November 13, 2019

CHAMPION—November 11, 2019


Old Glory

Almost everyone we know is a Veteran or is the child, grandchild or parent of a Veteran. We have 438,100 Veterans living in Missouri 9.4% of the population—here in Douglas County about 12%. This week well-deserved special attention is devoted to them as we celebrate them and their families for their commitment to protect and serve our country. We look forward to reading Skyline R2 School’s winners of “Patriot’s Pen” essays and extend our thanks to Mr. Prock, Skyline’s own Veteran. He spent time in the middle-east in recent years. “Join the Navy and see the world!” was a recruiting slogan in the past, but it turns out that joining any branch of the U.S. Military is liable to take you anywhere in the world. And when our Veterans come home, they bring with them a greater understanding of our place in the world. Their experiences ‘over there’ may make them more understanding of other cultures and certainly more appreciative of the land they pledge to support and defend. Sometimes Veterans do not want to talk about their time there, but sometimes they do. It does not hurt to ask, and it is never inappropriate to express gratitude for their service. A grateful Nation owes an everlasting debt. May we pay it in full! The fast moving cold front, complete with ice pellets, snow, rain, dropping temperatures, and strong winds, caused officials to close school down at Skyline at one o’clock on Monday and to cancel school for Tuesday. There was to have been a Veteran’s celebration, scheduled for 2:30 that would have included music, patriotic speeches and a demonstration by Mr. Prock about the correct way to fold our Flag. The celebration may have been canceled, but, hopefully, the reason for it stays in the consciousness of our young students—voters and soldiers of the future. Meanwhile, Champion cattle gathered along a barbed wire fence for shelter.

Skyline’s PTO Fall Festival was a splendid success. The chili was fantastic and the support shown by the community for our important little rural school is commendable. We live in a good part of the world. This wonderful, warm week-end was busy for many as they brought in fire wood, drained hoses, set faucets to drip, filled the bird feeders, insulated dog houses, checked the flue and anti-freeze and chinked drafty windows. The glorious week-end had one Old Champion ignoring the signs, planting garlic during the wrong moon phase as indicated by trusted farmer’s /planter’s almanacs. It is to be noted that many a successful gardener adheres to the do-it-when-you-can philosophy. There will yet be days warm enough to shovel that good stuff and to nourish the garden with insulating leaf blankets.

If we have leapt directly into winter, we did not get much in the way of autumn. Marty Robbins sang “When the Work’s All Done This Fall.” It is a ballad of the combined versions from Norman Blake and Doc Watson, a poignant story of a cowboy determined to get home—home to his Mother. He had left under her protest and had strayed long and far. Just as he recognized his error and his longing for family and for home, tragic fate intervened. It is the kind of sad song that touches the hearts of every sentimental hillbilly, cowboy, or lumberjack, salt sea sailor, baker, farmer, grocer or grandma. The world is full of poignant tragedy. If the opportunity presents itself to help ameliorate suffering, it is a Champion notion to do so. Admonitions aside, music opens doors, hearts and thought processes. Enjoy. Sing loud, on key if you can, but don’t let that stop you.

Winter seems to have come upon us quickly, but we will have days warm enough to let us get a little something done. Our adopted Champion granddaughter, Greta, is off in North Carolina having good conversations about the difference between weather and climate and other associated realities. It is funny. It is sweet that people, who love each other, yet believe opposite things about politics, religion, climate change or chili recipes (beans or no beans), still can care about each other. They still hug and laugh, make thoughtful inquiries about each other and say, perhaps just to themselves, perhaps with eyes rolled, “Bless her/his heart.” The wild vicissitudes of the weather might give some of us an opportunity for those inside wintertime projects that we consider on sunny days–gluing that broken vase, dusting or organizing those photographs, photo documenting spider webs or deer through the window, purging old files, practicing our favorite songs, tidying the pantry, catching up on correspondence, reading, trying new recipes or old ones, napping, ad infinitum. It is an excellent set of circumstances that allows a person to choose how his day goes. Farmers, firefighters, military personnel, postal carriers, EMTs, health care providers, volunteers for Meals on Wheels, law enforcement people and many others…lots of people have to do their jobs regardless of weather conditions. Some of them, during the course of busy days, can stop in at the Historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square for coffee, conversation and a warm-up by the wood stove that has warmed and comforted generations of Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!

Champion cattle huddle by a barbed wire fence.

November 5, 2019

CHAMPION—November 4, 2019


Trick or Treat!

Halloween at Skyline R2 was fun all day—fun for everyone! That was on top of the fun the preschool, kindergarten and first graders had on their fabulous field trip to the Rockbridge Rainbow Trout and Game Ranch earlier in the week. Now there is more fun coming up on Friday night at the Skyline PTO Fall Festival. From 6 to 7:30 there will be chili and hotdogs, carnival games and the chance to support this great little rural school. Many of the newcomers to the Skyline School District are retired people from other parts of the country. Real estate values and tax rates would make this part of the world attractive for retirees even if it were not the incredibly beautiful place that it is, with its hills and trees and running water, with the glorious distant vistas and hidden treasures. School is always a big part of any community and Skyline appreciates the newcomers and their backing of the young people who are going to be running things around here before long. Some of those kids having birthdays soon are eighth grader Hailey Hall, who celebrates on November 4th; sixth grader, Mason Solomon, on the 7th; seventh grader, Justin Borders, and third grader, Alex Webster, on the 9th; fourth grader, Madelynn Vivod, on the 13th and third grader, Isabella Jeffrey, on the 14th. Happy birthday to all you Skyline Tigers and welcome you retirees from wherever you came to join this great community. We hope to see you at school on Friday evening. The weather is going to be perfect.

The Eastern Douglas County Volunteer Fire Department had an excellent event on Saturday. It was their tenth annual chili supper/auction. The Vanzant Community Building was packed. The food, the music (Backyard Bluegrass for the tenth year), the auction and the fellowship fun made for a great evening. The revenue generated will help sustain this vital volunteer organization that provides aid when it is needed most. All our area volunteer fire departments provide mutual-aid to each other when it is needed. We live in a great part of the world.

While we are extolling the virtues of our place on the planet, let us say, “Howdy, and thank you” to the gentlemen doing the county road works. A while back floods had taken out a low water crossing and made a mess of things up on Cold Springs Road. For a little while it was impassable, then for quite a while it was just rough and rocky, but serviceable. Now it is a fine, smooth concrete slab, arguably the best looking one of the several on that two mile stretch of rough and rocky. Seriously, we really appreciate the hard work it takes to keep our roads in good shape.

Cow farmer, Bob Leach, had a birthday on Monday. He will get his card in Champion on Wednesday. He likes Gene Autry’s songs like “Sioux City Sue.” Emerson Rose was in town recently. She is a Champion granddaughter with a birthday on November 5th. We remember a lovely woman on the 6th, who never liked having her birthday publicized. Foster and Kalyssa’s granddad, Wayne Wiseman, has the 7th as his special day. The 8th belongs to the grandfather of Seamus, Lizzy, and Zak. He introduced us to the word weltanschauung and changed our world view. Friends remember Chuck Barns on the 11th. He traveled the world doing big construction, and finished his career in Norwood at The Plant Place a few years ago. He had some great stories to tell and played a mean hand of bridge. The sterling Jill Sterling is an amazing artist. She specializes in minutia and will tell you that she ‘does things with stuff.’ Carol Callahan Barnhart has the 14th for her birthday. She lives up in Mountain Grove but has Champion connections. So does Fern Bishop. Her family will celebrate her on the 14th as well. The 15th is for a Waldo Champion now up in Springfield doing good works and improving the internet.

Parts of the following paragraph appeared in last week’s posting here but none of it made it into ink. The Herald edits The Champion News pretty heavily sometimes. Sometimes it is about length and sometimes about content.

Changes in the foliage over the past couple of weeks have been marvelous to watch—from green to flamboyant to brown and soon it will just be winter’s vertical gray brush pile. It all seems dramatic because just a few weeks ago we were experiencing 90 degree days. We often remark about the swift passage of time, but this seems abrupt. We will still have some nice fall days ahead, so we are not to despair. Each day will be appreciated for its own qualities. Since the only constant is change, we can expect dramatic changes from day to day—weather. What we see over a thirty year stretch is climate. Ruby Proctor said that when she was a girl in Champion, there would be snow on the ground sometimes from Thanksgiving to Easter. Ruby was born in 1925, and saw the climate change in her 88 years. Think back. When is the last time we had one of those long, hard winters? Local health food stores, Jean’s Healthway in Ava and Meadowbrook in Mountain Grove have buttons with the likeness of adopted Champion granddaughter, Greta Thunberg (pronounced ‘TUNberg’). Get one and wear it to spark conversations and perhaps raise an awareness of the real concerns of millions of young people around the world. In 1960, there were 3.032 billion people in the world. Today there are 7.7 billion of us. These “interesting” times have many suffering and many endeavoring to help alleviate that misery. Some people abhor any form of social activism as futile and unnecessary if they do not perceive their own lives to be affected. “Why should I bother?” Bother because there is no other place for us to go. We are all in it together—world citizens. Champions! Looking on the Bright Side!


October 29, 2019

CHAMPION—October 28, 2019


2019 Champion Winter Prognosticator

Friends and neighbors will be out in force on Saturday, November 2, for the fund raiser for the Eastern Douglas County Fire Department.  The event, their 10th Annual Chili Supper and Benefit Auction Dinner will start at 5:30 P.m. at the Vanzant Community Building.  Steve Moody will be serving up his award-winning, fabulous pulled pork.  Fire department members, as well as many local merchants, have contributed all kinds of great items for the auction.  Backyard Bluegrass will be providing entertainment, so it will surely be a splendid evening.  It is likely you will run into folks there that you have not seen since the Skyline VFD Picnic back in August.  It is nice to see these neighboring fire departments helping each other.  It speaks of a good community.  Fire fighters and first responders all over the country are looking toward California now, knowing the difficulties those folks are facing and hoping for the safety of everyone.  The Eastern Douglas County Fire Department already had this event scheduled before the October 21st tornado did its work on their various fire houses.  That night the volunteers were all out during the wild storm cutting up fallen trees blocking roads and drives and doing welfare checks—doing the hard, dangerous work of protecting the community.  They were surprised to get back to their buildings to find them badly damaged.  With the community support for this fund raiser, they may be able to meet their insurance deductible.  Perhaps there are government entities that may also lend a hand eventually.  Good luck to a vital, much-needed organization.  The forecast is for perfect chili supper weather in downtown Vanzant—see you there!

By the time The Douglas County Herald reaches homes in Champion on Friday, Thursday’s Trick or Treaters will be recovering from a surfeit of sugar, or will be looking forward to the week end for an extravaganza of candy consumption.  Belly-ache remedies vary from family to family.  While we often use the word ‘sweet’ to mean ‘good,’ we understand that sugar feeds inflammation in old folks with arthritis.  We cannot keep children from finding sweets irresistible, but we can stress moderation for them to live healthy lives.  For parents and grandparents photos of our young ones in their Halloween costumes are the sweetest.  Granddaddy Hector would say, “They’re goodern snuff.”  Some of the things grandfathers say do not necessarily translate into polite conversation, but they can be very funny.  Just ask Laine Sutherland about her Grandpa Ed.  She said he was a character, “He had a wonderful laugh and I have seen him so tickled that he cried.  He would just about get down on the floor!”  There are probably any number of people with stories to tell about Ed Sutherland.  Maybe there are some that would be fit for print.  It is a challenge.

One of the roofers working on the pretty blue house on the hill over on the West side of the Square stopped at the Historic Emporium for lunch while the Sometimes Wednesday Porch Band was playing.  The General loaned him his guitar and the young man rocked out “Columbus Stockade.”  He was invited to the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam on Thursday.  He sounded pleased, but did not make it, most likely on account of the rain and having a job that required him to be up in the morning.  Maybe he will show up one of these Thursdays—pot luck at 6:00 and music 7:00-9:00.  Everyone is welcome.  Music is good medicine.

The accuracy of the weather predictions of the wooly-bear-caterpillar will be tested this year.  Folklore says if the rusty-brown band is wide, then it will be a mild winter.  The more black on the wooly-worm, the more severe the winter is expected to be.  If it is black on each end and brown in the middle, we may expect hard weather in the beginning and at the end of the season and mild days in between.  While they say that other colors of fuzzy caterpillars are not the same type of wooly-worm and are not used for weather forecasting, it is the considered opinion that the solid gold (rusty-brown) woolly-worms in a Champion garden are indeed harbingers of a pleasant winter.  (See photos at Since the only constant is change, we can expect dramatic changes from day to day—that is what we call weather–the day-to-day state of the atmosphere, and its short-term variation in minutes to weeks of temperature, humidity, precipitation, cloudiness, visibility, and wind.  Climate refers to the average atmospheric conditions over relatively long periods of time, usually 30 years.  Ruby Proctor said that when she was a girl in Champion, there would be snow on the ground sometimes from Thanksgiving to Easter.  Ruby was born in 1925, and saw the climate change in her 88 years.  Think back.  When is the last time we had one of those long, hard winters?  On Friday our adopted Champion granddaughter, Greta Thunberg, was up in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada with 15,000 students voicing their trepidations over climate change and the long term health of the planet.  Local health food stores, Jean’s Healthway, on the square in Ava, and Meadowbrook, on the square in Mountain Grove, have buttons with Greta’s likeness.  Get one and wear it to spark conversations and perhaps raise an awareness of the real concerns of millions of young people around the world.  In 1960 there were 3.032 billion people in the world.  Today there are 7.7 billion of us.  These “interesting” times have many suffering and many humanitarians struggling to help.  Some people abhor any form of social activism if they do not perceive their own lives to be affected.  “Why should I bother?”  Bother because there is no other place for us to go.  We are all in it together—world citizens.  Champions!  Looking on the Bright Side!

Greta Buttons

October 22, 2019

CHAMPION—October 21, 2019


Bud Hutchison’s Fall Champion Trail Ride

By all accounts, Bud Hutchison’s Fall Champion Trail Ride was a great success.  It was cool to start with, but it turned out to be a lovely day.  Andrew Harden reported that there were no unpleasant incidents.  Everyone stayed in the saddle and while there were no dog encounters, something was said about turkeys, but there were no details shared.  Fifteen made the trip:  Andrew from Ava on Mable, Don Hamby of Dora on Domino, Kenny Forsythe of Mountain Grove on Mo, Dana Harden of Ava on Jim Bob, Hershel Letsinger of Ava on Duke, Gary Braden of Rueter on Sadie, Jim McCaughrin of Mountain Grove on Gem, Jeff and Casey Alcorn of Theodosia on Holly and Lady, Joe and Wilma Hamby of Ava, Chelsea of Ava on Ugly, Cindy of Rogersville on Dolly, Jennifer Wolf of Pontiac on Peaches, and Nancy Emerson Perriman of Rogue River, Oregon on Ginger.  The only thing that could have made it better would have been if Bud were there.  His friends have good memories of him and they surely regaled those who may not have known him well with many tales of the good natured man while they meandered along the beautiful Champion Trail.  The Sometimes Wednesday Porch Band played for the bunch as they enjoyed refreshments at the end of the trail.  Maybe they played “Along the Navajo Trail.”  Go look in the archives at  About this time every October, Bud’s Trail Ride has been documented.  It is a sweet story.

Kayleigha Crownover and Araya Smith are both prekindergarten students at Skyline.  Kayleigha’s birthday is on October 28th and Araya’s is on the 29th.  Third grader, Addison Jeffrey has his special day on October 30th.  Halloween will be the next day, so the Tiger Trail will be crawling with goblins and ghouls and the trick or treating will be exciting—trunk or treat style.  Skyline students and staff are getting ready for their PTO Fall Festival on November 8th from 6:00 to 7:30.  There will be carnival games and a concession stand with crock-pots of homemade chili, hot dogs, brownies and cookies.  Even if you do not have children or grandchildren in Skyline, you are welcome to enjoy this event to get acquainted with and support our excellent little rural school.  It is the place that is molding responsible, productive, artistic, intelligent citizens who will be running things before long.  Time seems to be going by faster than ever.  Perhaps it is a function of age, but these days Champions are putting good effort in to making the most of every day.  See you at the Skyline Fall Festival!

Roger Miller was born October 25, 1936 and passed away in 1992.  He wrote many popular songs that resonate with us.  For example, “Thunder rolling, lightning flashing, right through the middle of it I’d go dashing, just to show how for I’d go for you, if you want me to!”  The rough weather in Vanzant and other neighboring areas causes us to count our many blessings.  The good news is that there were no casualties locally.  Neighbors will come together to help with the rebuilding.  That is what makes this part of the world such an agreeable place.  Meanwhile, our fall foliage is beginning to be lovely as the red buds and dogwoods and sumac change.  Already things are pretty with the grasses turning golden and waving in the wind.  The greens are muting and soon all the countryside will be like an old master’s painting rendered in ancient oils by artists loving nature the way we do here in the beautiful Ozarks.  Eli, Emerson Rose and Esther Grace Ogelsby will be celebrating their Dad’s birthday on the 26th and their Great Uncle Harley Krider’s the same day.  It seems that there was a rumor that Harley was very good at stemming gooseberries.  Hopes are that he and Barbara will be back in the neighborhood one of these days, dispelling rumors and sharing tales of yesteryear.  Shala Clark will have all her children sing to her that day as well.  She has her hands full and handles it beautifully.  Nicholas Georges has his birthday on October 28th.  He is a youngster somewhere in the neighborhood of 8 or 9 years old.  (Time goes fast and old folks loose track!).  Royce Henson walked to school at Champion a while back—quite a while back.  He called that long straight stretch of road between Clever Creek and Champion ‘Ivy Lane’ on account of having strolled it with someone.  Maybe he will tell us who that was the next time he is back in this neck of the woods.  His birthday is October 30th and he shares it with the gorgeous Connie Lansdown!  This lovely woman can lift the spirit of anyone who needs it with her smile and kindness.  Happy birthday to all you charming Champions –Looking on the Bright Side!

A Champion Fall

October 15, 2019

CHAMPION—October 14, 2019



Today expectations are that Foxtrotters, equestrians, and cowboys all will enjoy the marvelous change in the weather for Bud Hutchison’s Fall Trail Ride that heads up in Champion on Wednesday the 16th! Mountain Grove cowboys already have it on their calendar. The Square will be full of trucks and horse trailers in the morning. Many of Bud’s friends from around the area will gather to go off on a wide ramble around the countryside. By the time they get back in the early afternoon, the Sometimes Wednesday Porch Band should be tuned up and jamming. A recently retired mail carrier has pledged to join the ensemble with her spoons. We miss Bud and these trail rides help his friends smile, remembering good times they had with him over the many years. It will make Wilma happy to know that his friends remember that he had a great smile and could spin a yarn with the best of them. When the Jimmy Brown the News Boy (John) brings the Douglas County Herald to Champion on Friday, we will already know the stories of this ride and plans will be underway for the next one.


Skyline R2 School students celebrating birthdays soon are first grader, Wyatt Shannon, on the 19th; fifth grader, Haylee Surface, on the 22nd; sixth grader, Emily Mayberry, on the 23rd and prekindergarten student, Grant Strong, on the 24th. Happy birthday all you Skyliners! They are getting ready for Halloween over there and it is going to be an exciting time on the spooky Tiger Trail. Vladimir Putin’s birthday is October 7, 1952. He is big in the news these days. Steve Connor’s birthday is October 11th. Janet Chapin celebrates on the 12th, and Cathy Baldwin does that on the 13th along with lovely banjo picker, Carol Green. Among the interesting people who have birthdays on October 14th are Dwight D. Eisenhower, Eva Clark, Jill Godshall, Dea Friloux, Leslee Krider and Bonnie Rogers. They do not know each other. Joe Moskaly has his big day on the 15th. Corinne Rogers, Darlene Connor, and Carson Cline all enjoy the 18th. Marty Watts will have his party on the 20th. Anna Henson’s birthday was on the 21st somewhere around 1903. She is well remembered in Champion yet. Another Old Champion says that on October 21, 2046, just 27 short years from now, she will be 100! Donna Moskaly enjoys the 22nd as her special day, and Esther Grace Oglesby will be two years old on the 23rd. Her aunt Breauna Krider celebrates on the 24th, but she was already celebrating with her sweetheart on the 14th. Endeavor to enjoy every day as much as you do your birth anniversary because time is whizzing by.

It will be sad to see Mountain Grove’s Downtown Pawn Shop close. Marjorie Carter and Linda Keys have been serving the community in that business for a long time. They will close their doors November 1st and Mountain Grove will have lost another business on the square. Their friends will miss the ladies and wish them well.

Persimmon spoons.

An old Champion friend once lamented that he had had to ask his son-in-law to help him with the firewood and that he felt bad about it. He was asked to recall a time when, as a young guy, he had the chance to help some old man do something. Did he recall how good it made him feel to be of genuine help? So the old guy was admonished to consider that he was doing the son-in-law a favor. It is hard to ask for help, but, at some time or the other, everyone needs it. Lem and Ned might walk up your driveway and ask if they could do a few chores in exchange for a few turnips. Let them. Whether you are getting help with your firewood or find yourself in the hands of capable, competent, caring health care professionals, your hope may be that your benefactors feel satisfaction in their efforts commensurate with your gratitude. Salute to the Step-Down Unit at Cox South! To lend a healing hand or any hand at all is Champion!

A much-loved grandmother, Sarah Emaline Hector, who was born in Haleyville, Alabama and lived in West Texas much of her life, would suggest that any new Yankee to arrive in the neighborhood should be treated to a Country Pie—a nice green persimmon pie. Here in Champion the persimmons seemed to have started ripening early, along with the pawpaws. Summer turned to fall overnight. Weather forecasting lore says to look at the shape of the kernel inside the persimmon seed: if the kernel is spoon-shaped, expect plenty of snow to shovel. If it is fork-shaped, plan on a mild winter with powdery, light snow. If the kernel is knife-shaped, expect frigid winds that will “cut” like a blade. The prognostications of persimmon seeds or of Punxsutawney Phil are not scientific in any kind of reliable way. Adopted Champion granddaughter, Greta Thunberg, is encouraging all of us to listen to the science. She has been traveling around the United States and Canada recently helping to raise awareness of the climate change happening to a planet near you. She gets a lot of negativity pointed at her for this activism, but she is not deterred. What a Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!