December 4, 2021

CHAMPION—November 19, 2021



Business has been brisk at the Historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square in downtown Champion. Deer season and the approaching holiday added to the routine hustle and bustle on Wednesday. Nana Gini from over between Buckhart and Richland kept melodious time for the Sometime Porch Band, which included The General and The Crooner. The storyteller told about how General Custer sent his band with the bagpipes and drums back down the river and only took his bugler with him to the Little Bighorn. The Farmhouse woman and the nephews were encouraging of the musicians as were some of the comers and goers.

More excitement Wednesday came at 8:53 in the evening with an Earthquake over just north of Poplar Bluff. Another one shook Wagoner, Oklahoma about a minute later. They measured 4.0 on the Richter scale. A woman in Mountain Grove said, “My whole house shook. I was sitting on the couch by the windows. My dogs bolted and barked like crazy. Windows shook. My husband tried to say it was the wind. I knew better and thought it was an explosion or something. It scared us.” Someone over in Squires reported feeling it, though it was all still and quiet in Champion.

An unnamed local fellow came over one of the hills in Sleepy Hollow recently to find an eagle feasting on some roadkill. Sleepy Hollow is just south of Norwood on Highway C and north of the intersection of Y Highway–near where J.R. and Janet Johnston used to live. The fellow slowed down so as not to hit it and was rewarded by the sight of the great bird taking off with a big hunk of something in its powerful talons as it soared away. Old Champions have been seeing one soaring over the valley, perhaps over to the Henson Centennial Farm where Deward’s daughter lived for many years. She loved the eagles. Deward’s granddaughter lives on the place now, continuing her mother’s appreciation of all our natural wildlife and wonders.

Skyline’s archery team has started practicing. Their first tournament is December 4th in Norwood. This is a great program being overseen by Mrs. Barker and Mrs. Brixey. Archery is another of those skills, like music, where a youngster can see the value of practice and reap the rewards of improving skill. Off in the future, these students, archers, and musicians, and will look back on their school days with great nostalgic fondness. A guy named Zig Ziglar said, “Look back in forgiveness, forward in hope, down in compassion, and up with gratitude.” It’s Thanksgiving time and gratitude is what we are all about in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

CHAMPION—November 29, 2021

Georg meets Jonnie
Georg meets Jonnie
Having a bath...

Contentment is served up with leftovers even unto Monday, some of them from a Champion Thanksgiving center piece—the double-breasted four legged chicken. Good food, music and rambunctious children make for a happy holiday. Most will agree that people, our families and our friends, serve as the source of most of our Gratitude. The Mohawks say, “We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things.” A tall order these days, yet we strive. The miles of smiles across Champion gatherings with near and distant dear ones pave the long happy road of Precious Memories. How they linger! Loved ones, departed from this life long ago or just yesterday, somehow return to us in our mutual memory especially at holidays. They bring with them the sweet smile that says, “How blessed I am to have known you!” Some of their struggles and triumphs may have helped shape our attitudes and influence the decisions that we have made, so they are with us yet.


Wrong again! The Champion News erroneously reported that the November 17th earthquakes were felt in Squires and Fyan, but not in Champion. A vigorous chorus of corrections were voiced from Mr. Yellow, who became a wildcat–all shook up, and from Mr. Smith, whose frosty beverages took a walk across the table. Pictures swung on walls and dishes rattled on shelves all over Champion. However, the seat of The Champion News rests upon oak logs that still have the bark on them since 1873, when the tops of them were flattened to support the building. The logs are resting on big rocks. All this understructure must act as shock absorbers since Ezra Henson’s old house stayed steady as a stalwart ship on a still silent sea. Such is our excuse. It was simply inaccurate, incompetent reporting as opposed to fake news or opinion. As to opinion, one old Champion opines that minds can rarely be changed. Left or right, they are both up tight and unrelenting in their certitude. He says, “It’s kind of funny in a sad way.”

Skyline students and others around the country will be singing “Silent Night” on December 16th for their music programs. This is a joyful time of the year with much and many to celebrate. The Whetstone Crooner shares his birthday with Champion Luxe Krider on December second. We remember Luxe’s granddad, Lonnie Krider, on December fourth. Spunky, sparky, spritely Ms. Spivey has the fifth. The sixth is ringing for Mr. Bell and Professor Godshall. The seventh is for Noam Chomsky and lovely, lively Ethel Leach, whose green tomato pie recipe triumphed as the Summertime Pie Champion. They, together with Georg, the Bridgers, and the Prominent Champion and Prominent Champion Spouse (nee: P.C. Girlfriend), all Champions, Felix the Farmer, the Fine Fiddler, Mr. Kitty Clover, the Judge and Johnny Rainbow, The General and The Gypsy, the Crooner, and the J.c. Mooner, all their friends and loved ones, all musicians and storytellers and everyone else were lumped together as the target for much love, appreciation, and gratitude. Thank God for you Champions!—Looking on the Bright Side!

Georg saying good bye...

November 18, 2021

CHAMPION—November 8 & 15, 2021


CHAMPION—November 8, 2021

Jerry Wagner

Willie Nelson said, “I take it not only a day at a time, but a moment at a time and keep it at that pace.  If you can be happy right now, then you will always be happy, because it’s always in the now.”  Mr. Nelson’s good attitude has served him well.  The famous author, Kurt Vonnegut, wrote, “And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’”  It was nice to have a favorite fiddler at the Bluegrass jam with sister Sally.  We have so many good reasons to be grateful, and foremost among them are fiddle music and the chance to see friends and family enjoying themselves in good company.  Many are still staying close to home as the pandemic is not yet considered to be over.  Drop them a note or give them a call.  It is encouraging and uplifting to be remembered.

The Eastern Douglas County Volunteer Fire Department’s 12th annual chili supper and benefit auction was another genuine success according to reports and the and the many photographs shared by David A Vaughn Jr. on Facebook.  Some Champions were unable to attend this time, but still sent money to:  EDCVFD, HC 73 Box 7, Drury, MO 65638.  You can do that too.  Enjoy the reports and continue to enjoy the benefits of having volunteers who will leave their jobs, their beds, and their dinner tables to protect our lives and property when we need them.  They are over there to the east of the Bright Side, and they are Champions.

A well-known local area crooner, who was born in Harlan County, Kentucky, sings, “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive,” but he did.  He was riding a jumping mule and wound up spinning yarns around the ancient wood stove in the Historic Emporium.  He told one about trying to teach an eight dollar pony how to eat and how the pony bit him on the ear for his trouble.  These days his jumping mule is a Kawasaki.  He wants to learn that song, “Has Anybody Seen My Gal?”  Now that he has found Champion, he has some place to play music every day of the week.  He was there when the Vanzant bluegrassers sang Happy Birthday to Warner Minor on Thursday.  Warner’s big day was on the 3rd.  Our old friend, world traveler, Chuck Barns, had his birthday on the 11th, Veterans’ Day.  The 13th is the big day for Madelynn Vivod, a Skyline sixth grader.  Carol Callahan Barnhart parties on the 14th, also the big day for Isabella Jeffrey Skyline fifth grade student.  The 15th finds Richard, Bob’s older brother, partying up in Springfield.  Another sixth grader, Caleb Barker, will be celebrated on the 17th.  We celebrate our friends and families on their birthdays, and we celebrate and appreciate our U.S. Military Veterans on the 11th and on every day of the year for their Service and their sacrifices on our behalf and on behalf of our Nation.  Thank you, Champions! — Looking on the Bright Side!

CHAMPION—November 15, 2021

Bob and Mary

Doug Johnson, Department Commander at the Department of Missouri Am Vets, was the Grand Marshall of the Veterans’ Day Parade in Mountain Grove.  He and Diana Jeffries Johnson, Executive Director, led the parade, driven by Bob Berry in his 1963 Studebaker Lark.  Mary Goolsby enjoyed riding along and graciously shared the good information with The Champion News.  We are blessed to have so many Veterans in our part of the country.  The internet featured many great tributes to them this week.  Thank you for your service.

The week ahead will likely see many harvested deer.  Connie, from the Farmhouse in Champion West, inadvertently harvested one a few days before the season opened.  She says, “I did what I told my kids never to do–don’t swerve.”  Her car was trashed, but she was not hurt.  Esther Wrinkles used to say, “Never swerve to miss a squirrel.”  We miss Esther.  Vanzantian, Cathy O., sports a rack of antlers on the hood of her pretty red truck already as she anticipates Christmas in forty days.  The Gypsy says Cathy is the grandma who got run over by the reindeer.  A favorite fiddler admonishes all his Vanzant Bluegrass jam friends to watch for deer on their way home.  If you drive slowly and sing on the way, the miles go by more quickly or so it seems.

Birthdays to be celebrated are those of Dean Brixey on the 18th, Elva Ragland on the 19th.  They are both alumni of the Champion School.  A certain Bozo parties on the 23rd, and Lannie Hinote, now up in Alaska, does so on the 26th.  Lannie shares her day with John Webber’s grandson, Thomas, out in Oregon.  Carolyn Nunn Harvey has the 27th for her big day and shares it with second grade Skyline student Aubrey Lewis.  That was also the birthday of Uncle Al, the Lonesome Plowboy, who was born in 1914 in Frog Level, Oklahoma.  The 28th is for harmonica player, Geoff Bartch, and the 30th for Skyline eight grader Lane Watkins.  Congratulations all of you!  Many happy returns.

Lunar Eclipse

Champions might stay up all night on Thursday to see the longest partial lunar eclipse in almost 600 years.  It will start shortly after midnight and be at its maximum at 3:02 a.m. and will all be over at 6:02 on Friday morning.  Up to 97% of the moon will be obscured, at which time it will have a reddish hue which will match the color of those Champion eyes if they are able to stay awake.  At ten days before Thanksgiving, housecleaning and menu making are taking much of their time.  Anticipation of seeing far flung family finally has them in a happy frenzy.  Baby proofing a house is an adventure for old folks who haven’t had a baby crawling in the house for many years.  The gratitude is building up already for the great joy of having the young ones around the hearth again.  Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


November 5, 2021

CHAMPION—November 1, 2021


A Champion Fall

By the time this is in ink and in our mailboxes, or digitalized on line, we may have had our first hard freeze in Champion. The first time the sun hits the big old mulberry trees after the freeze, all the leaves fall at once. It is an annual delight to see the big yellow leaves float down en masse. Suddenly the season changes and it is only 24 days until Thanksgiving. The menu planning, cobweb removal, and general sprucing up will keep us busy until then. “What’s not wrong?” a favorite Scots Champion asks. “Everything!” is the response.

We repeat, “Sometimes it is wonderful to be wrong.” For example: We generally figure our first frost/freeze in Champion is October 10th, and here we are looking at November 3rd or 4th for the first frigid day. Once it was on September 27th. More probable wrongness is about Wilbur. He is not solitary. He may note even be a he, though seeing him beside the newcomer, he is definitely a little bigger. The new one may be a friend, a sibling, a child, a rival, or a sweetheart. Any guess is liable to be wrong. We are wrong about a lot of things all the time and the good thing is that is often when and how we learn important things. Correct me if I’m wrong, but be gentle about it. It can be a delicate transition from adamant to graciousness after having been proven wrong.

The Spooky Soiree

On Thursday, at the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam, we learned that Halloween is a state of mind. The General and The Gypsy were an elegant, smiling pair at the spooky soiree. There were clowns and cowgirls and mysterious entities floating around in silken robes and brush curlers. Warner and Valerie were enigmatic while also smiling. Bob and Mary came as themselves—well played. No one could have done it better, Mary. Seldom seen musicians made it a magical evening. “Way down yonder in Candy Creek, he whittled out a fiddle from a wagon seat.” Music makes things better, but it is always even better with a fiddle, Jerry—just saying.

Old people often ‘joke’ saying, “I’m just glad to wake up!” when asked how they are. Sunday morning had everyone on that page enjoying a perfect fall day, glad to be alive. Champions, Royce Henson and Connie Lansdown, had birthdays on October 30th. Elijah and Arjuna Flenner, wherever they are, have been celebrating their birthday on the first of November for about forty-eight years now. Ethel’s Bob celebrates on the 4th of the month. He likes to drink his java from an old tin can while the moon goes riding high. Emerson Rose shares her day on the fifth with Skyline kindergarten student Elaina Homer. Another dear rose, Althea, had her birthday on November 6th, but never liked to talk about it. Chuck Barns’ daughter, Kathy, also celebrates on the sixth. Foster & Kalyssa’s old Grandpa Wiseman Has the seventh for his special day and the man who reserves his restaurant table under the name of Studebaker parties on the eighth. Axel Webster is a Skyline fifth grader with a birthday on the ninth of November. We acknowledge and appreciate our friends and families with birthday wishes. Thanksgiving is on the way, but gratitude for our good fortune is ongoing continually in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Wilbur and Friend

October 29, 2021

CHAMPION—October 27, 2021


Wilbur noshes on compost.

Sometimes it is wonderful to be wrong. For example: We thought there would be few walnuts this year because we saw hardly any blooms in the spring, but the harvest was phenomenal! Then it was generally figured that our fall colors would not be particularly spectacular because the summer had been so dry, but the sassafras and dogwoods and mulberries and sumac are telling a different story. Then we thought we had seen the last of Wilbur, but he showed up Wednesday to glean tomatoes out of the compost. Another mistake had to do with the new typesetter at The Douglas County Herald, Tiffany. In a conversation welcoming her to the staff, she seemed to be suggesting that The Champion News was about twice as long as it needed to be. Rethinking the conversation, that was probably not what she implied, and we may have jumped to conclusions. An email arrived from regional manager, Kimberly Combs, saying “We do not have a limit on words for your column. You are welcome to write as much as you want. Normally, we are looking for copy to fill pages.” So, the good news is the words may flow freely, though, as to quality, perhaps less is more, which is advice often given by real writers. Tiffany is the sixth or seventh typesetter with whom we’ve become acquainted since 2008. It’s a difficult job and the changes to The Herald over the last couple of years have been unsettling. They say change is inevitable, but sometimes it takes a while to adjust. Good luck to Tiffany, from folks on the Bright Side.

The community turned out in a big way for the Skyline R2 School Fall Carnival Friday. Local merchants contributed interesting items for the silent auction. Imaginative games and contests kept the fun and laughter going all evening. Talented pumpkin carvers competed for the grand pumpkin prize. Mr. Luna said he had never seen so many baked goods as were covering the library tables for the cake walk. Had Mary taken the chance this time, she might well have won her first cake ever in all her many miles of cakewalking over the years for every good cause. Mary is a good sport. She and Bob made it all the way over from Studibakerville for chili, Frito pie, and hotdogs. Skyline VFD fire fighters, students, staff, parents, grandparents, alumni, and nice folks like Bob and Mary came together for the fun of it and to support our great little rural school. The PTO reported a profit of $1800.00, which they will doubtlessly put to good use for the benefit of our students.

A Champion football fan, new to the sport, surprised herself by shouting, “Get that so and so!” Realizing that she found herself almost happy when a player on the opposing team was hurt during the game gave her pause. The players are full of adrenaline, energy, and excitement, but they are not angry. Often players are seen helping an opponent up off the field they hit so hard. They are competitors, the opposition, but not the enemy. They have respect for each other, understanding that there is no game unless there are two teams. That is quite a lesson for a grown up old person to learn watching football for the first time. Anger serves no purpose. Too bad the Chiefs had a hard time in Tennessee, but they will live to play again. Hopefully they will be more successful in the future. The best hope is that lessons learned from football can translate into healing some of the divisiveness that seems so pervasive these days. As the World Series begins, we will see if we can root for both teams like Champions! Looking on the Bright Side!

On the street where I live...

October 14, 2021

CHAMPION—October 11, 2021


Denlow was the scene of much family fun Saturday as the Alsup – Ousley Reunion drew folks from Alaska, Idaho, Kentucky, and many points in between. It was reported that there were sixty odd people there, meaning sixty people, more or less. The people were not necessarily all odd, but they all had a good time getting acquainted and reacquainted with one another. The memories made will be everlasting. Some of them were stored on the internet where a good bunch of the Pioneer Heritage Festival can also be seen. Organizers of this event did a splendid job of adapting to a new venue. This must be the season for fun.

Our Skyline Cross Country team made a good showing at the Thornfield meet on the 6th. The next meet will be in Ava on the 13th, sponsored by Skyline. The 17th is the birthday of Alain Ambroziac, an eighth grade Skyline student. Excitement is building for the Skyline Fall Carnival which will take place on October 22nd. Tabitha Hurt said, “We are asking parents to help decorate our walking trail if they would like to. Each family can select a ten foot or so section and decorate with fall or Halloween decorations.” This will be a chance for people in the community to see the recent upgrades and improvements made to the campus. There will be lots of games and good food and an opportunity to visit with neighbors and to get to know the staff of our terrific little rural school. If you are saving those Best Choice UPC codes (bar codes), the carnival will be a good time to turn them in. They bring in a little cash for the benefit of the school and every little bit helps.

Some folks are shy and do not like to see their name in the paper, so even if you do not know who they are, these Champions know they are being recognized and appreciated. A guy who does not know how to fly a flag has his birthday on the 11th. The wife of the guy who searched for Booger County celebrates on the 12th. Manes Cathy of the Pivot has the 13th for her big day and the 14th is for the father of Teagan and Luxe, and for our Champion Nurse who had great adventures with Doctors Without Borders. Then the guy who went up and down with the Otis folks enjoys the 15th. Your families and your friends will be baking cakes, making ice cream, and singing songs to you. Bask in their spotlight and enjoy yourselves.

The UPS driver who came up the drive in the U-Haul truck the other day remarked about the good quality of the county roads over in this area. He said that he frequently travels over roads in other parts of the county that are barely passable. Those handsome gentlemen from the Drury shed do excellent work. The beautiful, smooth hairpin turn where Cold Springs Road meets the High Road invites some drivers to ‘put their foot in it,’ that is, step on the gas just for the fun of it. But we resist the temptation since we are safe, prudent drivers in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


October 8, 2021

CHAMPION—October 4, 2021


Kaye and Fae
Kaye and Fae
Fae and Kaye
Fae and Kaye

Apologies are extended to a favorite fine fiddler if the question about the relative meanness of a red hog caused him any domestic difficulties. Country musician Tex Renner shares this quote: “O, but to have the wisdom of the oyster, that I might take an irritation and make of it a pearl.” “Boy, howdy!” as they say in Texas. Eddy Arnold sang, “I got a humpback mule, a plow and a tater patch, eggs that are gonna hatch someday. I got my Lord above and a good girl to love me. I’m the richest man in the world.” Music and musicians make the world a more lovely place. Carol Green is just such a musician–a banjo player. She is part of the trio known as TLC. Her birthday is October 6th, and she shares the day with Skyline pre-kindergarten student Alivia Vivod. The 7th is a big day for Betty Dye and for Vicki Trippe. Madeline Ward’s birthday is October 10th. She recently attended a surprise birthday party for her grandmother and her great aunt. This party was a blow out with family from all over Missouri, from Tennessee, Alaska, and Idaho. They are a big bunch—all of them grateful for the abundance of family.

Champion Goldenrod

Family from Seattle came with energy to spare to help out on the farm over in Champion-East. They were dinner guests up in Champion-North on Saturday, arriving and leaving in the rain. The retired labor and delivery nurse has become a rabble rousing union organizer. She has had splendid results, especially in Montana. Having previously made his mark as a purveyor of gentlemen’s fine footwear, he is a working philosopher, producing learned papers in collaboration with younger, less experienced colleagues. The conversation was lively over a broad range of subjects. Life is very different in their part of the world. For example, they have routine recycling pick up at their very door and their tooth paste comes in tablet form that must be chewed.

Skyline’s Cross Country team made a great showing at their meet in Ava on the 29th competing with Plainview, Mark Twain and Thornfield. Superintendent Donnie Luna has a chart that he will share with a smile showing the progress of our Skyline athletes. This week the meet will be in Thornfield and next week Skyline will host again at Ava. Helen Batten wrote, “Everyone cheered for ALL the runners. Parents applauded for everyone that crossed the finish line. And one boy that won a first place medal stayed by the finish line and told all the other boys, ‘great job.’ That was wonderful to hear.”

Champion Fall Shrooms

Colors are beginning to show themselves as if it will be Fall soon. We’ll be singing about the autumn leaves drifting by our windows. Rain was welcomed by many and not so much by others who had roads washed out and new fences knocked down. The Cowboy has his work cut out for him to repair the damage done by four plus inches of hard rain. The Pioneer Heritage Festival could have used some dryer days. On the plus side, a man who relies on a puddle to obscure his driveway does not have to fill it up with buckets. Counting blessings in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

A Champion Fall

September 30, 2021

CHAMPION—September 27, 2021


Groundhogs do not seem to be mean, but it is said that red hogs are. How mean is a red hog? That is the kind of information a person must get from another person. Googling the question gets lots of information, but not a precise measure of relative meanness. It is true that relatives can be the meanest. One Champion Mother would say of any difficult task that it was like putting a side saddle on a hog. She did not specify color. A favorite fine fiddler probably knows the old tune, Root Hog or Die, or the Pig Ankle Rag, which he probably plays with a smile on his face thinking about his lovely wife. He knows he is a lucky man and, if he forgets, she will tell him.

Bud Hutchison’s Fall Trail Ride will be coming up soon. Andrew Harden will head it up again and will let us know the date. Looking back through the archives here the ride generally takes place around the second Wednesday of October or sometimes later. It is a recurring reminder of a charming old Champion and a delight to see young Champions following Bud’s same sweet trail. Meanwhile, a group of jolly cowboys, discussing plans at ease, are looking for their reward when their work is all done this fall. Fall has just started, so we have until December 21st to “get ‘er done, Sis.” The expansive plans that were hatched in the air conditioned summertime for fall projects may well exceed what is possible now that it is time to get started. “Just do what you can and don’t feel bad about asking for help.” It always makes a body feel good to be of help. Whatever your task, find a moment to enjoy the changing of the season–something tame, something wild. We live in a beautiful part of the world. With any kind of luck, some seldom seen sight seeing friends and family will wander by in time to lend a hand.

Our Skyline R2 School is in an excellent spot in the world. It is about equidistant between Mountain Grove and Ava, enjoying the generous support of both towns. The Mountain Grove Lions Club brought their special $10,000.00 camera to school last Thursday and did vision screening for every Skyline student. It was an efficient and interesting process, a real amenity to the school community. This week, on September 29th, Skyline will be hosting the Cross Country meet for all the small schools around the area at the Ava High School track facility. It is nice to be in the middle. The next Cross Country meet will be at Thornfield on October 6th and then back at Ava on the 13th when Skyline will again be hosting. Skyliners are getting excited about the school carnival coming up on October 22nd.

Jana Brixey, pre school teacher, and Debora Barker, special education teacher, head up the archery program at Skyline. Ms. Brixey shares her birthday on the first of October with the Prominent Champion who subscribes to the notion that if you act like you are having a good time, soon you will forget you are acting. If you ask him how he is doing, he might say, “If I told you, you would cry.” or “I ain’t worth a dime.” William Tucker Clark has his birthday on the second of October. He was born in 2015. Second grade student, Evan Homer, has a birthday on October 3rd, along with Tucker’s Grandpa Clark. Those twins, born up at the OK Corral three quarters of a century ago, celebrate on October 4th. Far flung family will be in town for the celebration–all the way from Alaska. Around here we celebrate birthdays and delight in our good fortune to be where we are. Lannie Hinote says it is already cold in Alaska. Visitors from there are sure to feel warm and welcome in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!