October 29, 2020

CHAMPION—October 26, 2020


You can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd, but you can be happy if you’ve a mind to.” Those wise Roger Miller words remind us of what we can do. Yesterday was his birthday–1936. He passed away in 1992, but he still gives us reason to smile and sing. That inspiration is much welcome on these cold, rainy days full of anxiousness and dread. The days seem colder for having had warm ones so recently, but our aquifer is rejoicing, the fields are being nourished and soon the creeks will be running again. The pandemic and politics feed the anxiousness. The dread has to do with the uncertainty and with the certainty of a long fall and winter only just begun. Champions will “knuckle down, buckle down” and set our minds to making the most of whatever comes next.

A Sycamore beauty…

One Old Champion is holding a grudge against the Dodgers still over their move to Los Angeles in 1957, and so is rooting for the Tamp Bay bunch. The Old Champion Spouse has deep affection for some Californians, who naturally support their team, and she chooses to stand by them. “Just stand there and watch it go by,” says the Rays fan (really just an anti-Dodgers fan) when there is a strike out. “Get it! Get it! Get it!” she yells to the outfielder when some hitter has sailed one high but short of the wall. She loved baseball on the radio in the old days when the voices of Mel Allen, Harry Caray, and Red Barber used their wonderful language to bring her right into the game with every play. (Red Barber used to talk about the beautiful camellias in his yard.) They say that baseball is the most sophisticated of all the gladiator sports. The National Pastime draws us cordially together even as competitors. Ruby Proctor could tell you how she got that scar on her forehead there at home plate in Champion back “in the day.” Maybe General Fast-Pitch will share some highlights of his greatest hits and pitches from his thrilling days on the diamond all over Europe and other places. Thirty-seven years ago Dodgers won the World Series and they have done it again! “The bums!” says the Old Champion.

Serious preparations are under way for the hunting season. The Missouri Department of Conservation reminds us that ‘baiting’ with corn or grain is not permitted. This is also the time of the year for the ghosts, goblins, and ghouls to come prowling about with their jack-o-lantern pumpkin buckets, out on a wild Full Hunter’s Blue Moon looking for candy at the threat of a trick. Creative teachers and parents will find a way to keep this observance lively and safe for our young ones. Others use All Hallows Eve, El Dia de los Muertos, and All Saints Day to walk through memories with cherished ones who have left us here while they “walk the streets that are purest gold.” We will be satisfied with just a cottage below for the nonce as we remember to appreciate our family and friends while they are here with us. The reality of the Corona virus may make us more appreciative as we acknowledge the vulnerability of so many important people in our lives. Maybe you haven’t lost anyone yet, so you might feel that the precautions recommended are overblown. Still, if you are sick with a cold or the flu or with allergies that make you cough and sneeze, it is respectful of others for you to stay home.

There are spoons inside the persimmon seeds if the squirrels, coyotes and groundhogs allowed you to get any persimmons. That might mean a cold winter ahead, perhaps with lots of snow. The remark has been heard several times recently out on the Wide Veranda of the Historic Emporium that we have not had a really cold winter in a long time. This may be one. Call your old friends over in Ava and Dora and Vanzant and Brushy Knob to find out what they are thinking about the coming winter. We were good about staying in touch at the beginning of the pandemic, but may have become accustomed to our solitude as time has gone by. Tammy Bergeron wrote a note to her Mother just to say, “Hello.” She said the word Hello means: “H=How are you? E=Everything all right? L=Like to hear from you. L=Love to see you soon! O=Obviously, I miss you, so Hello!” The sound of your voice on the telephone might just be the high point of the day for some old friends. You will be their Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


October 18, 2020

CHAMPION—October 12, 2020


Grand Prize Winner!

She’s got it! Kaitlyn McConnell made it to Champion on Wednesday to collect her grand prize. More than a thousand tickets were sold for the NO-2020-SKYLINE PICNIC QUILT and she was the lucky winner. Kaitlyn will tell you she is lucky all around. She has a great job in a community that she loves in an area that she appreciates and supports with her many talents. It couldn’t happen to a nicer gal! Congratulations! Meanwhile, the proceeds have been recounted and sum up to $1,213.00, all for the aid of the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department. That august organization is surely grateful to Kaitlyn and to everyone across the country who bought tickets at the Champion Store and through the mail and over the internet, and to Connie Freeman for donating the beautiful quilt and to the proprietor of Henson’s Downtown G & G for displaying the quilt and keeping track of everything and The Champion News, for what little we did do. All the acknowledgement is swell, but the real appreciation goes to the men and women of the Skyline VFD who take the time to train themselves in all the practices and procedures necessary to protect our lives and our property. They leave their dinner tables and jobs at a moment’s notice when they are needed. So thanks! Champions are all extending themselves to be cautious and prudent during this extended dry period. Outdoor burning is a risky business when conditions are as they are. There was talk on the Wide Veranda of the ‘water moon’ being portentous of rain that will lower the fire risk and nourish the pastures, ponds and streams. There was also a report of a wooly worm with a dominant dark front part, mildly beige in the middle and dark at the hind end. What does it all mean? Winters have been mild lately. Time will tell.

Wilma Hutchison beamed her beautiful smile on Andrew Hardin when he looked in on her recently. He says she is doing well and was happy for a visitor. Out on the square Wednesday afternoon Andrew reported that this was one of the best trail rides he can remember. He can remember a lot of them and has wonderful memories of Bud who he holds up as an example of being a really good man–a genuinely good person. He told a story about Bud and another rider on some old familiar trail when they came upon a fence that had never been there before. The guy pulled out his wire pliers and cut the fence, saying he would come back and fix it. When he got back to fix it a day or two later he found it repaired already. Bud had come back that very evening and fixed it himself. Probably all those guys on the ride have some story to tell about Bud. Bill Collins had not been on this trail since before the Recreation of the Historic Emporium in about 2011. (See the video of the Grand Opening on October 25, 2011.) Bill was riding Old Jim. Kenneth Forsyth was on Rain, Jeff Alcorn on Holly, Casey Alcorn on Storm Cat, Gary Braden on James, Don Hamby on Domino, Bill Winkelman on Cookie, Jim McCaughrin on Lacoda, Andrew Harden on Mable and Calvin Chambers on Blue. Wilma would have had them all lined up for their picture.

From the TCN archives of October 18, 2010: “Anyone looking for some beautiful smiles only had to get a load of those miners rescued in Chili.” In our current turmoil, we may have forgotten that ordeal ten years ago when the whole world held its breath for the 33 men trapped more than two thousand feet underground for 69 days. They made it out and so will we persevere through these difficult days. With so much illness and strife in the world, it takes effort to stay positive. Our thoughts are with the many here in Douglas County, perhaps even here in Champion, across the Country and the world who are suffering in the pandemic. We hope for a good recovery for all those ill, and comfort for all those bereft. Now is no time to be cavalier. No matter how we lose those we care for, we are faced with loss. Don’t get yourself lost. People care about you.

Just last week or ten days ago, Champion was still in the midst of “glorious summer.” Fall’s color modifications started gradually and then became dramatic and then wildly windblown. By next week, we may be looking at a vertical gray brush pile with only our cedars and pines for contrast. Change is in the air. A New England niece writes, “A whirl of falling maple leaves dances above our heads proclaiming ‘All is not lost in summers lies, see the beauty of decaying reality as it embraces a long winter’s dream of spring.’” Over in Peace Valley, Fran Martin writes, “Another season line crossed, last remnant of summer lost. I stayed up late to remonstrate. I never celebrate frost.” Champion’s first frost October 16, 2020!

Voters can cast their ballot for the November 3rd Election in the Douglas County Clerk’s office during business hours. It seems that ballot language can be confusing sometimes, seemingly designed to obfuscate and obscure the issues, making a person think he is voting one way when, in fact, he may be voting against his own best interest. The amendments are important and merit careful study.

USPS employees and bankers are enjoyed a day off work as the country celebrated Columbus Day. Leonard Peltier, a Native American, has been ‘celebrating’ in prison for 43 years for a crime he did not commit. He admonishes us to “Acknowledge our Loss. Respect our Culture. Learn how to Advocate.” Jacob Moffett, of Moffett Trees and More, has become an enthusiast of collecting arrowheads. The Douglas County Museum in Ava has a great collection of them on display. There are experts who can identify the age and origin of these artifacts, many of which significantly predate Columbus. This area has a number of talented flint knappers including Butch Stone, Jim Ivy, and others who appreciate and respect the skill of those pre-historic folks as they work to replicate their work. It is understandable that many might prefer October 12th be celebrated as Indigenous Peoples Day. The winds of change blow hard in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

A Champion Fall

October 10, 2020

CHAMPION—October 10, 2020



The longer we live, the more acquainted with loss we become. We people in our 70s know a great number of people who have passed out of this life. Some passings are expected, sweet, sad and gentle with loving family at the bedside. Some are tragic, sudden shocks. Some are cruel, brutal, senseless. Loss is an inevitable part of life, and grief is a natural part of the healing process. We commiserate with each other as we commemorate and memorialize our dear ones gone on. A recent memorial took the form of friends and family standing masked outside in a social distancing circle on a lovely fall afternoon. They shared, in turn, how they met their friend and what he meant to them. His kindness and generosity, his self-effacing good humor and his love of bridge, tennis, turkeys, tropical plants and his fellow man were all acknowledged, as was the loss of yet another good person from the lives of each of them. We are reminded to recognize and appreciate loved ones while they are with us. A rule to live by: “When it is good, say so.” With so much illness and strife in the world these days it takes effort to stay positive. Our thoughts are with the many here in Douglas County, perhaps even in Champion, and across the Country and the world who are suffering in the pandemic. We hope for a good recovery for all those ill, and comfort for all those bereft.

Bud’s Trail Ride will be just in time for the maximum beauty of a Champion autumn. The prolonged dry period made some think it would be a drab season, but each day brings out unexpected loveliness in our ever-changing color scheme. Bud’s Trail Ride will be about the same, taking out of Champion at 10:00, lunching somewhere on the Shannon Ranch, getting back to Champion for ice cream in the early afternoon—1:00 or 2:00, depending on adventures. Last spring there was a log across a creek. Some horses did not mind jumping over logs, but did not like jumping over logs into running water. Andrew Hardin will be leading the ride again in Bud’s stead. He recently had a nice visit with Wilma. She is doing well, smiling and happy to have a visitor. Kaitlyn McConnell is planning to be in Champion on the day of the trail ride to pick up the beautiful No-Skyline-Picnic Quilt that she won. There is always something interesting happening in Champion.

Glen Branstetter, an old family friend of Bud and Wilma, made a stop in Champion on Wednesday. Champion was not part of his route when he was the Kitty Clover man, but he was able to find it anyway. He admired some of the old fixtures in the Recreation of the Historic Emporium—the potato chip rack and the candy counter, and had a good conversation with the Proprietor. He sat around on the porch for a while listening to the music and to the prolonged unremitting blathering of a motorcicle hooligan, who, while not pontificating and prevaricating, was piteously pestering a young woman, a first time visitor, who on account of him, may make it a point never to return to the Bright Side. Alas!

If you have a photographer with you on a drive down a country lane on a perfect day this week, better give yourself plenty time to get there. Every twist in the road reveals a new combination of colors and a sudden far distant vista excites the shutter bug, “Stop, back up about six feet. Ah! Great!” Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


October 2, 2020

CHAMPION—October 2, 2020


Connie Freeman

The winning ticket.

London draws the winner.

Champion congratulations go out to Kaitlyn McConnell — the winner of the beautiful No-2020-Skyline Picnic Quilt. The drawing was held on October 1st at the Historic Emporium. Two year old (almost) London Coon was chosen, as the youngest person in the crowd, to pull the winning ticket out of the big box. (Alvin Barnhart said he thought there would be a big crowd.) London did an excellent job of it. Connie Freeman and her husband traveled all the way from Vera Cruz for the occasion. Connie, who made and donated the quilt, said that this one broke all previous records for earnings by one of her quilts–$1,212.00. The Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department has a debt of gratitude to Connie and to everyone who supported the project…from Sheridan, Wyoming; Portland, Oregon; Hurricane, Utah; New Vienna, Ohio; Leavenworth and Wichita, Kansas; Houston, Austin, and Wharton, Texas, as well as from Springfield, Sparta, Ava, and Mountain Grove. It sounds like “I’ve been everywhere.” Kaitlyn McConnell has been closer to everywhere than most of us. She is a world traveler and an explorer of every back road and point of interest all over her native Ozarks. Her great blog, Ozarks Alive, is dedicated to Ozarks folklore and history and to sharing the natural beauty of the place—Ozarks Alive: Cool Photography. She shared a copy of her recent book “Passport to the Ozarks” with the Reading Room at the Historic Emporium and indicates that Champion will be included in the next edition. Her friends here are happy for her win and are pleased by her support and the generosity of so many for the Skyline VFD.

A few drops of rain fell in Champion a few days before the full Harvest Moon showed itself on the first of October. By the second day of the month temperatures were down in the thirties. “Chili today—hot tamale” is often the weather this time of the year. There may be a few hot days yet to get the work all done this fall. Soon enough old timers will have their long-handles on, hauling stove wood and ashes. There will be frost on the Champion pumpkin. There will not be as many sweet potato pies coming out of the oven on the cold days as had been hoped. It seems that the health and vigor of the vine is a pretty good indicator of the yield. Perhaps it was the rabbits or the deer, or Wilbur the Wonderful Woodchuck or his (or her) kin that kept the vines so assiduously pruned. The harvest was scant and full of fingerlings and odd shapes reminiscent of Archimedes. One can hardly blame the critters for liking the luscious leaves. We might find fault, however, with Jonnie the Friendly Dog, though, in her defense, she never promised to be anything other than loveable.

A person with a birthday on a full moon is a fortunate person. Of course, a birthday on any day celebrates another trip around the sun—a plus for people making the most of their lives. Champions observe their Prominent Citizen to be doing that very thing. Anyway, he does not need to be reminded that if a person acts like he is having a good time; pretty soon he will forget that he is acting and will really be having a good time. Hopes are that his anniversary was celebrated roundly. His cousin Bud’s Champion Trail Ride is scheduled for October 14th. That is another big event for Champion. The riders generally take out of the Square around ten in the morning and go off on their exciting adventure. By early afternoon they are back at the Historic Emporium sharing tales of the trail and enjoying ice cream and the tunes of the Sometimes Porch Band. They have been working on an instrumental version of Ghost Riders in the Sky (in A minor), hoping Roberta will come back to sing it for us again. Music is a good, free, spirit lifting medicine—highly recommended in whatever form you like the best.

Vote in whatever form suits you. A couple of Old Champions went into the Douglas County Clerk’s office to cast their ballot on Tuesday. It was easy as pie. All you need is your voter registration card and to sign the document that indicates why you are voting absentee. One of the reasons can be concern about Covid 19. They give you your ballot and escort you to a little room with voting tables. When you have completed your ballot, it goes in the locked box just like the one at the polls when you vote in person. The folks in the office are friendly and helpful and your vote is secure. Vote any way you can.

October is just the second of the ‘ber’ months. It is full of birthdays and holidays and somber occasions like all the months of the year are, but this one is special for having two full moons. The 31st is Halloween, also the full Hunter’s Moon and we will be singing, “When my Blue Moon turns to gold again and rainbows chase the clouds away” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

The “fingerling” sweets.

September 27, 2020

CHAMPION–September 25, 2020


Sad news comes from our Skyline/Champion friend, Lannie Hinote, up in Marshall, Alaska. She writes, “Prayers for our village would be greatly appreciated. An elder passed away, a young man committed suicide, and COVID is in the village.” The Country is awash in prayers and grief over the loss of so much and so many in pestilence, fire, flood and hopelessness. We grieve in different ways. It might happen sometime that you attend a funeral where the only person you know there is the deceased. You hear friends and family talking about that person, revealing things you did not know and you get that familiar feeling of being an outsider, a stranger. It seems that we are going to lots of funerals lately. They bring our own mortality to our thoughts. Who will come to say “Goodbye” to you? Maybe there will be some stranger on the edge of the crowd whose life you touched without your knowing.

Justice Ginsberg said, “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” She said, “Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.” The best possible way to honor her contributions to our wonderful democracy is to vote. Imagine the good that could be done with all the money spent on vitriolic political discourse. Ballots for the November 3rd election are available now at the County Clerk’s Office in the Douglas County Court House. In this election, chances are pretty good that everyone knows for certain for whom he will vote. The amendments are another story. A Champion friend writes, “Amendment One tries to give the appearance of reform, but it makes minor token cuts to gifts, etc. that they can take and has hidden inside an attack on term limits of government functionaries, those people who have experience and know how the government works. Amendment Three is set to undo what was overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2018. Ballot language seems to be designed for confusion and obfuscation, designed to make you think you are voting for what you want, when you are really voting against your own best interests. The point of this is to say, it is a good idea to study the issues before you jump to orchestrated conclusions. We will be optimistic and believe in better times ahead.

Things are winding down in the garden. Green tomato hornworms are enjoying their last feast while peppers keep producing and caterpillars feast on milkweed. Felix the Farmer’s old Papa writes in to say, “My butterfly weed now makes a circle about a dozen feet in diameter. That color (neon, electric, atomic orange!) is so intense; I’ll bet my little circle can be seen from space. I saw only a few Monarchs, and no caterpillars, but had many Spicebush Swallowtails and many others, too. That colorful bug seems to come with milkweed, and is appropriately called milkweed bug. I had hundreds of babies this year, and have had them every year I had milkweed. I have read that they employ the same defense as Monarchs, ingesting the poisonous milkweed and rendering themselves also toxic to predators, and advertising the fact with brilliant color.” Some Old Champions carry their camera along with their harvest basket when they head out to the patch. The almanac informs that October 1st and 2nd will be good days to harvest, so we will see if the rabbits, the deer and Wilbur have had an impact on the sweet potato harvest.

The harvest, the safety of our friends and family, the beauty of our natural home places, and hope for tomorrow—those are the things that keep Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!

Milkweed Tussock Moth larva on milkweed

Hornworm Moth larva on tomato

Monarch Butterfly larva on milkweed

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.