July 16, 2019

CHAMPION—July 15,2019


Vanzant Picnic

The Vanzant Picnic drew another great crowd. These summer gatherings are perfect opportunities for neighbors to get together. The drawings, the games, the good food and wonderful music made it fun for everyone. Bertie and the Boys closed out the evening’s entertainment Saturday and they were well worth the wait. Jim, that tall cowboy with the big hat, could not make it out from Mountain Grove for the picnic. He has a hitch in his get along which friends hope will be healed up by the time Andrew Hardin leads the Bud Hutchison Champion Fall Trail Ride in October. Kenny, the good looking one, shared that report and seemed to be having a good time even without his friend there. The consensus of opinion out among the picnickers was that we live in a special part of the country where events like this tie communities together. John and The General, along with a couple of others, kept a steady shuttle service to and from the forty acre parking lot. Both days were scorchers and though no one waited for the sun to go down to have fun, it was a relief when it did. All in all, it was a lovely affair and the volunteers are to be commended for their hard work and community spirit. The Holt 4H Picnic will happen in a couple of weeks, then the Skyline VFD Picnic. Another splendid summer social season is in full swing–a spectacular start.

Lee and Glenda Unger have kin folks in Red Bank. They live up in Illinois and make a trip down this way every so once in a while. They subscribe to the Douglas County Herald and keep up with things going on in the area. They made their second annual (we hope) trip to Champion on Wednesday and were there for the serious little thunder storm that almost drowned out the music of the porch jam. Lee said they like hanging out on the North Side of the Square. It was there they heard about the Vanzant Picnic. They had reservations to go to the Dixie Stampede Friday night, but decided to make the journey over to Vanzant from their lodgings in Branson instead. They sound like Champions.

Grandchildren bring much joy to old folks. When Hovie and Dawn Henson were in town over the Fourth of July holiday, Hovie was excited to report that their granddaughter Avery Roden, down in Houston, had just been inducted into the National Honor society. He has previously bragged about her martial arts prowess in national competitions. It is just the nature of grandparents to go on and on. Connie Brown let us know that her dad, Robert Brown, had celebrated his 79th birthday on July 7th. He and are alumni of the Champion School. Bentlee Seaborn will be in the first grade when school starts up at Skyline in the fall. Bentlee and kindergarten student, Lily Trujillo, share July 10th for their birthday. Jude Hicks will be in the third grade. His birthday is July 14th, Bastille day. In the future, his history studies will let him know how special that day is for the French people since 1790. He might learn of Jean-Paul Marat who became one of the most influential men of the French Revolution through his newspapers and pamphlets. Judy Collins sang a song that tells much of his story. Oddly enough, it seems applicable to these times as well. History seems to repeat itself.

Tomato blossoms.

Gardeners are happy for the rain. Before it dries up they plan to be out there weeding. When the ground is nice and wet, the weeds seem to almost jump into your hand. A few years back one heard the song ‘Home Grown Tomatoes’ about the same time she heard about ‘switching the tomato plants.’ At first it was thought that the idea was to trade some tomato plants for other tomato plants, but that was not the case. The gardener was suggesting that one should take a switch to the tomato plant in the way your grandmother took one to you, but perhaps a little more gently. The point of the exercise was to improve pollination. Since the tomato flowers have both male and female parts they rely on pollinators such as bees to do the magic that starts the fruit. Just gently shaking the flowers will do the trick if you are short of bees. No need for a switch, Grandma. Some will be heaving sighs and rolling their eyes as gardeners come at them with cucumbers, green beans and zucchini. Be patient with your gardening friends. They are high on fresh food. They cannot help it. They are singing, “Just two things that money can’t buy and that’s true love and home grown tomatoes.”

Some Champions still get mail addressed to Route 2 even though it was changed to Route 72 several years ago. We are lucky to live in an area where we know our postal carriers by name. It has been a joy to have Karen Ross at our mail boxes these past years. We can let the folks on her new route (Route 71) know that they will be enjoying a diligent and genuinely pleasant mail carrier. Over the years Champion has had a number of carriers. Homer Akers had a reputation for going fast and being on time. Cletis Upshaw delivered the mail here for many years. You could set your clock by him and if you were lucky you would be at the Champion Store when he was there reminiscing and telling stories. He knew everything that was to be known about this part of the country. Bob Chadwell kind of took after Homer Akers except for the being on time part. Then we got Karen. We will miss her, but she said she would not forget us and, though we are looking forward to getting acquainted with her successor, Karen will always be a Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!

Ruth Collins had her granddaughters with her again at the picnic.

July 5, 2019

CHAMPION—July 2, 2019

A lovely family visit kept some Old Champions away from their television news for a few days and it was a genuine relief. When they turn it back on they will doubtlessly be amazed at the new batch of absurdities masquerading as foreign policy. We observe Independence Day on the Fourth of July though the Continental Congress made the decision on July 2, 1776. We can only imagine what those founding fathers would think of the current state of affairs. The occasion is celebrated with pyrotechnics from China that scare our dogs and strain our many Veterans and others who suffer with post-traumatic stress syndrome. Yet those stunning displays of fireworks along with rousing music can still stir up a little patriotic fever in the hearts of the most disillusioned. Huzza.

CHAMPION—July 4, 2019

July 4, 2019 found the creek banks full of families and friends. They shared their favorite summer foods: watermelon, bratwurst, brisket, banana pudding and the like. The ‘organ recital’ of health reports was balanced out nicely with the good news of garden successes, antics and attributes of favorite dogs, travels, and the exploits and victories of children and grandchildren. Year upon year family groups and groups of families gather at this time for the joy of continuity. It satisfies the need to belong. Community, however loosely organized, is the tie that binds. As the Nation celebrates its birthday, people across the whole country are gathered on creek banks, back yards, patios and parks commiserating and struggling to dredge up confidence that democracy will survive these tumultuous days of black caviar money and the notion that only losers let the rules stop them from winning, after all, cheating is the highest form of trying. But that is not who WE are. Many are feeling nostalgia for the innocence and optimism that allowed patriotism. Down here on the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek WE THE PEOPLE still sing “God Bless America” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


July 1, 2019

CHAMPION–June 30,2019


Early arrivals at the Champion Bash-Fling were Barbara and Kenneth Anderson, Dean Upshaw, David Upshaw,
Dailey Upshaw, Danny and Jenny Johns, Judy and Eldon Russell, Betty and Dale Thomas.

The Champion Summer Bash-Fling was a pleasant affair. Shade trees and good food, music and seldom seen friends made for a wonderful day. The creek was full of children and the birthday girl was full of good cheer. She said everyone seemed to have a good time even though it was a little hot. She was glad to meet some out-of-towners who came to enjoy Champion for the day. She said she was so excited and grateful for everyone who came out and they are definitely planning to do it again next April or May. She hopes the rain will not delay the fun next year, though she has nice things to say about enjoying the rain. She and the Prominent Champion are already planning the Skyline Picnic with will happen August 9th and 10th this year. Time flies when you are having fun.

Birthdays are for celebrating if you want to. Sherry Bennet, a favorite local chanteuse, and Nick Masi, octogenarian plus three, enjoyed the 25th of June as their day along with Eric Arthur Blair (George Orwell), who was born on that day in 1903. Mr. Blair has given us a great deal to think about in these days which seem to fulfill his dystopian prophecies. Susan Handcock celebrates on June 30th. The General’s son, Michael, shares the first of July with an Old Champion, now eighty years old. The second is for Beverly Barnhart who is recovering from having fallen off a tractor seat. It is an interesting story. Alvin will tell his classmates from the Mountain Grove Class of 1959 all about it when they have their alumni dinner on July 5th at the Freewill Baptist Church. He will be glad to know that “The Hoover”’ will be there. Virginia Canada has a birthday on July 5th and some considerable connections to this part of the world. There is always a reason to celebrate.

There is sadness to report also. Bonnie Brixey passed away on Sunday. Her funeral will be at the Denlow Church at 10:00 a.m. Friday, July 5th.  She and Pete always loved to go to the Denlow School Reunion. They did not make it this year but were happy to enjoy the photographs on line of the Fairview and Denlow School students and could identify them all. She was pleased that the people who own her old home place keep it up well. She said that her Mom and Dad built that house for $100.00 with a lot of used lumber and rocks that came out of Clever Creek over south of Cold Springs, the labor was provided by her Dad’s father and brothers. They had a lot of fun growing up there. She read The Champion News on line and said she liked it that it always ends: Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Bonnie’s house.

June 23, 2019

CHAMPION –June 21, 2019


Summertime road to Champion

Summer time, summer time, sum, sum summertime…..” It is here! Champions are serious about flip flop weather. Particularly serious is the January birthday girl who chooses to celebrate her big day half way down the calendar for the joy of flip flops. This year the Champion Spring Fling has morphed into the Champion Summer Bash. It is official and it will happen Saturday, June 29th. Happy birthday, dear Sami! The fun will start around 11 in the morning and goes well into the afternoon. The fun need not stop. What you do on your own time is up to you. While you are at Champion you can enjoy the chance to meet up with old friends and to make new ones. All you musicians are invited to bring your instruments for a jam under the big oak tree. Everyone, bring your lawn chairs and a sunbonnet or hat might be a good idea. It is going to be a lovely day. There will be all kinds of good things to eat available from The Prominent Citizen himself and his helpers. Some Old Champions expecting company from the north and the south will have one less meal to feed them and they will get a quality experience of an awesome Ozark community. Katlyn McConnell sends her regrets from some distant adventure. We will have a good time anyway and we will tell her all about it next time she is in town.

Meanwhile, our beloved mail carrier, Karen Ross, will enjoy commemorating forty years of marriage, all to the same lucky man! She enjoys the radio on her route. She might hear “My One and Only Love.” Sweethearts still. Axyl Miller will be in the first grade in the fall. His birthday is June 17th. Daniel Parkes is in the 7th grade. His birthday is June 19th. Easton Shannon, 3rd grader, and Kash Hurt, first grader, share the 24th for their birthdays. Other special observances are for Tyler Clark, who was born June 20, 1988, and for Linda K. Watts and Sierra Parsons both born on the Vernal Equinox. Elizabeth Warren and Ava’s Cinita Brown share the 22nd for their birthdays. Nick Massey and Sherry Bennett enjoy the 25th for their special day, though Sherry had that song sung to her last Thursday. Esther Wrinkles is remembered on her birthday which was on the 28th. She was born in 1917, and left us in 2013. Ms. Eva Powell has the 29th of June as her birthday. So does Butch Kara, who is putting a lot of hard work in on making the Pioneer Heritage Festival of the Ozarks happen again the first week end in October? Happy birthday, all you students and all you adults from your friends in Champion!

Alvin Barnhart is a member of the Mountain Grove High School Class of 1959. They will be observing their 60th Class Reunion with a dinner Friday evening, July 5th at the Freewill Baptist Church. Alvin thinks as many as fifty might attend. There were about a hundred students in the class. Twenty-seven are known to have passed on. Hopes are that “The Hoover” will read about it in The Champion News and will drive all the way up from Houston, Texas. That is what happened last year. He and Dawn always bring fun with them and are always welcome.

The Summer Solstice came with some fast and hard hitting little thunderstorms, but it is like Bertie sings, “Storms Never Last” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


June 17, 2019

CHAMPION—June 17, 2019


Champion Elderflowers

Richard and Kaye Johnston ventured into Champion on Wednesday. Kaye had peeled potatoes for the Senior Center up in Salem that morning. She volunteers there on Fridays too, answering phones. Because of Kaye the crowd was not totally lacking in Upshaws but they were still four short. The General was hauling hay, and the brothers might have been scared off by the threat of a hard rain, though the weather was not very threatening and they are not scared of much. It was a pleasant if small gathering. Wes Smith tried to leave the store several times in order to go to work, but had interference. He and Pat celebrate their anniversary on June 15th. They tied the knot in 1983. They are both retired now and often are seen in the same company. The Cowboy was talking fast cars with Bob and Don and discussing happenings on his soap opera with his niece. He rushes home to be sure to catch the next episode. Champions are careful not to try to delay him or to get in his way.

It was a real treat to have Eula Lakey at the Vanzant Jam on Thursday. Since there were sixteen in the circle, The General opted not to play, though his fans are much looking forward to a reprise of his original “Over and Under Down Yonder.” Meanwhile, it was fun to have Wilma Hutchison join the circle for a song. She has nice voice and wonderful enthusiasm. Judy and Eldon Russell reported that Bertie and the Boys had done a bang-up job at Roy’s Store last Friday and said that the crowd was mostly made up of folks from the Vanzant Jam. It is a gift when someone who has been absent for a while shows up again. David Richardson is so busy since his retirement that he could not remember where he was the previous Thursday. “Beulah Land” is one of those songs that wants just the right voice. That voice is recovering and hopefully will sooth the bunch again as the last song of the evening, as she has done so often. Up in Edgar Springs they only jam once a month, so an accomplished Dobro player from up that way, who enjoys a good pot-luck supper, has found this group and is making a habit of it. Gina Hollingshead shared her recipe for wilted lettuce with a friend who was thinking about elder flower fritters. It is a beautiful time of the year for music, garden produce, old time recipes and friendships.

On Sunday we celebrate our fathers. Telephones ring. Packages with ugly neckties and good barbeque tools arrive. Those lucky enough to have their fathers with them still and to have them close get the joy of the hug that says, “Thank you for being my Dad,” and “Thank you for being by Kid!” It is a two way street. Memories of good times together, lessons learned from each other, together with respect and admiration for each other make the parent-child continuum one of life’s sweetest gifts. Thanks, Old Man. The gentleman had a beautiful day for it, but these days all seem to be ideal here in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!