January 21, 2020

CHAMPION—January 20, 2020


A visit to the archives of The Champion News (www.championnews.us) gives us this:  “January 18, 2010:  Champion is a privileged place.  No resident or visitor, however casual or important, can deny it.  Even the National Resources Conservation Service has used Champion as a source and inspiration.  Champions know the NRCS to be part of the United States Department of Agriculture.  A soil scientist from Wisconsin traveling in these parts wrote, ‘It sticks and stacks.  It squeezes through cracks.  Between your toes goes mud.  It plops and drops and oozes and goozes.  Thick or thin, it’s mud!’  The piece goes on to extol virtues of mud and what a glorious and wonderful mud is this mud.  Champions agree that a little dirt cannot hurt and yet, while still not at all complaining, they indicate that they prefer their mud a little warmer.”  Ten years later, cozy around the fire with victuals aplenty, not much has seemed to have changed, but it is a different world.  We grow through what we go through.  A trip to town on a cold, sunny day reveals a winter beauty in exposed topography and subtle color contrasts.  Champions can enjoy the splendor of today, mud and all, particularly knowing that Spring is only 42 days away….what a wonderful world!

Still making beautiful music together.

Susanna and Wesley Hancock celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary on January 19th.  She had some lovely things to say about him, how good-looking he is and what a great husband he has been.  He was born over on Fox Creek and grew up in Mountain Grove.  After high school he moved to Idaho where he and Susanna have lived all these years.  He has a raft of good looking kin-folks in this part of the country.  He and Susanna get down this way every now and then.  Congratulations!  Susanna said, “Wesley and I met at a local café called Hazel’s, where I was working at the time.  It was ‘love at first sight’ for me and I chased him unmercifully until I caught him or he slowed down and let me catch him.  We were married here in my hometown of Wilder, Idaho on January 10, 1963.  Yes, I still have my wedding dress which my aunt made.  We have been happily married for 57 years now with four fantastic kids, 12 loving grandchildren, and 6 great grandchildren.  We live across the field from where I was raised and are very active in our church and community.  God has really been good to us and we can’t thank Him enough for the blessings he has given us all these wonderful years.”  Susanna is following one of those Champion Rules by which to live:  When it is good say so.  “You’re perfect just the way your are, I wouldn’t change you if I could.”

How could we forget Dolly Parton’s birthday?  She is quite a bit older now than our Preeminent Champion, with whom she shares the day, the 19th.  Our Champion keeps us in necessities at the Historic Emporium, and Dolly, among many other accomplishments, has given away 130 million books as of December 2019, through her Imagination Library program, supported wholeheartedly in Champion.  J.C. Owsley is a cattle farmer who knows the difference between the price he gets for his cattle and the price of beef in the grocery store.  He used his birthday to promote the Organization for Competitive Markets, the mission of which is to define and advocate the proper role of government in the agricultural economy as a regulator and enforcer of rules necessary for markets that are fair, honest, accessible and competitive for all citizens.  That is a lofty goal, but he is a tall guy.  Skyline second grader, Blake McIntosh, shares his birthday on the 24th with kindergartener Lexi Webster.  Young Thomas Jarnigan can sing to his old dad that day.  The 26th is for eighth grader Brooke Johnston, and also for the Champion Cowboy’s sweetheart, Joyce.  Skyline alumnus, Katherine Alexander, is a great fan of the octopus and of his garden and will party big time on the 27th.  On the 28h, we remember a favorite turkey hunter, Dwight Collins.  He passed away last March, but his great smile and infectious laughter is part of the collective community memory in Vanzant.  The 29th is for Kimberly Wallace in the sixth grade.  “Gramma loves u!”  That is what Loneda Bennet wrote to Paislee Renay Robbins concerning her third birthday, which was on January 18th.  Gramma’s birthday will be on the 30th, along with James Brixey who was 40 years old in 2012.  Seventh grade’s Erika Strong also enjoys the 30th for her day.  Your friends in Champion wish you all the best of birthdays.  Enjoy.

For those who like to read for a little while before going to sleep, an excellent choice of reading material is the almanac.  There are a number of different almanacs available these days, but generally they are small, paperbacks of about 100 pages.  They are not liable to be damaged by having been dropped on the floor as you fall asleep, and not likely to damage you if you drop it on yourself.  Moreover, there is an abundance of information that can be helpful to you even if you are not a farmer or gardener—interesting things like astronomy, fishing, weather forecasts, and all kinds of helpful hints for things you can do when you get up tomorrow.  Rest well you Champions!  Looking on the Bright Side!


January 13, 2020

CHAMPION—January 13, 2020


Goat Cart

Telephone lines and internet connections buzzed over the past few days as friends and family checked in on one another to verify that everyone was safe during the storm that swept from west to east across the whole country. “I just called to say I love you.” We count our many blessings and extend our condolences to those who have fared less well.

A Hoover Apple

“I don’t like you, Gene Crane!” said a little girl to the little boy back in the 1940s. “You talk funny.” By ‘funny’ she was objecting to his saying ’ya’ll’ instead of ‘yens.’ His family had moved to Missouri from Tennessee, so he could not help it. She was a neighbor girl, part of a big family, who lived across the road. They had a cart that looked like something out of the Little Rascals with different sized wheels, pulled by a goat. They were neighbors for years and she never did like him. Getting acquainted with him in front of the vegetable aisle at the grocery store, an Old Champion found him to be a nice enough fellow. He and his wife live in town now. They no longer garden. She must stay out of the sun, and, getting older, he finds it easier to just go to the grocery store. Standing there, looking at the turnips, he said they used to call them Hoover Apples. Hoover was president from 1929 to 1933, during the worst of the Great Depression and was described by Mr. Crane as having been the worst president we ever had up until recent times. As to the Hoover Apples, Champion native, Ruth Hicks, reported that at one time things were so dry around here that all that would grow was turnips. The cows ate turnips and the milk tasted like turnips. Now those Hoover Apples are a delicacy lauded for their great nutritional value. We have entered the ‘twenties’ again and are reminded that the more things change, the more they remain the same. Who could have predicted what these last hundred years would see? C.S. Lewis said, “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different?” Will we gain any insight from the past that will help us navigate the future?

Janie is a three year old, long haired Chihuahua, a recent gift to Wanda from kin-folks. The little five pound dog arrived one day, was lost the next day, then was found and returned to Wanda by good neighbors the next day. Thoughtful kinfolks and good neighbors are Champions!

Here are some Skyline School birthdays: Aaliyah Irby, 6th grade, January 16th; Jacob Brixey, 4th grade, January 18th; Hunter McChesney, prekindergarten, January 20th; Kyle Barker, 7th grade, January 21st; Elizabeth Hinote, 5th grade, January 22nd. Two charming fellows celebrate birthdays on the 11th. Bob, down on Teeter Creek, is making tinctures and decoctions to help us stay healthy. Champion Wilburn Hutchison lives less than a quarter of a mile from where he was born 86 years ago. He has many great stories to tell and a big community of friends and family who love to hear them. Diane Wilbanks and Jerry had some beautiful white mules and have a lovely spread down on a deep, wide creek. Robert Graham has a couple of guitars, a mandolin and a big repertory. Diane and Robert share the 13th for their birthdays. That was also the birthday of the late Norris Woods. His tombstone has a banjo carved into it. He had a winning smile and a very friendly, encouraging way about him. “Life is like a mountain railroad,” he sang and that song always brings him to mind. The 17th is for the delightful Mary-Agnes (Brooke) Quiet-Timber, turning a page into a new adventure. Mary Beth Shannon has the 18th for her birthday and Sparky for a husband. The Preeminent Champion shares her birthday with J.C. Owsley. He used to live over by Crystal Lake, but now lives over in Jordan where he raises longhorn cattle and climbs in the saddle every chance he gets. The 20th is for charming Sharon Woods, Norris’ daughter-in-law who is known for bringing fun to any situation. That is also the day that lovely Beverly Barnhart will sing that special song to her handsome Alvin. The Champion News would like to extend congratulations to all you celebrants of your natal anniversary and a General Alert that Brenda Coffman Massey will have her birthday on the 22nd, so look out. Be advised, fun is on the way. Shelby, from the Douglas County Health Department, will be in Champion that Wednesday, the 22nd, doing blood pressure checks, free of charge until about 10:00 a.m. She helps us stay healthy so we can have more birthdays.

Big thunder-booms on Thursday caused lights out for a second at the Vanzant jam. Simultaneously, a power-surge fried an internet modem up on Highway C, a television down on Cold Springs Road, and popped a porch light on Fox Creek Road. Bad weather has caused havoc for many, so be prudent in your travels and grateful for your good fortune. No use being pessimistic. It wouldn’t work anyway. Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!

Champion cardinals brighten a gray winter day.

January 8, 2020

CHAMPION–January 6, 2020

Champion was a wildly busy place all during the holidays. There were people on horseback ambling through the countryside, maybe singing, “I ride an old paint.” It is a song with a mysterious beginning, a lonesome middle, and a mystical end. Harley and Barbara were in town, but even some of their favorite mischpocha did meet up with them. Harley was seen cruising up and down Cold Springs Road on a nifty four-wheeler. Hopes are that that Illinois, Tennessee, Missouri family conclave was as full of riotous good humor, lavish feasting, and memory recounting and building as was the Texas, Louisiana, Champion assembly and all the other sweet family gatherings in the area. The General reported that the annual red-neck party was very small on New Year’s Eve and was over by 9:30. He said, “There must not be very many rednecks around this area anymore or maybe they are ashamed to identify as one.” Most likely there are as many rednecks as ever and, by definition, they are shameless. It just turns out that some are getting old and not willing to stay up until 9:30 p.m. Others may be accordion shy, though there was a splendid version of Auld Lang Syne played on said squeeze box and posted on the internet for all the world to see and hear. It was a good way to end an old year.

On January 3rd Donna Mullens Gainer wrote: “Today we lay our Dad’s body in God’s green earth next to our Mom, his wife of 64 years. He instilled in us the values of hard work and the motto of, ‘if you can’t be on time, be early.’ Dad never knew a stranger and was always there for whoever needed, especially his grandchildren, whether it was a ride to school, change a flat tire or even come by to scrape your windows in the winter. Dad was never one to sit around. He would always find ways to keep busy. While he is now with his beloved wife and family who left this earth before him, we are left with broken hearts that only time and loving memories can heal.” She was talking about Pete Mullens, Walter Presley Mullens, and her Mom, Bonnie Brixey Mullens, who passed away in July. They were a sweet couple and will be missed at the Denlow School Reunion.

A number of December birthdays of Skyline School students went un-sung in print through the holidays. Starting anew, Jacob’s Dad, Arne celebrates his birthday on New Year’s Day. Teeter Creek’s musical grandmother also has that day for her own birth anniversary. The 2nd belongs to Leland Isley, Champion nephew, and to xylophonist, Kabella Clark, who was born in 2012. The 3rd is for Arne’s boy, Jacob, and for our adopted Champion granddaughter, Greta, who is now 17. She has accomplished a great deal for a person so young. Another bright, beautiful and busy young woman, Sami McCleary Hutchison, had a birthday on January 4th, but she will hold off until May for her party so she can wear her flip flops. The 4th is also the birthday of Lena’s little brother. She routinely whips him in Scrabble every Wednesday morning. He says she cheats, but she probably does not have to. That may also be the special day for one of The General’s nephews. He will get that song or another one sung to him the next time he shows up at Champion. Felix Maverick Osage Parsons has his second birthday on January 6th. Mr. Bud, Skyline School’s mechanic, also celebrates on the 6th, as does 5th grade student, Aryn Miller. Travis Hathaway was 20 in 2017. Elizabeth Johnston Lawrence has the 9th for her special day, together with Skyline 7th grader Kaylee Casiano. Happy days to all you people celebrating being alive. It is a good thing.

The world is in an uproar. The danger zone is everywhere,” so sang Ray Charles. Still, optimism is the key-word for the New Year in Champion and gardeners are leading the way. The garlic planted in November 9th is up and looking good. One old gardener has invested in half a pound of purple top turnip seeds and the plants are up almost an inch high. He says it is a cover crop, but he will be happy for the greens. He will plan to have plenty of turnips on hand if Lem and Ned make an appearance in the spring. They are wild for turnips and are willing to do most any kind of chore that the old man shirks or just not have time to do—best of all, they sing while they are working. Come down to the wild, wide, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek to share your favorite work songs or to just soak in the charm of one of the world’s truly beautiful spots–Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!


December 29, 2019

CHAMPION—December 30, 2019


Skyline R2 School’s Christmas Program on December 20th.

Christmas greetings came from Wes and Suzie Freeman, hillbillies at heart, living down in McKinney Texas, say they are still kicking.  Champions, Royce and Jody Henson, celebrated 61 years of marriage on December 13th.  They have long Champion roots and leanings.  Herbie Johnston, whose birthday is the day before winter starts, has had a nice thing happen.  He fiddles in the Possum Trot Band, nominated for Album of the Year with SPBGMA Midwest (Society for the Preservation of Blue Grass Music in America).  The band will be performing at the awards show and convention January 10-11, 2020, at the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Jefferson City.  Yea! Herbie!

The house was packed for the Champion Christmas pot luck luncheon.  Butch came in sporting a new hat, something like a business man’s Stetson, but not quite.  It needs a feather.  Charlie Lambert asked if he could have it, since he had come out without his own chapeau.  They did not strike a deal, but it was a pleasant get together nonetheless.  The Prominent Champion had to leave before the festivities were under full swing.  He said he had women waiting on him.  “Hand and foot?” he was asked.  He indicated that it was more like women waiting on him to do things.  Deward’s granddaughter and her husband are in the perpetual fence repair business (not for hire).  They were regaled a few nights earlier by a bellowing, growling bear in their very yard.  A noted local woodsman affirmed their suspicions and suggested that the bear was female advertising her presence.  Three times she roared, enough to put a chill on a person.  Beverly and Alvin Barnhart have bears in their neighborhood too.  It is good to see Beverly feeling better.  The Partells (too blessed to be stressed) made their long journey back to this favorite place for the day.  There was Reba, wearing different colored shoes, though no one noticed.  Leslee joined in the music to sing “Star of Bethlehem.”  Thanks to a gracious host for providing such a lovely place for a couple dozen Champions to share good food and the pleasure of fellowship.

Happy New Year!  A prominent Champion spouse posts, “OK.  Now that Christmas is over, can we just go straight to spring?”  She has a birthday in January and a party in May.  Between now and then there will be days when she can wear her flip flops.  Christmas day and the day after were such days and there were no complaints to be heard.

While visiting a friend during the holidays, the friend received a phone call with pictures of a newborn great-nephew—just hours old and already known across the country.  Technology has changed the way we do things.  An uncle told a story about visiting his sister down in the Rio Grande Valley in the late 1930s.  She had a new baby, her first.  Their Mother lived way out in west Texas and was not likely to see the little one for some time.  As a way to share a ‘picture’ of the baby, his sister took off the infant’s clothes, her little dress and bonnet and her booties.  She made a bundle of these precious things to send to her Mother via her brother, who was going directly to see the old folks.  He was riding the rails, as many did back in those days.  He recounted that he was running alongside the box car and tossed his pack in the open door.  Then he stumbled and missed his chance to scramble in.  He said that he still felt bad about it all these many years later.  Technology has made the world smaller and larger at the same time.  It is hard to imagine a time when parents might have their child leave home with no expectation of ever seeing them again the way it must have been for many immigrants to America or for those in the western migration.  We are all here because our forbears made those perilous journeys with no GPS or internet.

Two presidential quotes to start the New Year:  “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  And “Real power, I don’t even want to use the word–fear.”  The opposite of fear is love, according to some, others say faith, and others, peace.  They say that courage is not to not be afraid, but to act even if we are afraid.  Whatever we must do to counteract fear, we must do.  Champions are vigorously promoting optimism and patience, particularly with those with whom we disagree.  Listen respectfully to the other side.  No name calling.  Civility is the mod-o-day in Champion.

Champion grandson, Eli Oglesby, has the 30th for his birthday.  His sisters will help him celebrate.  “I’d just like to gain a little weight” was the answer to the question about New Year’s resolutions posed to The General on Thursday evening at the Vanzant Jam.  He exhibited a modicum of annoyance at having his New Year’s Eve birthday broadcast to the crowd.  “Thank you,” he said, though the statement was not fraught with sincerity.  Nevertheless, he has been immersed in family during the holidays who always find him a convivial avuncular figure.  Now we will call him ‘Uncle General.’  Arvin Schroeder will be one year old on New Year’s Eve.  He is a big music lover, seems to favor the guitar.  The year ahead will be full of learning and growing for people Arvin’s age and, hopefully, for the rest of us as well.

Kaitlyn McConnell visited Champion on Friday to share her first Passport to the Ozarks with the Champion Library.  She is looking for individuals, some local regular people, to profile as she works to expand her portrait of the Ozarks Alive.  Send any suggestions to champion@championnews.us and we will relay them to Kaitlyn.  Come down to the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek to enjoy her book.  No passport needed to Champion!  Looking on the Bright Side!

Champion winter skies.

December 23, 2019

CHAMPION—December 20, 2019


A brilliant day in Champion!

A Champion Christmas Potluck

Christmas greetings came from Wes and Suzie Freeman, hillbillies at heart, living down in McKinney Texas. In her lovely card she says they are still kicking. Champions, Royce and Jody Henson, celebrated 61 years of marriage on December 13th. They live in Springfield, but have long Champion roots and leanings. Herbie Johnston, whose birthday is the first day of winter, has had a nice thing happen. He fiddles in the Possum Trot Band which has been nominated for Album of the Year with SPBGMA Midwest (Society for the Preservation of Blue Grass Music in America). They will be performing at the awards show and convention January 10-11, 2020, at the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Jefferson City.

It was a packed house for the Champion Christmas pot luck luncheon. Butch came in sporting a new hat, something like a business man’s Stetson, but not quite. It needs a feather. Charlie Lambert asked if he could have it, since he had come out without his own chapeau. They did not strike a deal, but it was a pleasant get together nonetheless. The Prominent Champion had to leave before the festivities were under full swing. He said he had women waiting on him. “Hand and foot?” he was asked. He indicated that it was more like women waiting on him to do things. Deward’s granddaughter and her husband are in the perpetual fence repair business (not for hire). They were regaled a few nights earlier by a bellowing, growling bear in their very yard. A noted local woodsman affirmed their suspicions and suggested that the bear was female advertising her presence. Three times she roared, enough to put a chill on a person. Beverly and Alvin Barnhart have bears in their neighborhood too. It is good to see Beverly feeling better. The Partells (too blessed to be stressed) made their long journey back to this favorite place for the day. There was Reba, wearing different colored shoes, though no one noticed. Leslee joined in the music to sing “Star of Bethlehem.” Thanks to a gracious host for providing such a lovely place for a couple dozen Champions to share good food and the pleasure of fellowship. It was a brilliant day in Champion inside and out!

We are fortunate enough to live in a part of the country where wildlife is abundant. Deward’s daughter was a big fan of the bald eagle, which we are seeing in Champion already this year. Deer are still plentiful in the area even though there was a record harvest this firearm season. Alternative deer hunting season is from December 26th to January 7th and archery season goes all the way to January 15th. Alternative methods allow the use of muzzle-loading firearms, center-fire pistols, air-powered guns, bows, cross bows and atlatls. The Elks club in West Plains has, so far, collected more than 1200 deer hides that are used to make professionally crafted gloves for Veterans in wheelchairs. If you skin your deer yourself and want to participate, a local drop off location is Hub Beverage in Mountain Grove at 503 West 3rd Street. It is a worthwhile program. We are increasingly charitable at this time of the year. There are many in need even in this ‘good’ economy, so look around and help where you can. Ho ho ho!

There was a good turnout for the Douglas County Health Department nurse on Friday morning at the Champion Store. Shelby comes once month to check our blood pressure, helping us stay healthy. It is a valuable amenity for the community. As old friends gather after an absence of almost any length, frequently the ‘organ recital’ begins right away. This is particularly true of our aging population. Our serious health concerns wind up being foremost in our thoughts, so they spill out in conversation. Sometimes we get some relief from talking about it and listening to other people’s ills may help us be grateful that our own situation is not so bad. Suffering in silence may be a prescription too hard to fill, so just try to keep your organ recital short. Sympathy and compassion can be expressed in a heartfelt, “There, there,” and the conversation can go on about the weather, politics, or grand exploits of grandchildren.

Icy roads kept our Skyline R2 School closed on Monday and Tuesday. Tuesday was the date set for the annual Christmas program, so it was postponed until Friday. Look for a good report next week as it is sure to be another of Ms. Casper’s triumphs. She does a wonderful job with the student’s art and music classes and the community does a wonderful job supporting our precious little rural school. A winter break for students and teachers gives them a chance to rest up for a new start and a chance for ongoing fun until the bell rings again.

A Champion great niece and recent college graduate will enjoy her birthday on December 27th. She plans to fiddle around Champion again soon. Eli Ogelsby, Champion grandson, has the 30th for his big day. His little sisters will help him party. His great Uncle General waited until the last day of the year to have his birthday—ever the procrastinator. Arvin Schroeder will be one year old on New Year’s Eve. He is a big music lover, seems to favor the guitar. The year ahead will be full of learning and growing for people Arvin’s age and, hopefully, for the rest of us as well. Resolutions for the New Year are for people who wish to improve themselves in some way. Perhaps we can all live a little healthier, be a little more productive, a little more kind, patient and forgiving. We will give it our best effort. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from your friends in Champion-Looking on the Bright Side!


December 18, 2019

CHAMPION—December 16, 2019


If the sun had come out on Monday, it would have had us over-dazzled. Each twig dripped with pearls that would have been short-lived diamonds with just a little sunshine. It is beautiful for folks who can look at it through a window or just step out to take photographs, but our farmers are out there in it, doing what has to be done. Our mail carriers are out there too. Everyone be safe. Chances of a white Christmas in our neighborhood seem pretty slim, with highs mostly in the 40s and 50s and lows in the 20s and 30s forecasted for the rest of the year, but who knows? After a cold, slick start to the week, Champions will be grateful for the warm up and hopeful that all those who are traveling home for the holidays will have safe travels to and fro and happy reunions.

Kennedy Hinote’s birthday was overlooked the last time The Champion News acknowledged birthdays, so we hope you had a happy day, Kennedy. She is a second grade student at Skyline R2 School. Seventh grade student, Destiny Surface, and second grader, Rachael Prock, share the 20th for their special day. That is also a day of significance for charming Mary Goolsby and for Herbie Johnston. Everyone will sing that song to them at the Vanzant Jam on Thursday. Maybe they will play Herbie’s Tune, which has another name and, some say, words. Paige Jonas, in the second grade, will celebrate on the 21st. She is in good company with Chris Dailey and with Lena’s sweetheart. He will fiddle around to make her smile and the Vanzant bunch will sing to him—in G. The 23rd has kindergarten student, Chase Cauthron, sharing a birthday with his Dad and with neighbor, Sharon Sikes, and with Butch Stone. What a bunch! Christmas Eve was the birthday of Sarah Emaline Putnam Hector, who was born in 1885. She was the kind of grandmother every kid would like. So is Granny Grunt (Joann Anderson), and she was born on Christmas Day. Celebrate!

Every day is somebody’s birthday. There were 3,788,235 children born in the U.S. in 2018, the lowest number of births in 32 years. The birth rate has been declining at about 2% per year over the past four years. It makes us wonder what things will be like in a few years with an aging population and fewer young workers to sustain key social systems. Young people are paying attention and want to be optimistic about the future before they plan their families and, for many of them, optimism is a far reach these days. We wish them all good luck. Meanwhile, we have adopted Champion granddaughter, Greta, putting forth effort to make things better. She endures some scorn, but hope is she will continue to inspire her generation. After sailing across the Atlantic Ocean two times, she will be home in Stockholm for Christmas and will take a break to rest from her world traveling activism. Her younger sister, Beata, is 13 and is said to have inherited their Mother’s magnificent singing voice. It will be a beautiful holiday for the Thunberg family all together again. Local families were caught on the internet singing “I’ll have a blue Christmas without you…” The older folks in The General’s big family circle knew the words, but all the young folks had to read them on their phones. It is strange to think that there are grown-ups who are not well acquainted with Elvis. Time must be marching on. We are being able to record memories in ways that were not possible a few years ago, and while that is a blessing, we are somehow more connected and less connected at the same time. Sometimes it is lovely to turn everything off and be still in the moment. Enjoy now.

Cletis Upshaw

Friday Shelby, of the Douglas County Health Department, will be in Champion to take our blood pressure. Shelby is there from 8:30 to 10:00 a.m. helping us to stay healthy. There is a lot of hustle and bustle this time of the year, lots of reasons to be grateful and joyful, but the holidays can be hard on people who are missing loved ones far away or missing those who have passed on. Laine Sutherland reports that her Uncle Tom Sutherland passed in his sleep at his home in Branson Friday. He was 88. There will be a Graveside Service for him in Denlow on Thursday, the 19th, at 2PM. She said, “He was a good man.” He will be well remembered and much missed.

Compliments of Butch Stone, Charlie Lambert is sporting a classy chapeau. It is a small straw number with a rolled brim and a jaunty feather. It looks like it has a fascinating history. Asked about Homer Hale and his fiddle in a flour sack, Charlie said he and Homer played many a square dance together and that Homer could play all night and not play the same song twice. Like as not, there are more folks around here who could tell stories about Homer and probably some about Charlie or any number of other interesting characters. We often think of Cletis Upshaw and all the stories he could tell. It was said of him that he ‘knew where the bodies were buried,’ and, by that, he knew all the pertinent history that was to be known in these parts–home. We miss him. Come down to the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek with your stories and reminiscences. Join in the reverie—Champion! Looking go the Bright Side!


December 10, 2019

CHAMPION—December 9, 2019



A person looking for a unique and useful Christmas gift for a special person might wander into The Champion Store to find a handmade bird feeder. It is made of cedar and hardware cloth with a hasp and harrow closure on its hinged cover. One old Champion has been using one of these feeders since 2013. He says it has held up well, it is easy to fill, and the birds really like it. Well worth $35.00. It was made by Tim Scrivner who lives over at Vera Cruz and who has been a strong supporter of the Skyline School over the years. As a matter of fact, all proceeds from the sale of this feeder will go to the Skyline School! He has also donated a cedar bluebird house. It is pretty enough to use as inside décor, but it will last for years out on a fence post somewhere. Tim asked if we were still collecting Always Save, Best Choice and Box Tops for Education bar codes and coupons. Absolutely! Send them by mail to Skyline School, Rt. 72 Box 486, Norwood, MO 65717, or drop them by during school hours. There is a collection spot for them at the Champion Store as well. You could bring them with you to the Christmas program which will be on a Tuesday this year–Tuesday the 17th. It will be another of Ms. Casper’s great productions and an experience the kids will not forget. Whether or not you have children or grandchildren in school, it is a joy to watch the youngsters perform. Christmas goes all the way back to our own childhoods, quite a way back for some of us. Memories are in the making.

Ava Bears

Riley Bethurem lit up the internet on Saturday night, via her Great Aunt Linda Clark, when she opened the championship day of the Tri-State Basketball Tournament in Willard with a splendid acapella rendition of the National Anthem. She is the great granddaughter of Joann and Wayne Anderson. Music flows through this family. Riley has a beautiful voice. Aunt Linda said, “We’re all so proud of Riley, but I just know how proud Daddy and Brenda would have been of her singing like that. I know Daddy would have told her before she went up to sing…the same thing he would always tell Brenda and me….’You walk up there, lay your ears back and sing!’ It made it sound like he was talking about one of his old hound dogs, but we knew what he meant and was wanting us to do.” As for Grandma Linda, she also has plenty of reasons for pride. Her granddaughter, Maddie is a cheerleader for the Ava Bears. Linda and Gene and Granny Grunt were all up at the Show Me Bowl in Columbia, along with much of Ava, on December 7th, rooting for Maddie and the Bears. Later, Linda posted on her Facebook page, “I can’t say enough about this group of young people. They have played their hearts out all season. They have set such a good example on and off of the field. They have won and then finally lost their last game at State with such integrity.” She included a photo and said, “….they were lined up to receive their Second Place at State award, and the large group of Ava Bears fans applauded them like they had just won the Super Bowl. However, when I was the proudest of our team was when the other team was getting their award for First Place and their small group of fans wasn’t applauding very loud, and our players turned around and tried to stir up more applause for them. They did this after such a lopsided game and being beat by a team with players that were way bigger and had been recruited to their private school from the whole St. Louis area with a population many times over the size of Ava or even our whole county. Our team still respected them and gave them their dues. That, my friends, is class! I am so proud of our Ava Bears!” Well said.

Greta Thunberg

Adopted Champion granddaughter, Greta, is also showing real class. She was part of the 500,000 (half a million!) activists meeting in Madrid on Friday to discuss the condition of our climate. She speaks as well as Riley sings. We are proud.

While a bunch of fans were up in Columbia on December 7th, another bunch was over in Springfield cooking up a surprise 85th birthday party for Jean Farbin. Wander into Jean’s Health Way in downtown Ava to find out if it was really a surprise and find out how much fun was had. Jean has been meeting our health food needs in Ava for a long time. She has fans and knows she is appreciated.

We have a chance on December 7th every year to remember that date in 1941, ‘that will live in infamy,’ and to express appreciation to our World War II Veterans. They have been dubbed ‘The Greatest Generation,’ rightly so. We are losing more of them every day, and a great loss it is. Still, all our Veterans have stepped up to the challenge–putting their Country before themselves. Would that were a concept embraced by all our public servants and elected officials.

There is something about the air quality when it is humid and warm (50’s) in the winter, after all the leaves are down, that makes every distant vista spectacular and every near landscape inviting. The winter colors are subtle like old oil paintings, but vibrant in their depth and breadth. Now that we do not have to take our film to the drug store to get it developed, we can save hundreds, thousands of photos on little SD memory cards. It gives us the freedom to take as many pictures as we like. Of course, sometimes it is good to leave your camera behind and just stand there and see that everything is beautiful in its own way. Come down to the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek any time for a visual delight. On the last Wednesday before Christmas, the 18th, Champions will gather and welcome visitors to a mid-day Christmas celebration. It will be a potluck with music and the chance to meet old friends and make new ones. Maybe there will be someone who can fill in the blanks about Homer Hale who used to carry his fiddle in a flour sack and could play anything if you could whistle or hum a few bars of it. Friday the 20th will be the day Douglas County Health nurse, Shelby, will be at the store from 8:30 to 10:00 in the morning taking our blood pressure in Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!