May 13, 2022

CHAMPION—May 9, 2022


‘Twas in the month of May!  Mother’s Day had phone lines and the internet buzzing with good wishes for the women who nurtured, protected, and taught us how to take care of ourselves and to be good people.  It is lovely to know how many were able to get together with their Mothers in person.  We are reminded to acknowledge them while we have them.  Many of us have long since lost our Mothers, but the memories of their good lessons and good humor are with us every day and we know we were loved best by them.  It is as wonderful to be one as it is to have one.

These sunny days find Champions busy in the garden.  One uses newspapers for mulch and does some of her best reading there.  Jason Hoekema does an excellent job covering local school sports, and by the end of an article, a person feels like she has been to a ball game.  The positive attention to our schools must surely encourage the students.  They are our future and some of the best reasons we must be optimistic.  One laughs about the letters to the editor.  It is almost as if we have the F.C.C.’s Fairness Doctrine back.  It was repealed in 1980 by President Regan and deregulated the media.  Before then, on controversial issues of public importance, there was a requirement to fairly reflect differing viewpoints.  (Even our hearing aids are marked red for the right and blue for the left.)  The conservatives and liberals contributing to The Herald are the two wings that keep the bird flying.  While it is the opinion of some that newspapers are best used for the bottoms of bird cages, it is fun to stand out in the sun to recycle the news in the garden.


Kenneth Anderson


If good fortune should allow us to become octogenarians, hopes are that we can do it the way Kenneth Anderson did, surrounded with loving family and friends.  Sons, Doug and Matt, and their families poured in from Buffalo, Iowa and Arcadia, Florida.  Those and other family surprises from all over the country, as far as California, brought lumps to the throats of family and friends alike.  Barbara was smiling all day.  Congratulations to Kenneth for his interesting life journey since 1942, and to whoever in his family orchestrated the lovely party.  Attending were many notables, including The Gypsy and The General and numerous of his children, grandchildren and nephews, all Kenneth’s kinfolks, together with Herbie’s aunt and uncle.  There were several regular readers of The Champion News there including Sandy Newspaper, who recalls having had to edit the article occasionally in years past.  Kenneth’s party was on Saturday, but his actual birthday is on May 8th, sharing this year with Mother’s Day and every year with VE Day, Victory in Europe, which we are all hoping for these days.

Drop us a line at or at TCN, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717, or show up in person for some beautiful scenery, nostalgia, and optimism.  You know where it is–Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

An Old Champion’s Bright Side

May 8, 2022

CHAMPION—May 2, 2022


Champion gardeners are wishing the worrisome wind would lie down/die down and wishing that we could space this everlasting rain out in half inch increments over the course of the summer. Some are complaining that by the time it dries up enough to mow, they will have to bale their lawns. But, on the Bright Side: What a beautiful day was Sunday! May Day with sunshine and every spring blooming thing at its most vibrant with every imaginable shade of green draped over the rich rolling topography, polka dotted liberally with cows of all colors. In the realm of gripes, ours are puny against those of much of the world. We gratefully acknowledge our good fortune, even as we pick ticks and look for the Watkins Liniment and the Hadacol.

Darcy and Donnelle, intrepid travelers from Idaho, made their farewell appearance in Champion on Wednesday. They were on their way to Marshfield for Cherry Blossom doings and then onward and upward in a rambling fashion toward home. They were ushered down the wide, elegant stairway of the Historic Emporium with family embraces and admonitions for safe travels as the Sometimes Porch Band played on. They rambled so that after visiting the Precious Moments Memorial and Laura’s House on The Prairie in Kansas, they missed a turn to Minneapolis, where they did not want to go anyway, and Darcy cautioned social media friends not to believe Donnell, as she was “making stuff up.” Who does that? Later we learned they had been to a place called Nowhere, and through rain and snow finally making it home after 19 days, 4860.5 miles through seven states.

The Sometimers were joined briefly on the Porch by Angie Yoakum, who was entreated to share her lovely voice. Hopes are she will linger longer next time. Alejandro, Alex, sang and played a few tunes on The General’s guitar. From California, he was visiting his Polish chicken farmer friend and the lovely Miss Remy. About that time, David Whetrock showed up on his sleek, black motorcycle with its well working muffler. He also took a turn on The General’s guitar, singing that Bob Dylan tune, Wagon Wheel. He engaged in exciting dialogue with the Californian on such matters as flying planes, ultralights, lawnmower kites, go pros and drones, and their shared favorite piece of Reggae music. The session dissolved when the farmer announced that he had to catch and crate six hundred chickens before night fall, David had to go climb something tall, and The General was ready for his nap.

‘Twas in the month of May. May Day—the hopefully happy, happy birthday for Skyline teacher, Terri Ryan, and for first grader, Holden Johnson. The seventh and eighth days of May will be to celebrate Gracie Nava, an eight grader, and prekindergarten student Dahlia Winter. School is coming to an end with the eight grade graduation at 6:00 pm on May 10th and the last day of school will be a half day on May 12. Summer school begins on May 16th with the theme of “Jammin into Space,” doing a lot of STEM activities. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math are all fun and exciting for kids and a large part of what makes the world go around, along with farmers and musicians and charming shop keepers down on the wide, wild, wooly banks of Old Fox Creek. Word is out about an exciting party for Kenneth Anderson who is becoming an octogenarian. He is already a Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


May 1, 2022

CHAMPION–April 25, 2022


Excitement comes along with warmer weather.  Darcy and Donnelle are out on a tear.  The pilgrims from Idaho, after several unnecessary turns, came ambling through the territory on Wednesday, bravely fording the deep, swift waters of Fox Creek to enjoy a family sit-a-spell around the old wood stove in Downtown Champion.  Charlie Smith was there too.  She came over from Mt. Home to hear her mom sit in with the Sometimes Porch Band.  If that were not enough, the northerners showed up at Vanzant where they feasted with family and friends.  It was there that the charming Donnellle was subjected to the roasting jibes of The General who ushered her into the family fold with his musical rendition of Reincarnation.  Where do cowgirls go when they die?

Jim and Kenny, those good looking cowboys from Mountain Grove, were caught sauntering down Cold Springs Road on Saturday on their handsome steeds.  It was the perfect day for a trail ride.  Andrew Harden expects that the Champion Spring trail ride, begun years ago by the late Bud Hutchison, will take place in mid-May.  He will share the date in time for local and distant equestrians to saddle up.

Jim and Kenny

Andrew came in third, on foot, in the adult division at the Skyline School Fun Run 5k Doughnut Dash on Saturday.  There was a good turn out for the event with 49 runners and many spectators.  They finished the race with water, bananas, doughnuts, awards, prizes, and praise for their good efforts.  As one of the two little rural schools left in Douglas County, it is a delight to see our Skyline R2 School flourishing and turning out the well prepared community leaders and solid citizens who will be running things before long.  The hard work and good guidance of the administration, teachers and all the staff is paying off.  Thank you.

J.c. Owsley writes that the highlight of his morning was watching two gobblers strut in the hayfield just out of range for a camera photo.  He said several hens were watching the display.  He is up in Jordan around Cross Timbers, but the same sight can be seen in these parts.  We have turkeys, deer, skunks, possums, groundhogs, turtles, ticks, and other critters populating and enjoying our beautiful countryside along with our farm animals and domesticated pets.  We acknowledge and grieve the turmoil in much of the world, while we are awash with gratitude for our good fortune in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


CHAMPION–April 18, 2022


When the creeks are up, Old Champions are just as pleased to stay at home, but any chance trip out this time of the year is a great delight.  From day to day things change in a remarkable way as redbuds and dogwoods replace the Bradford pears and serviceberry.  Wild peach trees, the result of someone casting a stone onto the roadside, bloom with a promise of wild summer fruit.  May apples have us poking around in the woods looking for certain treasures and being careful not to reveal the location of our own patches.  A few warm days will have us into full blown spring.  Can it be too soon?

In a pleasant internet exchange, a Champion up in Wolf Pen Hollow lamented that even though his family has been in these parts for generations, he did not know half as much about the Denlow area as The General.  The General responded, “The older we get, the easier it is to make up stories and there is no one from the previous generation to dispute our word.  Although, I did get a lot of information from Cletus Upshaw.”  Old stories circulate around the old stove at the Re-creation of the Historic Emporium and anyone lucky to get an earful is indeed lucky.  Occasionally, there is an offering of poetry as well.

“Is that you, Myrtle?” is an old song that made Myrtle Harris smile.  She smiled a lot, loved her flowers, and said, “God bless you” to many of us often.  Friends and family remember her on her birthday on April 19th.  Her charming sister’s big day was March 1, 2, 3, 4!  She said, “You’re smart.  Figure it out.”  Skyline fifth grader, Jordan Ellingsworth, has his birthday on the 23rd.  The 24th is for a tree climber, arrowhead hunter, Jacob Moffett, and for Shelby Wilson, eighth grader at Skyline.  Champion Ruby Proctor’s youngest son celebrates on the 26th.  We well remember Ruby’s good humor and sweet smile.  We celebrate you all and the beauty of home and family.  Glen Brandstedder likes to see his name in The Champion News and makes the trip to Vanzant most every Thursday for the bluegrass jam.  He can join in the song that did not get sung for Bob Berry last week.  He and Mary were off on a jaunt, having a good time.

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”  So begins George Orwell’s novel.  In 1983, Walter Cronkite said we have seen Big Brother in Stalin, Hitler, and Khomeini.  There have been several others since then, and now we have Putin.  Totalitarianism is a big word.  Mr. Orwell, in an interview after his book was published and popular, sometime in the early 1950s, said it is up to us to fight it.  The brave Ukrainians are doing just that.  Even as we applaud their heroics and wish them great success, we count our own many blessings.

The hummingbird scouts have arrived.  Gardeners are getting prepared and trying not to be impatient.  The weather has been dreary, but hearts are lite in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


April 16, 2022

CHAMPION—April 11, 2022


Champion Tulips

Champions were chasing their hats over the weekend as the unrelenting gusts sent them sailing across their gardens. Getting the soil ready to plant is rewarding work even when it requires more effort than some can muster at any one time. They will be happy for what little they do get done and happier for a rainy Monday to rest and revel in the aquafer being recharged. They will recharge themselves and be ready to get out there again some sunny day.

Skyline students are hoping for a sunny Saturday, April 23rd, for their Fun Run-Donut Dash. Meanwhile they are gearing up for MAP testing, which will be followed by a variety of field trips and end of the year activities. The Sunshine Committee at Skyline is holding a fundraiser selling Krispy Kreme donuts. They will be delivered the day of the Fun Run. Contact any Skyline student to make your order. John Phillip Rhodes, a seventh grade student, had his birthday on April first. Kindergarten’ Fredrick Smith had his party on the 4th. Saturday, the 9th, was the big day for Administrator Donnie Luna and third grade teacher, Candace Mayberry. Seventh grader Wyatt Lakey has the 15th for his big day along with G. Gary Jones over in Stockton, Champion son-in-law Dustin Kline, and Champion Vivian Krider Floyd.

Champion Road Hazard

Studebaker Bob Berry will be celebrated in Vanzant on the 14th. Hopes are he and Mary will be there to enjoy the music with their friend, Glen Brandstedder. Champion grandson and banjo player, Dillon Watts, has his birthday on the 12th. Hopes are he and his wife will find their way over from Tennessee to the jam some Thursday. Our favorite fiddler, hit a deer on the way to Vanzant last week. His headlights were still working so he came on. He was in fine voice and grateful the damage to his vehicle was not worse. It is a cautionary tale. Watch out, day or night, next fall’s venison on the hoof could cause havoc any time of the year.

April 15th, Tax Day, finds most of us glad to pay our fair share and grateful for the benefits of living in this wonderful country. Tax evaders enjoy those benefits too, and their fair share could greatly enhance them for all of us. A little update in the tax codes and some serious enforcement would help. A friend who is interested in word origins said that politics comes from the Greek word for many and from blood sucking parasites. Certainly, if vitriol were vitri-oil, the energy crisis would be well over. Would we could find a way to extract the ire-oil from the letters to the editor and certain inflationary articles, which should be published in the ‘op-ed’ section, we could fuel our tillers, our tractors, our trucks, and our Trans Ams. Political fervor can be mollified by a nice walk in the woods. Maybe you will find a mushroom and lower your blood pressure.

A brief, pleasant meeting with Ethel Leach at the feed store revealed that she and Bob are doing well and staying busy. She sends regards to Don and Reba and all their friends down on the wide, wild, wooly banks of Old Fox Creek, where good citizenship and optimism reign in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Town Tulips

April 12, 2022

CHAMPION—April 4, 2022


A bridge under troubled water...

Sometime after the next cold snap, some Champions will put out hummingbird feeders and will keep a steady watch for their southern friends. As things bud and sprout and bloom, so do the spirits of winter weary old folks ready for one warm day after another. Last Thursday marked the last snowfall for the month of March with a few flakes falling in Mountain Grove and Ava. A gathering of a great gaggle of girlfriends at Rockbridge happened that day, as well, and, reportedly, enjoyed a wonderful time together. A couple of individuals missed out by taking the wrong roads where the bridges were awash with flood waters and debris. By the time they corrected their various routes, the party was over. Alas! They will not miss the next chance to be in the company of seldom seen sisters.

Another party was much enhanced that evening, however, with the long awaited return of a favorite fiddler to the Vanzant jam. He was in the company of his sweet sister, Sally. They were well received and much entreated to come back often. It is a long drive for them after dark, which is what keeps some Champions from the newly established Tuesday Jam over at Roy’s Store in Dora. They get started about six in the evening and carry on until nine or so. Gina Hollingshead, who plays the only electric instrument–the bass, said she was surprised at how many people local to that area are coming with their acoustic instruments to join in. Bertie’s pies may also have something to do with the great turn out. The whole country is hungry for pie and music, both good medicine. Beverly Emery’s favorite is lemon merengue. Thursday, the seventh, at the Vanzant Jam, she will have that birthday song sung to her with enthusiasm by her many friends. She will most likely be on the look out for a gag gift from her irrepressibly silly sister. Irrepressible.

Mickey and Mikey

Twin Chefs in Kentucky are irrepressible as they teach us how to make pigs in the blanket. Mickey, the twin on the left, has been a visitor to the area on a number of occasions. It turns out he is married to the irrepressible Cathie Alsup Reilly of the local Alsups, kin to many folks in the Denlow/Vanzant/Champion triumvirate of desirable locations.

Windowsills bristle with seedlings of peppers, marigolds and milkweed waiting to be transplanted to the garden. The almanac says the best days in April for that activity are 16, 17, 25, 26, and 29. Champions generally figure May 10 to be the last frost day, but we have been fooled in the past. They say that it is easier to fool someone than to convince them they have been fooled. When it comes to gardening though, the truth is indisputable. Would it were so else wise world wide! Children, visiting from the city, have had a good work-out pushing wheelbarrows of manure and stacking firewood. It often happens that when we have help, we work harder than we do working by ourselves. A pleasant week-end and good neighbor help has some old Champions looking for the horse liniment on Monday morning and they do not have horses! Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!


April 3, 2022

CHAMPION—March 28, 2022


The walk down to the mailbox might be full of anticipation or dread or just a chance to gaze out across a broad field to marvel at the little clumps of daffodils growing way out there, washed to their new ground by previous seasons’ flood waters.  And the mailbox may hold a surprise.  One such appeared in the cyber mailbox at  It came from a K. Brown who, having heard about the Champion Store from Brooks Blevins, googled us up and found The Champion News.  Kim had complimentary things to say about our website, administered by the talented Ms. Oyl.  The pandemic and ‘life in general’ have thus far thwarted Kim’s good intention to visit, especially the local feature known as Nelson Park.  In response to this kind letter, it was explained that the park is just a wide spot in the road at a crossing of Clever Creek where Fox Creek Road and Cold Springs Road join (or fork).  It was also suggested that the end of the pavement itself may well prove a good destination.  Hopes are it will happen yet.  We are always happy to receive mail, cyber or snail at The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.

“Y’all Come” is one of those country songs people of a certain age can remember.  “Oh, the kin folks are coming, yes, they’re coming by the dozens…”  And what a joy it is!  The preparations for house guests bring numerous things to mind.  One asks, “Why would we do so much for other people when we don’t do it for ourselves?  Don’t we like it when everything is clean and organized?”  Another one said, “You might just be trying to put forth your best foot.”  A favorable impression is not a bad thing.  A friend over in Champion South said that she and her family had been living there for a few years when a local person visited their house and said, “You people are a lot cleaner than I thought you’d be.”  Friends and family are what make the world a beautiful place, so a little extra elbow-grease is well spent making them comfortable and happy to come again.  Drop us a note with your thoughts on this or any other matter.

The General’s daughters were looking for thoughts on their debate of the difference between tart and tangy.  In short order, they received nine responses.  All said they were different, but only three suggested how.  Tim Wood suggested that tangy is about the intensity of a flavor, while tart is connected closely to sourness/bitterness.  Another Upshaw, Loni, said “Things sisters will debate over!  They’re different.  Tangy is a little sweeter.”  And Debbie Scott Russel said, “Tart is sharp.  Tangy is more mellow.”

Partisan fervor flavoring the letters to the editor makes them a delightful or disgusting read depending on point of view.  So, it was a nice change to read of the troubles of Mr. Brian Haynes in the January 17th, edition of The Herald.  He lives up on Old Highway 5 where he has significant complaint about the condition of the road.  He is eloquent in his grievance with vivid, jarring descriptions and serious safety concerns.  He said that he had driven on gravel roads that are in better shape than his pavement.  Certainly, if he is over in our neck of the woods, when the pavement ends, the gravel lanes are lovely, thanks to those hard working, handsome gentlemen of the Drury Shed.  We will wish Mr. Haynes good luck in dealing with his commissioners and, hopefully, off in the future, our Douglas County commissioners will look seriously at White River Electric’s proposal for good high speed internet service, the benefits of which will be many.  Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!