August 13, 2019

CHAMPION—August 12, 2019


David Medlock, Dennis Schumate, Sharry Lovan, Gene Collins, David Richardson and Sami McCleary Hutchison
(David and Sami do the free drawings), Teddy Collins, Kelly Hinds and Herbie Johnston
at the grand finale of the 33rd Skyline VFD Picnic.

The 33rd annual Skyline VFD Picnic was a splendid success. Both days started out hot, but by evening, temperatures were perfect. David Richardson did an excellent job as master of ceremonies and the music was great from start to finish. Zola Pike won the beautiful, hand-quilted “Flight of the Eagle” quilt, made and donated by someone who wishes to be anonymous. If she wanted to be praised and admired, she would have told us her name. Thank you anyway, whoever you are. Thelma Sanders won the 50-50 drawing and will be able to make a nice deposit in her savings account, if that is her plan. The free drawings made a lot of picnickers happy. Those prizes contributed by local merchants help to make this a very popular event while proving to be excellent advertising for the generous merchants. The community is pleased to support the merchants who support our fire department. The wonderful picnic food and games made for a good time, but the best time was reconnecting with old friends and new ones. We know we live in a great part of the world. Thanks to all the hard working volunteers who make this gathering better every year. Mr. Rogers (Fred Rogers) said that his mother told him when he was frightened because of something scary in a movie or something scary in real life, like storms, or accidents, fire or war, he should look for the helpers. We look for help from our brave volunteer firefighter helpers here and thank them for protecting our property and our lives.

Good news comes as adopted Champion granddaughter, Greta Thunberg, is preparing to board a solar powered racing yacht to come to America! She will be at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York which will happen in September. In her way, she is being one of our helpers, looking out for the future of all our grandchildren. She is a Champion indeed.

A nice friendly dog has strayed onto the place of Drew Durbin who lives over near Alvin and Beverly Barnhart and is lucky enough to have such nice neighbors. The dog is brown and white, short haired and about 70 pounds. It might be a boxer-bulldog mix—a pretty dog. If his owner recognizes the description and wants to reclaim the lovely animal, call Mr. Durbin at 520-705-2470. It would please him to have the animal go home. His appetite is larger than the two ten pound dogs that officially live there. If he is a singer, Mr. Durbin might be singing, “Move it on Over,” or Nelly McCay’s, “The Dog Song,” if he is a singer. Whether or not he sings, he has moved into a good neighborhood where even the stray dogs are friendly.

Uncle Al, the Lonesome Plowboy sang a song, “Eleven cent cotton and forty cent meat, how in the world can a poor man eat?” Some say, “seven cent cotton,” but the gist is the same. Uncle Al was a cotton farmer out in West Texas back in the 1930s and 40s. Back in those days the economy was improving from the Great Depression, not unlike today as we are recovering from the great recession. The current economy is going great for people who are already doing well. For old folks on fixed incomes, small family farmers and some people who always find themselves generally underfunded, the economy is not necessarily doing that well. Poor people only have money for food and fuel and those things are getting more expensive. Other necessities often get short shrift. If you are one who thinks the economy is doing well, you are in a fortunate minority. Good for you.

The past two years Darrell and Barbara Cooper celebrated their 45th and 46th wedding anniversaries at the picnic. This year their 47th anniversary fell on Sunday the 11th, but they were out at the picnic having a good time anyway. In the year 2023, their 51st anniversary will be on Friday at the 37th Skyline Picnic. See you there! Dean Upshaw has had his birthday celebrated at the picnic on more than one occasion. It occurs on Tuesday the 13th. School will be starting on the 15th and youngsters are getting ready with new clothes and school supplies and with optimism for the year ahead. They may not be aware that these are going to be the days they remember with fondness in distant decades. The Champion School reunion will be August 31st. It always occurs on the Saturday before Labor Day. Every year there are fewer in attendance it seems, but it is still a much treasured annual event. Ruth Daharsh writes that her mother, Ethel Luellen Anderson, was unable to attend last year, but is determined to make it this time to see and visit with her old school chums and enjoy the nostalgia that young Skyline students will be learning about one day off in the future. It is at this reunion when the shade of the magnificent old walnut tree is most missed. The tree was topped in February 2015, and the wild honey bees that had occupied it for generations were able to hold on for a couple of years. The top sprouted out again, a 35 foot tall bush, interesting, but not throwing much shade. Alas! Things change whether we like it or not. Someone recently said, “If you want to know how to predict the future, invent it.” Daydreaming is a well-recognized precursor to invention, so if you see a child, an adult or an elderly person staring off into space, do not jump to the conclusion that he or she is an idler or impaired, but rather consider that this person might be inventing the future that allows us all to be Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!


August 6, 2019

CHAMPION—August 5, 2019


A question came up during the organizational meeting of The Pioneer Heritage Festival of the Ozarks (PHFO) on Saturday.  Who in the area is growing sorghum that they would be willing to donate for the event when it comes up on the first week end of October?  The PHFO does not need a large amount, just enough for a display alongside the sorghum mill being repaired and donated for the occasion.  If you have a little sorghum to share, drop a note to and the Pioneer folks will get the message.  They are working hard to make their third annual event another sterling success and all those at the meeting were very excited to learn that the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department Picnic is about to happen again—its 33rd year!  They will come out to see how a little volunteer fire department picnic has had such longevity.  They are in for a treat.  Many will remember the hilarity last year as Beverly’s little sister had to be rescued from D.J.’s tractor-pulled barrel train.  There is a photo commemorating this incident up on the wall in the Vanzant Community Building and online at where many pictures of picnics past can be found.  This week local merchants are pledging their support with donations of goods and services to be shared as door prizes.  Members of the fire department are out shopping for the ingredients for the pies, cobblers and cakes they will contribute to the cook shack and the cake walk.  “Oh me, oh my!  Love that Country Pie!”  With the fun and games, the great music, picnic food and the chance to reconnect with people that you only ever see at these summer festivals, Friday and Saturday night this week will be prime time for enjoyment.  It is also the opportunity we have as a community to express our appreciation of the generous volunteer fire fighters and first responders who put their own lives on hold while they come out to protect our property and our lives.  For some of those PHFO folks who might be unfamiliar with this part of the county, the picnic grounds are adjacent to the Skyline R2 School at the intersection of Highway C and 76 Highway.  It is about 15 miles south of Norwood and about half way between Mountain Grove and Ava and about three miles North of Champion as the crow flies.

Greta Thunberg

Sparky Clark Shannon had a birthday on August 3rd.  Lavonne Carter has one on August 6th and Carson’s Uncle Roger will have one on the 8th.  He was born in 1968, so he is getting ‘up there.’  Lynette Cantrell, a talented musician who shares her mandolin music freely and joyfully in jams around the area, will celebrate on the 9th.  Sometimes Dean Upshaw’s birthday happens during the Skyline Picnic, but this year it will be on the following Tuesday the 13th of August.  All of you are recipients of Happy Birthday wishes from your Champion friends.  Steven Pinker’s birthday is September 18, 1954.  His latest book is “Enlightenment Now, The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress.”  In 576 pages he explains that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise, not just in the West, but worldwide.  He is most encouraging and the reader is left with a conviction that reason and science can enhance human flourishing, though it seems contrary to the currents of human nature.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could use your help right now.  He is having an existential conflict.  Write to him:  Mitch McConnell, Russell Senate Office Building, 317 Delaware Ave NE, Washington, DC 20510.  He will really appreciate knowing how you feel about the important issues of the day.

Anyone who has a granddaughter can tell you that granddaughters are some of the world’s greatest treasures.  Some old Champions are adopting a 16 year old Swedish girl for their surrogate granddaughter.  Her name is Greta Thunberg.  She is a dynamic young lady, willing to speak truth to people who find the facts inconvenient.  She is on her way to New York to attend the United Nations Climate Action Summit.  She has been offered a ride on a sixty foot open-cockpit racing yacht to cross the wide Atlantic Ocean.  The trip will take two weeks.  She is traveling with her father and a film maker.  They will all be more than welcome in Champion should time and circumstances permit.  She will likely be a world leader in the years to come and her Champion want-to-be grandparents could not be more proud of her if she were blood kin.  Thank Heaven for Little Girls!  Many aging Champions and their neighbors are in the enviable position of having daughters living nearby.  Yes, there are many fine sons as well, who look in on the old folks and help out around the place, but daughters really seem to step up when things get tough.  Lucky is the family with daughters!  Even if they are not your daughters, feel free to acknowledge their good works with kind words when you see them supporting and encouraging their old folks.  Family Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!


July 30, 2019

CHAMPION—July 29, 2019


Oh! They tell me of an uncloudy day! Such a one is a gift, but so is a partly cloudy day when fancy fluffy puffs of water vapor are shadow running over the rolls and folds of verdant hills and fields. A ridge runner gets a visual symphony of undulating colors. How many greens are there? Why are far distant hills blue? A trip to town is an adventure. It was a treat to rendezvous with J.C. Owsley for lunch on Tuesday. He picked up the tab and picked up spirits of some who are feeling isolated by their enlightened beliefs. ‘Enlightened’ is a subjective term, so it can mean anything based on personal feelings, tastes, or opinions. “Of all the saddest words that I have ever heard, the saddest is the story told me by a bird. He had spent about an hour chatting with a flower…” —a lonely little petunia in an onion patch.” It takes patience, tact and perseverance to engage positively with people who believe the exact opposite of your beliefs. Why bother? It’s like the Old Boy says, “Everybody’s got to be somewhere.” We are all here.

Sisters Marjorie Carter and Linda Keys at the Downtown Pawn Shop have been great supporters of the Skyline Fire Department and many other good causes in the area for a long time. They have operated their business on the east side of the square in Mountain Grove for twenty-five years and have served the community well. After trying unsuccessfully to sell the whole business, they have decided to close it on November 1st. There is a beautiful five-string banjo hanging on the wall there and several guitars, acoustic and electric. There are lots of tools and guns, as well as some lovely jewelry on their shelves. It will be sad to see the business close, but it will be a nice change for the sisters as they retire. Imagine not having to go to work on Monday morning. We will miss them, but we wish them well.

Skyline VFD Merchant Supporters

For those who were not able to attend the Holt Up and At It 4-H Picnic, Connie Brown, Sharry Lovan, Phyllis Proctor and others generously shared photos on the internet. The music was great, the food was tasty, the games were fun and the wonderful 4-H Club benefited—head, heart, hands, health. More of this kind of entertainment is coming up with the Skyline VFD Picnic which will occur on August 9th and 10th. It will be another chance to get acquainted with new people to the area and to reunite with longtime friends for an episode of remembering old times and for making new memories, all while supporting the vital little fire department that protects our lives and property. Those volunteer fire fighters, first responders all, leave their jobs and fields and dinner tables to come to your aid. Champions!

Wednesday was a perfect day for visiting around the tables in the meeting room in the Historic Emporium and for porch-jamming. A fiddler and harmonica player were welcome additions to the guitars and mandolins. Red Wing, Old Indiana, The Flowers of Vanzant, Florida Blues and I’ll Fly Away drifted out across the Square. Those good looking cowboys (one of them wears a big hat) from Mountain Grove meandered in from their amble up Cold Springs Road and back. They unsaddled their horses and took care of them before enjoying their refreshments out on the wide veranda. They sang along with fine voices. In homes and barns, in American Legion halls and restaurants, on patios and porches people in these parts get together any day or night of the week to jam. They are teaching and learning old and new songs and tunes–enjoying the fellowship and the healing qualities of music.

Reba Bishop was in Champion Wednesday, but did not let on that her birthday was coming up on July 28th. Several other interesting people have birth anniversaries coming up. Our friend, Karen Ross, celebrates on the 29th. The first of August is remembered as the birthday of Elita January. She passed away several years ago, but is frequently and well- remembered. Herman Melville was born August 1, 1819, so he has his 200th birthday being celebrated in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where he lived for many years, writing Moby Dick and other things. The second of August is the special day for a special Champion grandson. Seamus is a very cool young man and everyone who knows him agrees that he will go far. R.D. was 66 last year, so he must be 67 this year. They say a person really gets busy when he or she retires, so now that Trish is retiring, she might be helping R.D. to be busy as well. Like the Old Boy says, “Everybody’s got to be somewhere.”

It turns out that the Old Champion gardener who thought she was ahead of the game because she had so many volunteer tomato plants is stuck with a bunch of ‘chocolate cherry’ tomatoes. They are a little bigger than regular cherry tomatoes; they taste like tomatoes, but are dark and mottled in color. Last year she offered some prime examples to Elmer Banks who declared that he would not eat purple tomatoes. The many, many volunteers all have turned out to be chocolate cherry. Alas. Moreover, sometimes plants purchased from local outlets do not necessarily correspond to the names on the tags in the pots. The up side is that, with good luck, she will have next year to have the perfect tomatoes. Just now, the okra, corn and beans are stealing the show. It is “inch by inch, row by row” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Chocolate Cherry volunteers.

July 23, 2019

CHAMPION—July 21, 2019


A lonely little petunia.

The Wednesday porch jam at Champion was invited inside because of the heat. Next time the temperature and humidity reoccur the way they did that day, the musicians will listen to rational voices and go inside. Any time during the week people are sitting down to visit on the wide veranda at the Historic Emporium or around the tables in the air conditioned meeting room. It is a very sociable kind of place. Friday was the last day for Karen Ross on the Route 72 mail route. She was met with cake and cards of thanks for her good service all these years. Our new carrier will get a good reception and we will look forward to getting acquainted.

To the reader of The Champion News who complained that he has not had to look up a word lately, we proudly give you the word ‘fissiparous.’ (fis SIP arous). To save you the trouble, it means inclined to cause or undergo division into separate parts or groups. Feel free to construct your own sentences using this interesting adjective, for example: “The fissiparous nature of party politics has even the most enlightened head spinning.” To the reader who feels isolated due to enlightened beliefs, enjoy the wonderful song, “I’m a lonely little petunia in an onion patch.” The tune was written in about 1946 and falls in the genre of Tin Pan Alley. It was a favorite of Arthur Godfrey. 1946 was a good year. The war was over. People were optimistic for a good future ahead. The General Assembly of the United Nations held its first meeting. The United States Atomic Energy Commission was created. It later became the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. These days about twenty percent of our electricity is generated by nuclear power plants. “Real power…I don’t even want to use the word…fear.” These days it is hard to discern exactly what it is we fear…mice, snakes, spiders, bears or the dissolution of democracy.

Sharry Lovan just had birthday. She hosts a great music jam at the American Legion Hall in Willow Springs every Monday. There is a pot-luck at 6:30 and music from 7 until 9. Everyone is welcome. She grew up in a musical family and thinks she has sung in every little country church for miles around. It was a treat to hear her at the Vanzant Picnic. Maybe she will sing for us again at the Holt Picnic and then at the Skyline Picnic. We are glad to see her anytime we can. I.P. Henson’s great granddaughter and his great, great granddaughter have birthdays three days apart sometime in early-mid July. (Corrections are welcome.) Nephew and uncle, Ethan Alexander and Zee Heffern share the 19th for their birthday. Then, Skyline School teacher Terry Prock had his on July20th. Bus driver, Ronny Trammel, enjoys the 23rd. Grace Crawford will be in the 8th grade this year. She shares her birthday on the 25th with cook, Dorothy Curtis. That is also the special day for Thomas Jarnagin’s old Grandpa John. Fifth grader, Jace Borders will party on the 27th. Teacher, Crystal Sartor, has the 29th for her birthday. She shares it with Karen Ross who now delivers mail on Route 71. Eugene Elliot will be in the second grade. His birthday is on July 30th. Scribbled notes in a 2009 calendar, a gift from The Douglas County Herald, would indicate that Roberta has a birthday on July 28th. There are music notes by her name and a question mark. The question mark is about the date. There is no doubt about Bertie’s wonderful music. So we sing “Happy Birthday” to all of you and hope you enjoy every day as much as this special one.

It is a relief to have the temperature drop whether the promised rain materializes or not. Summer is full on now. We will have several more chances to go to the creek. Meanwhile, the corn is as high as an elephant’s eye and kitchens are overflowing with green beans, tomatoes and cucumbers in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


July 16, 2019

CHAMPION—July 15,2019


Vanzant Picnic

The Vanzant Picnic drew another great crowd. These summer gatherings are perfect opportunities for neighbors to get together. The drawings, the games, the good food and wonderful music made it fun for everyone. Bertie and the Boys closed out the evening’s entertainment Saturday and they were well worth the wait. Jim, that tall cowboy with the big hat, could not make it out from Mountain Grove for the picnic. He has a hitch in his get along which friends hope will be healed up by the time Andrew Hardin leads the Bud Hutchison Champion Fall Trail Ride in October. Kenny, the good looking one, shared that report and seemed to be having a good time even without his friend there. The consensus of opinion out among the picnickers was that we live in a special part of the country where events like this tie communities together. John and The General, along with a couple of others, kept a steady shuttle service to and from the forty acre parking lot. Both days were scorchers and though no one waited for the sun to go down to have fun, it was a relief when it did. All in all, it was a lovely affair and the volunteers are to be commended for their hard work and community spirit. The Holt 4H Picnic will happen in a couple of weeks, then the Skyline VFD Picnic. Another splendid summer social season is in full swing–a spectacular start.

Lee and Glenda Unger have kin folks in Red Bank. They live up in Illinois and make a trip down this way every so once in a while. They subscribe to the Douglas County Herald and keep up with things going on in the area. They made their second annual (we hope) trip to Champion on Wednesday and were there for the serious little thunder storm that almost drowned out the music of the porch jam. Lee said they like hanging out on the North Side of the Square. It was there they heard about the Vanzant Picnic. They had reservations to go to the Dixie Stampede Friday night, but decided to make the journey over to Vanzant from their lodgings in Branson instead. They sound like Champions.

Grandchildren bring much joy to old folks. When Hovie and Dawn Henson were in town over the Fourth of July holiday, Hovie was excited to report that their granddaughter Avery Roden, down in Houston, had just been inducted into the National Honor society. He has previously bragged about her martial arts prowess in national competitions. It is just the nature of grandparents to go on and on. Connie Brown let us know that her dad, Robert Brown, had celebrated his 79th birthday on July 7th. He and are alumni of the Champion School. Bentlee Seaborn will be in the first grade when school starts up at Skyline in the fall. Bentlee and kindergarten student, Lily Trujillo, share July 10th for their birthday. Jude Hicks will be in the third grade. His birthday is July 14th, Bastille day. In the future, his history studies will let him know how special that day is for the French people since 1790. He might learn of Jean-Paul Marat who became one of the most influential men of the French Revolution through his newspapers and pamphlets. Judy Collins sang a song that tells much of his story. Oddly enough, it seems applicable to these times as well. History seems to repeat itself.

Tomato blossoms.

Gardeners are happy for the rain. Before it dries up they plan to be out there weeding. When the ground is nice and wet, the weeds seem to almost jump into your hand. A few years back one heard the song ‘Home Grown Tomatoes’ about the same time she heard about ‘switching the tomato plants.’ At first it was thought that the idea was to trade some tomato plants for other tomato plants, but that was not the case. The gardener was suggesting that one should take a switch to the tomato plant in the way your grandmother took one to you, but perhaps a little more gently. The point of the exercise was to improve pollination. Since the tomato flowers have both male and female parts they rely on pollinators such as bees to do the magic that starts the fruit. Just gently shaking the flowers will do the trick if you are short of bees. No need for a switch, Grandma. Some will be heaving sighs and rolling their eyes as gardeners come at them with cucumbers, green beans and zucchini. Be patient with your gardening friends. They are high on fresh food. They cannot help it. They are singing, “Just two things that money can’t buy and that’s true love and home grown tomatoes.”

Some Champions still get mail addressed to Route 2 even though it was changed to Route 72 several years ago. We are lucky to live in an area where we know our postal carriers by name. It has been a joy to have Karen Ross at our mail boxes these past years. We can let the folks on her new route (Route 71) know that they will be enjoying a diligent and genuinely pleasant mail carrier. Over the years Champion has had a number of carriers. Homer Akers had a reputation for going fast and being on time. Cletis Upshaw delivered the mail here for many years. You could set your clock by him and if you were lucky you would be at the Champion Store when he was there reminiscing and telling stories. He knew everything that was to be known about this part of the country. Bob Chadwell kind of took after Homer Akers except for the being on time part. Then we got Karen. We will miss her, but she said she would not forget us and, though we are looking forward to getting acquainted with her successor, Karen will always be a Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!

Ruth Collins had her granddaughters with her again at the picnic.