January 14, 2019

CHAMPION—January 14, 2019


While many all about were encased in ice, brittle and wind broken, some fortunate Champions weathered the week-end winter storm well. The roads are muddy, but mail arrived on time—thank you Karen Ross and associates. It is cold—but we have firewood, propane and electricity—thank you to a fine infrastructure and hardworking householders. A few quiet days at home have been a welcome breather from the marvelous hubbub of the holidays and the ominousness of starting a new year amid the political, cultural and emotional upheaval of these times. Family and friends keep us conscious of what is important. Champions are ever mindful of their own good fortune and conscious that others near and far are not faring so well. Barbara Krider up in Elmwood, Illinois posted a beautiful picture of snow in her yard on the internet, saying, “Winter 2019 so it begins.” Lori Kline Cox posts a lovely scene from their rural home up by Kansas City. She thinks it will be three days before she can get out of her driveway on account of the downed trees and Johnny not having much gas for his chain saw because he thought he would not need it. He likes Jonny Cash and could probably learn the 1959 tune, “Snow in His Hair.” Connie Brown has some great photos of ice in her Mt. Grove neighborhood and Reba Bishop shared a picture of ice on tress in the Dogwood area. She says, “Beautiful but so destructive.”

The weather is slated to be harsh on Sunday the 20th, and the planned gathering of friends and family for a memorial celebration of the life of Judith Sharon Parsons will be postponed until warmer weather.  Judy passed away on December 27th. Her many friends will share their memories of her and her genuine kindness. She had a mischievous twinkle in her eye and wonderful deep, musical laugh always at the ready. Her patches in friendship quilts and baby quilts are treasures for those lucky enough to have them. She was as skillful in her needle work as she was loving in her heart.

The Champion January birthday calendar is a busy one. The General’s very most favorite daughter-in-law, Mrs. Upshaw, was celebrated on the 13th. The 14th is for Kathryn Partel, who was a regular visitor to Champion before she and Dave moved off somewhere—still too blessed to be stressed. Also for a Champion brother, Willis Masters, who only visited here one time back in about 2000. Walking back down to the house from the spring, he said, “Sister, I’m glad you got what you always wanted.” He passed away out in west Texas in 2016 at the age of 73. The 16th is for Miley Schober, Campion granddaughter, and for Skyline 5th grade student, Aaliyah Irby. The 17th is for Miley’s cousin Rese Kutz, and for Betty White who will be 97. The famous Brooke Quiet-Timber has that day for her celebration as well. Third grade Skyline student, Jacob Brixey, and Mary Beth Shannon share the 18th. The 19th is for Champion’s friend, J.C. Owsley, up in Cross Timbers and for our Preeminent Champion at Henson’s Downtown G & G. Alvin Barnhart will have Beverly helping him enjoy his day and Sharon Woods with have her Buzz. Both enjoy their birthdays on the 20th. Skyline 6th grade student, Kyle Barker, has the 21st as his special day and the 22nd is for 4th grader Elizabeth Hinote. Brenda Coffman Massey has nephews and other kinfolks with birthdays in January, but probably none of them will have as much fun as she will on the 22nd. In the whole tri-city area (Champion, Denlow, Vanzant) she sets the standard for fun. The always lovely Sally Prock will have that song sung to her in recognition of her birthday on the 23rd. Happy birthday to all you Champions near and far. It’s like the old boy said, “Everybody’s got to be somewhere” and Saturday that somewhere will be a party for one year old twins girls. Their old grandpa will be practicing up to tell them stories about his old dad. Congratulations, ladies, you have joined a great family and will most likely never be bored.

Hopes are that the Skyline Archery Tournament will go on, unaffected by the bad weather forecasted for next Saturday. The last tournament scheduled here had to be called off because of icy road conditions. It was a good call as there were several accidents in the area that day. Otherwise our many talented archers might have to stay home listen to that great song by Harry Nilsson, “Me and My Arrow,” which is heard in Nilsson’s fable, “The Point!” It tells of a boy named Oblio, the only round-headed person in the Pointed Village, where by law everyone and everything must have a point. There are a number of good lessons in the story that speak to the strange circumstances we find the world in today–rife with distractions to obfuscate, confuse and intimidate. One is reminded of that quote by a currently controversial individual: “Real power is—I don’t even want to use the word—fear.” Oblio had his struggles but ultimately found that he indeed had a point. If they are unable to shoot perhaps our young archers will enjoy some old poetry. Longfellow’s “The Arrow and the Song” is well worth the effort. It ends, “Long, long afterward, in an oak/ I found the arrow, still unbroke; / And the song, from beginning to end, / I found again in the heart of a friend” in Champion…Looking on the Bright Side!


January 7, 2019

CHAMPION—January 7, 2019


Leave a little something in the garden for the winter birds.

One might think that a birthday party on December 31st stretching all the way into January 1st would be enough, but no.  Everyone who enjoys these celebrations should have all the lauding and applauding that the party can muster.  In the very spot where that epic party occurred, forsaking the old year (while holding steadfastly to The General and his birthday hat) and welcoming the New Year, in that very spot on Thursday there arose a huge chorus singing that song, “…..Happy Birth-day dear Bonnie (Bonnie Doria—avid Travis fan), David (Upshaw—nephew of The General) and Two-Two (nickname given to Travis Hathaway by Jim Orchard on account of him now being 22), Happy Birthday to you!”  Twas indeed a rousing rendition.  The fair Rachael Evans will enjoy her day on the 8th over in the UK, a distinction she shares with Elvis.  Skyline sixth grade student, Kaylee Casiano, can look forward to that song on the 9th.  Elizabeth Johnston Lawrence will also be delighting in that day, though the internet reveals there have already been parties in her honor.  Champion friend, Tom Van Dyke, down in Needville, Texas will have the 10th for his own.  Bob Liebert, of Teeter Creek Herb fame, shares his birthday on the 11th with Champion Wilburn Hutchison, who might be getting up there in years.  Lovely Diane Wilbanks has the 13th for her day.  That is a day we also remember Norris Woods who passed away in 2015.  He made the Vanzant Jam a happy, encouraging, accepting place.  It is still that kind of place, though we miss his company.  There were eighteen in the big circle of musicians for the first Thursday jam of 2019.

Terri Ryan writes from Skyline School saying, “We have a home archery tournament coming up on the 19th.  We have 186 archers pre-registered.  Some will drop out before that day, but the number is still exciting.”  The last home tournament was canceled due to weather issues, but hopes are that this one will go on as planned.  It will be an all-day affair.  There will be a concession stand, the proceeds of which help fund the program.  It is a great chance to spend some time watching a lot of talented young people compete in a setting that challenges their poise, confidence and skill.  Even if you do not have children in school, this little school is important to the whole community.  It is one of two rural schools left in Douglas County.  Those of us, who have priceless memories of our own rural school experiences, here or elsewhere, will be up for an episode of enjoyable nostalgia.  Champion!

In addition to having had access to all the great holiday dinner leftovers, that space between Christmas and New Year’s Day gave some the chance to put their feet up and enjoy the books they received as gifts.  One deals with the F.D.R. period, where one learned for the first time about Henry A. Wallace (1888–1965).  He was vice president from 1941 to 1945.  He studied agriculture at Iowa State and was known as the intellectual-farmer during his many years of public service.  He epitomized the ‘common man’ and was widely acclaimed for his impeccable ethics, which is no longer common in many high places.  He is quoted as having said, “A Fascist is one whose lust for money or power is combined with such an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence to attain his ends.”  Wallace’s biography is an interesting read that shows him to have been a controversial figure during his time and in these times as well.  A currently controversial figure is quoted as having said, “Real power is—I don’t even want to use the word—fear.”  These are interesting times and since there is a little something scary about them, more people seem to be paying attention and maybe that is a good thing.

One of the good things that happened on Wednesday last down at the Historic Emporium was that Reba Bishop shared her cornbread salad recipe which had been a big hit at the Champion Christmas party.  Another good thing was that a great-niece, visiting from Louisiana, had the chance to stand around the stove and meet a bunch of nice Champions.  She and her husband live exciting and interesting lives down in Baton Rouge and for a tranquil vacation sometimes choose Champion.  The dynamic duo of Robert and Robert provided musical entertainment and the top prize for a costume most representative of hard work was awarded to a Prominent Champion.  There is no trophy, certificate, or monetary value associated with this prize.  Actually, there is no mention of it, just some acknowledgement via the exchange of meaningful looks among observant people who may or may not be as hard working.  Mild weather is inspiring some to finally get a start on cleaning up last year’s garden.  One approach is to leave the dead plants there as an amenity to the wintering birds.  Others suggest that it is very important to remove squash plants immediately once they have been frosted or are no longer productive.  The reason for that is to protect next year’s garden from squash bugs.  As seed catalogues begin to choke mail boxes and the new almanacs are already being dog-eared, some Old Champions yawn and stretch and think about Woody Guthrie’s song “Talking Hard Work.”  He said the hardest work he ever did was when he was trying to get himself a worried woman to help him ease his worried mind.  He goes on to tell just what all he had to do to show her he was not afraid of hard work.  It makes a person want to turn off the coffee pot and go outside and do a little something.  Meanwhile, there have been favorable responses to the musical links provided in the posts at www.championnews.us.  Look there for all the words to Guthrie’s masterpiece on work to see if you are reminded of anyone you know.

Sometimes the holidays can be difficult for people.  When you are in the bottom of the barrel, the only way to look is up.  Perhaps the view is a little narrow, but certainly prospects are sunnier looking up–it is the very essence of optimism in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

The garden ready for some winter work.

CHAMPION—January 7, 2019



Woody Guthrie (1930 to 1956) was known as the Dust Bowl Troubadour. The words to this song might ring a bell and bring a smile to people of a certain age in this part of the world. Guthrie was of the opinion that music is good for us. Enjoy this epic “Talking Hard Work:”


While we are on the subject of hard work
I just wanted to say that, “I always was a man who likes hard work”
I was born working and I worked my way up by hard work
I ain’t ever got no where, but I got there by hard work

Work of the hardest kind I been down and I been out
I been disgusted and busted and I couldn’t be trusted
I worked my way up and I worked my way down
I been drunk and I been sober, I been baptized and got hijacked
I been robbed for cash and I been robbed on a credit

Worked my way in jail and I worked my way outta jail
Woke up a lot of mornin’s, didn’t know where I was at
The hardest work I ever done was, when I was tryin’
To get myself a worried woman to help ease my worried mind

I’m gonna tell ya just how much work I had to do
To get this woman I was tellin’ you about, I shook hands
With ninety seven of her kinfolk and her blood relatives
And I done just the same with eighty six people
Who’s just her friends and her neighbors

I kissed seventy three babies and put dry pants
On thirty four of em’, well as others done this same thing several times
Well there are a lot of other things just like this
I held one hundred twenty five wild horses
And put saddles and bridles on more than that

Harnessed some of the craziest and wildest teams in that whole country’
I rode fourteen loco broncos to a stand still
And I let forty two hound dogs lick me all over. Seven times
I’s bit by hungry dogs and I was chewed all to pieces
by water moccasins and rattlesnakes on two river bottoms

I chopped and carried three hundred fourteen arm loads
Of stove wood, one hundred nine buckets of coal
Carried a gallon of kerosene eighteen miles over the mountains
Got lost, lost a good pair of shoes in a mud hole
And I chopped and weeded forty eight rows of short cotton

Thirteen acres of bad corn, I cut the sticker weeds
Out of eleven back yards, all on account of ’cause
I wanted to show her that I was a man and I liked to work
I cleaned out nine barn lofts, cranked thirty one cars
All makes and models, pulled three cars out of mud holes
And four or five out of snow drifts

I dug five cisterns of water for some of her friends
Run all kinds of errands, played the fiddle for nine
Church meetin’s I Joined eleven separate denominations
I joined up and signed up with seven best trade unions
I could find, I paid my dues six months in advance

I waded forty eight miles of swamps and six big rivers
Walked across two ranges of mountains
Crossed three deserts, I got the fever, sun stroke, Malaria, blue
Moonstruck, skeeter bit, poison ivy,the seven year itch
And the blind staggers, I was give up for less, lost and dead

A couple of times struck by lightning, struck by Congress
Struck by friends and kinfolks well as by three cars on highways
A lot of times in people’s hen houses, I been hit and run down
Run over and walked on knocked around, I’m just sittin’ here
Now tryin’ to study up what else I can do to show that woman
That I still ain’t afraid of hard work


December 31, 2018

CHAMPION—December 26, 2018


Foggy Mountain Champion

Some folks call the days between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day the “Witching Week” and say nothing that happens during this time counts. Of course, that may depend on what is being counted and who is doing the counting. Over in the UK, these days are called the “Gusset.” A person would say, “Well, I’m three days into the Christmas Gusset and still eating turkey.“ A seamstress will tell you that a gusset is an extra piece sewn into a seam to give it ease in a stress spot so that a garment is not too tight, or to give extra room at the bottom of a bag. Construction folks use gusset plates all the time for structural support. We can use these tranquil unstructured days as a hiatus from the hectic hype of the holiday and to contemplate the coming New Year. If you have it in mind to accomplish big things in 2019, you might provide for a gusset here and there just to ease things along and make them strong. Champions encourage any worthwhile ambitious endeavor. As to resolutions: old Champions might say, “I’m just going to keep plugging along,” or “I don’t make them, because I can’t keep them,” or “I’m going to just try to act like I have good sense, the way my Mother told me.”

Charlie Brown said that happiness is a warm puppy. A hard working Old Champion says that happiness is a well-stocked woodshed. There are some that think you should not have too much wood stored in advance because you might pass on before it got burned and some less deserving person might be warmed by your effort. Teenaged persons are known to have said they do not care what happens after they die. As the absolute certainty of our mortality dawns upon us, we are chastened to make the most of every living moment. Back up to the wood stove. It happens that some folks find that it is more difficult to stay warm with wood in moderate weather than in cold weather. Life is fraught with difficulties even in moderate times. “C’est la vie,” say the old folks, “it goes to show you never can tell.”

January birthdays start out with Arne Coon, J.W. Masters (1884), and Jan Liebert of Teeter Creek on New Year’s Day. Kabela Clark shares her birthday on the second with guitarist, Leland Isley, and bassist, Linda Millard. We remember dear Esther Howard and her beautiful hats on her birthday, the third. That is also the special day of young Jacob Coon, now a sophomore in high school. Sweet Sami McCleary, Mrs. Prominent Champion, and Sweet Janice Ray’s spouse share the fourth. Hopefully they will be well celebrated. The 5th is the day to commemorate Georgia Ann Pendergraft Masters (1888). The sixth is for Skyline’s maintenance man, Bud Watkins. He takes care of our wonderful little rural school. Travis Hathaway was 20 years old on January 7, 2017. The lovely Savana will probably sing “Happy Birthday” to him. He will smile that smile. Your friends and family wish a happy birthday to all you Champions near and far, past and present.

J. Henry and Company has been selling music supplies since 1887, according to current advertising. They are now offering a banjo mute for sale for $19.95. It guarantees up to 100% sound reduction. Shipping weight is 9 pounds. That will be a good joke for the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam on Thursday, though no one would raise a finger to shush any of the fine banjo players who attend. Pot luck is at 6:00 and music from 7:00 to 9:00—always a lovely affair. Some say that “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” is the best instrumental bluegrass song ever done. Steve Martin and Earl Scruggs did it together a few years ago.

It has been a real joy to see all the family gatherings posted on the internet. Great bunches of people who love each other face the camera and smile, then go on about their laughing and feasting. Lannie Hinote has been down from Alaska in the midst of a large assembly of Potters. The Bennett bunch is legion, as are the Upshaws, Kriders, Watts and Clines, the Smiths, Hutchisons, and Hensons. From across the country and across the seas family gatherings, large and small, in person, on the telephone, or cyber-linked, attest to the importance of family ties—something we have in common with all nations. As the world seems to be in kind of an uproar these days, it is good to remember we are all on the same little blue dot in the universe. Here at home, Senator John McCain told us not to “despair of our present difficulties but believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here.” There is much suffering and unrest in the world. Compassion is learned in the family circle.

It will be worth your while to make a journey down to the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek sometime in the New Year. The comings and goings at the Re-creation of the Historic Emporium will help you remember what real community is all about. Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Little Champion Wood Shed

December 24, 2018

CHAMPION—December 24, 2018


Christmas conjures up all kinds of memories.  One time Wilburn Hutchison told a story about a lady who lived on Cold Springs Road just north of Wolf Pen Hollow.  There is a nice spring there and this lady had a spring house where she stored the divinity candy she made for Christmas.  Well, Wilburn and his friend, Fleming Gere, got into that candy and got it all.  There was no report of what kind of punishment Fleming drew, but Wilburn had to carry 100 buckets of water for the lady.  Connie Lansdown has probably heard a more accurate version of that story from her Dad along with many others stories.  Christmas will be different for that family this year since the passing of Louise in late November.  Connie said she and Wilburn and all the family very much appreciated the cards and notes and flowers from people remembering Louise.  She was very well regarded in the community.  She had been a cook at the Skyline School and was active in the Skyline VFD and her church.  She will be long and well-remembered by the many friends she made along the way.

Royce and Jo Henson are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary.  They were married on December 13, 1958, in Miami, Oklahoma.  They have four children and eight grandchildren.  They live in Springfield, but come back to Champion frequently.  They make it back for the Champion Spring Fling and for the Pioneer Heritage Festival.  On any Saturday before Labor Day there is liable to be a whole string of Hensons up and down Cold Springs Road and down Ivy Lane as Royce shares his memories of his childhood home with his children and grandchildren.  There was a rumor that Eva Loyce (Tiny) was in Ava last week for an alumni luncheon with her classmates.  It is the sweet nature of home that calls us back for nostalgia.  “There’s No Place Like Home.”

Wednesday is always a lovely day in Champion.  This last Wednesday before Christmas was especially pleasant as friends and neighbors gathered at the Historic Emporium for some good food and visiting.  It was a chance for people around the area who rarely see one another to get caught up on each other’s news and to share their various plans for the holidays.  While the leader of the band was noticeably absent, our most recently retired mail carrier joined the Wednesday jam with her spoons.  She requires a lively beat.  It made for a lot of fun and hopes are that she will make it a regular habit in her retirement, which many have learned is when things start getting really busy.  Of course, Christmas has our own Rt. 72 mail-carrier busy.  “Flags Up!” was one of the photo-essays created by the celebrated photographer Lillian Virginia Mountweazel.  She was known for her unusual subject matter and her collection of photographs of rural American mailboxes was exhibited extensively throughout Europe.  Sadly, the Ohio born photographer died at the young age of 31 in an explosion while on assignment for Combustibles Magazine.  She would have had a lively time following our intrepid Karen Ross along her many miles of rough and rugged country lanes.  If you have not done so already, put a note or some cookies in your mailbox to tell your carrier how much she/he is appreciated.

The General

There is a tradition among some families to celebrate Christmas in July.  That may be because they just want an additional Christmas, or perhaps it has something to do with December birthdays.  A favorite great niece, one of several, Corinne Zappler, has her birthday on the 27th of December.  She loves visiting in Champion and her family here loves having her.  Skyline sixth grade student, Logan Hull has his special day on the 29th.  He may like having his birthday mixed up with the holiday season and if he does not, he will find a way to remedy the situation as the years go by.  The same is true for Champion grandson, young Eli Oglesby, with his birthday on the 30th.  His great uncle, The General, will be celebrated roundly by the whole tri-city area (Denlow-Champion-Vanzant) as his is the last birthday of the year.  That being New Year’s eve, he may have always thought the world-wide parties were for him.  None of his friends will be willing to disillusion him.  Happy Birthday to all you Champions!

By the time this appears in ink, the most looked forward to day of the year will have passed.  Wrapping paper and tinsel disposed of, Christmas dinner left overs will have lasted for days.  Thoughts go out to the many who, for one reason or another, were not able to be with family during the holidays.  We start a new year and there is every possibility that it will be a good one where strong family ties and long-lasting friendships are paramount.  “Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?” Nope.  Not in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!