November 12, 2018

CHAMPION—November 12, 2018


Jonnie by the fire.

“What happened to Fall?” grumbles one Old Champion who had also asked, “What happened to Spring?” when the weather went directly from Winter to Summer.  We did enjoy some spectacular autumnal colors for a few days, but the cold seems to have arrived early.  Quit your bellyaching and make the best of whatever comes along.  Here in the awesome Ozarks we are not experiencing record drought and 60 mile an hour winds.  Point being, it could be worse.  Things change and Champions adapt.  The woodshed and propane tank are full.  The faucets that require it are set to drip.  Those wintertime inside projects are being remembered i.e.:  deep cleaning, de-cluttering, making Christmas gifts, writing letters, reading books, making music, drinking hot chocolate, eating cookies, dawdling on the internet half the day when there is work to be done.  Jonnie, the family dog, sleeps by the fire like a Champion.  Hello winter.

It has been a pleasure to spend this last week honoring our Veterans.  Skyline students held an assembly at 2:30 on Friday afternoon to honor parents, grandparents, neighbors, and friends who serve or have served in the military.  It was an opportunity to thank them.  All around the country, all around the world, there have been observances to mark the end of the War to End All Wars.  The internet has been full of photos of our Veterans.  Among them is one that includes Bryan and Lee Proctor, and their Dad, Pete, and Pete’s brothers, Gary and Frankie–all in uniform, Ruby’s sons and grandsons.  Pete recently spent some time at a VA Hospital and came home with five holes in his belly to show for it.  Phyllis is taking good care of him and, as he is restricted from picking up anything heavier than 10 pounds until the 29th of November, he will have to enjoy his thanksgiving dinner just one forkful at a time.  Meanwhile, Pete does a lot of work through The American Legion that recognizes and supports Veterans.  Pete is a genuine Champion.  Lane Sutherland posted a picture of her Uncle Lee Cooley, Corporal, Army Co. D, 121st infantry who served in WWII.  It has been an education to see how many men and women from these parts have been willing to serve.  Last year Elva Upshaw posted a picture of her dad at Robins AFB in Georgia when he was going through the combat crew training course.  He wound up being a Master Sargent before he was summarily promoted to admiral by The Champion News, and then laterally to General when it was learned that he could not swim.  Joking aside, this part of the world has been well represented in all the armed services in all the Nation’s conflicts.  Champions all!

Champion birthdays include that of Jill Sterling, now married to some guy named John.  She celebrates the 13th.  That is also the special day for Skyline third grader Madelynn Vivod.  The 14th is for second grader Isabella Jeffrey.  The 15th is the special day for Richard Heffern.  He lived in Kansas City for years and recently moved to Springfield, where he has jumped into all manner of community service.  He has a cabin in Champion and a Champion heart.  Seventh grade student, Raven Hull, will be celebrating on the 16th.  The 17th will find third grader, Caleb Barker, and seventh grader, Abigail Whittier both having parties.  Your Champion friends and family wish you all happy days even when it is not your birthday.

Skyline Christmas Wreath

Skyline teacher Terri Ryan posts, “The next stage of our Wonders of Wildlife Field Trip fundraiser for preschool through 2nd grades has begun.  All proceeds raised will go for student admission fees.”  To help out, call Helen Batten (who made the beautiful Christmas wreath she donated to the cause) at Skyline (417-683-4874) or pop into the Re-creation of the Historic Emporium over on the North side of the Square in Downtown Champion—that would be Henson’s Downtown G & G.  Tickets will be available there and the good feeling of helping these kids will last and last.

The horrific fires in California are bringing changes to many.  One wonders if the 150,000 and more people displaced from those terrible fires will be considered refugees, and if they need to walk eastward to find shelter and aid, will they be met with a wall and concertina wire?  Those five thousand troops on the southern border waiting for the refugees fleeing violence, oppression and deprivation who will arrive in two months, those soldiers could be home with their families, or out in California helping to fight fires and save people.  The world over, people, even rich people, have catastrophes that interrupt their lives.  Some people think that climate change has been exacerbated by man’s activities.  Others pretend that it is not happening at all, but it is.  The climate is changing.  Just ask your grandpa.  Champions recognize that many are suffering.

Someone said that if you are not accustomed to driving on ice or snow, just pretend that you are taking your grandmother to church.  There are two gallon jars of sweet tea in the back seat and a sweet potato pie.  Grandmother is in the passenger seat in a new dress holding a crock pot of gravy in her lap.  Drive like that.  A regular devotee of The Champion News at has noticed that of late any mention of a song in the text will send the reader to actual music.  Technology is cool.

It is a relief to have the election over.  All those negative political advertisements were oppressive.  They seemed to add to all the stress.  As the results continue to come in, we are reminded that we are a Democracy and, in spite of what may be going on, we are still “America the Beautiful” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Champion the Beautiful

November 5, 2018

CHAMPION—November 5, 2018


Evening splendor in Champion

On the eve of the election, it is anybody’s guess about what the results will be. Chances are more than likely that about half the country will be angry and disappointed while the other half will be grateful and overjoyed. Hopes are that the winners will be graceful and inclusive, that the losers will be gracious and civil and a spirit of peaceful accord will prevail on both sides. It will certainly be a great relief to be shed of the unrelenting political advertisements. Imagine what those advertising budgets could have bought in terms of benefit to the electorate. What will replace those ads? Pharmaceuticals and law firm hype will fill in the spaces between news reports and opinions, leaving some old folks nostalgic for lines like, “You can trust your car to the man who wears the star”; “It’s what’s up front that counts”; “See the USA in your Chevrolet”; “The best part of waking up…” Hopes are that we will all wake up to a calm resolve to move forward productively.

Wake up happy on your birthday: Skyline 7th grade student Hailey Hall celebrates on November 4th and 5th grader Mason Solomon on the 7th. The 8th is the special day for Zack’s Champion granddad. Elizabeth and Seamus also call him ‘granddad,’ or something that means the same thing. Skyline 2nd grader, Axel Webster, will party on the 9th of November and the 11th will be remembered as Chuck Barnes birthday. He has been gone a long time now, but is well remembered. He lived all over the world and had wonderful stories to tell.

Black Elk began to tell his story in 1932. He told it to a guy named John Neihardt who published the book Black Elk Speaks. Black Elk was born in 1863 and was the second cousin of Crazy Horse. He witnessed the Battle of Little Big Horn at the age of 12 and was present at the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890. He told Neihardt, “I could see that the white man did not care for each other the way our people did. They would take everything from each other if they could. Some had more of everything than they could use, while crowds of people had nothing at all. This could not be better than the old ways of my people.” Perhaps we will find some new ways.

It is hard on a community to lose a valued member. Champions join their neighbors in Vanzant feeling the sudden loss of Sharon Upshaw who passed away Friday. She leaves a big loving family, and a great number of friends and neighbors who knew her to be devoted to her family, to have a great laugh and endless patience. It is a struggle to find words and ways to comfort and console. Heartache never goes away. Precious Memories linger always.

Rain and cooler temperatures are working their magic on the autumn leaves. They are coming down in rafts revealing home sites hidden during verdant seasons. All our seasons have their beauty. Every hour of the day has some splendor about it in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side.

A spectacular Champion sunset

November 4, 2018

CHAMPION—November 4, 2018


Sharon Upshaw and part of her big loving family.

It is hard on a community to lose a valued member. Champions join their neighbors in Vanzant feeling the sudden loss of Sharon Upshaw who passed away Friday. She leaves a big loving family, and a great number of friends and neighbors who knew her to be devoted to her family, to have a great laugh and endless patience. It is a struggle to find words and ways to comfort and console. Heartache never goes away. Precious memories linger always.

Sharon Upshaw November 5, 1950 – November 2, 2018

October 29, 2018

CHAMPION—October 29, 2018


Halloween Howdy

Health advocates using the beautiful quarter mile walking path at our wonderful Skyline R2 School should be careful. Stationed, as if by plan, along the route are ghost, goblins and ghouls, as well as witches, spider webs and other spooky things. By Friday it will likely be safe again. Not that it is really unsafe now, but it is indeed spookily symbolic of Halloween. The architects of these apparitions are to be commended for their artistry. The trail is not so unnerving during broad daylight and, truly, it is a lovely walk. It was a project by the Douglas County Health Department several years ago and it has been a real boon to the whole neighborhood, as well as providing a good exercise facility for the students. The pre-kindergarten students, the first and second graders were able to raise $265.00 for their trip to The Wonders of Wildlife next spring. Lauren Collins was the winner of the Fall Basket they had put together and Linda Kutz won the beautiful autumn wreath that Helen Batten had made and donated to the cause. They may put another raffle together before Christmas, because they have a long way to go to cover the expense of the trip. It will be a chance for the whole community to step up to support the kids who will be running things in a few short years.

A Champion Fall

This is the time of the year when we are reminded of the Blue Man of Spring Creek. The State Historical Society of Missouri recently shared a newspaper clipping from 1915. The legendary individual was reported in the wilds of Douglas County as early as 1865. Over the years there have been many sightings of the mysterious, imposing figure. Bob Leach is an imposing figure, albeit with a lovely smile. He does not live in Booger County, but he is a frequent visitor at the Re-creation of the Historic Emporium—most Wednesdays. His birthday is on November 4th. Emerson Rose Oglesby has Douglas County roots through her sweet Mother. Her birthday is on the 5th of November. Her great uncle was referenced in The Champion News as early as 2009 as General Upshot. He is generally recognized as the authority concerning all things Denlow and adjacent environs. He doubtlessly has insight into the fabled Blue Man, but avid readers will have to wait until November 7th for his report. Until the 6th he will be busy making special birthday preparations for one of Lucille’s daughters. How exciting to have a birthday on perhaps the most important Election Day of our times. Bruce Lee said, “One of the best lessons you can learn in life is to master how to remain calm.”

A Champion Fall

A sojourner through the wilds of Booger County, awed by the glory of the foliage, said, “Last year it turned from green to brown overnight. This year we have color!” The internet is flushed with fantastic photographs of fall verdure. Travelers just from here to there have to allot more time so they can stop for photo opportunities or just to gawk. This week has been spectacular and will likely be remembered as the peak of autumnal splendor. Is it the prettiest fall you have ever seen here? How do we judge memories against our current experience? One old Champion says it is the prettiest fall she can remember. The rains and frosts have come at just the right intervals. Linda Clark said that she had an appointment in Springfield on Monday afternoon, “…and I must say I really enjoyed the drive up and back. The trees are absolutely beautiful.” She admonishes us to get out and take a drive if we can. “This is the prettiest fall foliage we’ve had in a few years.” Linda has triplet grandchildren, so she must know three times wonderful stuff as the rest of us. Trish Davis has twin grandchildren, as does Reba Bishop. They must be twice as informed as the rest of us. Grandmothers are cool.

A Champion Fall

Our recent Pioneer Heritage Festival of the Ozarks was the second year for this affair. It was inspired by the 15 year history of the Pioneer Descendant’s Gathering that Dale and Betty Thomas hosted down at Yates—at the Edge of the World. We remember that one as having been a great event and this new one has a great future before it. As we learned about many of the various skills our ancestors had to employ in order to survive and thrive, the question occurs: Why did our people decide to settle here? Many just moved west from Appalachia because it had become crowded there or because of the egregious whiskey tax or maybe just for a fresh start after the terrible war. How did our people’s predecessors wind up in Appalachia to start with? Where did they come from and when did they get here? If they came from Europe, they probably came because it was crowded there, or they suffered religious persecution, or there were epidemics or lack of opportunity. The Colonies, and then America, and then the USA offered safety and a chance for a better life. There are reports that some new history books euphemistically say that the people who were here already, the indigenous people, just moved west to give the newcomers room. The renowned Native American song writer, Buffy Sainte-Marie incongruously writes, “I am proud. I am proud. I am proud of my forefathers and I say they built this country. And they came from far away to a land they didn’t know, the same way you do, my friend. So, Welcome, Welcome Emigrante, to the country that I love.” She also wrote a powerful piece called, “Now That the Buffalo’s Gone.” In these particularly odd times, we just have to figure out what we believe and do the best we can at the ballot box.

In this part of the world there will have been great family gatherings with costumes, and feasting and fun for Halloween and great quantities of candy consumed by little trick or treaters. The internet revealed some particularly jovial activity over in Vanzant. Over in Scotland, high on Caultin Hill, the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain occurs on October 31st with a pageant that depicts the death of summer at the hand of winter. In these parts, we just enjoy every day as it comes along–Champion!—Looking on the Bright Side!

A Champion Fall

October 22, 2018

CHAMPION—October 22, 2018


In no particular order, these are the trail riders on Bud Hutchison’s Champion Fall Ride:

Joe Hamby, Wilma Hamby, Chelsea Essary, Bill Winkelman on Cookie, Bill Brunner on Sugar, Larry Ratteree on Jessie, Jennifer Wolf on Peaches, Beth McElvain on Vivo, Ross McElvain on Gib, Hershel Letsinger on Duke, Jim McCoughlin on Gemmy, Don Hamby on Buck, Calvin Chamberlin on Missouri Jazz, Megan Carter on Gandalf, Nan Gonzales on Tenacity, Danny Richardson on Ribbon, Terry Wilson on Ty, Jeff Alcorn and Andrew Harden. Not shown are Kate and Steve Assenmacher, who traveled in their Meadowbrook cart pulled by Donald.
The Meadowbrook Cart

Wednesday turned out to be a perfect day for Bud Hutchison’s Fall Champion Trail Ride. The previous days of chilly, dreary, damp and drab gave way to sparkling sun. By ten in the morning the Square was packed with horse trailers and trucks with several parked out along the road. Andrew Hardin did his homework, assigned by Wilma, to get all the riders’ names and the names of their mounts. There were twenty one riders and a number of onlookers who just like to come out to see the beautiful horses and the nice people who ride them. Wilma would have had them lined up tight and in order, but since she was not there with her great organization skills, the photograph may not be up to her historic high quality. Still, the fun was out on the trail. A number of the party made a short trip of it and came back to Champion for lunch. The group taking their lunch out on the Shannon ranch had some excitement when one rider found a nest of yellow jackets while tying her horse to a tree. The horse reared and bucked and knocked the rider to the ground. She was lucky, they said, not to have been trampled. Both she and the horse had several yellow jacket bites. It is still dangerous out on the dusty trail. They all made it back to the Historic Emporium for ice cream on the veranda. Bud would have had a great time. We finally learned the names of the mysterious cowboys from Mountain Grove. The tall one with the big hat made the whole ride. The good looking one had a pulled muscle and just came out to see his friend and the others off on their big adventure.

There are 43 students (prekindergarten through the second grade) in Skyline who want to go to The Wonders of Wildlife over in Springfield. Their trip will take place sometime during the spring. It will be a valuable learning experience for them and it will be an expensive trip, but they are excited about going and have already been working on a fund raising project. If you want to help out, contact Ms. Helen at Skyline (417-683-4874). They have a basket of fall goodies and a beautiful fall wreath that they will be awarding to a lucky ticket holder at the Halloween program that Wednesday morning. The nice folks at Meadowbrook Natural Foods in Mountain Grove shared some YumEarth Organic Pops for the giveaway on the parking lot at the school between 2 and 3 on Halloween. These lollipops have sugar, but not high-fructose sugar, and they are tart and tasty, but with no artificial colors. It is sweet to see local businesses engaged in support of our schools and helping our children learn about healthy choices. Meadowbrook joins all the business on the Champion Square in backing the kids who will soon be running the world. Get some tickets at Henson’s Downtown G & G. Help where you can.

A trillion seconds ago was 31,688 Years, 269 days, 1, hour and change ago. That is just a reference to help us understand the magnitude of the number—one trillion. These days those big numbers connected with the national debt, the deficit, tax cuts, Social Security and the like are dizzying. Meanwhile, austerity has consequences for public education and any number of our public institutions. Voters will just have to figure out what is important and how to fix it. The dramatic change in our weather has had an effect on the area foliage and a drive to town was just glorious in the sunshine on a clear day. Our charming MoDot workers have done some beautiful infrastructure work on our highways and our Douglas County road crews keep our country roads in good shape. We are lucky to live in this part of the world. Katelyn McConnell of the Ozarks Alive blog was in the neighborhood recently with a nice young videographer, Bobby. Her question about the focus of The Champion News elicited this response: “We hope to acknowledge the uniqueness of our area and at the same time point out our similarities and our connection with the rest of the world.”

Up and over the hill!

Thursday night was another enjoyable evening at the Vanzant Community Building. Corinne Rogers celebrated her 89th birthday with her friends and neighbors. Bonnie Rogers had had her party a couple of days before and she joined the chorus singing to Corinne. Up in Elmwood, Illinois, Champion Harley Krider celebrates his birthday on October 26th. Reports are that he is busy back in his routine, volunteering and helping people. What a Champion! His nephew-in-law, Brad Oglesby, shares the 26th as his birthday. Locally, Shala Clark, mother of a number of adorable Champion children, also enjoys that day as her own. Nicholas Georges is a second grade student at Skyline. His birthday is on October 28th. Royce Henson used to go to school at Champion. He lives in Springfield now, but makes it back to the country whenever he can. When he and Jody came down for the Pioneer Heritage Festival of the Ozarks a couple of weeks ago, their trip took them through Norwood where they were delayed for over an hour by a coal train stalled on the crossing. The finally turned back and came through Mansfield to Ava and then out to Chapel Grove—New Haven–for the event. They are an intrepid pair. Royce had his 80th birthday at Champion several years ago. The date is October 30th. The lovely Connie Lansdown also gets presents on that day—good ones, we hope. Skyline second grader, Addison Jeffrey, will also be getting birthday presents that day. Mrs. Curtis, Skyline’s illustrious Superintendent, has her birthday on October 31st. Felipe Heston, down in Austin, has always celebrated that day too. He thinks Halloween is the best day of the year for a birthday. Probably everyone thinks his own birthday is the best one. Many happy returns of the day to all you Champions! Happy Birthday!

Roger Miller’s birthday was October 25, 1935. He passed away in 1992 and left the music world missing him. Among his many hits were “King of the Road,” “Dang Me,” “Chug-a –Lug,” and another great favorite: “You can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd, but you can be happy if you’ve a mind to. All you got to do is set your mind to it. Set your mind to it and do it, do it, do it…” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

A glorious day in the sunshine.