September 19, 2020

CHAMPION—September 17, 2020


Traveling on.

…on the East side of the Square….Sanders, Webster, Feltz

The West Plains Wagon Club rolled in early to Champion on Thursday. They had tried to take a couple of rest stops on their way, but both times had to move on due to traffic on narrow roads. They were happy to reach the Square and to be able to take a leisurely luncheon break. Families of home-schoolers stopped into check out the interesting wagons and the beautiful animals. There were six wagons in the train this time. Jim and Judy Cantrell headed up the procession and were lucky to have one of the Keller brothers drive part of the way. Ken Felts had another Keller brother take his reins for a while. Marvin and Nancy Webster came next in their big wagon. They have made some long trips in this one—once all the way to Wisconsin and back. Jerry Sanders and Tony Amison had a horse in between their two mules in their three-up. Their little traveling companion is part Beagle and something else, Tony says, “…a sweet dog,” a Cracker Jack. David Dinwiddie had horses pulling his wagon. He has been accustomed to driving horses, but this was his first wagon train experience. He says he is having a wonderful time, but will be better outfitted next year. Randal Barnet says he likes riding drag because he can stay far enough in the back to avoid the dust and his fine mules can catch up any time. He has a little dog, Joe, who talks to Randal, but Randal does not tell anyone about it. He said that if he told you about it, you would tell someone else and they would call you a liar for the rest of your life. He is a thoughtful man, an Arkansawyer from down Viola way. Nancy Webster had the sad news to report that their long time wagon train friend, Shelby Blades, had passed away a while back. The wagon trains are getting shorter as the years go by, but it is encouraging to have newcomers like David Dinwiddie join in and to have youngsters like the Keller brothers interested in the art. We will see what next year brings while we enjoy again having had the chance to see something lovely out of the past roll down the road. Happy Trails to you, until we meet again!

…on the South Side of the Square…Cantrell, Barnet, and Dinwiddie

Former Skyline teacher, Lannie Hinote, posted last week that it was 28 degrees in Marshall, Alaska, and that she was looking forward to fall. Up in Sheridan, Wyoming, Marge and Doug enjoyed their first frost on Friday. They had picked their crops already and had them ripening under newspaper in their basement. Marge said that fires burning in southeastern Montana had blown some smoke into their county and that there were some fires in Wyoming south and west of them, but that all was well with them. Many of us have friends and families out on the West Coast who are dealing with the devastation of the wild fires. The smoke engulfing the coastal cities is being very hard on everyone, especially those already having breathing issues. By Thursday, rain in Oregon had helped improve the air quality and mitigated some of the fire hazard. The rest of the coast is still under siege and much in the thoughts of Champions.

Every once in a while something unexpected and pleasant happens. Such was the case for Alvin Barnhart recently. He learned that he had twelve chances to win the amazing No-2020-Skyline Picnic quilt, purchased for him by his friend, Hovey down in Houston, Texas. They were Mountain Grove High School buddies a while back. Hovey wrote that Mountain Grove was competing against West Plains in football and “on the first play, our friend, Alvin, was knocked unconscious. The first half we were giving it 110%, playing for our friend, Alvin. Even though West Plains had a superior team, Mountain Grove was leading at the half. The second half we got worn down by a team that had more talent and depth. Mountain Grove lost.” Hovey was sorry the Champion School Reunion had been cancelled, so he did not make the trip back home this year. He also bought quilt tickets for his Champion cousin living on a Centennial Henson Farm, who said, “That is nice of Hovey and Dawn. They have always been wonderful family and visited my Mom for years when they came back home for reunions.” Meanwhile, it made a nice spot in Alvin’s day and he said to tell Hovey, “Thank you,” and said that he would do something nice for Hovey someday. He will find out if he is the winner on October 1st. Marge Carter sent a picture of the quilt to Doug’s daughter, Tammy, and they are both buying tickets through the mail. So is Theresa Howard up in New Vienna, Ohio. Alvin has competition.

These beautiful cool days have gardeners bring in the sheaves. It is a good feeling and great to be able to share the harvest. Whether or not you have vegetables to share, it is well worth the time to check in with friends and family who are still isolating due to the pandemic. Frances Banks was up for a nice phone visit the other day. She is feeling grateful for her family living close by. She misses Elmer, as do all his Champion friends. He could spin a yarn from here to yonder and there was always some laughter around him. Frances has a good sense of humor too and plenty of her own stories. Glen Branstetter was talking to a friend of his over near Hartville and said, “You’ve told that story so many times you are about to believe it.” Champions have asked again to hear the saga of Waterhole Ike and the IRS.

More good news is that we can cast our ballot for the November 3rd election as early as September 22nd! We can just go to the County Clerk’s office and exercise our franchise. The fifty days between now and the election will be noisy and contentious, so voting early will let a lot of that hyperbole pass us by. At this stage of the game, it is probably a rare individual who has not made up his mind. About half of the voters will be disappointed and it will be up to the other half to be gracious. As to the 46.9% of the eligible voters who did not bother to vote last time, maybe you want to rethink it. The more of us who participate in our Democracy, the better it will work for us. Champions! Looking on the Bright Side!


September 11, 2020

CHAMPION—Labor Day, 2020


Wagons on the Square

The first order of Champion business is to say, you may never know how a small, kind word can lift the heart of a person. Everyone can use a little pat on the back occasionally. It is free and easy to be pleasant. Warmed hearts thank you.

Last of the summer’s hummers?

The West Plains Wagon Club will meander through Champion again on September 17th. It is a local mule train tradition going back decades. The Gee Haw Club out of Viola, Arkansas often joins the outfit as it takes off from West Plains on a Monday for the 100 mile trip to Mansfield. They generally pull into the Champion Square around lunch time on Thursday. They do not mind having spectators meet them at Champion to enjoy seeing their interesting outfits and their fine animals. They kind of like it. In recent years, there have been as many as 14 wagons and 21 outriders and as few as four wagons with no outriders. It will be exciting to see them roll in and to hear their stories of the trail. Look around the page to find many pictures and stories of the West Plains Wagon Club.

The Nation pays tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership—the American worker. The idea of the holiday may have originated with the secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners or the secretary of the International Association of Machinists. One was McGuire and the other Maguire. Apart from the holiday, benefits brought to us by unions are things we take for granted now, like the eight hour work day and child labor laws. The vital force of labor brings us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. The holiday has been the final summer ‘hurrah,’ with boating parties, picnics and family gatherings for 132 years now. Hurrah!

Fall garden spider.

A friend reminds us that September is the first of the ‘ber’ months. The full ‘Corn Moon’ was Wednesday, September 2nd. That day also marked 75 years since VJ Day when World War II ended. The Herald’s story about Ernie Pyle probably opened the eyes of many who have no personal experience with the arduousness of warfare. The clear language and attention to detail in his column gave families back home a sense of ease, a way to be in touch; the way the smartphone does today. That Wednesday found Veterans on the wide veranda, as it often does, and stories were told. Some of them might have been a little farfetched and may require some investigation before reporting them as fact. The Prominent Champion, when asked if a person might be lying, said, “He probably wouldn’t lie to you, but he’d haul you a load.” Some stories are so good they bear telling again. Such is the one about Waterhole Ike, a boar hog with a Social Security number, a single head of household with seven dependents. He might have lived over just south of Goodville. This would have been (was) in the early 1970s.

Young black swallowtail larvae eating parsley.

Next Wednesday will be the Diez y Seis de Septembre! That is the day in 1810 when Miguel Hidalgo gave a speech motivating people to revolt against the Spanish regime. Hidalgo was executed in 1811, but Mexico finally got independence on September 28, 1821. By 1836, Texas won its independence from Mexico. During its short tenure as a Republic, there was discourse among its leaders much as we find here in the USA today. They just used more elegant language. “You prate about the faults of other men, while the blot of foul unmitigated treason rests upon you. You…canting hypocrite, whom the waters of Jordan could never cleanse from your political and moral leprosy.” Wow. Sam Houston was more than a little peeved with David Burnet on account of the agreement he made with Santa Anna giving him safe passage home in exchange for ceasing all hostilities immediately and withdrawing his troops south of the Rio Grande. Many/most had wanted to see Santa Anna hanged. Burnet said of Houston that he “grumbled ungraciously, was hard to please, and spent all of his time giving orders and collecting souvenirs.” A friend suggested a great Merle Haggard song for the porch players. “ …When a President goes thru the White House door and does what he says he’ll do, we’ll all be drinking that free bubble up and eating that Rainbow Stew.” Leonard Peltier said, “The injustice you allow against others will become the injustice that comes against you.” This marks his 44th year in prison for something he did not do.

Glen Branstetter was so accustomed to traveling the countryside with his Kitty Clover merchandise; he hardly knows how to stay home. He said that, up until recently, he had some place to go every night of the week to hear music. He is still going and would go more if there were more places to go. Otherwise, he is cooking and watching the birds. Country folks watch the birds too, and the cows, horses, dogs, groundhogs, squirrels, rabbits, lizards, turtles, snakes and spiders, not to mention the bugs and butterflies. Ah! The bucolic charm of Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Wilbur and friend.

September 4, 2020

CHAMPION—August 31, 2020


Shades of The Ancient Bee Tree, 2008 (inset) and 2015.

The cancellation of the Champion School Reunion, scheduled for many years on the Saturday of Labor Day week-end, seems especially sad due to a cool and pleasant weather forecast.  The Ancient Bee Tree, that was first base when they were in school, used to provide ample shade for the crowd to spread their lavish pot-luck luncheon and to enjoy a long afternoon of visiting and reminiscing.  Since the tree was ‘pruned’ in 2015, it seems each year has been hotter than the last, so a cool day would have been welcome—maybe next year.

Snowbird, Doug Larrabee of Sheridan, Wyoming, enjoyed a recent sojourn in Champion.  Marge sent him off with a batch of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.  He had not seen the photos of the near-Champion bears on the website until he returned home to Marge.  She says he wants to know where the picture of the mamma bear and her cubs was taken.  Permission to post the pictures came with the caveat that the precise location not be divulged.  So the answer to Doug is that they were not at his Champion retreat, but were somewhere within a two or three mile radius of Downtown Champion.  The Cowboy says his game cameras are full of them dancing.  They have been spotted in Vanzant and over in Smith’s blackberry patch in Champion-West, as well as near Wolf Pen Hollow and Tar Button Road up Brushy Knob way.  The Missouri Department of Conservation has a feature on its website that shows where bears have been sighted.  Find a good article in the archives of the Douglas County Herald, February 20, 2020, about being ‘bear aware.’  Do you have any bears in Wyoming, Doug?  Marge requested tickets for the No-2020-Skyline Picnic Quilt, which were dispatched to her immediately via the wonderful United States Postal Service.  A favorite local retiree from that illustrious organization is pretty sure she will be the winner of the beautiful quilt, but everyone is a potential winner, especially the Skyline Volunteer Fire Department.  The drawing is not until October 1st, so there is plenty of time for Marge and others to get their tickets in the mail to Skyline VFD, Rt. 72 Box 254, Norwood, MO 65717.

Every once in a while something unexpected and pleasant happens.  Such was the case for Alvin Barnhart on Wednesday.  He learned that he had twelve chances to win the amazing No-2020-Skyline Picnic quilt, purchased for him by his friend, Hovey down in Houston, Texas.  They were Mountain Grove High School buddies a while back.  Hovey was sorry the Champion School Reunion had been cancelled, so he did not make the trip back home this year.  He also bought quilt tickets for his Champion cousin living on a Centennial Henson Farm, who said, “That is nice of Hovey and Dawn.  They have always been wonderful family and visited my Mom for years when they came back home for reunions.”  Meanwhile, it made a nice spot in Alvin’s day and he said to tell Hovey, “Thank you,” and said that he would do something nice for Hovey someday.

The fall turnips are about ready to thin so the remaining ones can plump up for Lem and Ned if they make their circuit of good works this fall.  They are a couple of rusty-ankled old boys who like to do the chores about the place that the old man is not interested in doing.  They do not really ‘hire out’ so much as they ‘help out,’ and they really like turnips.  These lovely rainy days will be good for the turnips and everything else that has been distressed during recent dry, hot days.  The humming bird feeders are seeing less action lately as the southern migration has begun.  There may be a few stragglers hanging around until early October, so Champions will leave out a feeder or two.  It has been a nice summertime chore to keep them clean and filled.  We have but 21 days left of summer and everything’s okay.

A cool Wednesday out on the broad Veranda at the Historic Emporium had Chase’s grandmother singing, “You are my sunshine” with the sometimes porch band.  She complains that she cannot play an instrument, but she can pat her foot and she has a lovely voice and a wonderful feel for harmony.  A visitor with a smile suggested a great song that he thought was by Bobby Bear, but it turns out to be another of Merle Haggard’s gems—“Rainbow Stew.”  It uses those three wonderful chords in G and will get some porch play one day.  Thanks!

Mary will be glad to know that the Mystery of the Milk Can has been solved.  Those initials, CMD, are the signature of artist Charlene M. Dupre.  She does not recall having painted the milk can as the date is ‘09’ and she has painted many things since then.  She is a snowbird too now, spending summers in Norwood and winters in Florida.  She taught at the Norwood School for a number of years.  She and her sister, Linda, have booths in the new flea market in Mountain Grove called ‘Out of Time’ in the building that previously held Crowley’s Home Works on West 11th Street.  Most likely you can find more of her work there.

Leonard Peltier has been in prison for 44 years.  His birthday is September 12th.  If you want to send him a birthday wish, you must do it on white paper in a white envelope.  Do not send cards, photographs or any colored paper.  You must put your full name and (return) address on the upper left corner or on the back of the envelope.  His address is:

Leonard Peltier
USP Coleman 1
P.O. Box 1033
Coleman, FL 33521

Leonard Peltier

Hopes are that the recovery process will go smoothly for our Mountain Grove neighbors who suffered significant property damage in the big week end wind storm.  Much needed rain graced lands south and west without the destruction.  “The tree which moves some to tears of joy is, in the eyes of others, only a green thing which stands in the way…As a man is, so he sees.”  That is according to William Blake.  Someone else said, “Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is.”  A bully says, “Real power is—I don’t even want to use the word—fear.”  We are unafraid in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


August 28, 2020

CHAMPION—August 27, 2020


Wilbur the Woodchuck

Virginia Canada lives up in Columbia these days, but she has deep roots in the Denlow/Vanzant/Champion metroplex. She graciously shared the “We Are the World” video on the 35th anniversary of the original performance. She said, “This touched my heart, a beautiful song…we need this feeling of love and compassion now.” She just celebrated 25 years with her sweetheart and is full of the optimism that comes with true love and security. Her positivity is contagious and we appreciate it. John Lennon said, “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”

Mary Goolsby and her handsome companion made the journey to Champion on Wednesday to secure their tickets for the “No-2020-Skyline VFD Picnic Quilt.” “Wow! What a beauty!” The drawing will be October 1st, and Mary is hoping to be the winner. She will tell you that she is a very lucky person. They have always been avid supporters of the Skyline Volunteer Fire Department. Several years ago Mary won an old fashioned milk can at the picnic. Now that they are no longer in use in the dairy business, the once common items have become nice porch decorations, ash trays and have sometimes been filled with concrete to support a rural mail box. This one was adorned with a painting of the Old Champion Store–a nice piece of nostalgia. The artist signed the work, “CMD 09.” Mary would like to know who the artist is. It is a mystery—Milk Can Mystery, bringing to mind the Milk Cow Blues. Mike Satterfield’s swinging fiddle has brought that one to the Vanzant Jam on a number of memorable occasions when Mary and her handsome companion were in attendance. Recently the two of them have been showing off his beautiful 1946 Studebaker pickup. It is his favorite on account of his having been born himself that very year. Any number of Champions can claim that distinction, but without that fine ride.

Judy and Eldon Russel were unexpected and very welcome guests at The Historic Emporium down on the wide wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek on Wednesday, and more so for having brought the Dora Pie Queen, Roberta the Chanteuse with them, together with her beautiful old guitar, which came to her when she was in high school in Dora. The first song she ever sang in public was “Silver Threads and Golden Needles.” She still sings it, as well as “There Is a Time” and “Ghost Riders in the Sky” and many others. It is hard to hold back when it comes to “Yippie ti yea! Yippie ti yo o!,” though she has been seen to smile when others join her for this refrain. The General agreed that her presence had increased the quality of the mid-week recital by more than one hundred percent. The next time Judy Russel comes to the Wednesday Open Air Sometimes Porch Jam, she will be regaled with an a capella version of “Fallaste Corazon,” a Mexican song which caught her attention once at the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam.

Barbara Krider had a beautiful birthday up in Elmwood, IL. “Thanks to my daughters for the lovely flowers and dinner out. I love them both for their thoughtfulness.” Her sister-in-law, Reta Krider, also just enjoyed a birthday. It is a joy to see families celebrate each other.

A thoughtful Champion from up Tar Button Road shares a good thought from her daughter concerning internet behavior: “Post wisely over the next months. Contribute to discourse, not division. Check your facts. Resist memes and cheap digs. Create beautiful content. We can transcend the bitterness and be better, even when we disagree.” A Champion living now in Springfield, seconds that message. From a prominent Champion Spouse comes a thought to ponder: “There will always be a ‘lie’ in believe, an ‘over’ in lover, an ‘end’ in friend, an ‘us’ in trust, and an ‘if ’in life!” Another Old Champion thinks about the advice, “take a sad song and make it better.”

Was it a mistake to name Wilbur? If he is the critter eating the sweet potato plants he might have to go. It might be easy enough to ‘4-10’ him out of his tree, but maybe deer are feasting on the succulent sweet potato foliage. A deterrent has been placed over the sweet potato patch, so time will tell. Hopes are that Wilbur is innocent.

Some good advice comes from a postal worker in Texas. He has been with the USPS for 27 years and says the thing we can do as individuals to insure our mail moves quickly is to use the full nine digit zip code as you address your mail and to make it big and bold. So, if you can solve the mystery of who painted Mary’s milk can, or if you have histories or suggestions to share, or inquiries, address them to: The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717-9446. Be sure to include your nine digits on your return address to make it easier for your correspondents to speed your important mail to you. It may take some learning and adjusting to make this a new habit in our routine communications, but learning and adjusting seems to be the mode-o-day. Learning and adjusting is what we are asking of our school administrators, teachers, staff and students as school opens. Good luck to the Skyline Tigers! Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!

The sweet potato patch.

August 20, 2020

CHAMPION—August 17, 2020


Nearby Bears

It was an unusual time in Champion and surrounding areas on Monday morning as residents were not in their second day of recovery from the Skyline VFD Picnic. In years past the post-picnic mantra has been: “Great picnic! Whew!” Sarah Cloud, who has deep Champion connections, lives in Hurricane, Utah. She said she still has glassware that she won in a dime toss at the Skyline VFD Picnic in 1992. “Grandma Bonnie always tried to bring us kids down for it. Sure miss being close enough to drop in.” She is glad to be getting tickets in the mail for the “No 2020 Skyline Picnic Quilt.” It will not be as much fun as the picnic, but she is helping to keep the Skyline VFD going so there can be a 2021 Skyline Picnic.

No 2020 Skyline Picnic Quilt

Joy Ann Coonts Firrell reported “Hurricane in Iowa” and posted pictures of widespread destruction caused by 100mph hurricane-level winds that raged across Iowa and Illinois last week. The governor said that 10 million acres of cropland was damaged, as well as many silos and much other damage. Recovery will take some time. On her next visit to Champion she will have stories to tell about the Derecho. She will be getting some tickets too, just to help her remember her friends and family in Booger County who are wishing her well.

Diane Strickland spent ten years in Michigan, but she is back home in the Ozarks now and living over in West Plains. She makes a trip to Champion now and again just for nostalgia and for closeness with family. She will be interested to know that somewhere within a radius of few miles of the Historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square in Downtown Champion live multiple black bears. She should have been around Wednesday when The General sang his special version of “The Bear Went Over the Mountain.” His grandsons denied having taught him the song. It’s a good idea to sing when you are out in the wooly woods of deep Central Booger County. Sing out loud and, if you see a bear, try hard not to run.

In a bit of good news, a Champion from Champion-East found the horse that he had thought might have been stolen the night before. “False alarm! There is a swamp on my west border, about half a mile long and a quarter of a mile wide. I started at the top and worked south. Visibility was about ten feet between plants and vines. After thirty-five minutes I’m hearing branches snapping and Moe about ran me over and out he went back into our pasture.” He thanked friends, near and far, who had commiserated with him in his loss. They joined him in relief. “I’m getting dumber by the day,” he said, but that could be said of all of us. Banjo player, Steve Martin, just had his 75th birthday. He said, “Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when you do criticize him, you’ll be a mile away and have his shoes.”

A Skyline School alumnus writes in to advocate for kindness. “Imagine,” he said, “if the guys that went to high school with young Addison Mitchell McConnell Jr. had only been nice to him, how different he might have turned out.” His class mates at the duPont Manual High School in Louisville Kentucky who grew up together might have been unkind to a newcomer from Athens, Alabama. The girls may have spurned him. Nevertheless, he has become one of the most influential people in the world. One might think that his experience with polio as a young child would have made him compassionate with people who lose their financial security to illness.  He said his family “almost went broke” because of the costs related to his illness.  Well, we do not know what all has happened in his life that has caused him to be the way he is–with all that money and all that influence and still so few good works.  He is only 78, so there is time for him yet.  Bless his heart.

It turns out that it was “The Young and the Restless” that has had the Cowboy’s attention at 11:30 a.m. most weekdays for decades. They have stopped filming now due to the pandemic and have defaulted to old re-runs from years gone by. The Cowboy is aggravated about the whole thing and was spotted in Champion at about 11:30 last Wednesday a little agitated. Agitation is easy these days. A current subject for it might be the lack of broadband internet in rural Douglas County. The White River Valley folks are said to have the money and to have been in the planning for years. Now would be a good time to get it going. Feel free to address other concerns with Senator Blunt at (202) 224-5721, Senator Hawley at (202) 224-6154 and Congressman Smith at (202)225-4404. They appreciate your call.

Call some old friends or neighbors today. You never know whose spirit you might lift. Find out about their gardens and tell them if you have seen bears. Ask them to tell you something for which they are grateful. The answer may be something as simple as wildflowers growing by the garden fence. One Old Champion is grateful that, so far, Wilbur has only been interested in walnuts, pokeberries and oregano.

There is no glory in defeating a weak opponent. The combination of events and circumstances (the virus, bad weather, aggravation, disappointment, isolation, politics, unrequited love, etc.) has produced a ripsnorting humdinger of an opponent. We endeavor to persevere, helping each other in whatever ways we can. Nothing makes a person feel better than helping someone else. Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!

Wilbur snacks…


August 13, 2020

CHAMPION–August 10, 2020


Cowboy Jack was heard to say that he heard someone say that the very best time to water the garden is just before sun up. That works a hardship on certain individuals who have become accustomed to a solid eight to ten hours sound sleep between intermittent interruptions. With no cows to milk, no hay to pitch, or chickens to feed or hogs to slop, some Old Champions just get up when they do. Morning has broken. Of course, the Cowboy is a fairly regimented person. Do not attempt to delay his leaving Champion if he is on his way home to his soap opera. Is it “The Days of Our Lives” or “As the World Turns” that has his devotion at precisely 11:00 a.m. each week day? (It turns out, he is a fan of “The Young and The Restless.” He is aggravated now because they are not filming new shows on account of the virus, so they are going back to the beginning of the program with reruns. He came to Champion about 11:30 on Wednesday!) A local Spoon Virtuosi says she does her watering at night. She is the fan of the Roma tomato, for which her esteemed grandfather, on account of their configuration, had a comical bovine anatomical term. They are ripening and that makes her happy which benefits the rest of us on account of her beaming smile. It is contagious.

Almartha’s Bard has gained new favor on account of his infrequent appearances and altered costume. He missed the music of the porch jam because, he said, Lena Bell has moved their scrabble game up to 8:00 A.M. on Wednesday mornings from 7:30 and that she spends a lot of time thumbing through the dictionary trying to beat him. He said her Fiddler had been going to the barber shop for a little while, but once the number of Covid cases began rising in the county, there are 100 now; he is mostly hanging out at home. Hopes are that he has learned some new old songs or remembering ones like “Sitting on Top of the World.”

Go to the mailbox for fun if you have distant grandchildren. Go there for your medications and your bills. The kerfuffle over voting by mail may impact this vital service. We can call Senator Blunt at (202) 224-5721, Senator Hawley at (202) 224-6154 and Congressman Smith at (202)225-4404 to suggest to them that the USPS is imperative for rural people. It needs all the support it can get so that old folks can get their medications and newspapers and so that our much appreciated retired old postal carriers can get their pensions. While you are chatting with our representatives, you might inform them that there are 3,865 people in Douglas County (population 13,373 as of 2018) who receive Social Security as old-age people, survivors and people on disability. That is about 30% of us. Efforts to undermine or defund Social Security will not go over well with Ida Mae and her folks.

While you are making phone calls, remember your old friends who may still be sheltering at home for their health and who might be getting lonesome. You might ask them about elderberries. They are ripening at a ferocious rate. While they are tedious to stem for processing, they are said to have medicinal properties supporting the immune system against the flu and common colds. There are good recipes for elderberry syrup that include ginger, cinnamon and cloves as well as honey or sugar. Your old friends have great storehouses of information to share. Just ask them. One might tell you about Abby and Martha Brewster, a couple of old maids, who had a special recipe for elderberry wine. It is too late now for elderflower fritters, but think about them for next spring. They are a favorite of a favorite nephew.

The recent wonderful rains have made weeding a delight. Why, the weeds fairly jump up into your hand. Even The General has had unusually good success with his garden this year. He says he has tomatoes enough to give away. He attributes this success to having watered the plants during the dry periods. Fall garden crops that can be planted now include beans, beets, spinach and turnips. The Missouri Botanical Garden folks say that spinach may germinate better if the seeds are refrigerated for a week before planting. Popeye the Sailor was often pit against formidable adversaries and was always able to prevail on account of spinach.

The No-Skyline-Picnic-Quilt is getting some good action down at Henson’s G & G in Champion and on The Champion News Facebook page. Distant Champions are receiving tickets and return envelopes in the mail. It will be a surprise to many, but we have until October 1st to generate some much needed revenue for our wonderful volunteer fire department. Some folks are just stopping in the store to donate the dollars they had in their budget for the picnic. Keep a bright hope for better times ahead and take a drive down our beautiful country lanes and out through the amazing country side for a reminder of our good fortune to be Champions! Looking on the Bright Side.


August 7, 2020

CHAMPION–August 3, 2020



Quatrefoil Quilt

The Champion School Reunion has been cancelled for this year.  It has been held on the Saturday before Labor Day for at least 36 years.  Some local old-time Champion may know exactly what year it was started.  This is the first year it will have been cancelled.  The growing number of Covid cases in rural areas and the age of most attendees make this a wise move for this year.  Next year will surely be a different story.  Scroll through the archives here to see past reunions and keep a bright hope for better times ahead.

Connie Freeman and her quilt-guild friends have made many donations to Veterans through their Quilts of Valor program and to other worthy causes over the years.  The Knights of Columbus auctions off one of her quilts every year.  The one she has graciously donated to the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department is a real king size beauty.  The pattern is called Quatrefoil and it is worked in pastel shades of green and blue, made to last.  Her studio is in her lovely home in a remote part of Douglas County.  She is happy to have the volunteers, fire fighters and first responders, of the Skyline Volunteer Fire Department looking out for her, her home and her property.  She may hear “You Can Quilt That Out” from some of her clients—she does good work.  Go down to the wide, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek and view her contribution in the Meeting Room of the Historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square in Downtown Champion.  When we think of picnic quilts we are reminded of Esther Wrinkles, one of the founding members of the fire department.  She made many for the fire department and always endeavored to sell more tickets than anyone.  A local banker laughed and said any time he saw Esther coming in early August, he reached for his wallet.  Tickets are $1.00 each or 6 tickets for $5.00.  You can send a check to the Skyline VFD, Rt. 72 Box 254, Norwood, MO. 65717 and Betty will fill out your tickets for you.  Or, you can share your mailing address at and we will mail you tickets and a photo of the quilt.  If you live far away, we will ship the quilt to you when you win on October 1st.  Good luck and thanks for supporting our vital fire department.

August has arrived in a delightful way with rain and break from the withering heat.  The heat will be back and may seem more belligerent for the respite, but as Chief George said in The Outlaw Jose Wales, we will “endeavor to persevere.”  Entertainment in the canning kitchen has included a variety of old cowboy movies together with some lofty theatrical productions like Sir Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet.  Mel Gibson did a quite rite version of the play as well.  It was said to be the tragedy of a man who could not make up his mind.  As tomatoes and pickles went into the jars, that speech about the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” spoke to our current state of affairs.  If opposing the sea of troubles can really end them, there is hope that these tumultuous times may evolve into better days for everyone.  Sometimes it is hard to find beauty in the storm.  A noted local counselor is worried about November.  He says we have never had violence around an election even through wars, pandemics and depressions.  The level of vitriol is unprecedented.  Local contests have been decided and now we know who loves the king more.  Meanwhile, the ‘pop,’ as the jars seal, incites optimism.  Lincoln’s optimism was that “with malice toward none and charity toward all,” we bind our wounds.  Henry Fonda did an excellent performance as Lincoln in John Ford’s movie Young Mr. Lincoln.  So far, there are forty of jars of tomatoes and sauce in the pantry and more in the pot.  Excellent!

The internet has been graced in the past few days with many pictures of Amaryllis Belladonna.  That is the botanical name of what is known in these parts as the Surprise Lily or Naked Ladies.  It is a wildflower in South Africa, leafless on naked stems which give the Ladies long legs.  Sometimes driving down a shady country lane there survives a lonely reminder of a garden and a home-place where some homemaker, now gone on to a better home, planted bulbs shared by a friend.  There are Iris gone wild now up on Cold Springs Road, and day lilies transported down the road by the road grader.  In the spring old home places are marked with daffodils, forsythia, narcissus and lilacs.  The endurance of nature is comforting as we think about the old folks at home.

Did Jonnie actually tree Wilbur, or was it just a coincidence?  Are there enough butterflies in your garden?  On top of all the difficulties going on in the world, many are suffering through terrible storms.  Neither the weather nor the pandemic nor political strife is a respecter of persons.  We will hope for the safety and health of our friends, our families and all our fellow humans.  We are full of gratitude and optimism in Champion, Looking on the Bright Side!