September 17, 2018

CHAMPION—September 17, 2018


Champion Fall Sumac

Another lovely Champion Wednesday had Champions out on the wide veranda at the Historic Emporium spinning yarns and trading news when there came ambling in from the east a couple of good looking well mounted cowpokes.  They are from up Mountain Grove way and most generally ride with the Hartville bunch, but good sense brought them over to explore Fox Creek and examine the Race Horse Monument north of Denlow.  Good fortune led them back to the Champion Square where they had left their horse trailer earlier in the day.  Perhaps they will show up to accompany the West Plains Wagon Club as it make its way through Champion on Thursday the 20th.  The train usually comes through from the east early mid-day and after a nice break on the Square takes off up Cold Springs Road to the next stop up north on their way to Mansfield.  Maybe the information will get to our cowpokes in time.  They are looking to The Champion News to learn about Bud Hutchison’s Champion Ride.  As luck would have it, Wilma was at the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam on Thursday night and passed along a note in her beautiful handwriting saying Bud’s Trail Ride will be October 17th.  Andrew Hardin will lead, leaving Champion at 10:00am.  She said to bring lunch or buy something at Champion to eat when you get to the Shannon Ranch.  If you see these cowpokes around let them know.  They are well spoken, not overly bowlegged, and one wears a big hat.

Idaho dignitaries were the target of poked fun at Vanzant on Thursday.  They were in the neighborhood visiting family and attending the Wilder Days in Mansfield.  The General requested the ever-popular tune, “Five Pounds of Possum,” as a dedication to his kin.  Sherry Bennett complied, to the great delight of everyone so pleased to have her back after a back-surgery enforced absence.  She is in fine voice and had with her a handsome, talented grandson.  Sue Upshaw, her daughter, Darcy, and their friend, Donnelle, were suitably mesmerized.  David Richardson (sitting in Jerry’s chair) promised that, as emcee of the Wilder Days Celebration, he would take every opportunity to embarrass Sue since she has a bonafide historic family connection to Laura’s sister Carrie.  The Idaho sojourners were headed back North on Tuesday after a family ice cream social Sunday with 25 in attendance.  It is nice to have a joyful reason for family gatherings.

There will likely be a nice family gathering for Louise Hutchison as she celebrates her birthday on Friday, September 21st.  She shares the day with Zoey Louise, Champion granddaughter in Austin and great niece Penelope Zappler of that same city.  The next day will be the Autumnal Equinox signaling the beginning of fall.  Along the roadsides already the sumac is brilliant red.  Perhaps we will enjoy some colorful foliage this year.

The White River Valley Electric Cooperative sent a letter a while back informing customers they would be spraying brush killer along the right of way under power lines this summer.  Most of us did not see the workers walking across the country, but the dying brush is evidence of their passing.  Many of those doing the hard work in the heat, breathing the poison all day were Hispanic, not speaking much English.  There were instances where alarmed landowners, who did read it or did not recall having received the letter, called the sheriff and discharged firearms as a warning to perceived trespassers.  How many people who complain about immigrants taking our jobs would be willing to spend a day doing this work for minimum wage or at all?

Nancy, the nurse from the Douglas County Health Department, will be in Champion Friday morning, the 21st, to do blood pressure screenings.  It is a real service to the community.  Helen Batten writes that Midwest Computer Recycling will be at the Skyline School on Tuesday, September 25 at approximately 10:00 a.m.  She says they will try to have everything around back by the kitchen door for easy loading.  You may bring anything that plugs in and they will take it away, free of charge, except for televisions.  They charge $20.00 to $25.00 for those, depending on the size.  Helen says this is a chance to do some fall cleaning and get rid of those items you no longer want.  She hopes we will all take advantage of the opportunity and make it worth their while to come to our school with this service.  It can be a part of the Champion put away-give away-throw away project.  Share your news at or snail mail to The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717. Go to to see what you may have missed in printed versions.

A casual student of scriptures is fascinated by Isaiah 10:1-3.  Warren Buffet advises:  “You will continue to suffer if you have an emotional reaction to everything that is said to you.  True power is sitting back and observing things with logic.  True power is restraint.  If words control you, everyone else can control you.  Breathe and allow things to pass.”  That is good advice these days.  “Be sure it’s true when you say, ‘I love you.’ It’s a sin to tell a lie” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

A Champion Vista

September 10, 2018

CHAMPION—September 10, 2018



Good news in Champion comes from Jim Cantrell of the West Plains Wagon Club.  He called Henson’s Downtown G & G to let the community know that the wagon train will be rolling through Champion on September 20th this year!  In the Champion Neighbors category on the website find “West Plains Wagon Club” and that will lead you to the posting of September 22, 2017.  From there you can scroll through pictures of the wagon trains visiting Champion all the way back to 2008.  It is an exciting adventure.  Come out and enjoy it live on the 20th.  The train generally rolls into town about mid-day.  They take their rest and enjoy their lunch on the Square before ambling on up the hill north to Cold Springs Road and beyond.  The travelers are always pleased to have folks come out to see the wagons and draft animals and to share their experiences along the trail.  It is also a good chance to run into some of your friends and neighbors for some good visiting and catching up.

Skyline Superintendent, Jeanie Curtis, informs us that the school is having a yard sale this Saturday, the 15th.  They are emptying out the old bus barn and there will be lots of interesting bargains—desks, chairs, white boards, text books and some surprises.  Every chance we have to help our great little rural school is a good one.  The Best Choice and Always Save brands that are so popular in this area are distributed by the Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc. people up in Kansas City.  They have a ‘save a label’ program that redeems the ‘universal bar code’ (UPC) labels for cash for schools.  Most General Mills products have the Box Tops for Education coupons that are worth a dime each for the school.  Helen Batten will have her work cut out for her as she works on the pile of labels and box tops that school supporters have saved all summer.  It is her effort that converts the little pieces of plastic and paper into cash that the school can use for whatever it needs.  Thanks, Helen.

American Sign Language is a natural language that serves as the predominant sign language of deaf communities in the United States and many other places worldwide.  Here, at the Skyline R2 School Grandparents Day Celebration, the whole student body employed sign language together with their beautiful voices to sing, “Thank you Grandma, Thank you Grandpa for being part of my life!”  Some old folks teared up remembering their own grandparents and the joy of being the old people for these extraordinary young people.  It is a precious thing to have grandchildren and to have grandparents.  Ms. Casper directed the heart-warming program.  The students have been preparing for this for some while.  The building was decorated with great colorful posters saying “Grandparents are Awesome”  “Grandparents Rock!” etc.  There were decidedly more Grandmas there than Grandpas, but the old guys were every bit as touched and proud.

Bridget Hicks oversees the Archery program at Skyline.  She and her team are looking forward to the chance to participate in the Pioneer Heritage Festival of the Ozarks, which is coming up on the first week-end in October, the 6th and 7th.  It will especially be exciting to see the young archers getting acquainted with Butch Stone.  He may inspire some to knap flint.  The festival will provide many opportunities for young folks to learn about what it was like to be a kid 100 years ago and to take part in some of the activities popular back then like sack races, three legged races, and the egg toss.  There will be a youth stringed instrument talent show from 2:00 to 3:00 pm. Saturday and lots to do and see.  There is a great music line up that starts at 11:00 both days featuring a number of local groups.

The Wall That Heals, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Replica and Mobile Education Center, will be at the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association Facility 1 mile North of Ava on Highway 5 on September 20-23.  There are 58,318 names on the wall.  The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund founded The Wall and states as their mission “to honor and preserve the legacy of service in America.  We honor the service of all, preserve the memory of those who died during the war and since returning home, and educate all generations about the lasting impact of the war.”  The war and that era have been the subjects of conversations in the Historic Emporium recently.  Though it happened a long time ago, feelings are still fresh and old grievances linger with some, giving pause to ponder.

Birthdays are happy days for some.  For others birthdays are continual reminders of the swift passage of time.  Others decline to observe for various reasons.  For those who do, the acknowledgement of friends and family is meaningful.  The ever-pleasant, interesting, kind, bird watcher, Carol Tharp, celebrated on the 8th, along with ever-relevant Senator Bernard Sanders.  Native Champion, Tanna J. Krider Wiseman, has her day on the 13th.  Calendar notations reveal that Frances Sutherland was 82 years old on September 14th in 2014.  Texan, Konrad Zappler, enjoys the 14th as his birthday too, but is not telling his age.  Tigger will tell you she loves green beans and her beautiful daughters, Shelby and Zoey.  Her birthday is the 15th.  Happiness is one of the up sides of these annual observances.  Elmer Banks will be celebrated all week—Wednesday at Champion, Thursday at the Vanzant Jam, a day off to recover on Friday, and then all the family hoop-la on Saturday, his official birthday, the 15th.  He will tell you he is a lucky man.  Of course, he can tell you all kinds of things—mostly true as far as we can tell.  He is from Louisiana over there by the river.  Mel McDaniel wrote a great country song describing life in the south, and enjoying the simpler things in life.  “Hey you get down the fiddle and get down the bow.  Kick off your shoes and throw ‘em on the floor.  Dance in the kitchen ‘til the morning light Louisiana Saturday Night”… or in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


September 3, 2018

CHAMPION—September 3, 2018


Those attending the 34th Champion School Reunion on September 1, 2018: Richard Johnston, Kaye Johnston, Kalyssa Wiseman, Karen F. Krider, Tanna Krider Wiseman, Betty Henson, Elsie Curtis, Debbie Massey, Robert Brown, Connie Brown, Paul Brown , Harold and Eva Phillips, J.R. and Janet Johnston, Charles Lambert, Lonnie Mears, Vivian Floyd, Beverly Keller Dooms, David Dooms, Irene Dooms, Robert Graham, Larry and Teresa Wrinkles, Foster Wiseman, Darrell Hutchison, Royce and Jody Henson, Alex Mills and Alexis, Tom and Valli Mills, Wilda Moses, Wilma Hutchison, Vaughn and Cara Henson, Taryn Henson, Wayne and Frances Sutherland, Laine Sutherland, Robert Upshaw, Dean Brixey.
more photos

It was a warm, sunny day for the 34th Champion School Reunion.  As the afternoon wore on chairs were shifted to catch the shade and the stories and reminiscences flowed forth in a steady stream.  There was a great deal of laughter mixed in with the usual ‘organ recital’ that occurs when old folks get together.  Arthur Porter’s name came up in connection with the straightening out of Punk Hicks and old riddles were revived, to wit:  Two people, walking down the road meeting another person.  One says to the other, “Brothers and sisters I have none.  That man’s father is my father’s son.  “The question is “Who is he?”  Send your best answers to or call Larry Wrinkles to see if you are right.  The potluck was a feast but the best part was seeing old friends reconnect with the deep affection born of shared experience of long ago.  Champions then, now and always!  Look for pictures soon at

The Vanzant Community Building was full to overflowing on Sunday afternoon as friends and family gathered to celebrate Vernon Upshaw’s 80th birthday.  His children and grandchildren put the party together.  They included many great photographs, articles from The Norwood Index, and a poster showing some things as they were back in 1938—gasoline at .10 a gallon, FDR as President and the like.  One of Vernon’s brothers had put together an album for him with pictures of his youth and his family, his military service, and ancestors going back to his great, great grandparents.  The family tree of this part of Douglas County is filled with Upshaws.  They make it a nice place for the rest of us.  Happy Birthday, Vernon!  The venue is so pleasant for these kinds of festivities that one is planned for Lucile Gayman on September 29th as she will be having her 90th birthday.  Par-ty!  Par-ty!  That sentiment goes out to Betty Thomas, Larry Wrinkles, and Wilma Hutchison who all had birthdays on September 1st.  Phoebe Ward’s day is the 3rd of September and Vernon’s actual birthday is on the 4th.  He shares it with his nephew Dailey Upshaw.  Happy days all!

Good news comes from Illinois.  Harley Krider has been cleared by his heart doctor and surgeon.  Barbara says that he can now vacuum and empty garbage.  Also he can drive the bus again.  He recently had visitors from Missouri who made a swing by his place on their way to Tennessee.  He was reported to have been overjoyed to see so many of his loved ones.  Champions are far-flung but close knit yet.  One writes from Scotland saying, “Lovely bumpy sunset tonight.  Headed straight into the waves over an hour and the rowers didn’t even break a sweat; real Newhaven muscle.  And what a view!  The evening sun was down low behind the yachts as they raced home, making their spinnakers glow like giant sea lanterns.”  Charming Morag paints a wonderful picture with her words and with her paints.  She has recently begun painting boat portraits.

Sarah Emaline Putnam Hector was born in a 1885, in Haleyville, Alabama.  She was the daughter of millwright, John Forney Putnam.  As a young woman, she traveled with him into Texas and Arkansas working on mills.  Family history says that she and her father felled trees and, with hammers and chisels, carved them into screw augers to move the grain.  They were on the real cutting edge of that day’s technology.  She lived to be age 84, passing along stories of her upbringing and farm life after the turn of the century.  Ms. Hector was always interested in history and politics.  She was adept at all the needle arts and other arts as well.  She could play “Redwing” on anything that made music.  All of her sons served in World War II.  On an occasion when she met a fellow from somewhere up north, she suggested to her granddaughter that they might make a nice green persimmon pie for the pleasant young Yankee.  During a brief interlude of internet connectivity recently, there were photographs of several young girls accepting the ‘Green Persimmon Challenge.’  Buzz pictured his granddaughters, each holding a green persimmon, ready to take a bite.  No photos showed the aftermath.  What a missed opportunity for gruesome visions of hilarious suffering!  It is a cinch Buzz had fun.

The Dude says, “Don’t worry about getting older.  You’ll still be able to do dumb ‘stuff,’ only slower.”  The speed with which dumb stuff is happening these days is phenomenal.  The Labor Day week end comes to us through the efforts of organized labor.  Child labor laws, the 40 hour work week and minimum wage provisions are some of the advancements that have been made over the years.  Reports of a booming stock market seem to overshadow the reality of the economy.  Recent changes to the tax code encourage companies to outsource jobs.  There is no infrastructure program in place that would employ great numbers of workers and health and safety protections are being overturned routinely.  An informed population may be able to rectify things at the ballot box, though it may take decades to undo the continued damage.  The Missouri Press Association was established in 1867.  Last week it sponsored a nice piece in The Douglas County Herald remembering John McCain.  The quote from the senator was apropos:  “We need a free press.  We must have it.  It is vital….  If you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press.  And without it, I am afraid that we will lose so much of our individual liberties over time.”

Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885) said, “The goldenrod is yellow; The corn is turn brown: The trees in apple orchards With fruit are bending down.”  “By all these lovely tokens September days are here.  With summer’s best of weather and autumn’s best of cheer.”  Those last hot, windy days have given our lovely country greens a golden hue and the browns of the summer cut fields are greening with new growth from recent rains.  Hummingbirds are feeding heavily in preparation for their long trip south.  The larder is filling up with the garden’s bounty to be parsed out during the cold months to come.  It’s like the Old Boy sang, “The farmer’s trees are full of fruit And the barns are full of hay Oh, I’m bound to go Where there ain’t no snow Where the rain don’t fall The winds don’t blow In the Big Rock Candy Mountains” or better yet in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


August 27, 2018

CHAMPION—August 27, 2018


From the north side of Champion

“Nothing in life is more liberating than to fight for a cause larger than yourself, something that encompasses you but is not defined by your existence alone.”  “Glory belongs to the act of being constant to something greater than yourself, to a cause, to your principles, to the people on whom you rely and who rely on you.”  “America’s greatest strength has always been its hopeful vision of human progress.”  Senator John McCain said those things and many other things that define him as having been a genuine fine human and a great American.  Whether or not you agreed with his positions on important issues, he set an excellent example for public service that had at its center the Good of the Nation—a rare attitude these days.  He said not to be discouraged by our present difficulties but to always believe in the promise and greatness of America.

Sour grapes about Champion internet.

Pete, Frank and The General made a foray last Saturday into the Champion Township to answer a query that had come over the internet about the “Old Hicks Cemetery.”  “I hear that it is overgrown and almost impossible to get to, with nothing there that indicates it is a cemetery.  I think now it’s called “Proctor Cemetery.”  By all accounts, it was a successful mission.  The place was found and, presumably, a report made to the inquirer.  The internet has been a superb resource for genealogical research, for all kinds of research, communication, entertainment and education, among other things.  It turns out that there is not an abundance of the broadband in this stunning part of rural America.  All of rural America could use a boost in this particular infrastructure.  Of course, we old folks remember when there was no such thing.  It was easy to become accustomed to the new technology and then to become dependent upon it.  Location, location, location is a real estate mantra, but it must apply to high speed internet as well.  It may be called ‘fraud’ if you sell something you do not have.  The Century Link DSL call center in the Philippines has articulate, polite people who try their best to help, but it seems a lost cause.  They have sold more service than they can provide.  There is a rumor or a hope that the White River Electric Cooperative might become an internet provider.  Some Champions are including a note with their monthly payment encouraging them to proceed in that direction with vigor.

A note comes to The Champion News mailbox saying that the caterpillar mentioned last week was the black swallowtail caterpillar, not the spicebush butterfly caterpillar.  They do resemble each other, though the spicebush butterfly caterpillar has an unusual, yet pleasant, aroma and is found on anise plants.  See a picture of the pretty and voracious critter, the black swallowtail butterfly caterpillar; at  Esther Wrinkles once advised that a mistake is an opportunity to revisit an interesting subject.  She may have suggested that an intentional error could be put to good use.  She had a lot of good advice.  She loved Champion and was one of the original organizers of The Champion School Reunion.  It always happens the Saturday before Labor Day.  There is a pot luck lunch and good visiting with old school mates, their families and friends.  Bring your lawn chairs and come up-down-over for the fun.  There may be rain, but it might be sunny for the 34th annual gathering.  The Champion News website has pictures of the reunion going back to 2008, including a picture taken at the first reunion in 1984.  There are some fine looking Champions in the bunch.

Up-down-over to Champion

The Labor Day Holiday is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.  We may forget the reason for the observance, but we are glad to have an opportunity to get together with family and friends.  There is plenty to celebrate.  Sunday will be a nice opportunity to wish a happy birthday to Vernon Upshaw.  There is a party planned at the Vanzant Community Building from 2:00 to 4:00.  That hardly seems long enough to commemorate 80 years!  Bud Hutchison’s Memorial Trail Ride, a National Ride, will head up at the Foxtrotters Showgrounds at 10:00 a.m. Monday.  Children will be back in school on Tuesday.  Over at our great Skyline R2 School they are planning a Grandparents Day Event to be held at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, September 7th.  There are many grandparents in the neighborhood whose grandchildren live far away.  They are reminded of that old folk rock song, “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.”  The young people in our terrific little school can use all the support and encouragement the community can give them.  They are going to be running things before long—banks, farms, grocery stores, hospitals, car dealerships, government and everything we need to keep society functioning.  Everyone benefits from a well-educated population capable of critical thinking.  Go Tigers!

The Pioneer Heritage Festival of the Ozarks is coming up on the first week end in October.  This is the second year for the event held at Chapel Grove over on 14 Highway at Bryant Creek.  The wonderful Pioneer Descendant’s Gathering that Dale and Betty Thomas hosted down at Yates for 15 years has inspired this effort.  It was a loss to the area when Dale and Betty felt like they could no longer do it, but the model they established is serving the new organization well.  Sherry Bennett is looking for ten young people, 16 years or younger, who would like to participate in the Youth Stringed Instrument Talent Show which will be held from 2 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, October 6th.  Contact Sherry at 417-543-1393 or 417-683-4414 to sign up.  She says sign up early.  Meanwhile, hopes are that a good slathering of Awesome Possum Salve is helping with her recovery from back surgery.  She is much missed at the Vanzant Jam and many other places, no doubt.  Jim Reeves, Eddie Arnold, Johnny Mathis, Perry Como and others sang a great song that her friends dedicate to her:  “May the good Lord bless and keep you, whether near or far away.  May you find that long awaited golden day today.  May your troubles all be small ones and your fortunes ten times ten.  May the good Lord bless and keep you ‘till we meet again” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Young Champion buck enjoying sassafras.

August 20, 2018

CHAMPION—August 20, 2018


Bygone Norwood

Champions get their US Postal Service mail at Rt. 72, Norwood, though it is being delivered from Mountain Grove these days by the lovely Karen Ross and her charming relief persons.  Recently someone posted a photograph of Norwood on the internet.  Judging by the vintage of the cars, the picture was taken somewhere in the 1940s.  What a bustling place it was back then with its own newspaper, the Norwood Index, drug stores, banks, cafes, and other businesses.  As late as the mid-1950s a person could get on a comfortable train there to go anywhere in the country.  Times have changed and the nearest train station is now is 135 miles away.  A few buildings from the old days still survive.  The town is said to have been established in 1881, and named after a popular novel of the day, Norwood, by Henry Ward Beecher, brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe, written in 1868.  It was 547 pages describing an idyllic New England town.  A reviewer back then wrote, “to read through a novel so very long, so apparently interminable, and so amazingly dull as we are reluctantly constrained to consider Norwood to be, is a real triumph of endurance.”  While it is not the robust place it used to be, it has a fine school, a post office still, and some very nice people.  They will be having their 38th Annual Norwood Farmer’s Day on September 29th.  That will be after the Champion School Reunion, September 1st, Vernon Upshaw’s 80th birthday party in Vanzant (2:00 to 4:00 p.m.) on the 2nd, Bud Hutchison’s Memorial Trail Ride (from the Fox Trotters at 10:00 a.m.) on the 3rd, and then the Wall That Heals at the Fox Trotters facility September 20-23rd.  October is almost here and the Pioneer Heritage Festival of the Ozarks will take place the first week end.  We appreciate our thriving local culture.  Champion!

An Indigo Bunting

Rain gauges, peach cans and buckets across Champion measured different amounts during the week past, but everyone agrees that the rain and now more moderate temperatures are most welcome.  The difficulties of others across the country and across the world elicit our sympathy and keep us reminded that no one is exempt from the wild vicissitudes of weather on planet Earth.  Hopes are that things will improve for our farmers and ranchers—the Champions who keep us fed.  Nature is burgeoning all around.  Deer are grazing in numbers, goldenrod is bristling up, little birds flash their colors, and spicebush butterfly caterpillars devour parsley while something unknown bores into pretty green tomatoes.  It is hard on lawn equipment to mow when it is so wet, so some old folks are just watching the grass grow and thinking Wednesday might be a good day to get something done.

Skyline VFD Picnic pictures are up at where The Champion News celebrates our great community.  Click on the ‘more photos’ link and relive the fun.  The Champion News also supports the wonderful First Amendment to the Constitution which guarantees freedom of the press.  The free press has successfully served as a check on power for two hundred years.  Like so much of our democracy, the freedom of the press is only as strong as we, the public, demand it to be and are willing to support.  It is a Champion trait to be able to recognize baloney and cheese even in this Orwellian age.  Douglas County Herald subscribers in the country are accustomed to getting the paper on Friday.  When it did not arrive until Monday, some spent the week end wondering how different our rural communities would be without our local news.  It is a valuable asset to be connected with our neighbors.

Tianna Oglesby will have a happy birthday on August 22nd.  Her nephew, Drayson Cline, will have his on the 23rd.  Dakota Watts and Daniel Cohen live far apart and do not know each other, still they share a birthday on the 24th.  Barbara Krider, Skyline sixth grader Dana Harden and prekindergarten student Lauren Collins all celebrate on the 25th.  Rita Krider and Skyline first grader Haylee Odell share the 26th.  Bill (Wes) Smith and Mini Jo Henson share their birthday on the 29th with Skyline students Rowdy Woods, seventh grade, and prekindergarten students Brantley Kilgore and Jason Smith.  Laine Sutherland celebrates on the 30th which was also the birthday of the much missed Wayne Anderson.  Kalyssa Wiseman and Jenna Brixey are fifth graders with the same birthday.  Second grade student Ray Hurt joins them in celebrating on the 31st.

Drayson and Carson Cline spent part of their wonderful summer with their “Grammie” in Champion.  On the way back home to Tennessee, the travelers stopped in on Harley and Barbara Krider.  Barbara is about to have a birthday and Harley is making a good recovery from some significant cardiovascular experiences.  Reports are that he shows some wear but is also still showing his good attitude and good humor.  He is driving again and is still volunteering at the hospital on the telephone.  Their Champion friends are glad to know they are doing well.  Most likely their spirits were much lifted by the family visit.

Eleven guitars, three mandolins, two fiddles, a banjo, a bass and a couple of harmonicas made for a lovely Vanzant Bluegrass Jam on Thursday with great food, music, laughter and fellowship.  Sherry Bennett sang her “Five Pounds of Possum” song to the delight of the big crowd.  The next day she checked in to Cox South Hospital for a surgery to address a back issue.  On Monday she was expecting to be released before long and said she still had pain, but just in different places.  She is optimistic for a good outcome and so are all her friends, one of whom suggested a slathering of Possum Salve.  Her sense of humor is intact and she can still pat her foot and music is always with her.  It is unknown just when she will be back at the jam, but it is given that every heart will be happy when that happens.  Beverly and Alvin Barnhart often come to the jam and they were there Thursday.  They had been joined Wednesday afternoon by many friends and family at the Denlow Cemetery for the graveside service of their son, Alan.  Loss is an inevitable part of life, and grief is a natural part of the healing process.  At such a difficult time, Beverly reminds us to hug our children and dear ones and to tell them they are loved and to do it now while we can.  “Have I told you lately that I love you? Can I tell you once again somehow? Dear, have I told you how with all my heart I do adore you? Well, darling, I’m telling you now.”  Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!