treat to see Betty and Dale Thomas down at the Historic Emporium on Wednesday.  They are year round busy people.  On this trip they brought the flyer advertising the Pioneer Descendants Gathering which will be October 3rd and 4th this year.  This is the 14th year for this sterling event that features all kinds of exhibits and demonstrations of the 1860 to 1960 era.  Lots of live music and good food and the chance to appreciate the past and to see old friends are all good reasons to venture over to the Edge of the Earth.  It will be interesting to see if Betty and Dale have been experiencing the odd situation that is becoming evident in Champion.  There are almost no black walnuts on any of the big trees in the area.  Someone will ask Harley if he has ever seen anything like this the next time he comes back.  He was at the Emporium Wednesday.  He had been in town a few days to mow his grass and get more hay put up.  He went home to Elmwood to admire Barbara’s new jewelry and to catch up on the chores she has in store for him there.

        Guess which beloved past President of the United States asked, “What are the things that you can’t see that are important?  I would say justice, truth, humility, service, compassion, love.  You can’t see any of those, but they are the guiding lights of life.”  Send your guess to or to The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  Molly Ivins said, “When politicians start talking about large groups of their fellow Americans as ‘enemies,’ it is time for a quiet stir of alertness.  Polarizing people is a good way to win an election, and also a good way to wreck a country.”  The Heritage Foundation describes itself as a research and education institution—a think tank—whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.  It was founded and supported by billionaires starting with Joseph Coors in the 1970’s all the way to the Koch brothers today.  If these super wealthy people are using their valuable time to think about the well-being of the people who are just living their day-to-day lives out in rural Douglas County, then it is incumbent upon us, if not to be grateful, to at least pay attention and evaluate their ideas and to consider who benefits from the policies they promote.  Ms. Ivins is right.  Polarizing the population is a dangerous thing.  This was brought home neatly in a response to last week’s The Champion News article.  At the end of a long thoughtful statement the writer said, “I find both sides can be intolerant.  A good idea I heard the other day—how about one Day of National Forgetting About My Rights or My Views and Doing Something Nice for Someone or Sitting Down With Someone we Disagree With.”  He goes on to say, “That, to me, is the Old Hippy Way.”  The Old Hippy Way of peace and love is quintessential civility.  Civility is worth the effort.  When the voting is done, we will still be friends and neighbors—fellow Americans.

        “As the soft breezes blow through the meadow I go, past the mill with the moss covered stone.  Up the pathway I climb through the woods and the vines to be with my Colleen Malone.”  The General is learning this song.  He lives over in Vanzant, but he is a Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

August 10, 2015

August 10, 2015

CHAMPION—August 10, 2015

        Once again the summer social season has been capped off in a delightful way by the Skyline Volunteer Fire Department Picnic.  All the hard work and preparations that go into making this such a splendid event have paid off again.  Neither the Ozark Empire Fair, the Fair in Ava, nor the Dog Days of summer kept the picnic goers from their good time.  Ray Bradley stepped up on the stage and held it firmly down for the first musical interlude on Friday.  The scheduled band canceled at the last moment giving the audience an unexpected treat.  What a repertory!  Fending off compliments, he said that his wife protests that he knows all the words to hundreds of songs, but cannot remember a three item grocery list.  Later in the evening he led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem at the conclusion of the dedication of the new flagpole.  Pete Proctor and Chaplain Howard Anderson raised the flag for the first time on the flagpole donated by the Mountain Grove American Legion Post 30.  The music, fun and games kept on as people who see each other rarely caught up on their visiting.  The cake walkers, silent auction bidders and bingo afficionados all enjoyed themselves immensely, but at the end of the picnic probably no one was as happy as Sally Prock.  She won the wonderful “Broken Dishes” quilt made by Ruth Hamilton.  It is lovely to see Sally win.  She supports every good cause in the area.  Congratulations Sally and to the Skyline VFD for another fine picnic.

The Pledge

        It was good to see Larry Wrinkles and Harley Krider sitting together chatting on Friday evening.  One thought that if Punk Hicks were to show up they might give the crowd a treat with some of their legendary harmonies.  Vivian Floyd and her friend Albert were down from Rogersville for the occasion.  Stalwart young firefighters stepped up to help change a flat at the picnic.  It is nice to see that generosity and willingness to help in young people.  Any number of kindnesses goes unnoticed.  The Nettleton sisters, Eva, Shirley and Helen, were not in attendance together this year as they have been for many years.  Mrs. Eva Powell is currently receiving her mail at Marshfield Care Center-D-2, 800 South White Oak Street, Marshfield, MO 65706.  She always loved the picnic and is known for remembering birthdays and anniversaries with thoughtful cards.  Hopes are that her mailbox is full as her friends wish her well.

        Foster and Kalyssa were a big help at the picnic, though Foster skipped out Saturday night to help his dear old Dad celebrate his birthday.  Roger has slipped decidedly into his late forties.  When Foster becomes a teenager, his Dad will be an old man of fifty.  Fifty is starting to seem young to some.  Jaycee Hall is a kindergarten student at Skyline this year.  Her birthday is on August 10th.  Her classmate, Cryslynn Bradshaw, celebrates on the 12th of August.  There is good news that Skyline student, Jacob Coon, is improving steadily and hopes are that he will be healthy and ready for it when school starts up soon.  Teri Ryan reported that great volunteers were on hand on the week end to put some good energy into the school.  Ms. Curtis, her parents, sister, and children constructed a new closet in the gym on Saturday.  The Brixey family put new rocks (gravel) in front of the school and spread more out on the playground.  Ms. Ryan asks if there are others who might have the time and energy to spend helping with improvements to the wonderful little school.  The youngsters growing up in Skyline will likely be many of the residents here in years to come.  They will be running the fire department and will be the farmers and business people who will keep the community alive.  Many will go on to other parts to contribute in other ways, but they will all have this foundation of a solid start to their education.  They will have what it takes to compete in a changing world that is vastly different from the world their parents knew.  An educated population is the hope of the Nation.

        Linda’s Almanac says that the 18th through the 22nd will all be excellent days for planting crops that bear their yield above the ground.  There is plenty of growing season left for greens of all kinds, so let the fall garden be the one that sets off the bragging.  Unusual weather patterns have made parts of some gardens flourish while others parts have suffered blight, mold and a failure to thrive.  The next change of the moon will be good for turnips (in case Lem and Ned come to visit) and beets (a jar of pickled beets brought $6.00 in the silent auction at the picnic) and a good time to plant garlic for next year’s harvest (to keep yourself healthy and your dishes savory).

        The 70th anniversary of the atomic bomb is much in the thoughts of people the world over.  Champion Rich Heffern has written a very revealing piece about the maintenance of nuclear weapons here in the United States.  He ends it by saying, “It seems as though–70 years (this month) after the first nuclear weapons were used in war—that we haven’t outgrown our need for mass-suicide.”  It is a sobering thought.  Some in Congress seem more interested in defeating the administration than in the safety and welfare of the whole world.  While Rupert Murdock’s world view is spewed relentlessly across the land with its fear mongering and bigotry, calm intelligent people work toward a diplomatic solution to the difficult issue.  The trouble is there is just not all that much money to be made with diplomacy.  Where is the profit for Brown and Root, Haliburton and Blackwater?  So much money is made in war that it is hard for some to find a reason not to fight.  Poor people voting against their own interest believing that they will someday not be poor are on the losing side.  War costs.  It costs the lives and futures of young people who are motivated by love of Country.  It cost the education of our children as schools are starved to feed the war machine and it cost the security of the most vulnerable at home.  An informed citizenry at the ballot box is what will make the difference.  Register, dad gum it, and Vote.

        A group of friends sitting over by the bingo parlor on Friday night joined in as the band played “This Old House.”  They were particularly good at the chorus singing, “Ain’t gonna need this house no longer/  Ain’t gonna need this house no more/ Ain’t got time to fix the shingles/ Ain’t got time to fix the floor… ”  The song is poignant and brings to mind the beauty of home—the most venerated of all human notions.  “This old house was home and shelter as we fought the storms of life.”  It rang with laughter and heard many shouts.  That is the way it is, still, in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

August 3, 2015

August 3, 2015

CHAMPION—August 3, 2015

Family fun at the Mill Pond

        When the family comes traipsing in by the carload with armloads of groceries and readiness for fun, time gets suspended and memories boil up from the past as new ones flower in the moment.  Some are fortunate to live in the midst of their kinfolks, but others languish solitarily, sometimes for years, until the generations come pouring in from distant parts.  Hearts swell.  Young folks lend their hands to farm chores, weeding ferociously, digging potatoes, and then there is all the fun in the kitchen.  Sweet.

        Pete Proctor called to say that he and the fire chief had been busy digging holes (pick and shovel) and filling them with concrete (12 bags) down at the Skyline VFD Picnic grounds.  Their purpose was to prepare the place for the setting of a flag pole sponsored by the American Legion Post 30.  Eldon Mackey, retired from the U.S. Air Force, is a member of the American Legion and has made flagpoles for the Vanzant Community Building and for the Holt Picnic grounds.  This one will be 20 feet tall with a stone marker at the foot with the date and dedication information.  It will be located at the east end of the stage.  Chaplin Howard Anderson will do the dedication as part of the ceremony surrounding the presentation of the colors.  It will all start with the Star Spangled Banner at about 8 o’clock on Friday evening, August 7th at the Skyline Picnic.  The picnic will start at 6:00 and everyone is welcome to attend.  The music line up will be Backyard Bluegrass, Big Creek, Finley River Boys, Kaylee Downs, Turner Brothers and Whetstone.  Bring lawn chairs for your comfort and pies and cakes to donate for the cake walk and the concession stand.  Picnic food is always wonderful.  Friends and family are glad that Teresa Wrinkles still makes Esther’s coconut cream pie.  Auxiliary members wish someone would join who has the quilt ticket sales ability of their old friend, but this quilt is so lovely the tickets almost sell themselves.  Broken Dishes is the pattern.  Ruth Hamilton did an excellent job of the piecing and Twin Valley Quilting stippled it beautifully.  It will go to some lucky winner on Saturday night of the picnic.

        Her friends and former students will be pleased to know that Lannie Hinote arrived in Anchorage, Alaska safely on Sunday afternoon.  Her new adventure begins. She will be teaching in Mountain Village which is somewhere in the Yukon.  The courage it takes to pull up stakes and start anew elsewhere will serve as an example to all the young people she has influenced over these many years.  Skyline students will miss her, but will be happy to keep in touch.  Terri Ryan has reported that the new water fountains have been installed at the school.  The Skyline School Foundation together with grants from the Douglas County Health Department made this possible and the students will benefit greatly.  She also says that James Brixey has volunteered to remove some of the stumps from around the school.  Over the years a number of big trees have been removed and now all trace of them will be gone.  Terri says it will make the school look so much nicer and will be safer.

        Wednesday at the Emporium was a pleasant experience last week.  Bob and Ethel Leach were back after an absence of a couple of weeks during which time they were engaged in looking for their young bull who has developed an attraction to some neighboring cattle.  Once he discovered that he could get out of his confinement, he has been regularly absent.  He is a nice young bull who sires small calves easy to birth and has some other sterling qualities all of which will benefit the new owner after his trip to the sale barn when they catch him again.  Meanwhile back on the farm, Bob reports having harvested 328 big round bales of hay on 40 acres.  8.1 bales to the acre is a good count.  Last year the field produced 210 bales.  This year May, June, and July rainfall totals up in the headwaters of Fox Creek were 12, 11, and 14 ½ inches respectively.  Almartha reported only 11 inches for July.  Deward’s granddaughter, Jenny, happened in and visited with Ethel.  The two of them share a great grandfather, great for Ethel and great, great for Jenny.  They have stories of the gentleman to share, one James Beldon Henson, however it will take coaxing.  For the time being, it seems that they will just share them with each other.  There is written history.  Perhaps they can be persuaded to part with a few gems.

        Birthdays bring out the best in people.  Children having them are on their best behavior with the notion of a party, a cake or a present in the balance.  Celebrating other people’s birthdays is a way to acknowledge a friend and a loved one.  Keeping a birthday book is an easy activity.  It is a great gift from one generation to the next and encourages consideration of others.  It is a surprise to children sometimes to learn that everyone has a birthday and most everyone thinks they are special days.  Elitta January celebrated her birthday on August 1st.  She has been gone from the community for several years now, but is well remembered by many and loved still.  Seamus Heffern is a big kid now, heading into high school, celebrating on the 2nd.  Caleb Harden is a kindergarten student at Skyline.  His birthday is on August 5th.  Lavon Carter of Ava celebrates on the 6th of the month.  She has a lovely smile, a beautiful daughter, great grandchildren and a son who is a judge.  The Nation’s 44th President will be 54 years old on August 4th.  He was born in 1961.  Francis Scott Key was born on August 1, 1779.  He wrote the Nation’s great song:  “Oh! Say, can you see……?”

        Someone turned an antique manure spreader into a float for the Mountain Grove Alumni parade back early in July.  It had bucket seats and was positioned at the end of the parade.  Pete and some other fellow rode back there through the whole parade.  Eva Powell saw him and waved.  She was there with her sisters in front of Richard’s Brothers.  Someone yelled as the float passed, “We ain’t got a shovel big enough to get you two out.”  Ms. Powell laughed about it.  She has had some health issues and will be in the Marshfield Care Center for a spell.  Her friends send her best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Family fun on the Veranda

        The broad veranda on the Recreation of the Historic Emporium has been the scene of many a family photo.  If you would like your own family photo to be included in The Champion News website, send it to The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or to  Bring the whole bunch down to the wild, wooly banks of Old Fox Creek to get a good perspective on family and community in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

July 27, 2015

July 27, 2015

CHAMPION—July 27, 2015

A mysterious mist rises above Clever Creek north of Champion.

        Champions remember the extreme cold from last January when the polar vortex of the previous January was still all the talk.  Frozen pipes and slick roads were topics of conversation.  Now it is the heat and humidity.  The unusual weather, heat or cold gets attention and comment, but moderate days when no one is particularly uncomfortable can go by weeks in a row without anyone saying a word.  It is the extremes that define the ordinary.  Ordinarily things in Champion are just fine.

        Skyline teacher, Terri Ryan writes, “Paint Day!  If you are available Saturday, August 1, we could use your help.  We’d like to use the remainder of the paint received through the True Value Hardware Grant.  Painting will begin at 9:00am and go until it’s finished.  Your help is greatly appreciated!”  The last time they did this the whole gym got painted and the next time you have occasion to be there, you will be impressed.  It is very bright—red and white.  Feel free to bring your brushes or other favorite painting tools; though there will likely be plenty available.  Sami McCleary is planning to be there for a little while Saturday.  She will be at the Skyline Fire Station on Friday mornings so that anyone in the area may drop off a donation for the silent auction that will be held at the Skyline Picnic on August 7th & 8th.  Any good thing that someone might like to buy is welcome.  If you have something that you would like to donate and would like to make arrangements to have it picked up, contact Sami at 417-543-4947.  There is a lot of hard work going on already to make this another one of those special summer events.  Bakers will be getting their recipes ready and shopping for ingredients to share their pies with the concession stand and their cakes and cookies with the cake walk.  It is a great community that comes out to support its little school and its little volunteer fire department.  Skyline/Champions.

        The duo of Wayne and Jerry made a big splash at the Vanzant Musical on Thursday according to Cyber General Upshaw.  He was surely speaking of Wayne Anderson and Jerry Wagner.  Music lovers who missed this performance are sorry they did, but are glad to know that Wayne and Jerry are making it out to the Bluegrass Jam from time to time.  (This takes place every Thursday with a pot-luck dinner starting at 6:00 over at the Vanzant Community Building.)  More was said about a derailed train and a cow on the track, but the references were so obscure and truncated that it would be hard for someone who was not there to make heads or tails of it.  The lesson here is to get up and get out and go.  You are liable to run into Elmer Banks there and that spells fun.  It is a real gift to the neighborhood that the musicians are willing to share their talents in this friendly, neighborly way.

        How big do copperheads get?  Various life sciences sources say that the adult is a medium size snake between two and three feet in length.  Some fellows over at the Recreation of the Historic Emporium were talking about copperheads the other day.  One had a loose board on a porch step for some while and was suddenly in the mood to fix it when he discovered a good sized copperhead living under it.  Another talked about having stretched a recently killed copperhead out almost the length of a pick-up tail gate.  It was speculated that a person could kill a couple of different snakes to give the illusion of one enormous one by discarding the tail of one and the head of the other.  Mr. Dooms told of once having spread one across the desk of the school superintendent who was adamant that they never exceeded two feet in length.  The generous rainfall this summer may be causing snakes to get bigger due to plentiful food.  Information has been published in medical journals for almost a decade, about the cancer-fighting properties on the Southern Copperheads venom.  A protein in the venom called contortrostatin (CN) causes a disruption in the tumor cell’s ability to adhere to and invade neighbor cells while also inhibiting the development of new blood vessels required to sustain the tumor.  Although good things can come from unlikely sources, Champions and visitors to the area are cautioned to be alert.  Though not considered to be fatal, a bite of one of these pit vipers can be serious and recovery can take a long time.

        “Old man, take a look at my life.  I’m a lot like you were.”  Neil Young is getting to be an old man.  He looks like someone from around these parts, kind of rangy and maybe getting a little frail, but he has always looked like that.  He still has a lot of spunk about him.  He has recently produced a short documentary called “Seeding Fear” having to do with Monsanto which is now controlling over 90% of the soybean and corn growth in America.  Family farms are being replaced by giant agri corp farms across the whole country.  The documentary was also timed to bring attention to a House of Representatives bill dubbed the Deny Americans the Right to Know, or DARK Act.  “The dark act takes away the rights of those people to vote for or against things like GMO labeling in their states.  It does seem ironic.  If the act is passed, it will truly be a dark day for America.”  He goes on to say that farms and our food sources are in jeopardy and “This has happened on our watch while the country slept, distracted by advertising and false information from the corporations.  Monsanto and others simply pay the politicians for voting their way.  This is because of ‘Citizens United’, a legislation that has made it possible for corporations to have the same rights as people, while remaining immune to people’s laws.”  Being an informed citizen takes some effort and it is probably an impossible task to get it all figured out.  Molly Ivins said it right when she said that there is a real connection between our lives and what those ‘bozos’ do in Washington and in our state capitols.  Our votes do count.

        Sweet corn is coming in by the bushel and potatoes are ready to jump out of the ground.  Every good garden thing is thriving for some gardeners and some gardens are a total bust this year.  It may depend on how much clay is in the soil, or how well it drains, or how many weeds are competing with the vegetables for food and water.  Linda’s Almanac from over at The Plant Place in Norwood says the 2nd and 3rd of August will be favorable for planting root crops, and fine for vine crops.  They will also be good days for transplanting.  Linda’s Almanac is available on line at as well as on the bulletin board at Henson’s Downtown G & G.  There is plenty of growing season left for folks willing to get up early enough in the morning to have the hard work done before the heat sets in.  This kind of heat is dangerous for older folks.  It is easy to become dehydrated.  Come inside and watch the grass grow through the windows.  Or come down to the wide, wild and wooly banks of Old Fox Creek and enjoy the shade up on the spacious veranda.  From there you can see new growth high atop the Behemoth Bee Tree on the South Side of the Square.  You will be in good company in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!