June 25, 2007

June 25, 2007

CHAMPION—June 25, 2007

        The official Summer Social Season was set in full swing at Skyline on Saturday with the Celebration of the 90th Birthday of Champion’s own Esther Wrinkles.  Well over a hundred of her friends and family enjoyed refreshments and each other’s fine company for an afternoon.  The occasion was full of smiles and laughter and lots of photographs as well as some good natured humor and a fine rendition of the Birthday Song.  Among the dignitaries attending were Kerry Davis, Douglas County Clerk and her assistant, Valery.  They came out from Ava for the party as did Tax Assessor Danny Dry.  Ashley Reece flew out from North Carolina for her Grandmother’s birthday, joining her parents, Theresa and Larry, and many other family members in the celebration.  It was a pleasant gathering full of sweet reminiscences and Love and Gratitude for Esther.  She has received over a hundred birthday cards she reported on Monday and they are still coming in.  Esther raised some nice children who Love their Mother and sure know how to throw a party!  The party continued on at Esther’s house until late in the evening as she then hosted twenty-six people for home-made ice cream.  Her neighbor Robert Hamilton is fairly King of Homemade Ice Cream, they say.  Everyone agreed it was wonderful!

        It was pleasant to see Jack and Sue Slagle at Esther’s birthday party.  They are long time supporters of the Skyline Volunteer Fire Department even though they live quite East of the district.  Sue was kind enough to donate one of her beautiful quilts to the Fire Department for it’s raffle a couple of years ago.  She is currently finishing a quilt that she is making for her Grandson, Kirk, who is a US Marine currently home on leave from Iraq.  He is touring around the country visiting friends a family for a few weeks before he will go back to Iraq where he works in communications.  He is their only grandson and Jack and Sue will be glad to see him in a few days for a few days.  Champions all wish for him “God’s speed.”

        Wilma Hutchison, the charming spouse of a Champion’s double cousin, inquired about the Champion sign.  Stephanie Stogsdill called on Monday to say that the sign has been special ordered and it will be made in Jefferson City.  It will be a few weeks or perhaps a little longer before it will be given to the instillation specialists to put in place.  As soon as MODOT releases the date of the sign instillation, arrangements will be made and announced for The Dedication Ceremony.  Someone suggested that it probably won’t be long before the sign is stolen again once it is back in place since it has had so much attention.  Attention was drawn to an episode that occurred a few years ago when a Champion had described in the press, or on the radio, a certain historic hand pump that was still in use and functioning well.  Within a very short time the thing had been stolen.  The pump had to be replaced at quite a significant expense.  The new one works but without the charm and memory evoking history of the old one.  One person muttered that it’s not right to be so afraid of losing something that you wonder whether or not you want to get it to begin with. “Nobody would ever have anything.  It’s like being held hostage by vandals!”  Well, Champions won’t be held hostage and they want the new sign.  It was one of the party-going Ms. Hutchisons or perhaps the proprietor of Henson’s Store who suggested that a bad dog might be kept tied at the sign for a while.  There were only a few veiled comments directed toward Spotted Hog when the matter was under discussion.  It is nice to have some of those tensions easing somewhat.

        Saturday evening did see a spectacular rainbow draped over Spotted Hog after a brief but heavy downpour, and there were sounds of early July 4th fire-works around the Norwood area.  No one knows how long The Champion Parade Committee has been meeting in secret.  A key member, who would like not to be identified, has reported that the secret meetings are so much fun that the committee has decided to keep the Fourth of July Parade a secret too!  “It’s going to be a Happening!”  extolled this committee-member, just at an undisclosed time and location.  “It will be ‘happening’ all the time,” he continued, “…..continually any time Champions are thinking about Freedom and The Great Good Fortune they have to live in this Fine Country!  Just come to Champion any old time and sit on the porch at Henson’s Store.  Listen for the drum and fife!  It beats to the time of Champion’s heart!”  Such emotional patriotic zeal suggest the Champion Parade Committee might be ‘tipplers.’

        A Texas double cousin inquires if there is a ‘blush of pink’ showing yet in tomato patches around Champion.  Indeed!  Louise claims to have three Parks Whoppers on her table right now (Saturday) getting red ripe.  As it turns out, she already has a blue Ball Mason jar just like the one being given as the Grand Prize for the First Ripe Tomato in Champion Contest so when she learned that the tomato being entered in the contest would be judged by the eating of it, she decided that she will not share her first ripe tomato and forego the prize.  It is to be hoped that off in the future when the Grand Prize is Awarded, that Ms. Hutch will refrain from spoiling the moment for the Real Winner with dispute.

        Young Dillon and brother Dakota are back in Tennessee after making a fine showing at the fair.  They went home with various ribbons and awards as well as some wild calf experiences.  There were bruises earned by several in that camp.  The camp seems sort of quiet without their ruckus.  Harley, weary of gooseberries and hay-making, headed back to Barbara to enjoy their own ruckus of grandchildren and community.  He said he didn’t know if they would make it back for the CHAMPION REUNION which comes up on Labor Day.  Other Champions hope they do make it, Barbara is such fun!

        A big wheel came rolling through Champion!  Carl Oscar Johnson, of West Plains was showing his family and friends the sights of the area on their way to a rendezvous at Rockbridge for Sunday dinner.  He became acquainted with Barbara Henson Cogdill when he lived in Branson and used to buy Christmas Trees from her farm there.  It was a pleasant coincidence to learn of Barbra’s connection to Champion when he happened in to the store by chance a few years ago.  The store was closed on Sunday, but the group took some pictures and visited with some locals for a few minutes.  Mr. Johnson is the Executive Director of the West Plains Civic Center.  He said that when his Mother had just become a school teacher she moved into West Plains and rented a room from the Mayor.  They were all on the veranda of the Mayor’s house when the West Plains Explosion occurred.  He said that they saw the huge fire ball and that the town was very affected by the disaster for many years.  Champions have interesting neighbors.

        Specialist Benjamin J. Ashley, 22, Independence, MO, died May 24th, 2007.  Corporal James E. Summers III, 22, Bourbon, MO, died May 28, 2007.  Sergeant Shannon V. Weaver, 28, Urich, MO, died May 22nd, 2007.  Specialist Justin B. Carter, 21, Mansfield, MO, died February 16, 2005.  1st Lt. Amos C. R. Bock, 24, of New Madrid, MO, was killed when a roadside bomb exploded near his vehicle in Baghdad, Iraq, on October 23, 2006.  He was with the 4th Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 45h Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne.  There are now 3,549 deaths of US Service Personnel in conflict in Iraq confirmed by the Department of Defense and eleven more deaths pending confirmation.  The total is now 3,560.  Champions, together with the Whole Nation, will acknowledge their sacrifice with Love and Gratitude as they celebrate the Nation’s Birthday on July 4th.

        Come to the first ever Champion 4th of July Secret Parade!  Please send any reviews of the parade, or any other community news to Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.

        Champion Friend Darrell Haden recently queried, “Was Gene Autry’s horse from your community?”  Answer that question or pose one by mail or e-mail to Champion News.  Elbow the hot-dog and apple pie vendors out of the way and hand deliver those things to Henson’s Store somewhere on the parade route (maybe) in The Throbbing Heart of the Community!  CHAMPION—LOOKING ON THE BRIGHT SIDE!


June 18, 2007

June 18, 2007

CHAMPION—June 18, 2007


        Dads, Daddies, Pops, Papas, Pappies, and Grand versions of all those Fathers and others were Hailed and Lauded, Revered and Appreciated with Love and Gratitude in Champion on Sunday.  Phone calls from far places and cards with and without money poured in.  There were many fine gatherings and many meals out.  A sudden,  violent and very noisy little thunderstorm came up and left a little rain and no damage.  No complaints were heard from the City Fathers on any account..

        In Champion they say if you see a pretty garden there is generally someone in it.

        Things are fairly burgeoning.  The First Ripe Tomato In Champion Contest is spurring a modest amount of enthusiasm, though it is thought that as things “pink up” the excitement will surely swell.  It is to be noted that if blossoms are only now appearing, there is scant chance for a victory.  Linda’s almanac says that the 23rd all the way through the 27th will be good for planting anything that bears fruit above the ground—the 25th-27th will be especially good.

        It was a swell time for Foster Emit’s second birthday!  He had cousins from Nebraska and Tennessee and a Great Uncle from Illinois at his party last week.  Another Great Uncle and Champion ice-cream maker furnished two kinds of the good homemade stuff to go with the cake and burgers and other excellent fair.  Foster entertained a substantial crowd with his mandolin and several selections from his expanding repertory.  His Tennessee cousins, Dakota and Dillon, have recently attended a singing school where they learned fundamentals of music together with some songs about skunks and bees.  They are having adventures in breaking some wild calves to show at the Fair in Mountain Grove on Saturday morning.  They are already Champions, but locals are wishing them good luck in their efforts!

        Saturday afternoon will see the community gathering to honor Esther Wrinkles at her Party at the Skyline School at 2 p.m.  It promises to be a lively affair with well wishers pouring in from all segments of society, from near and far.  Some of Esther’s friends are going to give her gooseberry bushes and plant them wherever she wants them in her yard so that when she gets old she won’t have to rely so much on others for her gooseberries!  Linda has three or four of them over at the Plant Place and she’s starting a sale on Thursday that will provide some great bargains.  As to the lies about gooseberries and the people who love them, apologies are to be made.  The admonition had been, “Don’t go telling any big lies about me.”  The thought had been that there would be fun in a small lie about a small thing.  Apparently, it was a Big Thing, since he hates gooseberries sooo much and he is now hesitant to talk about anything.  It just goes to show that there is no profit to be made from lying on any scale.  And Esther’s birthday is on the 28th, of June and not the 27th as was reported last week.  That was just a mistake—not a lie.

        Stephanie Stogsdill is in charge of District Eight of the Missouri Department of Transportation.  Her office is in Springfield, but she is quite well acquainted with this area.  She says that the Champion sign is on order and that she will release the date it will be installed as soon as it is available.  Nothing was said about whether the same hole would be used.  It still has not been taken.  Anyone wishing to compliment Ms. Stogsdill’s efforts for the betterment of her District can do so at MODOT, 3025 East Karney, Springfield, MO 65803, or go to www.modot.org on line.  Speculation that someone from Spotted Hog took the sign is slanderous.  That’s the way rumors are started.  It is agreed that is too bad that they don’t have their own sign over there, but Champion’s sign would clearly be of little use to them.  In an effort to quell further contention, nothing more will be said concerning this matter.

        Louise Hutchison and Sharon Sikes have been slipping around to do extra cleaning on the sly in the cook shack at the Skyline Fire Department Picnic Grounds.  They seem to feel that it’s OK for them to work harder than everyone else.  They dismantled the new refrigerator and cleaned it thoroughly, cleaned the deep fryer and the grill, and who knows what all?  Wilburn was there too sweeping and pitching in as a solid citizen.  Membership in the Ladies’ Auxiliary of the Skyline Fire Department is a year-round thing.  These are some special Ladies (and gentleman.)  A good buy on a big deep freeze from a local merchant is being pursued.  The old one has finally given out and there will be a real need come Picnic Time.  These things and others will be discussed at the next meeting which will be held July 10th, at Esther Wrinkle’s house.

        Spec. Justin B. Carter, age 21, of Mansfield, Missouri died at Forward Operating Base McKenzie near Samarra, Iraq on February 16, 2005.  He is one of sixty who died there that month.  The total of US Service People who have lost their lives in this conflict as of June 18, 2007 is 3,526.  Neighbors near and far are active in the US Military Services on behalf of the Nation.  The pride and patriotism of their service must be reflected in the Love and Gratitude of their Nation.

        The first foreign e-mail to the Champion News e-mail box is from Piedras Negras, Mexico!  It is subject line says “Bare it or bear it.”  The e-mail is as follows: “Salud! Champion!  The bare facts are that you barely speak your own language if you choose to use ‘bare’ for ‘bear.’  English is the official language of Champion, no?  I find your column a curious mix of charm and tedium, but it is a reminder of a place I have loved so well.  s.s.s.  C.Maria Beatifica Escondido, Piedras Negras, Mexico”  The response is:  “Dear Ms. Escondido, Thank you for reading the Champion Items.  Thank you for correcting the poor word choices.  Every effort will be made to do better.  Please feel free to share any fond memories that you have of Champion.  Sincerely, Your Champion Friend.”  A chance meeting with a great nephew of Ed and Anna Henson the other day promises to yield some good stories about them in the future.  The ‘old timers’ set the tone for this lovely place and it is a pleasure to know that they are remembered.

        Champions here and those abroad are welcome to correct spelling, usage, grammar, facts, dates and moral principals or principles (so much pressure!) by writing to Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  Send those things and any stories or good memories of the old timers to the e-mail address that Ms. Escondido used, or drop them off in person to one of the City Fathers of Champion who may be found at any odd time lounging about at Henson’s Store on the tree lined boulevard in the nerve center of the fair town.  Any examples of good works done on the sly will also be accepted.  CHAMPION—LOOKING ON THE BRIGHT SIDE!


June 11, 2007

June 11, 2007

CHAMPION – June 11, 2007


        Gardeners and haymakers are at odds over the rain in Champion.  Some like it and some don’t. Folks are not overly contentious about it, however, since no one has control over the weather.  The hard freeze that came back in March wrecked havoc with the peaches, blueberries and other fruit in the area.  Worst of all is the possibility that the gooseberries will yield poorly this year!  This is a devastating blow to Harley Krider, who fairly lives for them.  He’s been known to wade through snake infested waist high brush to pick gooseberries.  He likes them green.  He likes them pink.  He likes to pick them and to stem them and to have them in a pie.  If he doesn’t get enough he’s liable to cry!  He comes home to Champion on the pretext of helping his brother make hay and to look out after his property but everybody knows he just can’t resist the Lure of the Gooseberry.  Linda may have some Gooseberry bushes over at the Plant Place in Norwood.  Her Almanac says that the 15th to the 17th will be good for planting crops that yield above ground.

        “Oh, Mama, I’m excited I’m almost out of breath.  What I saw the light that made me run myself to death.  I was on the mountain side when I looked down below.  And, Glory be!  I thought I’d better come and let you know.  We got company comin’ company comin’, we got company comin’ up the road.  They’re down the road about half a mile.  They’ll be here in a little while.  There’s company comin’ up the road!”  That is the first verse of the Johnny Mullins song made popular by Porter Wagoner and now the most recent addition to The Missouri Song List that goes like this:

  1. The Missouri Waltz
  2. Meet Me in St. Louie, Louie
  3. I’m Goin Back to Whur I come From
  4. The Westphalia Waltz
  5. The West Plains Explosion
  6. My Missouri Home
  7. Kansas City, Here I come
  8. May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You
  9. Walking in the Sunshine
  10. Keep a Little Song Handy
  11. Company’s Comin’

        The latest addition was suggested Mr. Al Nance over on the Western Edge of the Ozarks.  A copy of the CD “Beyond the Missouri Sky” is on its way to Champion.  This is the collaborative effort of Charlie Haden and Pat Metheny which has been offered for consideration by Tennessee Champion Darrell Haden.  In his recent letter he said that he had recommended the Champion Items to the AHS Class of 1950, and that the next time he was in the neighborhood he would find Beautiful Downtown Champion.  For future reference anyone starting out from Ava to find Champion needs to go east on Highway 14 for about 17 miles and turn left (North) on Highway C at Evans.  In two or three miles the first paved road to the right will be WW Highway.  Turn there and find Champion sprawled out at the bottom of a long hill about two miles later on just before the pavement ends at Fox Creek.  The Champion sign has been missing for about two months now.  There had been some talk that someone from over in Spotted Hog, jealous about not having a sign of their own, had taken it.  That hardly seems likely.  When the theft was reported to the Department of Transportation by Champion’s most prominent businesswoman she indicated that the thieves had taken the sign but had left the hole.  Champions will take the High Road and say, “If a man should steal your sign, give him also your hole.”  So the thief will be admonished to Return the Sign or Take the Hole too!

        Sometimes something can be gone for a long time before its absence is noted.  Such is the case of the moustache of the illustrious Postmaster of Norwood.  Practically everybody in Champion who gets mail gets it from Route 2, Norwood.  Kirk Dooms said that he had done away with that moustache back in the fall and that nobody had mentioned it until now.  Probably someone had noticed, but was just too polite to mention such a personal thing—until now.  Well, mustached or not, Mr. Dooms is doing a fine job of post mastering and Champions are glad to get some of their mail.  (They get it all, but are only ‘glad’ about some of it.)  Mr. Dooms was glad to hear that a Shindig is in the works for his Aunt Esther Wrinkles’ Birthday on Saturday the 23rd of June.  It promises to be a lovely Afternoon Party at the Skyline School.  Everyone who wishes to celebrate a milestone birthday with Mrs. Wrinkles is welcome to join the fun from two o’clock until five.  Those who can’t attend may send her a card at Rt. 1, Box 845 Vanzant, MO 65768.  Her birthday is actually on the 27th but there are no rules in Champion that prohibit starting early to Enjoy Life!

        Those schoolboys from down on Cripple Creek in Tennessee will be back visiting with Krider Grandparents this week.  They’ll be getting ready to show some cows at the Fair and generally being good help down on the farm.  They can watch their Mother in the milking parlor to see how its done and particularly to see how to go about being a helpful appreciative child.  Linda joins three sisters and a brother exemplifying that delightful attribute.

        Sgt. Shannon V. Weaver, 28, of Urich, MO, and two other soldiers were killed in Baghdad when multiple improvised explosive devices blew up near their vehicle.  The three were assigned to the 425th  Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 45h Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division based at Fort Richardson, Alaska.  This occurred on May 22nd.  So far in June 36 US Service People have lost their lives there bringing the total to 3512.  Their sacrifice elicits Love and Gratitude from the whole Nation and from Champions especially.

        Bald face lies about gooseberries and the people who love them, admonitions to thieves, lessons in music appreciation, things that are notably absent and Birthday Party Invitations are all welcome at Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or Champion News.  Hand deliver those things and examples of taking the High Road and delightful attitudes to Henson’s Store if the congestion and hubbub of Champion’s urban sprawl is not too much to bare.  Look for the hole where the sign used to be and turn right.  CHAMPION—LOOKING ON THE BRIGHT SIDE!


June 4, 2007

June 4, 2007

CHAMPION – June 4, 2007


        Champion has seen a lot of grandchildren and great grandchildren in the past couple of weeks.  The Tennessee boys stayed through Memorial Day to help their Grandmother celebrate at the Denlow School Reunion.  Mrs. Eva Powell had four grandchildren and one great grandchild visiting on the third.  Great granddaughter Serena had a mishap when the kitten she was carrying accidentally touched an electric fence.  She has some deep scratches on her arm and a new set of experiences to take to kindergarten with her.  Her cousin, Derek, was heard telling her about his kindergarten days.  That was a long time ago and now he is getting ready to do some traveling that will take him all the way to Timbuktu!  Really!  It is a good sized town (about as big as Springfield) in the West African country of Mali and has long been the metaphor for remote, exotic places.  Champions wish safe journeys to all their precious travelers from Champion to Timbuktu and beyond.

        Neighbors Duke and Connie over in Drury certainly threw a lovely Bluegrass Festival.  There were rain showers from time to time, but nobody’s spirits were dampened and the music was wonderful.  Skyline VFD Auxiliary ladies had a good time and hope to be asked to participate again next year.  Some of those ladies, (Louise, Sharon and Ruth) put in some very long hours.  There were a couple of menfolk involved in the process as well, but they shun the limelight!

        An e-mail came to the Champion News box that goes like this:  “Greetings from the western edge of the Ozarks–Scotts Valley, CA.  This ol’ barefoot plowboy grew up in Ozark County, between Old Romance and Almartha.  The Navy took me out of the hills in 1945; while in the service I met a young lady and we eventually “slipped into the double harness”–city girl and country boy–that was 60 years ago.  We subscribe to the Herald and I began noticing your articles sometime ago.  Now, I read these through every issue.  I don’t know where Champion is located, but notice your address is Norwood.  Fifty years or more ago, one of my sisters and her husband operated a store in Norwood for a period of time, perhaps three years.  One of the items of interest in your article recently was the “Missouri Song List.”  May I propose a candidate for the list:  “Company’s Comin’,” by Johnny Mullins, of Springfield, who grew up around Cassville.  It was written in 1954 and recorded that same year by West Plains boy Porter Wagoner and which, I believe, may have been Porter’s first big hit on his road to success.  A couple years ago, I saw one of Porter’s albums advertised and which still listed “Company’s Comin’ ” among the songs.  This song is nominated as it was written and recorded by Missourians and is still quite popular.  You perhaps are aware that Johnny wrote many songs, several of which were recorded by country music artists, including “Blue Kentucky Girl,” written for and recorded by Loretta Lynn in 1964, and again by EmmaLou Harris in 1979 or ’80 and for which Johnny was nominated for a Grammy award (he didn’t get the award, just a free trip to Hollywood.)  I suppose I should mention Johnny is married to my niece Peggy, from the Noble/Nottinghill area of Ozark County and who lives in Springfield.  Unfortunately, Johnny is now quite ill and in a care center.  Thanks for your time.  By the way, I also put out an e-mail letter periodical which goes to family and friends in about twenty states and some foreign addresses.  It is called a “Humocom” with comments, musings and humor.  Peace and blessings, Al and Wanda Nance.” 
        It is exciting to hear from far off Herald readers, and good to know there is interest in the Missouri Song List.  “Keep a little song handy wherever you go, and nothing can ever go wrong.  Keep a little song handy and sure as you know, the sunshine will follow along.  Any little single jingle that sets the toes a tingle is welcome when you mingle in any single throng, so keep a little song handy wherever you go, and nothing can ever go wrong!”  That’s that Rudy Valley song that Chimera Bea Latent liked so much.

        Corporal James E Summers III, 21, of Bourbon, MO, was one of five soldiers who died May 28, in Abu Sayda, Iraq, of wounds suffered when their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device.  They were assigned to the 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Ft. Hood, TX.  As of June 4th there have been 3,495 US Service Personnel who have lost their lives in the conflict in Iraq.  Love and Gratitude for their service is the by-word in Champion.

        Linda, survivor of the Bad Sow of Spotted Hog and proprietor of the Plant Place in Norwood, has the June Almanac out that says the 7th and 8th will be good days for planting late root crops and also good for vine crops and for setting strawberry plants.  The First Ripe Tomato In Champion Contest is getting some interest.  Some are just sure Louise will win, but there may be some stiff competition from unexpected sources.  Many Champions are “making hay while the sun shines.”

        It is to be reported that when Robert Upshaw got up to make his speech at the Denlow School Reunion, he said, “Well, Hello, all you thieves and thugs, scoundrels, bootleggers and bushwhackers of Denlow!”  When he realized that he was not talking to his regular crowd he modified his speech to match the group in front of which he stood.  The day was full of fun and stories including one from an unnamed source about Ed Henson who was heard to have said something like, “Well, Dean, if you want to train a dog, you’ve got to be smarter than the dog.”  Mr. Henson had a genuinely sweet smile and a most infectious laugh.  The spirit of good natured fun that he exemplified has spread from Champion to all its good neighbors.

        Gardening tips, songs, good natured fun, travel reports and close calls are being received at Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO. 65717.  E-mail to Champion News or hand deliver those things or any kind of good neighbor gossip to Champion’s seat of urban culture, Henson’s Store, in picturesque downtown Champion.  CHAMPION — LOOKING ON THE BRIGHT SIDE.