February 19, 2019

CHAMPION—February 17, 2019


They all think they are Sycamores.

It seemed suddenly Sunday that all the bare trees had become sycamores. The beautiful sycamores gleam white against the backdrop of cedars and pines and reach up majestically from mustard colored grasses. The thin icing of each branch and twig on oak, walnut, elm and sassafras, hackberry, ash, redbud, and dogwood transformed them all to stately sycamores. It is a trick of the light to delight, and to those who can enjoy it through our windows, a beautiful sight in Champion!

Sunday’s moon.

Buzzards have returned to the area. A couple of them were spotted soaring over in Vanzant on Monday and several are roosting in Orville’s barn over on Cold Springs Road. They are not particularly attractive, but they perform an important function in nature. At this time of the year they are much appreciated as harbingers of spring, even on a frozen perch. Travelers to town on Monday were dazzled by the sun glinting on the ice coating almost everything. February has been a wild weather month—sunny and hot, rainy and dreary, now freezing and slick with a ring around the moon. “Thunder in February—frost in May,” is the old saying that has proven out over the years in this part of the world. Seeds are showing up on store shelves and that lifts the spirits of winter weary gardeners. In a few months the oppressive heat will be the subject of the conversation.

“Hot rolls or chocolate cake for Valentine’s?” she asked him. “Hot rolls,” he replied, and she made them, smiling at the flowers and candy and the card from him, still romantic after sixty years together. Lena said that one of the nicest Valentine’s gifts she had received from Jerry over the years was a weed-eater. It is the thought that counts. Sometimes he smiles at her and sings, “I love you just the way you are, I wouldn’t change you if I could.” Ricky Skaggs does that tune too, but he is not looking at Lena when he does it. It was Sweethearts on Parade at the Vanzant Jam on Thursday and all over the whole country. A day devoted to love and affection is just what we need at this juncture. It was a treat to have Sharry Lovan and Jack at the jam. They did not come on their motorcycles as they sometimes do when they visit Champion. Sharry has great things going on at the Star Theatre in Willow Springs and is about to record a CD in Branson. She grew up singing gospel songs with her family in about every little country church in the area. She said they tied the bass fiddle to the top of the car and off they would go. Plans are perking for the Champion Spring Fling—date to be announced–and we will hope to see them here again. There will be picking and singing out on the wide veranda at the Historic Emporium and under the big oak tree that is the sign post for Lonnie Krider Memorial Drive in Downtown Champion. Music has such therapeutic properties. Somewhere between the cold medicine from the pharmacy isle at Henson’s Downtown G & G and the Thursday jam, The General showed dramatic signs of improvement over his cold. He reported having seen geese flying toward the southeast on Sunday.

Birthday wishes go out to Carson and Drayson Cline’s mother, Staci Krider Cline. Her birthday is February 23rd. They live over in Tennessee these days, but they get back to Champion often to visit with family and friends. Another year will go by with no aging for Frankie Proctor. His birthday is February 29th, so he is not due for a celebration until the year 2020. He will most likely improvise with the help of his family. His Aunt Amy Collins was born on February 20, 1930. She passed away on the 14th just shy of her 89th birthday. She was one of a dozen children in her family who grew up in and around Champion. Another of her nephews remarked recently that with the passing of Amy’s generation, we are closing the book on a great deal of history. He laments not having asked more questions of them. As he and the rest of us become the ‘old folks,’ will our grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces and nephews regret not having inquired of us details of our upbringing and our lives as young people? They are busy with their own lives now, so we will sit by the fire and wait, wondering if they have heard that tune, “I wonder how the old folks are at home.”

Skyline School students and teachers are busy. President’s Day and bad weather days have given them some time off, which is a good thing, but they will have to make that time up later, which is another good thing. Among the exciting things going on is another archery tournament. This one will occur on Saturday, March 2nd. The eighth grade class will have a concession stand, the proceeds from which will help them make a class trip to Silver Dollar City later in the year. Watching these talented, disciplined young people exhibit their considerable skill is an encouraging exercise for people who might spend too much time concerned over current events. We are reminded of that famous quote, “Real power is—I don’t even want to use the word—fear.” These young folks are not afraid and that is reassuring. They are gaining self-reliance and developing the critical thinking skills that will allow them to navigate the increasingly complicated world they will inherit. “May you live in interesting times” was thought to be an old Chinese curse, but it turns out that it may be attributed to a British Ambassador to China in 1936. Even though these days may remind us of what things were like in 1928 or 1936, we are, in today’s parlance, ‘chill’ here in Champion– Looking on the Bright Side!

Champion sparkles!

February 12, 2019

CHAMPION—February 12, 2019


A Champion Winter

Cold, cloudy, drizzly, wintry weather is wonderful weather for enjoying a nice fire and thumbing through seed catalogues, planning for the spring garden that will soon be occupying all the energy Champions have to spare. It is a good time to catch up on the mending, for cooking chili or apple crisps and for practicing those tunes and songs that make you feel better no matter what the weather. The Vanzant jam was cancelled last week because of the threatening conditions. It is definitely ON this week and chances are good that it will be well attended and much enjoyed. It will be Valentine’s Day and that will add to the sweetness. Meanwhile, the sun comes out, as it eventually always does, even if sometimes accompanied by a cold wind. Sunshine seems to always lift the spirit and the emerging daffodils appear not to be phased by the ice and the snow and the cold wind that blows. They will be out beautifying the world well in advance of the Vernal Equinox which will occur Wednesday, March 20th at 4:59 p.m. Central Standard Time.

Trish Davis is the grandmother of twins who have just had their first birthday, so Granny is having double fun. She lives over just east of Ava, but it is like the old boy says, “Everybody’s got to be somewhere.” Her birthday is February 17th. That is Linda Clark’s birthday too. She is the grandmother of triplets who are now four years old. Linda has always has had a lot of fun. Wayne Anderson was her Dad, so she grew up in a house with laughter and music. Pete Proctor’s birthday is the 18th. He does a good work with the American Legion in this area, helping Veterans in a number of different ways. He and The General take care of the Denlow Cemetery and perhaps a number of other things most of us do not know about. Pete’s mother was Ruby Proctor. She was born in Tedrick, February 19, 1925, the daughter of John and Goldie (Stout) Hicks. She grew up in Champion and always loved it here. She passed away in 2014, but is still well remembered for her good humor and sweet smile. Another Champion daughter is the lovely Joanna Bell. She was born February 21, 1969, so is about to have a significant birthday. So to Trish, Linda, Pete and Joanna, your friends wish you well and many happy returns of the day.


Sometimes THE CHAMPION NEWS does not make it all the way to ink. The Mountain Grove News Journal changed its format a while back and put a 500 word limit on the community articles. When, from time to time, Champion does not make it into print, some folks call them up to complain. That is very nice of them and we appreciate it, but it looks like the News-Journal is undergoing a number of changes, even as the whole town has in recent years. The Douglas County Herald has not given much of an edit lately, except for any particulars about benefit events which copyreaders there think justify an advertisement. Of course, our little local newspapers need advertising revenue to continue in business. Back through the years, The Herald’s editors have omitted chunks of the Champion items when they are perceived to be controversial or not adhering to the conservative leanings of the paper. That has not been the case so much recently, which causes us to think the editors are becoming more centrist, or that we are becoming more skillful in couching liberal partialities in homespun language, or that we are becoming more centrist, wary or hypocritical. There is room for reflection.

Leonard Peltier reflected on February 7th, 2019. “Each of you who have fought for my freedom have been a part of the greater struggle of native peoples or treaty rights, sovereignty, and our very survival. If I should be called home, please don’t give up the struggle.” He is 74 years old, in poor health, and has been in prison for more than 40 years, convicted on false evidence. One has suggested the current president might deal a blow to the FBI, with which he has personal issues, by pardoning Mr. Peltier. It is just a thought.

The welcome raindrops may have the creeks running high, but people determined to get there will go by way of the pavement to sit around the old wood stove at the Historic Emporium to hear the yarns spun, to pat their feet to the music and to visit with friends and neighbors. Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


February 4, 2019

CHAMPION—February 4, 2019


Something beautiful in Champion.

Monday might have been that day that Lonnie Krider alluded to about this time every year:  “There’ll come a day in February when a dog looks for the shade.”  It seems early in the month, but Champions will take a pretty day any time we can get one.  A local Old Pollyanna says she can find something beautiful in every day in this part of the world.  She is a big Willie Nelson fan (“Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain”) and recently noted a quote by her hero:  “We are the same.  There is no difference anywhere in the world. People are people.  They laugh, cry, feel, and love, and music seems to be common denomination that brings us all together.  Music cuts through all boundaries and goes right to the soul.”

One hundred twenty six archers from six area schools participated in the archery tournament at our Skyline R2 School on Saturday.  The previous two tournaments had been canceled or cut short by bad weather, but Saturday was a beautiful day for the archers, coaches, and spectators to be out.  Skyline student, Joshua Garner took second place for middle school boys, and Faith Crawford took third place for middle school girls.  It is a quiet sport.  The tournaments are well organized and executed with an emphasis on safety.  Dean Brixey enjoyed coffee from the concession stand and watched some of the morning flights.  He attended Skyline back in the 1950s when there were only four teachers.  He has watched the facility grow over the years and enjoys any opportunity to attend a function there, particularly since he has grandchildren in attendance.  It was a treat to spend a day around a gymnasium full of well behaved, thoughtful young people.  It is inspiring to see their confidence and their competence.  It is also pleasant to observe competition that is not aggressive.  They encourage each other.  The physical skill, the concentration and the rewards of diligent practice must surely carry over into academia and other aspects of life.  They are generous and helpful to each other.  For example, the Skyline R-V and Norwood R-1 Archery teams invite everyone to attend the Pirate State Qualifier Archery Tournament in the Norwood multi-purpose gym on Saturday, the 9th, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  This event is dedicated to the family of the Manes R-V archery coach who recently lost her 19 year old daughter in an auto accident during inclement weather.  This is another chance to get out and enjoy an exciting, if quiet, sporting event and to help someone who can really use the help.  That is one of the benefits of living in this beautiful part of the country—neighbor helping neighbor.  Champion!

Cowboy Jack will celebrate a birthday on February 7th.  He does not ride much these days, but he has some great stories to tell about trips down the trail.  Poetry has been written about him.  Aidan Acree is a second grade student at Skyline with a birthday on the 8th.  That is the special day for a special daughter-in-law, the beautiful mother of Champion granddaughters.  Joshua Garner, Skyline sixth grade archer, shares his birthday on the 13th with the lovely Claire Shannon Johnson, and Sondra Powell who attended Skyline some several years ago.  The 14th is for Ms. Shelby Ward, and the 15th for seventh grader, Jaime Casiano.  Madison Bradshaw, fifth grader, celebrates on the 16th.  We celebrate our friends and family as they complete another trip around the sun.  “Now’s the end of the beginning.  The days are flying faster than the sun.”  That is a line from Graeme Laird’s song over in Edinburgh at The Royal Oak–a folk music pub that has been around for a long time, known as the ‘song-pub.’  The many favorable responses to these music links included on the Champion News website only go to encourage the practice.

A pretty note comes to The Champion News (Rt.72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717) from Eva Henson Phillips down in Bella Vista, Arkansas.  She was writing on January 29th and said, “We are staying warm by the fire side.  It is 9◦ this a.m.  Been cold and windy.  Had 3 little snow flurries.  Not a big amount.  We still work at the thrift store and pick up items that are donated.”  A while back, her friend, Sally, had mentioned that ‘Tiny’ might be coming back to Ava for an alumni luncheon.  She did not get to come, but she included this note about her friend:  “I’ve known Sally Wagoner a long time.  When we went to church at Drury, she was among the beautiful teen girls.  I was about 10 and envied them because they could go and come as they pleased.  Everyone back there calls me ‘Tiny.’  Most think that is my name.”  She goes on to say that they are planning to come for the Champion School reunion.  “I so enjoy the day.  I walked every day to and from school in all weather.”  It will be a treat to see the whole bunch and the reunion is just a few short months away.  The time goes by quickly and much will have happened between now and then.

Heads are set spinning just trying to keep up with everything that is going on.  We seem to be in a time unlike any we have ever known when, for example, each of the cabinet members of the government seems to have been handpicked for a determination to dismantle the agency he or she leads.  And, once again, we are reminded by Frank Zappa that “Politics is the entertainment division of the military industrial complex.”  We are living in a violent world, already over populated, with the population slated to sky rocket in the coming years.  The great Mahatma Gandhi said that there are seven blunders of the world that lead to violence:  “ Wealth without Work, Pleasure without Conscience, Knowledge without Character, Commerce without Morality, Science without Humanity, Worship without Sacrifice, Politics without Principal.”

Come on down to the Recreation of the Historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square in Downtown Champion for a chance to share your favorite philosopher with your friends or to go back in time just a little way to where things seemed normal.  Maybe Pat Smith will bring her spoons to play along with the Wednesday-jammers.  Perhaps she will bring her Bible where she is known to preserve important papers.  She is reported to have a copy of that epic poem there that starts, “Cowboy Jack was flat of his back…”  A search of the archives at www.championnews.net has not located the poem, but surely it must be there somewhere.  Whether or not you find the poem, the cyber stroll through this site is well worth the effort.  You will enjoy it if you have a connection to the place because of your own history.  You might enjoy it because it is the kind of place you wish you had lived or the kind of place you hope to live someday.  Perhaps you should come in person—down to the end of the pavement where country roads meet near the confluence of The Clever and Aulde Fox Creek where optimism is a thing–Champion!  Looking on the Bright Side!

More beauty.

January 28, 2019

CHAMPION—January 28, 2019


A Champion Groundhog!

Groundhog Day became an official commemoration in 1887, though the superstition goes back to ancient times in distant ancestral lands.  While the tradition remains popular in modern times, studies have found no consistent correlation between a groundhog seeing its shadow or not and the subsequent arrival time of spring-like weather.  The 1993 movie promotes the ideas that there are second chances, and third ones, ad. Inf., and that given the chance to do things over again, we could do better.  One Champion says that changing things in the past could have unexpected domino effects, so if you are happy with where you are, have no regrets.  Buffy St. Marie sings, “Groundhog, groundhog, what makes your back so brown?  I been living in the ground so darn long, it’s a wonder I don’t drown, drown, it’s a wonder I don’t drown.”  And like our pretty rodent friend we will just wonder at the weather.  Those folks at the National Weather Service sure did a good job without pay during our recent shut down.  And Champions are want to say that something beautiful can be found here any day of the year.

With luck, the twice thwarted archery tournament will occur at the Skyline R-2 School on Saturday, Feb. 2nd with flights on the hour from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m.  Skyline archers will be joined by students from Norwood, Mountain Grove, Gainesville and Gasconade.  Weather has interfered with the last two of these scheduled events, so the community hopes this one will fly.  The 4-H club has a concession stand; the gym is a warm venue; your neighbors will be glad to see you out supporting this wonderful program.  One likens archery to the study of music for concentration, precision, and the tangible rewards of diligent practice.  Champions have been busy clipping those ‘UPC’ (Universal Product Code) barcodes off the Always Save and Best Choice products.  The Box Tops for Education coupons are on all kinds of things—some Reynolds products, some General Mills, some Ziploc and others, as well now as some Nestle products–Nestle Pure Life Water.  Having public education subsidized by the big multinational corporations is a boon and, in this political environment, every boon is a good one.  There are whole public relations departments within these companies dealing with corporate social responsibility, promoting what they call ‘shared value.’  Up in Michigan, Nestle pays $200.00 for 130 million gallons of water and folks over there in Flint are wanting yet.  Probably, someone with a mind to do so can find something hard to say about any big company.  An exceptional woman, Exer Hector, said on more than one occasion, “Well, thanks for what little you did do.”  One of the nice things about the money that the school gets out of these label-savings programs is that it is not earmarked.  The school can spend it where ever it needs to.  Another nice thing about these programs is that they give the community and people who do not even have kids in school an additional chance to help out.  It is also good to know that there are ‘corporate social responsibility’ standards at least being discussed.

Ellie Carson graduated from the 8th grade at Skyline in 2003.  Her family moved to this area in 1998.  She went on to become a Mountain View Police Officer and Missouri State Park Ranger.  She was off-duty on December 28, 2018 when she was struck by a pickup truck as a pedestrian.  She was transported by helicopter to Mercy Springfield where she underwent surgeries for a crushed hip socket, a severely lacerated liver, a collapsed lung and broken ribs.  She will be unable to work for months to come.  A spaghetti dinner benefit is planned for Officer Carson at the Mountain View Community Center on February 16th.  Contact the Mountain View Police Department (417-934-2525) for more information and how you might help.

Just across Fox Creek and a forty acre field, a Mr. Cooley will have a birthday on February 1st.  He shares the day with Sarah Cloud.  Zack Alexander, Champion grandson, will be 13 years old on that day as well.  He lives up in Springfield, but spends quality time in this neck of the woods.  His aunt Angie celebrates on Groundhog Day, as does Connie Grand who rumor has it will notch up into the next decade.  She shares the day with another very talented artist, Charlene Dupre.  Charlene is retired now.  Her last teaching job was in Norwood, and she spends part of her year here and part in Florida, illustrating that one just thinks she is busy until she retires.  The 2nd was also the birthday of a sweet friend, Judith Sharon Parsons.  She passed away in late December leaving many with hearts sad but also full of good memories.  She too was a skilled artisan and the many works she shared over the years are treasures.

If we held a moment of silence for every victim of the Holocaust, we would be silent for eleven and a half years.  As we watch the current political turmoil here and in many other places in the world, it is not impossible to believe that fascism could rise again.  More than 70 years ago Allied troops liberated the death camps.  Who will liberate us if we fall under authoritarian rule?  Being thoughtful and informed, compassionate and empathetic while we participate in our democracy might help to prevent those fruitful seeds of distrust from germinating in our great garden of ignorance.

Meanwhile Burns Night was splendid with traditional food and drink and many lines of Bobby’s poetry as in, “Who know them best, despise them most.”  This part of the world can boast of its Scot’s ancestry.  They came here as immigrants, shanghaied indentured servants, or as stolen or sold children in the time of great difficulties there.  It seems that there are difficulties everywhere, yet.  English, as spoken in Scotland, combines with some Gaelic and local slang for Bobby Nicholson’s song, “It Wasne Me” (It was not me) to lend us an ear to our shared struggles.  Enjoy a link to that song at www.championnews.us and know that we have plausible deniability in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Always something beautiful in Champion.

January 21, 2019

CHAMPION—January 21, 2019


The Super Blood Wolf Moon Eclipse

What is more lovely than bright moonlight on fresh snow? It was a gift to have the clouds part on Saturday night after an exciting day of wild blizzard conditions, off and on. It was the kind of snow that held on to every branch and twig. The moon shadows were as India ink drawings on soft blue-white parchment—stark and stunning in the still air. The Super Blood Wolf Moon Eclipse will have everyone talking in Champion on Wednesday. Was it an uncloudy sky? Were they able to stay awake? Were they willing to get out in the cold? Did they watch it on the internet? Did they think they would just wait for the next one in 2021? The internet practically exploded with pictures and awed comments. More than one person wrote, “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore!” Lovers must have been watching in warm embrace against the bitter cold.

Back in the early 1970s, an adventurous young woman came to visit in the Ozarks and decided to stay. She had a couple of dogs, which made staying with friends difficult, so she enlisted the aid of a new acquaintance to help her find a place of her own. This new friend raised chickens, which she very much liked, and she soon found herself very much liking the tall, handsome man as well. He lifted her in his arms to carry her across the swollen creek to get to the house she would occupy but only for a short while, though it had electricity and good water. She wound up in the arms of that man for more than forty years, making good memories and a couple of beautiful children along the way. Grandchildren now have favorite chickens. They will miss their beloved grandmother as will all her loving family and many dear longtime friends.

Bonnie Brixey Mullens was cited on the internet the other day for assisting her great granddaughter, Dominique, in the making of a strawberry-rhubarb pie. The pie did not show up significantly in the photograph as it was over topped with ice cream. Great grandson, Warren, is more of a chocolate pie kind of guy. He makes those and banana pudding. Another strawberry-rhubarb aficionado is the elder Backyard Bluegrass guy. These days he might get his pie over at Dora, made by the charming, musically talented Roberta. In older days, Esther Wrinkles was the pie maven. Dennis said they played many a show for Esther. She has been gone from us since about this time of the year in 2013. We miss her yet. She loved bluegrass jams and would be very pleased to know that one is still going on in Vanzant—going strong.

Up in the distant northwest somewhere, young Thomas Jarnagin’s dear old dad, Todd, has a birthday on the 24th of January. Skyline first grader, Blake Macintosh, also celebrates that day together with prekindergarten student, Lexi Webster. Cowboy Jack’s lovely wife, Joyce, has her birthday on the 26th, as does sixth grade student, Brooke Johnson. Our esteemed Lady of Sarcasm, Kaye H. Alexander, gives her royal wave in Springfield on January 27th. Fifth grade student, Kimberly Wallace, will party on the 29th and the next day is for sixth grader, Erika Strong. She shares that day with Sherry Bennett’s beautiful daughter, Nada Hutsell, and with James Brixey, who was forty years old in 2012. Your Champion friends wish you happy birthdays all, young and old, near and far.

A nice old house up on the hill by the store in Denlow was consumed by fire on Wednesday. It was not occupied at the time and firefighters think that it was probably caused by old wiring. The house had a lot of history. Kenneth Anderson lived there when he attended the first grade at the Denlow School in 1948-1949, according to ‘sources.’ Kenneth is good natured and probably will not mind having those dates made public. He is a staunch supporter of The Champion News and is routinely seen about with the always pretty-in-pink, Barbara. Jimmy and Erma Hopper lived in that house from the 1950s to the 1970s. In recent years it was occupied by Ms. Monie Hicks. She has now gone off to Texas to live with a daughter and her granddaughter was moving into This Old House. It was reported that she had just taken her belongings there, but was back in Springfield working when the fire happened. Fortunately, no one was injured, but it is still cataclysmic to lose all one’s possessions in fire, or storms, or floods. Everyone knows someone who has had this experience. Some memory laden things cannot be replaced.

Champions are saddened for their friend, Karen Ross, who recently lost her mother. Reading the obituary for Flora Kathleen Mason, we are sorry not to have known her—a pleasant, hardworking, creative person devoted to her family and friends. Her light shines on in her daughter and her big family will always have those precious memories of the wonderful woman who cooked and sewed and laughed with them and set the example for a life well-lived.

Skyline’s Archery Tournament had to be cut short Saturday because of the inclement weather. Everyone made it home safely though and they will have another chance on February 2nd. One Old Champion got stuck with a pan of brownies intended for the 4-H concession stand. She will have another chance too, but imagine being snowed in with a pan of brownies. Alas! It will be Groundhog Day, and that is always the prime time for second chances. Hopes are that the community will fill the bleachers to watch this fascinating exercise. These tournaments are well organized and all the participants are learning skills that will last them through their lifetimes. Some area sports fans were much disappointed on Sunday evening when the Chiefs lost their game in overtime. It would have been terrific to see them at the Super Bowl. It was a very exciting game, even for people who do not routinely watch football.

Here are a few quotes of famous men to contemplate: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” “Real power is—I don’t even want to use the word—fear.” “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Come down to the wide, wild wooly banks of Old Fox Creek and mull it over with your friends and neighbors around the ancient wood stove in the meeting room of the Historic Emporium on the North side of the Square in Downtown Champion-Looking on the Bright Side!

The Champion News mailbox in the snow.