October 24, 2016

October 24, 2016

CHAMPION—October 24, 2016


        What glorious days are these in the fair Champion Township!  Remote from the tumultuous world outside and safe among friends, the days pass for the fortunate natives in tranquil simplicity–just doing what comes next.

        Champions have made their way to Tennessee en masse where they planned to tour Sargent York’s museum.  He was a third cousin to their Grandma Phoebe.  Then they were headed on over to Byrdstown to visit the graves of great, great and great, great, great grandparents.  When Bonnie saw the facebook posting of this trip, she reported that Pete’s grandparents were buried there as well.  They were William Dural Mullens and Sarah Marsha Jackson Mullens both born in 1843.  They had ten children.  There will be lots of stories to tell when the travelers return.  Meanwhile folks from Tennessee spent Sunday in Champion.  They are here to say goodbye to a precious lady, Mrs. Esther Howard.  She and her husband Raymond Howard of Marshfield had been frequent visitors to Champion in years past and always left the place improved by their presence.  Esther wore pretty hats and always had a sweet loving smile and a gentle laugh.

        Good things are going on at the Skyline School.  PTO members are looking at a new piece of playground equipment with the idea of getting some assistance from the Douglas County Health Department and perhaps some other help.  The middle school students are participating in “Say Something Week.”  When it comes to violence, suicide and threats, most are known by at least one other individual before the incident takes place.  Say Something teaches students how to look for warning signs, signals and threats—especially in social media—from individuals who may want to hurt themselves or others and to Say Something to a trusted adult to get them help.  Meanwhile, in Alaska, Lannie Hinote is flying along the Yukon River as ice is building up.  She says the sight always amazes her with its beauty.  The school in Mountain Village is lucky to have her teaching and coaching and she feels lucky to get to be there.  She was certainly a great asset to Skyline during her time here and it is wonderful to still be connected with her to share her great adventure.

        For people who enjoy birthdays this is a banner week.   Starting out with the Milkmaid herself, mother of Taegan and Luxe, Chase’s sister, Leslee’s spouse and Fae’s daughter-in-law, all in one dynamic young woman only 17 miles over the speed limit!  She celebrates on the 24th.  The next day belongs to Roger Miller who was born in 1936 and passed away in 1992.  He wrote songs like “You Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd, “Dang Me, and “Walking in the Sunshine.”  The father of Eli and Emerson Rose shares his birthday with his children’s great Uncle Harley who will, on the 26th, leap forward and again become older, by a solid year, than his Champion sister-in-law.  Shala, the instigator of her mother-in-law’s fantastic surprise party last week, celebrates her own birthday also on the 26th.  Nicholas Georges is a kindergarten student at Skyline School.  His birthday is on the 28th.  Miley Ludwick is a first grade student and also celebrates on the 28th.  The 29th belongs to Royce Henson and Connie Lansdown, both with deep Champion ties.  Felipe, who regularly celebrates the liberation of Cuba, celebrates his birthday on the 31st along with Cheyenne Hall, a 7th grade student and with Ms. Curtis, Skyline’s illustrious Superintendent.  Halloween is on Monday this year, so Cheyenne and Ms. Curtis will have “Happy Boo!-Day” sung to them.

        It is good to see how much information has come out about Proposition 3 on the November ballot.  For all its pro school wording the thing turns out to be pro big tobacco and the money from the tobacco tax would not necessarily go to public schools like Skyline.  Amendment 6 is another of those trickily worded political maneuvers.  The overt reasoning is to prevent voter fraud, which is almost nonexistent on the individual voting level.  The covert reasoning is to roll back voting rights by requiring photo identification.  The expense of acquiring photo ID is one that many poor people cannot afford.  Many women voters may find that they cannot vote if they have not changed their names on their IDs after they have been married or divorced.  Veterans may be impacted as well.  This is a good spot for some quotes of the week.  Scotland’s Bobby Nickelson says, “A country that encourages ignorance is not a democracy.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) said, “Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.”  Voltaire (1694-1788) said “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

        Ansel Adams (1902-1984) said, “It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.”  People commenting as “Bold Nebraska” on the internet reported that a motorist was recently killed while driving through a cloud of anhydrous ammonia that leaked from a Magellan Midstream Partners pipeline near Tekama, Nebraska.  In Standing Rock, North Dakota heavily armed and militarized local police and National Guard are operating at the behest of the petroleum companies against people who are protecting their land, their sacred sites and the Missouri River from a pipeline that has been started without permission of the land owners.  Eminent domain for private gain is the ploy and hundreds of peaceful, prayerful people have been arrested and treated in the most degrading way.  Journalists have been arrested for reporting on the events going on there today.  Journalist Amy Goodman has had the charges against her dropped in court.  She said “Journalism is the only profession explicitly protected by the U.S. Constitution, because journalists are supposed to be the check and balance on government.  We’re supposed to be holding those in power accountable.  We’re not supposed to be their megaphone.  That’s what the corporate media have become.”

        In sporting news, the Champion Regulation Horseshoe Pitch is becoming a popular site in this lovely weather.  The persistent rivalry between the Frontiersman and the motorcycle Hooligan took an odd twist when the adversaries joined forces against the formidable team of George and The General.  They had been playing an hour or two before the newcomers challenged them, and fatigue may be one of the excuses they give for having been so soundly trounced—11 to 9.  When the game was over, George casually tossed a ringer just to add to the humiliation.  Go to www.championnews.us for a photograph of the competition.  Spectators were polite.

        Joann Hicks, Marsha Wheat Turnbull and Janice Ray used to work together in a lab over in Mountain Home.  They have all retired and rarely get to see each other so their rendezvous at the Historic Emporium on Wednesday was a pleasant gathering.  They signed the guest book and toured the Square and had good memories to share.  Marsha is from Vanzant originally and was familiar with the area.  Joann and Janice had only heard stories about the place so their curiosity was satisfied and locals were happy to get acquainted with them.  Being retired has some fine points to it.  The freedom of not having to go to work is reminiscent of happy childhood.  “Playmate, come out and play with me, And bring your dollies three, Climb up my apple tree–Look down my rain-barrel, Slide down my cellar door, And we’ll be jolly friends forever more!” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


October 17, 2016

October 14, 2016

CHAMPION—October 14, 2016


Wagon-Master Clifton Luna

        The sad news came to Champion that Clifton Luna has passed away.  He was 91.  He served in the U.S. Navy in World War II.  He and his wife of 67 years lived on their Dora farm where he continued to operate his father’s saw mill.  For many years he hitched up his mules and led a train of other wagons and horseback riders through the Ozarks.  He brought the wagon train through Champion every October on their way from West Plains to Mansfield and it was always a highlight of the year for this community.  This was the first year that he was unable to make this trip.  He will be much missed and long remembered by his many friends in the West Plains Wagon Club, the Gee Haw folks of Arkansas, and all the folks along the trail.  He had a big family and a big place in the heart of this part of the world.

        Dick and Coleen Danham live in Highlandville.  They had read about the Squires Store in the Rural Missouri publication and then happen to see Kaitlyn McConnell’s facebook page, Ozarks Alive, where Champion had been featured recently.  They made a day of it and visited both these thriving commercial centers.  The next Wednesday Alice and Austin Reynolds of Springfield decided to visit the Bright Side, also as a result of seeing the story on Kaitlyn’s page.  Alice said that they stopped in Norwood to ask directions and no one seemed to know how to find Champion.  She called Henson’s Store for directions, thanks to Kaitlyn having included the phone number in her article.  Champions are considering the notion of getting some signs up in various places.  Perhaps a committee should be formed.

Happy Birthday Eva!

        A Champion couple both have birthdays in October–seven days apart.  Who is older?  Do they party the whole week long?  Carson Cline has his second birthday on October 18th.  He is a Champion grandson with a groovy big brother.  Wyatt Shannon is a prekindergarten student at Skyline.  His birthday is the 19th.  Betty Swain celebrated her 90th birthday several years ago on October 20th.  She is an avid bridge player whose favorite bid is ‘three no trump.’  Marty Watts is a Champion son-in-law who lives in Tennessee.  His birthday is the 20th.  Cyanna Davis is a sixth grader at Skyline.  She also celebrates on the 20th.  The 21st belongs to the late Anna Henson of downtown Champion and Cidneye Godkin over on the Colorado River in Texas.  Donna Moskaly, Ava Art Guild winner of many awards, shares her birthday on the 22nd with Haylee Surface, a second grade student at Skyline, and with Skyline’s cook, Mrs. Beth.  Birthdays are the best days of the year for some people.  Eva Clark was just honored with a surprise party by her family, friends and colleagues.  Donita Virtue shared her beautiful home for the event and Eva’s family and friends put the good effort in to make a lovely day for a lovely lady.  She had birthday greetings from around the country and from friends she made in Eastern Europe when she worked with Doctors Without Borders.  She is still working as a nurse and being an amazing grandmother.  It is a joy to celebrate so many dynamic Champions!

        Amy Goodman is a journalist who has been looking into the ongoning historic gathering of Native Americans and their many allies out on the Great Plains.  Those folks are struggling to protect their land, their cemeteries, their history and their water, as well as the water of all the people who live downstream on the Missouri River.  Deia Schlosberg is a documentary film maker.  Both she and Amy Goodman are exercising their First Amendment rights as journalists and have both been subject to arrest and prosecution for doing nothing more than reporting on what they see, which is a great and growing number of non-violent people praying on their own land.  They have gathered to express their opposition to a well-funded, under vetted pipeline project—eminent domain for private gain–and have been met with violent attacks by private security companies hired by the commercial interest.  The Wall Street Journal reported that there were 1,400 pipeline spills and accidents in the U.S. just between 2010 and 2013.  According to the Journal reviews, four in every five pipeline accidents are discovered by local residents, not the companies that own the pipelines.  Recent spills in Alabama and Arkansas are yet to be resolved environmentally or financially.  Little wonder the Standing Rock people are concerned.  Meanwhile Nestle corporate agents and those of similar companies continue to find ways to legally appropriate natural water.  “Water! Water!  All day we faced the barren waste without a taste of water.  Cool, clear water.  Oh! Dan, can’t you see that big green tree where the water’s flowing free and it’s waiting there for you and me?”

        A political advertisement on television these days features half a dozen fresh faced ten year old youngsters enthusiastically touting Proposition 3 on the November ballot.  They are most appealing, indicating that if you care about children you must approve this proposition.  The children are actors with promising careers ahead of them.  The promise of the proposition is that only the smaller cigarette manufacturers, those that poor people can afford, will be taxed while the big companies like R.J. Reynolds will have nothing changed.  It is a ploy to gain more of the market share.  Worse yet, the money from these taxes is to be dispersed among private and religious schools, again drawing funds from public education.  Little rural schools like our wonderful Skyline R2 School could use some support, but do not believe that this proposition will help any more than the “Right to Work” or “Right to Farm” actually helps workers or farmers.  Politics are tricky.  They are also dishearteningly dirty.  The obsession with unpleasant personalities draws attention away from the important issues.  Alas!  Suffragettes who finally won the vote in 1920, might have said, “Grab ‘em by the ballot box!”

        Sunday night’s full moon, the Hunter’s Moon, sailed high across the sky, setting the world below aglow and lingering on the horizon until the sun took over.  It is a treasure to live in a part of the world with so little light pollution—where it can get really dark.  That is when the night sky can sing its celestial song.  Music lovers over in Vanzant are sure to have some interesting opinions about Bob Dylan having won the Nobel Prize for Literature this year.  (The nominating committee has neglected The Champion News once again.  Alas!)  Dylan and Johnny Cash had a long time friendship and recorded quite a number of songs together including “Girl From the North Country.”  Young Chace Cauthron is about to start a band out on the wide veranda at the Historic Emporium.  His enthusiasm for music is an inspiration.  Come be inspired down on the wide, wild wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek.  The horseshoe pitch is available without charge for anyone stout enough to play.  To get to this tranquil spot, go to the bottom of several hills where country roads meet the pavement.  You will have passed through some beautiful country with the fall foliage morphing right before your eyes.  Ah!  “The times they are a changing!” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Oh! The seasons they are a-changing!

October 10, 2016

October 10, 2016

CHAMPION—October 10, 2016


A squirrel hulls walnuts getting ready for winter.

        The Pioneer Descendants Gathering is now a part of history.  Matt Byerley, son of Roy and Sue Walker Byerley, won the “Horse Country” quilt.  Hosts, Betty and Dale Thomas, spent the Monday after the gathering at the bedside of a friend who had surgery.  They came home to find that friends and neighbors, Matt Byerley and Bert Lehman among them, had done much of the clean-up work that always followed this great event.  Because of that help, Betty and Dale were able to go over to the Goodhope community to Jim and Marge Voyles’ sorghum event for the first time.  Fordland’s Wild West Days will be held the first weekend in October in the future.  There will be any number of festivals and gatherings in the area to fill the calendar, but likely none will replicate the experience that so many have enjoyed on the Thomas Farm all these fifteen years.

        Pete and Bonnie Mullins have just celebrated sixty-one years of marriage over in Wichita, Kansas.  They live over there but consider this part of the world home.  Champion granddaughter, Madelyn Ward was born on October 10, 2006.  Happy Birthday!  Janet Chapin will be driving the OATS bus on her birthday on the 12th.  Cathy Baldwin will be wildly celebrated on the 13th.  The 14th is the special day for a number of interesting people:  a nurse–Eva Clark, a film-maker–Jillian Hall and a dairy farmer–Leslee Krider.  Jo Moskaly shares his birthday on the 15th with Skyline kindergarten Keedien Curtis.  Olivia Prock is an 8th grade student at Skyline.  Her birthday is the 16th.  She was probably at the Skyline Fall Festival on Friday night having a good time with her friends.  The community of this great little rural school is busy providing a secure and encouraging environment for life time learners.

Deer graze on persimmons as fall sets in.

        Off in the woods the dogwoods are beginning to turn purple and along the roads sumac is getting purple and red as a sign of the seasons changing.  Some report that in previous years when the woods have stayed so lush and green, as they are now, right up until frost, the foliage just turns from green to brown without going through all the colorful autumnal gradations.  For winter prognostications, persimmon seeds are telling disparate stories according to their location.  Some have knives and some spoons.  Woolly worms have appeared to be platinum blonde, light brown and black, some with sparse hair and some luxuriant and full.  Champions are committed to observe carefully and to enjoy every subtle nuance of change as it happens from summer to fall to winter to spring–ad infinitum.

        Some things change and some do not.  Descendants of the brave immigrant souls who came over on the Mayflower and hundreds of other little ships and members of the Daughters of the American Revolution all have reason to revere our illustrious ancestors.  We have built a beautiful Nation on these shores.  It is not without its flaws and it is still very much a work in progress, but the rest of the world has recognized the United States of America for its great heart and character—an example for struggling democracies everywhere.  In these tumultuous times it might set a good example for the rest of the world to admit that American history did not begin when Columbus set sail out of Europe.  The indigenous people who met those pilgrims on the shore have been tricked, evicted and subjected to genocide most foul during these recent centuries.  Even now private security companies working for the extraction industries have turned vicious dogs on Native people who are standing on their own land protecting their culture, their sacred sites, and their water.  It was determined that the oil pipeline might pose a threat to the water supply of Bismarck, Dakota’s capital city, so it was rerouted over land that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers designated appropriate without regard for the sacred sites, the graves, the homes and histories of the people who live there.  It is eminent domain for private gain and the water of not just the Standing Rock people, but everyone downstream is at risk as the company plans to cross under the wide Missouri.  Representatives of more than two hundred tribes from across the Americas and non-Native allies from around the world have been coming together for what is considered the largest gathering of native peoples in this country in a century.  They stand to protest the intrusion into tribal land and to protect the water for all of us.  Is it mocking to wish them good luck?

        Thomas Paine who wrote that inflammatory pamphlet “Common Sense” advocating independence from Great Britain said, “To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.”  Concerned neighbors are spooning out their various versions of reason to each other in hopes that they will come around.  It does seem that our political health is fragile—tenuous at best.

        The wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek are enjoying beautiful weather.  Bees are returning to the Behemoth Bee Tree.  Friends and neighbors gather on the wide veranda of the Historic Emporium over on the North Side of the Square to share their histories and observations.  The horse-shoe pitch is getting a good amount of use these days.  Noting the temperament of some of the players, it may be a real example of sportsmanship that things do not get heated.  Clanking ringers and the raucous shouts of spectators, however, do not interfere with the music or the visiting inside or out.  Come join the fun in person or send your observations and Champion histories to The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717. Enjoy pictures of the beautiful place at www.championnews.us and hear some of the great music that is native to these parts.  A version of an old song shared goes, “Hallelujah! Thine’s the glory.  Hallelujah!  Amen.  Hallelujah!  Give us a hand out to revive us again.”  There are always songs in the hearts of Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!

The horseshoe pitch stays busy on Wednesdays.

October 3, 2016

October 3, 2016

CHAMPION—October 3, 2016


Many enjoyed wagon rides at the last Pioneer Descendant’s Gathering on the Thomas Farm.

        The Pioneer Descendants Gathering ended its important fifteen year run with flurry.  There was a great flurry of dust on the way over the Edge of the World and much sweet nostalgia as people realized this was the last time Dale and Betty Thomas would share their beautiful space with the whole world.  Wagon rides out along the creek gave that feeling of being in another time.  Music floated over the clearing as friends and neighbors met and visited remarking on the beautiful weather and the swift passage of time.  It has been a genuine gift to the area to have this event all these years.  Tom Brown and John Burden have been honored by their many descendants.  Find pictures of this last lovely gathering at www.championnews.us.  There are various festival organizations around the area ready to fill the gap.  People in Fordland and in Ava are looking to replicate this great experience.  Vicki Warren Martin says on line, “While it is true that this is the last year that this historical rendezvous event will be held at the Dale & Betty Thomas Farm, it will not be the end!!  Because so many of the participants want to see this tradition continue, the gathering will be held next year at the Barren Fork Muzzleloaders Traditional Rendezvous & Muzzleloader Range in Gainesville.”

        Skyline VFD Auxiliary President Betty Dye celebrates her birthday on October 7th.  Champion, Vicki Trippie, who lives in Springfield and works tirelessly for democracy celebrates that day too.  Sue Thompson, a Canadian with Texas ties sings at the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam on Thursdays.  She is due a birthday serenade.  Her special day is the 8th.  Friday the 7th the Christian Agricultural Stewardship Institute (CASI) is having a conference at the Vanzant Community Center starting at 11 a.m. with a pot luck luncheon and a round table discussion on the theme of year round gardening.  There will be examples of squashes and peppers and the like from this year’s garden and possibly seeds to share.  There are currently about ten core member families of the Douglas County CASI group and they invite the community at large to join them for this interesting and topical get together.  Organizer, Geoffrey Goss, is from Nottinghill just over in Ozark County, and became acquainted with Vanzant and this nice venue while he made frequent trips to the Topaz Mill.  He says that parsnips, sun chokes, kale and winter peas are some of the winter crops that will be discussed and that there will be literature available.  Everyone is welcome.

        The newly installed horseshoe pitch on the flat spot between the garden and the wood pile on the grounds of the Historic Emporium is the subject of much, or at least some, interest these days.  Its debut featured negotiations concerning the distance between pins, methods of scoring and acceptable techniques for the actual throwing.  A frontiersman from Far North Champion met up with a motorcycle hoodlum from Ozark County for the first match.  After hammering out the rules the game commenced and when the dust settled, it was generally figured that the frontiersman had significantly bested the hoodlum.  Some competitors are already in training with daily practice sessions and it is pretty well figured that the pitch will be seeing regular action now as long as the good weather holds.  There is no fee for the use of the court at this time but as popularity grows there may be some official guidelines for reservations and time limits.

        It is said that bad politicians are elected by good people who do not vote.  With just over a month until this year’s National election and all that that may mean for everyone here, it is pleasing to see that friends and neighbors with opposing views are beginning to practice some of that Golden Rule ethos.  Everyone will do the best he can to promote his interpretation of what he perceives to be the facts and will marvel that many of his contemporaries are working from an entirely different set of realities.  While he would like to be able to convince them of his rightness and their wrongness, he sees that they believe as fervently as he does and so he knows he will just have to let them be wrong.  Meanwhile, he encourages everyone to participate.  Only 28.5% of estimated eligible voters voted in the presidential primaries.  It is amazing that so many relinquish their franchise while complaining that the government is such a mess.

        Reuters is an international news agency headquartered in London, England.  While it has not been any more responsive to the call for more news coverage of the Water Protectors waging peaceful protest against the Dakota Access Pipe Line project, it did an investigation into the nation’s pipeline system which was published last week.  The gist of it is that “sensitive technology designed to pick up possible spills is about as successful as a random member of the public finding it, despite efforts from pipeline operators.”  It turns out that pipelines are not backed by scientist.  An open letter in Science Magazine decries the inadequate environmental and cultural impact assessments DAPL had to go through.  From Standing Rock, North Dakota to the Ecuadorian Amazon, indigenous people that are defending their land, lives, and culture are being surrounded by police and having their rights violated as companies and governments seek to expand the oil frontier.  Meanwhile pipeline breaks in Yellowstone, Arkansas and Alabama are still not being remediated.  What is clean water worth?

        “The Last of the Garden” is a recipe for a green tomato pepper (and other things) relish that goes well with a pot of beans, according to a regular visitor to Champion who happened to be enjoying the music and visiting at the Pioneer Gathering on Sunday afternoon.  Gardeners are digging up sweet potatoes, sharing winter squash and making plans for the successes they will have next year.  Walnut leaves are drifting down in yellow swirls and sumac and dogwoods are getting red in the woods.  The Teeter Creek folks have some nice pictures on their facebook page of the spicebush this week.  They say, “Spicebush stands out brilliantly in wooded valleys and ravines this time of year with its bright-red berries.  All parts of the Spicebush (leaves, berries, stem bark) have a wonderfully fragrant smell, the juicy berries being the most pungent.”  They said that the leaves were widely considered to be the best beverage tea by Ozark pioneers.

        Come down to the wide, wild wooly banks of Old Fox Creek to enjoy a pleasant beverage with friends on the wide veranda during this glorious fall weather.  If the clanking of horseshoes and heated rivalry get too loud, just go inside and sit a spell.  The rowdies will wear themselves out soon enough and all will be tranquil again in one of the world’s truly beautiful places.  Share your thoughts on horseshoes, your recipes, inquiries, stories, histories and hopes for a bright future at The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or at champion@championnes.us.  “It will help us every day. It will brighten all our way, if we’ll keep on the sunny side of life!” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


2016 Pioneer Descendants Gathering


Many enjoyed wagon rides at the last Pioneer Descendant’s Gathering on the Thomas Farm.

Rebecca Turcott–gets archery instruction from a young expert.

The blacksmith camp.

Nurse Nannette Hirsch took a stroll on stilts under the watchful eye of a young expert.