June 11, 2019

CHAMPION—June 11, 2019


Civil War Bus Tour [enlarge]

Forty-seven showed up Monday morning for the Civil War Bus Tour sponsored by the Ava Area Chamber of Commerce. Marilyn Alms explains that it is part of a state wide effort to introduce the interesting tourism available in the State of Missouri. She said that she thought Ava was the first community that she knows of who have done a presentation like this. There is a full week of activities available, all of it free. Judy and Eldon Russell took the tour Monday and said they had taken the Mill Tour last year and really enjoyed it. Contact the Chamber of Commerce at (417) 683-4594 to find out more. Monday’s Civil War Tour stopped at a number of Civil War grave sites in town and made a foray out past Cow Skin Creek to an old cemetery where a number of Home Guard combatants and Civil War Veterans are buried. Ms. Alms and author-reenactor, Tim Ritter of Fair Grove, gave commentary at each stop based primarily on the keen observations of Columbia J. Makin (1871-1958), which appear in a recently published book, “Dear Descendants.” She dictated the stories to her daughter to preserve family history for future generations and in the process produced a valuable record of the town that now claims 2,993 residents. Mrs. Mankin’s original book has been augmented by many pages of photographs and an introduction by Douglas County native and historian, Cinita (Davis) Brown. Folks like Mrs. Mankin and her daughter, Orla Mankin Vaughn, Cinita Brown, Marilyn Alms and Tim Ritter put in the effort to make the past understandable and relatable to us today. Let us not leave out Sharon Sanders whose labors with the Douglas County Museum are inspirational. History is the study of life in society in the past, in all its aspect, in relation to present developments and future hopes. Seeing where we came from helps us understand how we got to where we are and helps us plan for where we are going. Go to Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

The Douglas County Museum

June 10, 2019

CHAMPION–June 10, 2019


Because the Fourth of July will occur on a Thursday this year, it was decided by a show of hands last week that the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam will not happen that night.  The following Thursday, the 11th, preparations will be underway for the Vanzant Picnic on July 12 and 13, so there will be no jam that night either.  Two weeks without a jam will be hard on some folks, but there should be no further disruption until Thanksgiving.  The year is flying by and Champions are thankful every beautiful day that dawns.  Music is one of those gifts in life.  As Carl Perkins said, “Singing seems to help the troubled soul.”  A person can also use music to lower blood pressure and lift spirits.  It is good medicine.  If you are connected to the internet, you can find almost any music you like.  Father’s day is coming up and one remembers a father who could recall a song that fit any situation.  It made for a pleasant childhood and an overall optimistic outlook.

Haymakers are hard at it.  The countryside hums with machinery.  Even with the lush foliage to absorb it, the droning of equipment is the soft distant background for the buzzing insects and singing birds.  A few cool dry days will benefit farmers who are laying up stores for future need.  Meanwhile, those buzzing insects might really be a condition called tinnitus, something that many old folks might understand.  For those gardeners who plant more than they can tend, and for people who are only now realizing they are old:  there, there.  Buck up.  Remember being young like Skyline School eighth graders, Wyatt Hicks and Zachary Coon.  Wyatt has his birthday on the 13th and Zachary has his on the 17th.  First grader, Axyl Miller celebrates on the 17th and Daniel Parks, in the 7th grade, has the 19th for his special day.  Ava’s lovely Janice Lorrain has the 15th for her party and Champion grandson Foster Wiseman has the 16th for his.  He may be 16!  What?  Time goes by.  Folks visiting from the city are heard to say that being in this part of the world with all its rural magic and small town charm is like going backwards in time.  Of course, looking at the rapidly eroding world situation, everyone must feel that way on some level.  Still, these are being glorious days in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


June 6, 2019

CHAMPION–June 6, 2019


A Friday foray in to the post office in Norwood gave one Old Champion a chance to enjoy the profusion of Echinacea blooming along both sides of Highway C.  The purple cone flowers mixed in with the tall grasses, the Queen Anne’s lace and the daisies all make for a glorious trip, especially with the background of lush green foliage everywhere.  It is not quite summer—a spectacular time of the year.  Echinacea is said to be an herb that encourages the immune system and reduces many of the symptoms of colds, flu and some other illnesses, infections and conditions.

Once again Champions are in the enviable situation of not having to haul water to fill our mud holes.  The consensus of rain gauge readings was in the neighborhood of 3+ inches all of a sudden Tuesday.  The creeks were not up so much, but roads are badly washed in spots.  “Don’t that road look rough and rocky?”  The Cowboy has just thrown his hands up, saying he is about done with rebuilding fence.  The last one that needed rebuilding was pretty—welded steel pipe and recently painted.  The Prominent Champion said it was probably the paint that brought it down.  Long ago each of them thought a nice bottom land farm would have been just the ticket, but now neither of them would take one as a gift.  Reports are that as many as 250,000 acres of farm land are currently underwater across the country.

It was pleasant to see some of the ‘regulars’ around the tables at the Historic Emporium—Bob and Ethel, Don and Reba, Wes, Mutt, Dean and Dailey.  Not everyone can make it down to the Bright Side every Wednesday, but they are glad when they do.  Charlie Lambert and Delmer Dooms came down from Mountain Grove to meet up with Alvie Dooms.  The fair Janice Ray had a rendezvous with some motorcycle goof.  When the Rt. 72 mail carrier, Karen Ross stopped in on her route, she was regaled with stories about Homer Akers when he ran the route.  (Wait a minute Mr. Postman!)  Alvie said the many stories about Homer were not exaggerated enough to meet the true history of it.  He also answered the question about who might have been the musicians who played for dances upstairs at the Denlow Store, i.e. himself, his older brother, Edgar, and J.P. Ferrell.  Now there are stories about Alvie on The Voice of America.  Out on the wide veranda Charlie was coaxed into playing a tune on the mandolin.  He played the Spanish Two-Step and what a lovely tune that is!  He has not been playing much recently, but his many friends and fans will try to remedy that.

Summer school is in session at Skyline School.  Nurse Bridget Hicks enjoyed her birthday there on the 4th.  She has a sunny disposition and a talent for encouraging and instructing our able Skyline Archers.  Thanks, Bridget!  One sings, “Many a fine tune can be plucked on the banjo.  Take for example ‘My Grandfather’s Clock.’  For that one and more than two hundred others, enjoy the fine plucking of David Medlock.”  His birthday is on June 6th.  Surely the Vanzant Jam will find a way to celebrate him.  Champion friend, Kaitlyn McConnell (no relation to Mitch) also enjoys D-day for her birthday.  She does a great deal to promote the history, culture and appreciation of the Ozarks with her great blog “Ozarks Alive.”  Look up her great work at www.ozarksalive.com  Wayne Sutherland was 85 on June 7, 2015.  His lovely daughter, Greta, had her birthday on the 5th.  He was seen on Monday’s McClurg Jam posting on the internet enjoying the music.  He was also there, together with more than 80 others, a couple of weeks ago in a tribute jam for J.R. Johnston who left us recently.  There were jams inside and outside that night.  The little building could not hold all of them.  Fortunately there was no rain and there will be no end to the remembering of J.R.

There is also no end to the remembering of those who stormed “The Shores of Normandy” to fight the tyranny of fascism.  Our precious democracy once again seems at risk, but we are hopeful yet in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Rough and rocky…

May 31, 2019

CHAMPION—May 29, 2019



Last Wednesday, the 22nd, was a fine day in Champion for the visit of Charlie Lambert. It is great to know he is back in the neighborhood. Hopes are that he will find his way to the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam some Thursday soon. Friday was also lovely. First, Nurse Shirley Emerson came to help us stay well with her blood pressure checking and exercise challenge through the Douglas County Health Department. This challenge represents a great chance to be rewarded for doing what you know you are supposed to be doing anyway. That does not always happen. Later in the morning Levon and Karen Lambert together with Levon’s sister, Donna Fay Gifford, paid a visit to Champion as they had been out decorating graves. It was good to see them. Levon used to grind corn with his gas-powered mill down at the Pioneer Descendant’s Gathering at Betty and Dale Thomas’s place at Yates. Karen said that she is not playing music much these days and is thinking about selling her bass. She is a fine musician with a smile that just keeps going.

Wednesday, the 29th, was overcast, humid and threatening of bad weather, but it did not materialize significantly, for which Champions are grateful. It was a treat to have Reba and Don Bishop back at the Historic Emporium for a change. Reba is working hard and making good progress with her physical therapy and Don is showing off his smooth palms, proclaiming that dishwashing does not cause calluses. Bob and Ethel Leach were happy to catch up with their friends and are looking forward to getting in the hay. Music on the porch was provided by members of the One-Time Fox Creek Band. It was pleasant enough except that one member was tuckered out from over-gardening, another had missed naps for days in a row, and the third had come out without his guitar. More than one person has remarked that musicians can be kind of flakey. In her defense, the gardener is not really a musician. She is, however, thinking about taking up the theremin. As she listened to Clara Rockmore playing Sain-Saens’ “The Swan,” she could not help but believe the theremin will be the next wave in bluegrass. Imagine what “Steel Guitar Rag” would sound like on that amazing instrument.

Wednesdays are wonderful down on the wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek. It is a pleasant pastime to see the comings and goings of friends and neighbors. The Re-creation of the Historic Emporium not only provides an extensive selection of merchandise, it provides a center for the continuity of a great community—Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


May 27, 2019

CHAMPION—May 27, 2019


2019 Denlow Reunion

Saturday was a beautiful day for the 33rd Denlow/Fairview School Reunion. Those little schools closed long ago, but the memories of the ‘good old golden-rule days’ are still fresh. Students, along with their families and friends, gathered for a great lunch, a little music with the One-Day Fox Creek Band and some wonderful reminiscing and visiting. It took three men to do what Lavern Miller used to do, but Kenneth Anderson, Pete Proctor and The General did the best they could as auctioneers. Right in the middle of the auction there were simultaneous screams from the south side of the pavilion as a big black snake slithered across Dean Upshaws foot and right out onto the concrete floor. For the record, it was not Dean who screamed. To the rescue came Paul Upshaw, Whitey’s son, who summarily snagged the serpent and carried it safety, releasing it in the wild woods at the edge of the cemetery. Paul came back to a hero’s ovation. He is from down around Gainesville, but will always be welcome in Denlow! The snake was four to five feet long, but may become larger as the tale is told. The stories shared about the old days and the new connections made are part of what keeps this community going.

The Memorial Day weekend generates gatherings like this one at Denlow all over the country. Pete Proctor talked about the moving experience he had on the Honor Flight of the Ozarks a couple of years ago and was pleased that Robert Upshaw had recently had the opportunity to go on the flight. Our all-volunteer military force now (as of April, 2018) is about 1.29 million, or less than 0.5 percent of the U.S. population. They are deployed out there in the big world keeping us safe. They have a lot of Love and Gratitude coming to them as do the 18 million or so Veterans living today. Thank you for your service.

It appears that the weather is about to settle down for us in this part of the state. We have been fortunate to have escaped the devastation that many have endured. Even as we celebrate our good fortune, we acknowledge the difficulties of those impacted by the tornadoes and flooding around the country. Recovery will be a long term process and your Champion friends wish you well. Hopes are that the attention of the Nation will turn away from the circus of politics and toward healing and rebuilding of areas devastated by winds, tornadoes and floods. Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

The Denlow Reunion’s unexpected guest!