February 18, 2020

CHAMPION—February 17, 2020


Champion Wild Turkeys

Among the Campion mail this week comes a letter recommending “The Turnbo Manuscripts” by Silas Clairborne Turnbo 1844-1925.  Probably local Civil War aficionados are acquainted with Mr. Turnbo’s work as many of his 800 stories have to do with happenings in this part of the world, including an incident on Fox Creek, one down south of Rock Bridge and a particularly gruesome one over at Vera Cruz.  Concerning the Civil War times here about, the letter says, “It has caused me to reflect some on how local folks suffered not only the fear of enemy armies and the fear that a son or brother, or father might return maimed or not at all, but also, because of a population of mixed sympathies, the fear that a neighbor or friend or relative might be, as well, an enemy and ride up one day and shoot you down on your own doorstep.  The events of the Civil War seem remote and unreal, but they happened not so long ago.”  The letter points out that the entire nation is now a population of mixed sympathies.  Our best hopes are that we can use civility and common sense to avoid “the unfocused, disorganized violence that happened in the Ozarks in the 1860s.”  Here is a link to “The Turnbo Manuscripts”.  Another Champion shares a piece by Scarlet Rivera called “Lady Liberty.”  It will cause you to reflect.  Keep those cards and letters coming in at champion@championnews.us and at The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.

Champion Winter Robins

Wild turkeys came strutting through a Champion yard this morning and an early flock of robins adorned tall walnut trees in profusion as the mist rising from the valley met the fog.  Spring is surely on the way in this glorious part of the world.  Gardeners are watching tiny seedlings emerge on their window sills and planning their rows and beds.  Mushrooms are on the minds of many watching the thermometer for a signal to start hunting.  The Missouri Department of Conservation reports that April is usually the peak of morel season in Southern Missouri, but there is no accurate way to predict its beginning or end.  Generally, the season lasts four to six weeks.  The exact length depends on the weather and the species of morel.  Hot, dry weather quickly ends the season, while cool, moist weather can prolong it to mid-May.  Perhaps a warm March might cause the season to start early.

The 16th is the birthday of Donna Mullens Gainer.  Her folks were Pete and Bonnie Mullens and she grew up in Kansas.  She said they were here every summer when she was a kid and now they get back to Denlow for Memorial Day every year.  They will be at the Denlow School Skyline Reunion where they can enjoy the stories of Denlow and those other precious little country schools that molded their folks into such fine people.  Skyline prekindergarten student, Rayleigh Harvey has her birthday on the 18th.  She and her classmate, Maci King, whose birthday is on the 24th, are fortunate to be attending one of the last two little country schools in all of Douglas County.  Alumni of Skyline are looking for ways to insure that this great little school continues to thrive.  It is turning out the good citizens who will be the running the country in a few years.  One little thing we can do is to save those Always Save and Best Choice UPC barcodes and the Box Tops for Education coupons that come on most General Mills products as well as on Ziplock goods.  Drop them off at the school or at Henson’s G& G in downtown Champion or mail them to Skyline R2 School, Rt. 72 Box 486, Norwood, MO 65717.  Every little bit helps.  Back to birthdays:  Joanna Bell celebrates on the 21st.  Stacy Krider Cline, Skyline alumnus and former teacher, mother of Drayson and Carson, has her birthday on the 23rd.  Farmer’s Market Arnie will have his party on the 24th.  That is also the special day for Ruth Fish Collins.  Ruth has a beautiful velvety voice and a great repertory of songs.  One starts out, “It was colder than a well diggers ankle in Cut Bank, Montana…”  That is how cold it was last Thursday when prudence prevailed.  The wild antics of the thermometer sparked the cancellation of the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam.  Who knows what Valentine’s Day sparked the next day?  Everyone will be ready for the music this week and to catch up with friends.  The pot-luck is at 6:00 and the music starts at 7:00.  Everyone is welcome.  Bring your acoustic instrument and sing along….”and the icicles all melt away at the sound of her name…” Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Champion Winter Robins

February 11, 2020

CHAMPION—February 10, 2020


Change is coming whether we like it or not according to some excited young people. And it seems to be true even locally. The east side of Highway C approaching Skyline School from the south has undergone radical changes. Dense woods have been removed in a wide swath and a long stretch of good fence accommodates a series of spared mature trees at regular intervals. The new gate is expansive and in a few short years it will be seen as an attractive spread—well cared for and productive. Just now it seems raw and ragged to the eye struggling to adjust. Sudden change is sometimes difficult to accept. Orville’s barn has been standing abandoned for forty years and now a person can see daylight through the roof. That means it probably will not last much longer. The old Coffman place up on 76 east of Fox Creek is in a similar situation. Once the roof goes, an old building seems to just melt away. That is slow change–still difficult to watch. The roof on the gym at Skyline is beginning to have issues—no daylight yet, just a little leaking from time to time. There are a number of infrastructure issues there that could use a significant influx of funding. We are in no mood to see our school disappear for lack maintenance funding. All the country little schools in this area, so well-remembered by local folks, disappeared into Skyline in the 1950s. It is the community heart.

Joshua Garner is a seventh grade student at Skyline. His birthday is on February 13th. Shelby Ward, a Champion great-niece, has her birthday on Valentine’s Day. Eighth grader, Jaime Casiano, celebrates on the 15th and Madison Bradshaw, sixth grader, on the 16th. Trish Davis and Linda Clark have both been out of school for some while now and they share their birthdays on the 17th. Pete Proctor, a Fairview alumnus, shares the 18th with Skyline prekindergarten student, Rayleigh Harvey. Ruby Proctor’s birthday was on the 19th. We miss her sweet smile still. Your friends and family are smiling for you, wishing you a happy birthday.

If you were a crow taking flight from Champion and flew in a straight line South-southwest for a few miles–eight or so—you could light in a tree along Bryant Creek in a very remote part of the Ozarks. The Bryant Creek State Park is 2,917 acres of mostly undeveloped land. There are meetings being held with people in the community and the parks department to determine just how the park will be developed. Hopes are that it will open to the public soon. A Champion who had done timber stand improvement for the forestry department back in the 1970s had some vivid memories of his three years exploring and working in this region. He was glad to have had military training when it came to reading topographical maps. It is a rugged part of the world and beautiful. A few years ago National Geographic shared a map of the world at night. It was lovely to see that we are in a dark part of the country, that is to say, sparsely populated. We have bears and eagles and places to walk that are wild and secluded. We have glorious distant vistas and wonderful clean water. We have our challenges, but overall we are blessed to live in this part of the world, particularly when we have long histories with old Champion friends who have stories to tell. Have you ever been alone and lost in the woods?

Inclement weather substantially reduced attendance at the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam Thursday, but those who made it out anyway had a good time. Toes tapped, yarns were spun and there were a few lively conversations concerning current events. The potluck starts at 6:00 and the music starts at 7:00 every Thursday unless the weather forbids it. Everyone is welcome. Bring your acoustic instrument. This Thursday should be fun with Cupid’s arrows still poking old couples. They will reminisce about meeting–some at school, some on blind dates, and some, like Susanna and Wesley, at Hazel’s Café. Some met just walking through the woods in the Great Smokey Mountains. Romance might look different in our seventies and eighties than it did in our teens and twenties, though still it is a beautiful thing to have somebody to love—look at the Prominent Champion and the Prominent Champion Spouse, at Kenneth and Barbara Anderson for example, at Judy and Eldon, at Jerry and Lena, at Bob and Mary, Bob and Ethel, Don and Reba, the General and the Gipsy, Pete and Joann, John and Sherry, Skip and Ina, Sue and Dwayne, Doug and Marge, and all the old sweethearts you know. Stores are full of flowers and candy. Sweet sentiments fill greeting card racks and phone lines and the internet will be humming with declarations of love and affection. Enjoy, you Sweethearts all!

Sunday’s full moon was obscured by clouds though Champions are alert to the changes in the signs. Some are itching to get started planting. In a few months they’ll be itching for other reasons. Meanwhile, mushroom season is on the horizon and daffodils are poking up. There are lots of reasons to be optimistic. There are. Really. Look for them and find them and share them liberally. Wednesday is likely to be full of sugar at melodiousness at the Recreation of the Historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square as old and new friends gather for fellowship, to share their tales of love and romance or fox hunting stories or who has had the most rain and the deepest mud. Champion Valentines love it on the Bright Side!


February 4, 2020

CHAMPION—February 2, 2020


Bryant Creek

The Kansas City Chiefs are Champions! The Champion Super-Bowl watch party was a lovely affair, made all the more exciting by the win. Earlier in the day Champion’s groundhog found himself sunburned and some old gardeners found themselves exhausted after taking advantage of the beautiful day to overwork. The late Lonnie Krider once cited some ancestor who said, “There’ll come a day in February when a dog looks for the shade.” And so it came to pass. The family dog found the shade and the old gardeners rested and found themselves restored by the spectacle of jubilation among football fans. Happy Groundhog Day! It was a glorious day for a drive.

Sharon Tate Williamson shared an old photo online of students in a one room school house with a big wood stove and said, “I would not trade those days for anything! I went to Bakersfield, Champion, and Fairview in Eastern Douglas County Missouri. What memories!” Connie Brown saw the picture and said, “Daddy went to Bakersfield, Fairview, Champion, Pole Pen, Vanzant, and then Mountain Grove.” Kay Grace said, “I went to Fieldon one school year.” Carole Callahan Barnhart said, “Fairview for 2 years. I have lots of memories!” Pete Proctor said, Fairview all 8 years–the last 8th grade when they closed the school in 1958.” Many of these little schools, including Denlow, were consolidated into Skyline about that time. One local alumnus said that she saw the first indoor plumbing when she went to Skyline. Our great little school is still perking along. It is one of only two rural schools left in Douglas County, the other is Plainview. Demographics have changed as our population has aged. There are fewer children in the area and many are being home schooled, but still the Skyline Tigers roar. Hopes are that Sharon, Connie and her Dad, Kay, Carol and Pete will remember their ‘good old golden rule days’ and use their influence to support our school which can use some serious help. We save the Box Tops for Education and the UPC codes from Always Save and Best Choice products. What else can we do? Maybe all these alumni can contact their class mates and appeal to their nostalgia and generosity to come up with some good ideas. Meanwhile, we can sing, “Happy birthday to you,” to Aidan Acre a third grade student on the 8th and to MaKenzie Jonas, a prekindergarten student, on the 9th. We can sing that song to Cowboy Jack too. His birthday is on the 7th. Surely he went to school around these parts somewhere.

On Saturday Skyline hosted an archery tournament with archers from Gainesville, Manes, Cabool and Buffalo. There were 150 archers shooting. Skyline’s Conner Jonas received his first 1st place in the Elementary Boys Division and Haylee Surface received her first medal, 3rd place in the Elementary Girls Division. The next home tournament will be on February 29th. It is a wonderfully quiet sport except for the thump when arrows hit the targets. Spectators enjoy the concession stand and the chance to support and encourage these young people who are developing skills that will serve them well in the future. They know how to be calm, how to concentrate and they see that they can grow and improve with hard work. Good life lessons.

Navy Veteran, Melissa Masters, down in Austin, Texas is doing good work for the benefit of her community as she is an advocate for people in difficult situations. Her birthday is February 6th. Champion daughter-in-law, Sarah Rucker, will have a big birthday on the 8th. She also has great responsibilities helping people recover from serious illnesses and injuries. An old Champion said that the daughters she wanted were provided to her by her sons. “They are strong, smart, musical, inventive, innovative, practical, whimsical, creative, stubborn, beautiful, loving and kind. My boys know how to pick them.”

The world seems to be in turmoil on both sides of both the big oceans. People are overwrought and searching for expression. One finds some comfort in a quote from Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part 2: “You scullion! You rampallian! You fustilarian! I’ll tickle your catastrophe!” Language was a little more flowery in 1596. Some words have fallen out of use. The need to vent frustration is as appropriate today as it was back in the 16th century. Stubborn people can be infuriating. On the way down to the wide, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek you may spy a handsome mule grazing in a field and it might occur to you that the mule is saddled with the reputation for being stubborn, but it is really only an abundance of common sense and a strong desire for self-preservation that makes the animal inclined to resist. On a sunny day on the wide veranda of the Historic Emporium enjoy some civil discourse. There is likely to be someone around who can tell you stories about local mules. If not, just relax and delight in being in one of the world’s most pleasant places. Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!

Champion critters grazing.

January 27, 2020

CHAMPION—January 27, 2020


Photo by Brent Nunn

Wednesday was another lovely day down on the wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek. Shelby came from the Douglas County Health Department to help Champions keep track of their blood pressure. Henceforth, she will be at Henson’s G & G on the 4th Wednesday of each month. Hopes are that she can rework her schedule a little so that she can stay just a little bit longer into the morning. This last Wednesday she had to scoot to get to a class she teaches about diabetes and healthy eating. She says diabetes is on the rise in this area so we are glad that the DCHD is actively addressing the problem and we are always glad to see Shelby. Thanks!

Brent Nunn shared a picture of the old Champion Store on line. It was a great shot of the old building in the snow. He said, “I remember the older gas pump, before unleaded gas. The old pump had a manual crank that was turned by hand to get gas. The road ran in back of the store and followed Fox Creek past where we lived, and on to Denlow.” Mark Hutchison responded to the picture and said, “I remember going there with my grandpa Herbert Hutchison. Life seemed more fun in those days–sitting on soda crates, eating a candy bar and visiting with Ed Henson. For a little boy life didn’t get much better than that.” Jasper (Donnie) Alsup, who lives in Oregon now, said that the school bus stopped there on the way to Skyline every day. He caught the bus up the road with his cousins, Proctor boys. He is glad to know that some of the good things about the world have not changed.

Around here we have beautiful landscapes, great live water, a pretty good infrastructure, a lot of nice people, and something that is called a ‘live-and-let-live’ attitude. All of that goes to make this a pleasant place to enjoy life. One of the keys to getting along is that ‘let-live’ part of the equation, as in ‘mind your own business.’ A newcomer, someone whose parents or grandparents were not born here, need not stroll into the community with the idea of improving it overly. Improve yourself all you like, and if you have done a good job of it and set a good example over a few decades, you might perceive a subtle shift toward your goal, though there is no guarantee.

Judy Sharon Parsons

That recurring theme about the swift passage of time is again appropriate. We will soon turn a page on the calendar, looking at February 1st, 2020. That is a big day for young Zack Alexander, a handsome adolescent with a back belt in Taekwondo and an appreciation for Tasmania. He has Champion grandparents. Just on the other side of Fox Creek from the Historic Emporium lives a man, Linda’s husband, who will have completed his 8th decade and will embark upon his 9th on the first. Good luck to you, young and old. Happy Birthday.

On February 2nd friends remember a great woman. She said, “I have loved loving you guys.” She knew then that she was fading away and she did, but she is still very much in the memories of her many friends and family and in the conversations of her precious granddaughters who called her Nana. Her youngest grandchild, Felix, just turned two years old. He may not remember much about her because she passed away when he was so young, but he looks like her and has that open loving way that she embodied so beautifully. We smile when we think of you, Judy.

On Groundhog Day we consider Punxsutawney Phil. Some here are fans of the folklore, but do not necessarily ascribe to it, since Gobbler’s Knob is about 850 miles northeast of Brushy Knob, the weather patterns are dissimilar. Still, we liked the movie and are willing to listen to Sonny and Cher sing, “I got you, babe” over and over. February 2nd is about half way between the Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox, so it is a pretty good bet that we will have six more weeks of winter. Three remarkable ladies enjoy the day for their birthday. Angie Heffern up in Springfield, tornado survivor and mother of sterling Champion grandchildren, shares the day with talented artists and grandmothers Charlene Dupre of Norwood and Florida, and Connie Grand, grandmother and quilter deluxe.

Some folks do not understand Roman numerals and do not know what NFC and AFC mean. Yet they will be in front of their televisions for the LIV Super Bowl. They will enjoy the game without the frenetic audio–just with some relaxing music playing in the background. There will be beverages and snacks and sound speculation that a win for the Chiefs will result in many little boys being named Patrick and little girls named Lavon come November. Good luck. Go Chiefs—you wonderful Champions! Looking on the Bright Side!

Kansas City Chiefs

January 21, 2020

CHAMPION—January 20, 2020


A visit to the archives of The Champion News (www.championnews.us) gives us this:  “January 18, 2010:  Champion is a privileged place.  No resident or visitor, however casual or important, can deny it.  Even the National Resources Conservation Service has used Champion as a source and inspiration.  Champions know the NRCS to be part of the United States Department of Agriculture.  A soil scientist from Wisconsin traveling in these parts wrote, ‘It sticks and stacks.  It squeezes through cracks.  Between your toes goes mud.  It plops and drops and oozes and goozes.  Thick or thin, it’s mud!’  The piece goes on to extol virtues of mud and what a glorious and wonderful mud is this mud.  Champions agree that a little dirt cannot hurt and yet, while still not at all complaining, they indicate that they prefer their mud a little warmer.”  Ten years later, cozy around the fire with victuals aplenty, not much has seemed to have changed, but it is a different world.  We grow through what we go through.  A trip to town on a cold, sunny day reveals a winter beauty in exposed topography and subtle color contrasts.  Champions can enjoy the splendor of today, mud and all, particularly knowing that Spring is only 42 days away….what a wonderful world!

Still making beautiful music together.

Susanna and Wesley Hancock celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary on January 19th.  She had some lovely things to say about him, how good-looking he is and what a great husband he has been.  He was born over on Fox Creek and grew up in Mountain Grove.  After high school he moved to Idaho where he and Susanna have lived all these years.  He has a raft of good looking kin-folks in this part of the country.  He and Susanna get down this way every now and then.  Congratulations!  Susanna said, “Wesley and I met at a local café called Hazel’s, where I was working at the time.  It was ‘love at first sight’ for me and I chased him unmercifully until I caught him or he slowed down and let me catch him.  We were married here in my hometown of Wilder, Idaho on January 10, 1963.  Yes, I still have my wedding dress which my aunt made.  We have been happily married for 57 years now with four fantastic kids, 12 loving grandchildren, and 6 great grandchildren.  We live across the field from where I was raised and are very active in our church and community.  God has really been good to us and we can’t thank Him enough for the blessings he has given us all these wonderful years.”  Susanna is following one of those Champion Rules by which to live:  When it is good say so.  “You’re perfect just the way your are, I wouldn’t change you if I could.”

How could we forget Dolly Parton’s birthday?  She is quite a bit older now than our Preeminent Champion, with whom she shares the day, the 19th.  Our Champion keeps us in necessities at the Historic Emporium, and Dolly, among many other accomplishments, has given away 130 million books as of December 2019, through her Imagination Library program, supported wholeheartedly in Champion.  J.C. Owsley is a cattle farmer who knows the difference between the price he gets for his cattle and the price of beef in the grocery store.  He used his birthday to promote the Organization for Competitive Markets, the mission of which is to define and advocate the proper role of government in the agricultural economy as a regulator and enforcer of rules necessary for markets that are fair, honest, accessible and competitive for all citizens.  That is a lofty goal, but he is a tall guy.  Skyline second grader, Blake McIntosh, shares his birthday on the 24th with kindergartener Lexi Webster.  Young Thomas Jarnigan can sing to his old dad that day.  The 26th is for eighth grader Brooke Johnston, and also for the Champion Cowboy’s sweetheart, Joyce.  Skyline alumnus, Katherine Alexander, is a great fan of the octopus and of his garden and will party big time on the 27th.  On the 28h, we remember a favorite turkey hunter, Dwight Collins.  He passed away last March, but his great smile and infectious laughter is part of the collective community memory in Vanzant.  The 29th is for Kimberly Wallace in the sixth grade.  “Gramma loves u!”  That is what Loneda Bennet wrote to Paislee Renay Robbins concerning her third birthday, which was on January 18th.  Gramma’s birthday will be on the 30th, along with James Brixey who was 40 years old in 2012.  Seventh grade’s Erika Strong also enjoys the 30th for her day.  Your friends in Champion wish you all the best of birthdays.  Enjoy.

For those who like to read for a little while before going to sleep, an excellent choice of reading material is the almanac.  There are a number of different almanacs available these days, but generally they are small, paperbacks of about 100 pages.  They are not liable to be damaged by having been dropped on the floor as you fall asleep, and not likely to damage you if you drop it on yourself.  Moreover, there is an abundance of information that can be helpful to you even if you are not a farmer or gardener—interesting things like astronomy, fishing, weather forecasts, and all kinds of helpful hints for things you can do when you get up tomorrow.  Rest well you Champions!  Looking on the Bright Side!


January 13, 2020

CHAMPION—January 13, 2020


Goat Cart

Telephone lines and internet connections buzzed over the past few days as friends and family checked in on one another to verify that everyone was safe during the storm that swept from west to east across the whole country. “I just called to say I love you.” We count our many blessings and extend our condolences to those who have fared less well.

A Hoover Apple

“I don’t like you, Gene Crane!” said a little girl to the little boy back in the 1940s. “You talk funny.” By ‘funny’ she was objecting to his saying ’ya’ll’ instead of ‘yens.’ His family had moved to Missouri from Tennessee, so he could not help it. She was a neighbor girl, part of a big family, who lived across the road. They had a cart that looked like something out of the Little Rascals with different sized wheels, pulled by a goat. They were neighbors for years and she never did like him. Getting acquainted with him in front of the vegetable aisle at the grocery store, an Old Champion found him to be a nice enough fellow. He and his wife live in town now. They no longer garden. She must stay out of the sun, and, getting older, he finds it easier to just go to the grocery store. Standing there, looking at the turnips, he said they used to call them Hoover Apples. Hoover was president from 1929 to 1933, during the worst of the Great Depression and was described by Mr. Crane as having been the worst president we ever had up until recent times. As to the Hoover Apples, Champion native, Ruth Hicks, reported that at one time things were so dry around here that all that would grow was turnips. The cows ate turnips and the milk tasted like turnips. Now those Hoover Apples are a delicacy lauded for their great nutritional value. We have entered the ‘twenties’ again and are reminded that the more things change, the more they remain the same. Who could have predicted what these last hundred years would see? C.S. Lewis said, “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different?” Will we gain any insight from the past that will help us navigate the future?

Janie is a three year old, long haired Chihuahua, a recent gift to Wanda from kin-folks. The little five pound dog arrived one day, was lost the next day, then was found and returned to Wanda by good neighbors the next day. Thoughtful kinfolks and good neighbors are Champions!

Here are some Skyline School birthdays: Aaliyah Irby, 6th grade, January 16th; Jacob Brixey, 4th grade, January 18th; Hunter McChesney, prekindergarten, January 20th; Kyle Barker, 7th grade, January 21st; Elizabeth Hinote, 5th grade, January 22nd. Two charming fellows celebrate birthdays on the 11th. Bob, down on Teeter Creek, is making tinctures and decoctions to help us stay healthy. Champion Wilburn Hutchison lives less than a quarter of a mile from where he was born 86 years ago. He has many great stories to tell and a big community of friends and family who love to hear them. Diane Wilbanks and Jerry had some beautiful white mules and have a lovely spread down on a deep, wide creek. Robert Graham has a couple of guitars, a mandolin and a big repertory. Diane and Robert share the 13th for their birthdays. That was also the birthday of the late Norris Woods. His tombstone has a banjo carved into it. He had a winning smile and a very friendly, encouraging way about him. “Life is like a mountain railroad,” he sang and that song always brings him to mind. The 17th is for the delightful Mary-Agnes (Brooke) Quiet-Timber, turning a page into a new adventure. Mary Beth Shannon has the 18th for her birthday and Sparky for a husband. The Preeminent Champion shares her birthday with J.C. Owsley. He used to live over by Crystal Lake, but now lives over in Jordan where he raises longhorn cattle and climbs in the saddle every chance he gets. The 20th is for charming Sharon Woods, Norris’ daughter-in-law who is known for bringing fun to any situation. That is also the day that lovely Beverly Barnhart will sing that special song to her handsome Alvin. The Champion News would like to extend congratulations to all you celebrants of your natal anniversary and a General Alert that Brenda Coffman Massey will have her birthday on the 22nd, so look out. Be advised, fun is on the way. Shelby, from the Douglas County Health Department, will be in Champion that Wednesday, the 22nd, doing blood pressure checks, free of charge until about 10:00 a.m. She helps us stay healthy so we can have more birthdays.

Big thunder-booms on Thursday caused lights out for a second at the Vanzant jam. Simultaneously, a power-surge fried an internet modem up on Highway C, a television down on Cold Springs Road, and popped a porch light on Fox Creek Road. Bad weather has caused havoc for many, so be prudent in your travels and grateful for your good fortune. No use being pessimistic. It wouldn’t work anyway. Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!

Champion cardinals brighten a gray winter day.

January 8, 2020

CHAMPION–January 6, 2020

Champion was a wildly busy place all during the holidays. There were people on horseback ambling through the countryside, maybe singing, “I ride an old paint.” It is a song with a mysterious beginning, a lonesome middle, and a mystical end. Harley and Barbara were in town, but even some of their favorite mischpocha did meet up with them. Harley was seen cruising up and down Cold Springs Road on a nifty four-wheeler. Hopes are that that Illinois, Tennessee, Missouri family conclave was as full of riotous good humor, lavish feasting, and memory recounting and building as was the Texas, Louisiana, Champion assembly and all the other sweet family gatherings in the area. The General reported that the annual red-neck party was very small on New Year’s Eve and was over by 9:30. He said, “There must not be very many rednecks around this area anymore or maybe they are ashamed to identify as one.” Most likely there are as many rednecks as ever and, by definition, they are shameless. It just turns out that some are getting old and not willing to stay up until 9:30 p.m. Others may be accordion shy, though there was a splendid version of Auld Lang Syne played on said squeeze box and posted on the internet for all the world to see and hear. It was a good way to end an old year.

On January 3rd Donna Mullens Gainer wrote: “Today we lay our Dad’s body in God’s green earth next to our Mom, his wife of 64 years. He instilled in us the values of hard work and the motto of, ‘if you can’t be on time, be early.’ Dad never knew a stranger and was always there for whoever needed, especially his grandchildren, whether it was a ride to school, change a flat tire or even come by to scrape your windows in the winter. Dad was never one to sit around. He would always find ways to keep busy. While he is now with his beloved wife and family who left this earth before him, we are left with broken hearts that only time and loving memories can heal.” She was talking about Pete Mullens, Walter Presley Mullens, and her Mom, Bonnie Brixey Mullens, who passed away in July. They were a sweet couple and will be missed at the Denlow School Reunion.

A number of December birthdays of Skyline School students went un-sung in print through the holidays. Starting anew, Jacob’s Dad, Arne celebrates his birthday on New Year’s Day. Teeter Creek’s musical grandmother also has that day for her own birth anniversary. The 2nd belongs to Leland Isley, Champion nephew, and to xylophonist, Kabella Clark, who was born in 2012. The 3rd is for Arne’s boy, Jacob, and for our adopted Champion granddaughter, Greta, who is now 17. She has accomplished a great deal for a person so young. Another bright, beautiful and busy young woman, Sami McCleary Hutchison, had a birthday on January 4th, but she will hold off until May for her party so she can wear her flip flops. The 4th is also the birthday of Lena’s little brother. She routinely whips him in Scrabble every Wednesday morning. He says she cheats, but she probably does not have to. That may also be the special day for one of The General’s nephews. He will get that song or another one sung to him the next time he shows up at Champion. Felix Maverick Osage Parsons has his second birthday on January 6th. Mr. Bud, Skyline School’s mechanic, also celebrates on the 6th, as does 5th grade student, Aryn Miller. Travis Hathaway was 20 in 2017. Elizabeth Johnston Lawrence has the 9th for her special day, together with Skyline 7th grader Kaylee Casiano. Happy days to all you people celebrating being alive. It is a good thing.

The world is in an uproar. The danger zone is everywhere,” so sang Ray Charles. Still, optimism is the key-word for the New Year in Champion and gardeners are leading the way. The garlic planted in November 9th is up and looking good. One old gardener has invested in half a pound of purple top turnip seeds and the plants are up almost an inch high. He says it is a cover crop, but he will be happy for the greens. He will plan to have plenty of turnips on hand if Lem and Ned make an appearance in the spring. They are wild for turnips and are willing to do most any kind of chore that the old man shirks or just not have time to do—best of all, they sing while they are working. Come down to the wild, wide, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek to share your favorite work songs or to just soak in the charm of one of the world’s truly beautiful spots–Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!