October 16, 2017

CHAMPION—October 16, 2017


After the rain Champion has that bright clean look of fall about it.

On the way to Champion Sunday morning, just before getting to the pavement, there was a puddle! An unmeasured amount of rain had fallen during the night and soaked instantly into the thirsty ground. There was enough rainfall at Champion’s open door to make a pretty puddle about a foot wide and two feet long and so shallow that it was gone before nightfall. The dust is settled for the nonce and the countryside has a bright clean autumn look about it. A stroll about the grounds on such a day is a real pleasure. One Old Champion suggests that if you are out and about, best pay good eye service to the ground. If a bird song grabs you ear or the blue sky draws your gaze, best stop in your tracks and stand still to do your observing. When the ground is as dry as it has been, it can be as slick as ice in spots and, if you live around walnut trees, the many chances to roll an ankle and take a tumble are scattered all over the yard. Old folks particularly need to pay attention to where their feet are. Life can change dramatically in less than a second. Of course that has always been true, but young folks bounce better.

Carson Cline has his birthday on October 18th. He was in Champion together with Drayson and their Mom for some wonderful family functions and fun over the week end—a gaggle of cousins to please a smiling Champion grandmother. The lovely blonde motorcyclist on the top of the hill over there on WW Highway celebrates on Carson’s birthday too. Skyline pre-kindergarten student Wyatt Shannon has his birthday on the 19th and Cyanna Davis, seventh grader, has hers on the 20th, as does Carson’s grandpa Marty. The 21st is a big day for Zoey’s grannie, for a Texan named Cidney, and a sweet guy named Randy. It was also the birthday of Champion Anna Henson who has long been gone from the neighborhood but is still fondly remembered by many. Donna Moskaly has the 22nd for her celebration and the 24th will be the day Taegan and Luxe sing, “Happy Birthday, dear Mommy!” Happy birthday to you all!

Who has a television that they do not watch too much? There are a lot of options available these days and it is easy to let it take up too much time. By the time the news is over in the evening with reports of natural disasters, political turmoil, worldwide chaos, bad behavior by individuals and so much suffering across the planet, some are thinking like Luke, “…and being in agony, he prayed more earnestly.” This may be the age of earnestness. People are outraged by the perceived disrespect for the government and its symbols while others are outraged that government has such harsh disrespect for some of its people. The score is 86 to 45. Every kerfuffle has two sides and everyone has an opinion. There is a beautiful young woman who shows up several times a day in the programming of all the local television stations. We do not know her name but she looks like a Nancy. Nancy has shoulder length red hair and a pretty symmetrical face and a nice voice–just the kind of girl you would like your daughter to be or for your son to marry. She looks right at us and says, “People are sick of politics. I am too, but fixing our tax system isn’t about politics. It means that the wealthy, the powerful, the well-connected will stop benefiting from a rigged system. It means everyday Americans will have more to spend on what’s important to them.” She has a calm, pleasant demeanor and speaks with an air of conviction that tells you she is earnest. That particular earnestness was purchased with a flat rate for making the ‘spot’ and then a residual every time it is broadcast. In another video, our girl, the talented, beautiful actress, with long blonde hair this time, extols the virtue of some litigators who pursue financial vengeance against the malfeasance of pharmaceutical companies on behalf of sufferers. Nancy has residuals coming in from a number of places and you know she must be making a good living. Chances are pretty good that she is not making a good enough living to really benefit from this particular Tax Plan Proposal. In contrast to the script she recites so convincingly, even a superficial study of the proposal reveals that the cuts will benefit the wealthiest of the wealthy like Charles and David Koch who fund the outfit called Americans for Prosperity. It is one of the most influential American conservative organizations and the very outfit that paid our Nancy. If she is a self-employed actress, she would be advised to be putting something aside in addition to paying her FICA taxes, because this proposal could clearly have some long range ramifications for Social Security. The enormous tax relief for the billionaire brothers, Chuck and Dave, and folks like them will remove $3,000,000,000,000.00 to $7,000,000,000,000.00 (3 to 7 trillion dollars) from the tax revenue over the coming decade. What that means for everyday Americans is even less support for education, infrastructure, health and safety and all the benefits of being a proud citizen of the Great Nation—clean air, safe food, aid in the time of distress, etc. All the machinations of the new tax plan proposal are complicated and couched in legal language that is difficult to decipher, so busy everyday folks are not digging into it too deeply which is fine with Chuck and Dave. It would be nice if Nancy could explain the flip side in that easy pleasant way she has. Her kinfolks probably smile every time they see her on TV. They know, as we all do, that she is an actress, not an economist, and is just saying what she is hopefully being paid well to say. When we get rich, perhaps we will employ Nancy to say, “Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!” Meanwhile, in Puerto Rico there is suffering by American citizens that does not seem to titillate the media or the government. It is an embarrassment—a disgrace—reference Ephesians 6:12.

Should a person wander unconnected into this part of the world, he or she might acknowledge having fallen into a sweet spot—with jam every day of the week. When Lynette Cantrell’s acoustic jam on the square in Mountain Grove needed a home out of the elements, the folks at Clark’s Eatery on the South Side of the Square opened their banquet room for the musicians—every Tuesday from 6 to 8 p.m. Lynette had a cold and could not attend the first evening, but here were a dozen or more musicians there and a lively couple of hours of music ensued. Acoustic musicians are welcome as are folks who just like to hear a good eclectic jam. Come down to the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek for good conversations about music or any other subject. Elmer is fond of Earnest Tub. He may have sung, “Farther along, we’ll know all about it. Farther along we’ll understand why. Cheer up, my brother. Live in the sunshine. We’ll understand it all by and by” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

A dozen musicians showed up for Lynette Cantrell’s first acoustic jam at Clark’s Eatery on the South Side of the Square in Mountain Grove on Tuesday Night.  Everyone welcome from 6 to 8 p.m.  Bring your acoustic instruments or just your enjoyment.

October 12, 2017

The Pioneer Heritage Festival 2017


A couple of well heeled cowboys were the smiling greeters at The Pioneer Heritage Festival.

Festival tents seen from the highway.

Louise the Potter in her period costume strolled the grounds.

Bow making captured the interest of young people at the festival.

Mary Lou Price was resplendant in her hoop skirt at the festival.

There was plenty of good food to be had at The Pioneer Heritage Festival.  The Prominent Champion said he was on the creek bank all night catching that fish.

October 9, 2017

CHAMPION—October 9, 2017


The Pioneer Heritage Festival of the Ozarks looks like it is off to a splendid beginning.  More than a thousand people attended the first annual two day affair and organizers are pleased with the outcome.  Plans are already underway for next year.  People came from far and wide—from Silver Dollar City and the Queen City—from Champion and all over the place.  Royce and Jody Henson were out from Springfield on Saturday.  They find a way to all the excitement in the area.  Ava’s Mayor David Norman won the rifle raffle and Ron Hardesty won Butch Stone’s beautiful handmade bow and arrows.  The music and food were great.  It was a treat to see those flint-nappers and other demonstrators sharing their crafts and skills.  There were some well-heeled cowboys there, some frontiersmen, and ladies in the elegant dress of an earlier day.  The ax throwing venue was particularly enticing to young folks.  The excellent facilities there at Chapel Grove are tailor made for this kind of happening and the new festival will take a welcome place on the area’s annual social calendar.  Congratulations to all you hard working people for an event well done.  Among the upcoming dates of interest and importance on that calendar will be the Eastern Douglas County Volunteer Fire Department’s Annual Chili Supper and Auction on November 4th.  Year around, there are opportunities to participate in our communities to help make them the kind of places where we all feel lucky to live.  Champion!

Young Chase Cauthron lives in downtown Champion with his mom and dad.  He was lucky last week to have his grandmother, Starla Yekel, visiting from Cody Wyoming.  She was lucky enough to be in Champion on Wednesday when Chase led the band in “The ABC Song,” “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “Row Your Boat.”  He has a nice ukulele which he plays left handed.  His grandmother was suitably impressed.  Johnny and Lori Cox came all the way from the remote exurbs of Kansas City so that Johnny could sit in on this jam.  He played “Proud Mary,” “Hobo Bill,” and “Folsom Prison Blues.”  They also came to the Vanzant Jam on Thursday and made some new friends.  Johnny is one of those distant cousins of The General, so he has a predetermined foothold in the community.  The practice he did on the wide veranda on Wednesday paid off and he was in fine form for Vanzant  Lynette Cantrell also came Thursday night and made the announcement that due to the coming cold weather and darkness, the Monday night Jam on the Square in Mountain Grove will be changed to Tuesday night at Clark’s Eatery on the south side of the Square.  The time will still be from 6 to 8 pm.  The nice folks at Clark’s will make the banquet room available for acoustic jammers every Tuesday.  “Put another nickel in, in the nickelodeon.  All I want is loving you and music, music, music.”

The Inuit people live in the Artic regions of Greenland, the United States and Canada.  These people are said to be incredible weather forecasters.  It was reported that they have issued a warning to NASA that the earthquakes and the changes in climate are not caused by global warming.  They claim that the Earth has “wobbled” or shifted, and that their sky has changed.  Certainly many people feel that things worldwide have changed and gone awry, particularly so here in the United States.  People wonder if we all believe in freedom, in freedom of speech, in peace and compassion, honor and service, how can we be in this untenable disarray nationally?  How did it happen that our military industrial money media security complex has more sway than the wishes of the people for peace and security?  An article written by Neal Gabler, a noted American journalist and historian, was shared by Bill Moyers at ‘Moyers and Company’ on the internet.  In it he states that rural votes are worth more than urban votes; white votes are worth more than minority votes; rich and middle-class votes are worth more than poor votes; old voters are worth more than young voters; single-issue voters are worth more than general interest voters; Republican primary voters are worth more than other voters; an oligarch’s vote is worth that of tens of millions of ordinary voters.  Gabler has reasons and statistics to back up these statements.  There is a big move on currently for open primaries, which would give voters more choice.  There are Supreme Court cases being adjudicated over gerrymandering.  Voter identification requirements are working more in the area of voter suppression than inclusion.  When fewer than half eligible voters vote, little wonder things get a little “wobbly.”  Some have suggested making Election Day a National holiday as a way to increase voter turnout.  We cannot make it mandatory to vote, after all, this is a free country, but making it more difficult does not seem like the ‘American way.’  It is funny how things can be presented to us as if they are good for us.  Are there more than half a dozen people in Douglas County who will benefit by the tax cuts currently being considered?  Will the rest of us pay for those tax cuts in reduced services and benefits?  Will public education foot the bill?  It has been suggested that if our elected representatives were to wear uniforms like the professional race car drivers 86 45, with all their sponsors emblazoned on their backs and sleeves, perhaps we could tell whose interest they really serve.

The waning gibbous moon seen through fog makes fall seem more upon us.  The rapid passage of time is evident as Pete and Bonnie Mullens celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary last week.  They will tell you that the years have flown by like the seasons.  The first frost of the autumn is generally figured to be somewhere between October 11th and 20th in this part of Missouri.  Those house plants that have been enjoying the great out of doors will need to be brought in.  Some gardens are still producing in spite of a lack of rain.  They are about ready to be cleaned up and put to bed for the winter with a nice blanket of manure and leaves.  Spinach and kale might have time to make before it gets too cold, though it has been pointed out by more than one Old Champion that just a little bit of olive oil in your kale makes it easier to scrape off your plate into the compost.  Then there is the firewood.  There is plenty to do.  Figure out what needs to be done next and get busy.  If you feel like you are overworked, go lol away some time in front of your computer at www.championnews.us and see how things have gone on in one of the world’s truly beautiful places over the last decade.  Or come down to the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek and see for yourself while you chill out for a spell amid pleasant company.  You can consult with your neighbors and compare your progress.  Chances are pretty good that you will be ready for what comes your way in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


October 2, 2017

CHAMPION—October 2, 2017


Clouds sailing over Champion.

Much will be written about the tragic event in Los Vegas. It touches all of us in some way. Outpourings of love and compassion may be joined by a genuine effort to make this mass shooting be the last one. The 250 Lakota massacred at Wounded Knee are scarcely remembered in history. We hope this, the worst mass shooting since 1890, will be remembered. It will take great minds to find a preventive remedy. Where are those minds? Who are they?

The Douglas County Health Department will have twenty free flu shots to give on a first come, first serve basis at the Skyline School on Friday, October 6th from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Elisabeth is the nurse who is visiting Champion and Skyline these days. She is pleasant and professional and the whole program of the DCHD is a valuable amenity for the area. The area will be full people on Saturday and Sunday for the Pioneer Heritage Festival of the Ozarks. It will be held at Chapel Grove on Highway 14 just west of Bryant Creek. It looks like it is going to be a great event and that the weather will be perfect for it. There will be lots of music, food, and demonstrations of all sorts. Dale and Betty Thomas can attest to the amount of hard work required to make a festival like this happen. This is a new happening and hopes are that it will be as long lasting and successful as the one that inspired it.

Draven Koepke is a 7th grade student at Skyline School. His birthday is on the 9th of October. Madeline Ward was born on October 10th, 2006. The driver of that red 1960-something GTO who sashays through the square with a belt squealing has a birthday on the 11th. Janet Chapin and Evelyn Wood both celebrate on October 12th, which used to be known as Columbus Day. (These days Columbus Day is celebrated on the second Monday of October, which makes it October 9th this year. Many people are now celebrating it as Indigenous People’s Day in order to promote an accurate telling of the United States’ history and to commemorate the resilience of its original inhabitants against European settlers.) Cathie Baldwin has her birthday on the 13th. Eva Clark, Jillian Hall, Twyla Friloux and Leslie Krider all celebrate on the 14th. The 15th is for Joe Moskaly and for Skyline 1st grader Keedien Curtis. There was a great picture of Pete and Bonnie Mullens on the internet on Sunday morning. Pete is celebrating his 90th birthday and his friends and family are celebrating him. Birthdays are our chance to acknowledge those special people in our lives though they are special every day of the year. Happy days to all you Champions!

The purpose of Constitution Week, which just passed, (Sept. 17-23) is to emphasize citizens’ responsibilities for protecting and defending the Constitution and to inform people that it is the basis for America’s great heritage and the foundation of our way of life. The observance also carries encouragement for the study of the historical events which led to its framing in 1787. The late Molly Ivins said, “I’d rather see someone burn the flag and wrap themselves in the Constitution than to burn the Constitution and wrap themselves in the flag.” Dale Earnhardt Jr. quoted John Kennedy saying, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” Everyone has a right to peacefully protest. (Refer to the history that resulted in the framing of the Constitution.) We are a Nation founded by protesters. It turns out that the football player who started the kneeling during the National Anthem first started just sitting down for it. A well-known rival player, who was also a Veteran of one of our current military conflicts, wrote to him and said that, as a Veteran, he was offended by the guy sitting down during the Anthem. He was polite in his statement and received a polite response which generated a face to face meeting between the two. The upshot of it was that the Veteran told the protester that at a military funeral the flag of the deceased is folded thirteen times and then presented to the next of kin from a kneeling position. He suggested that kneeling was a way for the protester to honor the Veterans and the flag and still exercise his right to bring attention to the injustice of unarmed people routinely being killed by police. Agree or disagree with his protest, but figure that the presidential feud with the NFL most likely goes back to a billion dollar lawsuit which he won back in 1986. He sued for more than a billion, but was only awarded $1.00. By the time the Supreme Court ruled on it a few years later, he had accrued interest that brought the sum up to $3.87. The whole kerfuffle looks like a grudge—a way to punish the NFL—86-45. It seems inappropriate for the ‘leader’ of the Nation to be swearing on television. All of the attention to this matter is a diversionary tactic and takes up a lot of energy that could be spent helping American citizens in dire need and other important issues pertinent to the wellbeing of the people.

The many fall festivals around the country get folks out in the beautiful weather and meeting up with friends and neighbors. Musicians have been having a wonderful time at all the area bluegrass gatherings. It was great to see several of them back at Vanzant Thursday. There are more places for them to go in the weeks ahead, so the home folks will be glad for them to be having fun and glad when they come home. One imagines that the whole country may be steeped in the richness of live local music, though it may not be so. Around these parts we can sing, “The hills are alive with the sound of music….” even if that may not be the genre of choice.

When a few clouds act like they might sail over Champion, some people hang laundry on the line and wash their cars just hoping that the theory of positive and negative jinxing will take hold. We could certainly use some rain. Colorful fall foliage may not be in the offing this year. Fall gardens are suffering for lack of rain though gardeners are out there every morning with the hose. It seems that a tea cup of rain does more good than a gallon of well water. Things could be better here, but no one will complain considering the hardships that weather, fire, and seismic activity have brought to so many Americans and others around the world. We are indeed grateful for our blessings and sympathetic to those suffering hardships. They number in the millions. Come down to the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek and you will be in one of the world’s most beautiful and fortunate places. “The night was dark and stormy, the air was full of sleet. The old man stepped out in the yard and his shoes were full of feet. Oh! It ain’t a gonna rain no more, no more. It ain’t a gonna rain no more…” but optimists hope that it will soon in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Champions are hoping for rain.

September 25, 2017

CHAMPION—September 24, 2017


A long dusty road to the end of Summer.

“And let us not be weary in well doing,” is a favorite scriptural quote of a favorite Champion born and raised here. He moved away for a while but came back and lives 200 yards from where he was born up there on a hill on WW Highway with one of the most lovely views in all of Champion. His admonition is adhered to nicely and is a general characteristic of the area. Ms. Helen Batten writes to say that the Douglas County Health Department is going to come to Skyline School, Tuesday, October 3rd. The nurse will be doing blood pressure and body-mass-index checks, as well as glucose screening. She reminds us that we need to fast before the glucose test. The nurse arrives at Skyline at 8:45 a.m. and is there until 10:45 on the first Tuesday of each month. This time she may also be offering flu shots if they have enough vaccine after their shot clinic of September 22nd. This is one of the many examples of well doing. Others are the wonderful little rural school that is shaping the adults who will be running things one of these days. Skyline teachers, administration, staff (Thank you, Ms. Helen.), and board members put in a lot of hours and thought dedicated to the wellbeing and advancement of our most precious asset–our children. Additionally, the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department is here to protect our lives and our property. They are the Volunteers who leave their farms and their jobs to use the Jaws of Life to get us out of our car wrecks and to do the wellness checks that we need when we are in need. Of all the things of which to be weary, well doing is not one in Champion.

Someone said that if you act like you are having a good time, pretty soon you will forget that you are acting and will really be having a good time—maybe having a really good time. That has been the message on a card sent to a Prominent Citizen off and on annually for a while. It turns out that he has been having a good time for all that time. Pete Mullins over there in Kansas and Janna Brixie of Skyline School share his birthday as do Skyline 4th grade student, Lydia Harden and prekindergarten student Myson Loveless. They all celebrate on the 1st of October. William Tucker Clark shares his birthday on the 2nd with Mahatma Gandhi. Tucker was born in 2015. Mahatma Gandhi was born in 1869. Tuckers old granddad celebrates on the 4th. The General’s little sisters celebrate on the 4th. That is also the birthday of Skyline 5th grader, Malachi Fulk. Skyline VFD Auxiliary president Betty Dye celebrates on the 7th, as does Vicki Trippe, another civic minded woman doing good work for her community and the Nation. Happy days to all you Champions!

Frank Martin lives in West Plains and shares this poem on the internet. “Weather exceeding all norms/ Appears in unusual forms/ The latest forecast/ First worse than the last/ Shattered scours and stumber throns” Folks who are fortunate to have persimmons growing say that the seeds all have spoons in them. This is portentous of heavy, wet snow. Meanwhile, the wind blew things around in West Plains on Sunday and across the world today floods from hurricanes have taken many lives and the homes of many together with all their possessions. Fires in the West have taken lives and homes and have scorched some of America’s most beautiful landscapes. Neighbors to the south have their world shaken apart over and over again with many still trapped in the rubble. Sarah Cloud lives in Hurricane, Idaho. She writes, “This week I see post after post bashing people who are protesting. I see a POTUS who is fueling the fire. I also see how easily your attention was swayed away from battles for basic needs of fellow Americans in DC and silence about our citizens in Puerto Rico. By all means, get mad over a few professional players, meanwhile some of us are fighting for your rights to medical coverage, tax relief, social security and education. As my child always point out, when government says, ‘Hey! Look over here!’ they are hiding something over there.” Raymond James of Leeton, Missouri writes that enrollment for 2018 Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare) stars November 1st and ends on December 15th. Senator John McCain has a terminal brain cancer and a good attitude. Knowing that this is probably his last term in office, the 81 year old Veteran is free to pursue a legacy of actually representing the best interest of the Nation and its citizens. How encouraging it would be if it did not take the threat of death for our elected officials to do the right thing.

Gardening has proven to be an excellent activity this year. In spite of the recent dry spell, gardens have been wonderfully productive. Skip and Ina from over near West Plains are sharing excellent cucumbers. The seed came from MFA. The cucumbers do not get very big and do not get bitter. One Champion is grateful to friends for their having shared their favorite tomato varieties over the years. Sierra and Bailey’s grand-papa likes ‘Amy.’ It is a small (golf ball size), indeterminate variety with a rich full taste, productive until frost. Louise Hutchison, who won the First Ripe Tomato in Champion Contest in 2008, favored ‘Parks Whoppers.’ Louise won an antique blue fruit jar and two dozen canning jar lids and other prizes for her two baseball size ripe beauties. She just had a birthday on the last day of summer. Linda, who operated The Plant Place in Norwood for many years, likes the variety called ‘Delicious.’ Our Ms. Brooks shared the ‘San Remo.’ They are no longer available, but they were an incredible tomato—a big Egyptian variety. Cathy Odneal advises wisely to plant basil in with tomatoes for good results. There is time yet before the full moon to plant spinach, kale, lettuce and collards. After the moon changes will be a good time to get next year’s garlic in the ground. A few truckloads of organic fertilizer sounds like a good idea at this time of the year.

Carson and Drayson Cline have been in town for a few days. Drayson had his 4th birthday in August and Carson will have his 3rd birthday in October. At the same time he was being born in Cox Hospital, his great grandfather was over in Mercy Hospital getting a hip replacement. They are both doing well until this day. Carson and Drayson have good friends and cousins in the neighborhood. It is a delight to see them growing and learning and playing together. They remind one of Rolf Harris’s song, “Two Little Boys.” It is a sweet story of friendship and love. One says to the other, “When we grow up we’ll both be soldiers/ And our horses will not be toys/ And I wonder if we’ll remember when we were/ Two little boys.” Old sweet songs help take away some of the stress and anxiousness of these tumultuous times. It was a joy to have a favorite fiddler back at the Vanzant Jam. He gazed at the lovely Lena and sang, “I love you just the way you are. I wouldn’t change you if I could.” That is how it is in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Clever Creek at the end of Summer.