July 30, 2007

July 30, 2007

CHAMPION—July 30, 2007


        Great news in Champion is that Foster’s parents are feeling better.  The lad spent a couple of days with his grandparents during the week while his folks recuperated.  Part of that time was spent hanging out at the store with his Granddad, Doug & Jackie learning how to spin yarns.  He helped with the hay and proved himself to be an excellent kitten wrangler.  Cousin Dillon has also been down of the farm.  He and his Mom came in from Tennessee and spent a few days while Dakota made a fishing trip to Alaska with his other Grandfather.  It is always a pleasant time to have Linda home.  She enjoys milking and her folks enjoy her company and the help.

        Neighbors over on EE had a wonderful picnic!  Saturday night it was estimated that there were four to five hundred people there!  Some one said that the Holt “UP’N AT’T” 4 H Picnic has been going on for 57 years!  The Champion community was well represented.  Some Champions have been attending for most of those years!  When a particular Mr. Upshaw was asked if he had made ice cream for the affair, he said, “Well, I offered to but they said they had had some over at Vanzant and they thought they would just pass.”  Everyone was glad to see Mrs. Esther Wrinkles there.  She is a great appreciator of the local good music and there was plenty to be had there.

        Eighteen people, Firefighters and Volunteers, met up at the Skyline Picnic grounds on Tuesday the 24th to discuss the Picnic upcoming on the 10th and 11th and all the work that has to be done in preparation for it.  It was good to see that the new freezer is doing it’s job so that there will be plenty of cold treats for Picnickers to enjoy.  Local merchants are being generous in donating items for the door-prize drawings.  There will be some new activities this year combined with all the old favorites.  Plans were made to cut the grass short and treat the grounds for ticks and chiggers.  The Fire Chief said he has never had a single chigger bite!  (Must be they come in multiples!)  Anyway there won’t be any of those critters around come Picnic Time!  New members and volunteers are excited to pitch in and be a part of what promises to be a lovely Picnic.  New neighbors up on the High Road on the Pleasant Ridge have a swing set in their front yard!  It will be interesting to see how many personal invitations to the Skyline Picnic will be extended to the new family in the neighborhood!  Champion is a friendly place!

        A letter arrived on the 26th from Raul!  He is Champion’s adopted soldier serving in Naray, Afghanistan.  He says,  “Dear Champion,  Well it is nice to hear that you are playing bridge.  I hope that you won.  Well sorry that I have not been able to write to you sooner.  Reason was that we were on black out (where they shut the internet and phones off).  I don’t mind the article that you posted about the letter I wrote to you.  In fact, I think it was a good thing that way people can see a little bit of the hardship that me and my Soldiers have to go through on a regular basis.  I have to say ‘Thank You’ once again for your concern of my Soldiers and me and my family.  I want to say thank you to everyone there at Champion and your supporters for every thing that you have done, to include keeping us in your prayers.  I have to say that this country is Beautiful, aside all the fighting and shooting.  My FOB is in a valley.  When the sun rises and sets the light on the mountains looks beautiful.”  He goes on to say that he will try to send pictures and that his wife and daughter will be moving to a different house soon.  He says that he and his wife are thinking of buying a house in McAllen, Texas and is wondering if anyone has any advice to give as far as what to look for and what questions to ask.  He wonders if anyone knows of a good book or website to learn about buying a house.  There are some envelopes addressed to Raul at Henson’s Store.  It just takes a regular 41 cent stamp.  His package got off to him on Wednesday, full of beef jerky, tuna, crackers and various other things.  He’ll have pictures of Champion, notes from Champions and an idea of what the community is all about.  His address is SSG Moreno, Raul / 4-319th, TF SABER /  FOB NARAY / APO AE 09354 /  Email:  raul.morenojr(at)us.army.mil  People all over the country are reaching out to help those serving their nation in dangerous places.  It speaks well of Americans everywhere.  3,652 US Service People have lost their lives in Iraq since the conflict began, including Lawrence Parrish of Lebanon, MO who died there  October 7th, 2006.  As of July 24th, 2007 at least 346 members of the US Military had died in Afghanistan.  Love and Gratitude to them and to those they leave behind is a given.

        Wilburn allows that he’ll probably get a third cutting of hay in October and that he has had trouble with the hay being too thick and heavy.  It’s hard on his equipment.  Such problems!  Others are being over run with huge squashes.  Cucumbers are coming out of some Champion ears and the few ears of corn that the raccoons don’t get are just luscious.  Water bath canners are bubbling over-time and the “shh shh shh” of the pressure cookers guarantees that green beans and stewed tomatoes will fill pantry shelves.  In late winter when everything is drab and brown, these glorious summer days will be appreciated when those jars are opened.

        Granddaughter Day was a grand success!  Grandmothers and Granddaughters met at Vera Cruz on Monday afternoon just for The Fun Of It and for no other reason.  Among them were Danielle from Kansas City and Sierra from Portland, OR, who have been going to the Mill Pond with their Grandmothers most summers since they were babies.  Danielle is 12  years old and Sierra is 10 now.  They became acquainted on Granddaughter Day and learned that they have many common interests such as cats and Mardi Gras  beads.  They may become life-long friends.  Grandmothers who live too far from their Granddaughters could suffer with great bouts of loneliness and jealousy but they content themselves with observing at a little distance the joys of their Grandmother Friends.  Patients is one of those qualities often attributed to Grandmothers.  There must be some kind of trick to it.  Linda’s sister Charlene from over at the Plant Place and the Gift Corner in Norwood sent a note from Virginia where she is taking care of her Granddaughter, Olivia, while her Mother, Sherrie, who is in the US Navy, is serving on an aircraft carrier in the Middle-East.  She says, “Hi ,I really enjoyed hearing from you and reading your “Champion” articles.  I feel like a celebrity now I’m in the paper!  Alls fine here.  Olivia and I have been playing and talking and having a good time.  Of course I miss being home and she misses her Mommie.  I have been working in the yard some.  I turned over a little patch in the back yard for a vegetable patch and transplanted some tomato plants sewed a few green beans and planted some basil plants.  So you see I still have my hands in the dirt to some extent.  We’ve had a little excitement here.  They had strong wind the other day and it blew a tree down in the back yard which broke through the fence.  Of course Buddy and George immediately found the hole and now can get out of the back yard.  They don’t go far but I don’t like them running loose.  Olivia and I have made a little playhouse for her in the garage.  I have bought a shelf and a little kitchen cabinet for her a garage sales (what else).  So, we go out there quite often and she plays while I clean up my garage sale finds and price them.  I hope to be coming home with Olivia September 5.  I hope it will still be warm enough to go down to the creek with Olivia.  She talks about going to the beach and playing in the sand so hopefully we will be able to do that. .I’d better go wake up Olivia and get started on another day.  Charlene”

        “Where in the world is the Amicable Asylum of Champion?” ask a regular reader of the Champion Items.  “I been living around here all my life and I never heard of such a thing as that.”  The term was meant to describe Champion as a Friendly Place—a Sanctuary.  Living in this Beautiful Spot it is easy to forget that much of the rest of the world is covered with concrete and crowded with unhappy people.  Champions do not take their good fortune for granted.  Sometimes an Itinerant Musician will pass through spreading sweet sounds and good will, full of stories from the Big World.  It is exciting out there and he reports even handedly the miraculous and delightful things together with the dour and dreary.  He is a great, marvelous disruption and a ravenous appreciator of  garden produce!  There Is No Place Like Home.

        Clichés of all sorts, excellent disruptions of daily routine, or any kind of Trick for gaining Patients is welcome at Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  Big garden bragging or any kind of Good Champion Gossip is welcome at Champion News.  Any of those things or yarns about Champion’s old timers or the old days can be spun in person at Henson’s Store…in the Friendly Refuge of CHAMPION—LOOKING ON THE BRIGHT SIDE!


July 29, 2007

Conversations with Esther Wrinkles


        The following is the result of conversations with Esther Wrinkles over the course of a couple of pleasant afternoons combined with some material that she had previously provided to the Historical and Genealogical Society Journal of Douglas County for it’s May 1998 publication.

Dalene Schober        “I was born June 28, 1917.  My parents were Rufus and Alice Hutchison Keller.  When he was two years old my Dad’s Mother Elizabeth Packard Keller passed away.  He was raised by his Uncle Jewel and Aunt Ellen Proctor.  The kitchen in their house had dirt floors for years.  Dad would go to the barn and feed horses while Aunt Ellen fixed breakfast. He would break the ice and wash his hands and face on the way to the barn.  My Dad never went to high school just grade school, until he was eighteen years and older, but he was an excellent student and fast!  He was never beat at spelling and ciphering; wasn’t a problem in their book he couldn’t solve.

        “I went a two-month summer term of school to Ethel (Ross) Proctor, when I was four years old.  I walked 1 ½ miles, sat with my Uncle Herbert Hutchison.  He was then about an eighth grader.  I was bashful and wanted to sit with him.  I went the summer term to Ethel Proctor, then first term to Eula Schudy;  the rest of my grades to Willie Freeman, through the eight grade.  In the winter I had to wrap my feet with gunny sacks and tie with a binder twine string.  When I got to school I would pull them off and lay them in the corner until time to go home.  Also would take turns sweeping after school for $1.50 a month.  One month a boy built fires for the same.  They finally got $2.50 to walk the distance and be so cold to build a fire. I was accidentally pushed in the creek by some of the big boys pushing one another along a fence along the creek bank.  Ice froze my shoes and I was so cold I cried with them.  They would tell us there were bears in the bluff, then have to walk us home.  We were afraid.  My brother Cecil and I hid behind some bushes on the bank when we seen our first Model T.  A Mr. Plunger Bownds sold Abraham Coonts one new for $200.00.  Was lots of money then.  After I graduated from the eight grade, I went back a year to Oliver Coats.  I thought it was great because my Dad went to him too.  We enjoyed that year.  We got to do things we hadn’t ever, like pushing these old skinner wheels (we called them ) at noon, clear up to Manford Smith’s or to Clever Creek.  I milked my Uncle’s cows, then walked 3 ½ miles to school.  It was the same at night.  I got five cents for milking.  My uncle was blind and couldn’t see to do things, and my Aunt was hard of hearing.  I walked nearly four miles to Denlow with my Aunt Ellen.  She carried five dozen eggs in a basket and part way on her head.  She got five cents per dozen, and got sugar and coffee with the egg money. I was out of school a year because my Mother wasn’t well, then went to high school at.  I walked to school or rode a horse some.  I stayed home on Thursday till 11 o’clock and helped my Mother wash, then walked the four miles to Denlow for the half day.  We either had to carry our wash water up a hill or take the big iron kettle to the spring, heat the water there, wash and boil the clothes, rinse and carry the clothes up the hill to hang them on the line.

        “We had ciphering matches with Fairview, Bakersfiled, Dogwood and Cold Springs.  At Dogwood in 1933, the time came to cipher against my teacher.  If I got first choice, I turned him down on multiplication of fractions, and if he got first choice he would get me on addition of fractions.  I got first choice and turned him down, which made me happy.  He would say, “I taught you all you know.”  It was hard for him to admit to losing.  I was happy about beating the teacher, but I had to pay for it.  I got the measles.  It was cold we all stood around a wood stove.  I was standing close to Johnny Evans.  I thought he really had pimples.  What I didn’t know was “it was measles.”  We went there, a bunch of us, with my cousin, Orvil Hicks, in his Model T. Ford.  We pushed it up hills because it only had low and reverse, then not too much power.  A time when we ciphered, a cousin, Joe Hutchinson, would come and join in with us.  He didn’t like to get beat.  To try to add to the frustration with me, he would peck out loud with the chalk on the blackboard and add out loud to bother me, because I got so I could add both outside lines for addition as we went.  Most times, we had three and four lines.  That was what I called nervous fun.  Made me nervous, but fun to turn him down.  We had some hard to beat back then.  We studied hard all week to get to cipher or spell from noon or last recess on Friday or every other Friday.  We never went miles away to do all this.  The most was around ten miles and we had to have our lessons caught up before our teacher would let us do either.  Forty pupils and earlier sixty, and one room schools. They don’t have ciphering matches now.  The are missing lots of fun.  We did have fun and enjoy things back then in the late 20’s and 30’s.  Could get a candy bar or lemonade for five cents if we had the nickel.

        “After two years of high school I married Raymond Mears.  We had two sons, Lonnie and Donnie.  My Mother passed away, June 11th, 1936, when she was only 40 years old.  My sister Irene Dooms (now) was only four years old.  We, Lonnie, Donnie and I stayed there with Dad (Rufus Keller), brother Cecil who was a teenager and Irene.  My little boy, Donnie Leon Mears, was burned to death in dog house looking for a pup Andrew Proctor had give him the day before.  As time went on, my sister, Irene, went to school at Ava.  No bus came closer than three miles.  She had to meet the bus night and morning and cook for our Dad.”

        Esther said that with all the sadness that had occurred on that place;  her Uncle Jewel had died there, then her Mother, then the tragedy of losing her little son and her husband leaving, she was near to a nervous breakdown and the doctor told her to get out of there.  She drove her little Model A into Mountain Grove and at first helped out a cousin who was cleaning a big two story house for the Johnson Family.  It had thirty something windows which she helped wash inside and out.  The cousin was working at the shoe factory and Esther applied and went to work there in March of 1945.  She stayed during the week there in Mountain Grove at her Dad’s brother’s house and came home to the farm on the week ends.  She said that she worked a hard 40 hours a week and was paid $16.00.  Her cousin was going with a boy named Clark Wrinkles who had a brother who had come home from the War in November of 1945.  She said that Clifford was a very nice young man and that he was very good to her.  The four of them used to pal around and had a lot of fun.  On September 27, 1946, Esther and Clifford married.  They bought their farm in Champion in 1947, and their son Larry was born that year.  Esther said that Clifford was a good Father to Lonnie and Larry and she says “I have two I love:  Lonnie and Larry and their families are good to me.”  They lived in Champion until 1989 when they sold and moved to Vanzant in August of that year.  “Clifford passed in l993 and we go on and do the best we can.  The old days back then I can see now were the good old days—smelling the wood burning in the old wood cook stove of an evening when we built a fire to get supper.  What would people do now to cook, bake, also that the iron to iron clothes and couldn’t keep it warm or even black or scorch them.  I used to wash and iron white shirts for Gerald and Louis Proctor for fifteen cents.  Most times was two or three times because the iron blacked them.  Had to heat them on the cook stove and some or most time they got smoked.  I went to a sale in 1945’s.  Only had fifteen cents.  There was a beautiful clear cut glass sugar bowl and cream pitcher to match I wanted.  I got them for fifteen cents.  I was happy.  Later years, I sold them at a garage sale for $15.00.  I have regretted it.  Would be $50.00 or more now.”

        In 1958, Esther went back to the Shoe Factory and worked there until 1970.

        Before they left Champion, Esther and Clifford had been visiting with a number of neighbors around who had decided that it would be a good idea to have a fire department on the west side of Fox Creek.  Back then the creek would get up and the Eastern Fire Department would have to go a long way around to get to anybody over on the other side of the creek.  Esther and Sharon Mallernee (now Sikes) and Sharon’s Mother-in-Law, Thelma Mallernee, would drive all over the country around Champion and Skyline signing people up for the fire department.  Esther said that she and Sharon drove many, many miles and on more than one occasion wound up in places they were glad to get away from.  Early in June this year the Ladies Auxiliary of the Skyline Fire Department ran the concession stand at the Bluegrass Festival down at the Wagon Wheel Bluegrass Park. They cooked burgers and sold home-made pies.  Esther said that in September of 1986, Dale Mallernee cooked burgers down at the Bluegrass Park and that was one of the first activities that the Skyline Fire Department had done as a group.  The Fire Department was rolling at full force by 1987. She said, “We got it the hard way.” The women baked pies and served lunches at auction sales, and had garage sales and chili suppers to supplement the membership dues to support the activities of the fire department.  The first Annual Skyline Picnic  was held in the early 1990’s.  Back in February of 2004, Esther received an Award of Appreciation from the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department as a Founding Member for her many years of Dedicated Service. When asked about how many pies she supposes she has made over the years, she said that she couldn’t hazard a guess.  “It’s in the thousands.”  For a number of years she would bake four a day two or three times a week for Plummer’s Junction, and that doesn’t count all those she made for Max Penner and others.

        “He always wanted four different kind and once, a chocolate, a lemon, a coconut cream and another kind.”  Danny Hull was just by on Thursday and asked her to bake a strawberry rhubarb cobbler and a lemon meringue for Saturday the 23rd.  She said that she would bake them, but not on Saturday the 23rd because she’s having a Birthday Party!  He was satisfied to have them Saturday the 16th and will enjoy them for Father’s Day.  That will also give him a chance to attend Esther’s Birthday Party over at the Skyline School from 2 p.m.. until 5 p.m..  Any old friends or new friends are welcome to come celebrate with her, or to send her a card to Rt. 1, Box 845, Vanzant, MO 65768.

        On Saturday, the 23rd of June, the community got together to celebrate Esther’s 90th birthday.  The party was held at the Skyline School Cafeteria and was hosted by her sons and their wives.  Well over a hundred of her friends and neighbors came out to wish her well.  Her grace and enthusiasm are an inspiration.  She’ll be baking pies for the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department Picnic to be held on August 10th and 11th.



July 23, 2007

July 23, 2007

CHAMPION – July 23, 2007


        Good news in Champion takes many forms.  The ‘second cutting’ of hay is a wonderful thing.  Last year by this time things were parched and dry and the first and only cutting of hay was slim and dismal.  Next year is a mystery yet and that’s the best way.  Richard and Kay were down visiting from Marshfield all smiles talking about granddaughter Madelynn Ward and her sweet antics.  Her cousin, Foster Wiseman, is making a good recovery from his recent bout with a stomach flu.  That’s very good news because he is such a Ray of Sunshine nobody wants to think of him as not feeling well.  Dustin Cline was in the neighborhood from Rogersville, working on a painting project and a personal agenda involving a local Beauty.  He is energetic and optimistic, both excellent qualities.  She is thoughtful and patient…… admirable traits as well.

        More good news is going on in local gardens.  Neighbor Bob Berry over in Gentryville said that he never saw such a good year for potatoes.  He planted one short little row this year that yielded more than the three long rows he planted in previous years when sometimes we was lucky to get his seed back.  “And big beautiful potatoes,” he said with his hands held out holding a great big invisible potato.  Squash bugs had decimated his squash and cucumbers though and Louise was aggravated that the coons had beat Wilburn to harvest the corn.  They got or spoiled all but about 150 ears…24 nice bags in the freezer.  She shared her favorite receipt for putting up corn.  It came from the mother-in-law of her son, Gary Hutchison.  Mrs. Leora Graham from over at Sweden was Marsha’s Mother and her relationship to Louise is that of ‘mishbucha.’ (That is a Yiddish word for kinfolks not related by blood.)  Louise remarked at what a lovely person she was.  Anyway Ms. Graham’s receipt calls for 4 quarts of corn cut from the cob.  In a pan heat one quart of water, 1 cup of sugar and 4 teaspoons of salt to boiling.  Add the corn and bring it back up to boiling.  Simmer for twenty minutes.  Cool and kept it in the refrigerator over night.  Then put it in containers and freeze it.  Someone had said that the variety known as “peaches and cream” does not freeze well.  Well, that’s the exact variety Louise uses and she said she never has had any complaints.  A taste of it was an absolute delight and proved her point.  It is Policy now not to brag on people’s cooking (or ice cream) by pure hear-say.  Champion’s friend and friend of Purna Mae from out Tulsa way, has had bad ground-hog problems in her garden on west of Champion.  Some of them have paid dearly for the destruction they caused and there is a smell of dead groundhog around now that may caution others.  She also made a trip to the barber shop and spread hair around the outside of the garden.  That is thought to be a deterrent for a variety of unwelcome visitors.

        Visitors are always welcome in Champion and the Champion Wood-Chuck is a monstrous fellow.  He’ll be laying low until about February when he’ll expect to be the Grand Marshall of the Great Ground Hog Day Parade.  There is a lot going on between now and then, so he had better just bide his time, stay out of the gardens, and try to hold on to his hide.  Skyline Firefighters and Volunteers met Tuesday up at the picnic grounds to get the ball rolling (the Auxiliary Ladies are on record as rolling already) on the Picnic that will be the Highlight of the summer social season.  There are going to be some real surprises in the silent auction this year and Volunteers are going out on their visits to the supportive local merchants collecting the door prizes that will be given away.  Excitement builds!  Champion neighbors over at 76 and EE highway will hold the Holt 4-H Picnic on 27th & 28th.  It’s always a lot of fun and the Skyline/Champion folks always try to get out there to support the “Up and At ‘Em 4-H Kids.”  Then it will just be two weeks until the Skyline Picnic; then the first Saturday before Labor Day will be the Champion School Reunion.  There is the Sesquicentennial Celebration coming up and then the Pioneer Decedents Gathering down at Yates on October 6th & 7th.  Staying abreast of the Social Calendar in Champion is a full time job.  It was a pleasure to receive an e-mail from Betty Thomas down at Yates.  She produces a hand-quilted quilt for their annual event.  It will be exciting to see what she has quilted up for this year!  Champions will be standing in line to buy tickets for a chance at it!

        Dean Brixey has wandered off to town.  He’s bought a nice rock house on a shady street within an easy walk of all the necessities and diversions.  He is settling in there and Champions are glad that he is happy and still not too far from ‘home.’  Once a Champion, always so!  He’ll have several good reason to come back this way and he’ll be a sight for sore eyes.  There have been reports of tricycles parked in front of his old place up on the High Road so there may be new neighbors in the offing!  How Grand!  The Russell Upshaw family is relocating for the nonce in Mt. Grove.  Champion family and friends wish them all the best as they regroup from the loss of their country home.  They are part of the extended Champion Family.  Once a Champion….always so!

        Darrell Haden who asked the unanswered question:  “Was Gene Autry’s horse from Champion?” now asks “…..do the folks you write into your column all enjoy Wheaties?”  His family reunion is coming up over in Smallet soon.  Perhaps he can be lured over to Champion for a get-together while he’s in the Neighborhood and maybe his questions will be addressed.  His cousin, Ms. McCallie of Nowata, certainly sounds up for it.  Visitors are Always Welcome in Champion.

        No word has come this week from Champion’s Soldier, SSG Raul Moreno.  A Care package is being put together for him and should be ready to mail by the end of the week.  So far it has some tuna packs, some beef jerky, a red beans and rice microwave dinner in a pouch, some almonds and apricots.

        Other things are going in including some photos of Champion, some notes from some Champions and a copy of the Douglas County Herald.  Afghanistan is a little smaller than the State of Texas.  FOB Naray is over on the southeast border with Pakistan. It sits at about 4200 feet above sea level.  (Champion is at about 600 feet.) The mountains there are steep and rugged.  It’s a dangerous place.  To Raul this week a Champion wrote:  “Dear Raul,  It has been a quiet and beautiful week here in Champion and we are grateful for the peaceful existence we enjoy.  We know things are not necessary like that for you, but we want to tell you that we are not worried about you.  You are a professional.  You have had good training and you are smart and pay attention.  We are concerned because we know that you are in a volatile part of the world, but we trust you to take care of yourself and those in your charge.  We join the rest of your family back home in wishing for your speedy and safe return.  We’ll be glad to meet you when you get here.  With Love and Gratitude for your service,  Your Champion Friend”  Any Champion resident or anyone who is a Champion of our US Service people can write to Raul at.  SSG Moreno, Raul, 4-319th, TF SABER, FOB NARAY, APO AE 09354 or e-mail him at raul.morenojr(at)us.army.mil.  Sixty four people from Missouri have lost their lives in Iran since this conflict began.  Among them is Lieutenant Daniel P. Riodan of St. Louis, who died there on June 23rd, 2007.  627 Missourians are reported to have been wounded there, though that figure does not reflect the walking wounded whose injuries will not be apparent for some time.  The current total loss of US Personnel in Iraq is 3636.  408 Americans are reported to have died in Afghanistan as of July 23, 2007.

        Ruth Hamilton is over in Tulsa romping with her grandchildren for a few days.  Linda is having fun with her Granddaughter, Daniell, down from Kansas City and they are getting garden things ready over at The Plant Place for the rest of us for fall.  Charlene Dupre is still in Virginia with her granddaughter, Olivia, learning how to listen!  Sierra from Portland is entertaining Grandparents, Mark & Judy, and so life goes on in a sweet extended family way!  Sweet family stuff of any kind, Good Champion news, garden tips and harvest reports, receipts, poetry and song are all welcome at Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  Send those things or report any otherwise neglected local social doings to Champion News.  Hand deliver any kind of Champion pertinence or any items for the package to Champion’s Soldier or donation for it’s postage to the proprietress of Henson’s Store in the Amicable Asylum of CHAMPION – LOOKING ON THE BRIGHT SIDE!


July 15, 2007

July 15, 2007

CHAMPION—July 15, 2007


        Champions, like good people everywhere, can sometimes take a good thing for granted.  A couple of weeks ago up on Cold Springs Road (‘up’ because it’s North of Champion) an enormous stone (as big as a small car!) responded to all the wonderful rain and took a trip down into the road.  It occurred on a hill, on a curve, in a steep and rugged place with a big drop off and the thing blocked more than half the road.  It was an early Monday morning and those Douglas County fellows were right on it with a back hoe, a dump truck and a road grader.  In no time it was cleared away, squared away and a now a lollygagger wandering down a beautiful country lane has no idea of the effort it takes to keep the roads open and in such lovely condition.  So Thanks to those nice men out of the Drury Shed.  They are our Champions!

        Champion’s Soldier, SSG Raul Moreno (4-319th, TF SABER, FOB NARAY, APO AE 09354) raul.morenojr(at)us.army.mil has had a busy week.  He and his fellow soldiers are doing what is asked of them out there in Afghanistan.  Dear Raul,  It’s Saturday night here.  Not too much is going on.  Some of us old people play bridge.  It is a partnership card game with many rules.  We are trying to use it to keep our brains working.  Someone remarked this evening that we seem to forget a lot of things with our brains, but our old bodies remember everything that has ever happened to them…every broken toe and sprained elbow.  We hope you enjoy getting old as much as we do.  When we were your age we thought 40 was old!  Now some of us are looking at 70!  It’s funny.  We just wanted to say that we are thinking about you and your fellow soldiers and your family back home.  Send us a picture sometime if you can….  We think of you as one of Our Boys and so we know that you are truly Handsome!  Keep you heart as light as you can.  People over here think a lot of you.  Sincerely, Your Friend in Champion.”  There are envelopes addresed to Raul at Henson’s Store for any who would like to write to him or to include a note in the package being put together for him there.

        The Ladies of the Skyline VFD Auxiliary had a productive meeting on Tuesday the 10th.  Esther Wrinkles made everyone welcome in her home and the ladies got right down to business.  Betty Dye and her sister have made and donated an exquisite quilt called Jacob’s Trail.  It is done in gold and brown tones and has been beautifully executed.  All aspects of the upcoming Picnic were discussed.  It was agreed to buy the new freezer.  Arrangements were made to distribute the tickets that will go on sale for the quilt and for the $100.00 in free power being donated by White River Electric CoOp.  Soon posters and flyers will be up all over the place with all the wonderful details.  There is a tremendous amount of behind the scenes work that goes on to make one of these Country Fairs’ go over so well.  Again this year Gary Hutchison will bring a group of Inmates for Action down to help with the grooming of the grounds and other preliminaries.  They were a great help last year.  There will be some new attractions this year and some surprises.

        Mrs. McCallie of Nowata, Okalahoma wrote that Justin Carter of Mansfield, who was killed in Iraq in February of 2005, could have been “…. a little shirt tail relation to our family.  My great grandmothers name was Lucretia Carter, and was born and raised at Atlanta, Georgia, so you probably can guess who I am related to.  Yep, a 4th Cousin to Jimmy Carter, and I don’t care what folks say or think of him.  I think he’s one of the most moral and best most decent presidents we ever had and he is still doing things to help poor people.  I’ve had several letters from him.  I was and am very sorry to hear this 21 year old Carter young man had died or got killed.  Well, we are loosing our young men very swiftly….”  The number of US Service People who have lost their lives in Iraq is now 3616.  Among them was Sergeant 1st Class Randall L. Lamberson of Springfield, MO, who died there April 10, 2006.  408 American troops have died in support of the U.S.-led Operation Enduring Freedom — the War on Terror — in Afghanistan.  At least 1,380 U.S. personnel have been wounded in action there according to the Pentagon.  Ms. McCallie is joined by Champions in expressing Love and Gratitude for their service.

        Another nice person from Oklahoma, the friend of a Champion friend is suffering terribly from a cat bite.  Her name is Purna Mae and she lives out Tulsa way.  She is hospitalized and being treated with powerful antibiotics.  Champions all know someone who can benefit by being remembered in their best thoughts and prayers.  Many are thinking now about an Upshaw family that has just lost its home to fire and news that Lannie Hinote has been ill is distressing for all who know her and admire her great energy and selflessness.

        C. Maria Escondida wrote to correct the spelling of her name (ending in ‘a’ not ‘o.’) and to praise Champion for adopting a soldier.  “Champions!  I commend you for adopting your soldier!  It is absolutely insane that those dear young people should be without one thing that they need.  Your Country is giving Billions of dollars to huge corporations in no-bid contracts to take care of those soldiers and that they may be lacking anything that they need is Criminal!  The CEO’s of those corporations should be prosecuted!  We read that North American Mothers have had to buy the body armor for their kids and that the field soldiers do not always get the best protection while ‘important’ people get good quality ‘dragon-skin‘ body armor.  Pardon me,  I was not going to Rave at you this time.  It is enough to say that you are special people in Champion to do this thing to send your love and letters to them over there.   The kindness of the people and the beauty of the place is what lingers in my memory, though I have not been to Champion for many, many years.  I remember summers there as being hot and steamy.  Here is my poem and tell me does it describe a place down of your Fox Creek, your Clever or the Bryant?  ‘The South Breeze breaths sighs and a quiet light glides, Through dense boughs overhanging the deep cool soft sand.  Dragonflies dance while small spiders dangle by sticky silk strings among silent sun beams in the still air.’  Con amour, s. s. s. C. Maria Beatifica Escondida, Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico.”  Yes.  Ms. Escondida’s poem does sound like an afternoon down on a beautiful creek bank.  Perhaps she will reveal some day how she came to live in Champion and when she was here.

        Grandmothers and Granddaughters are planning some creek bank activities soon.  Linda’s granddaughter, Danniel, will be down from Kansas City for a few days.  Things are kind of slow over at the Plant Place this time of the year, but they say Linda has put in a wonderful herb garden where a person can go pick a bag of fresh herbs for a nominal price.  It’s a great idea!  Judy Sharon’s granddaughter, Sierra, is visiting from Portland.  They have been doing a lot of art work over there.  Charlene Dupre’s granddaughter, Olivia, out in Virginia is almost four years old and is a world Champion talker who doesn’t know that Grandmothers sometimes like it quiet.  It sounds like a sweet problem to have!  Plans are for Danniel and Sierra to get acquainted over some craft projects and then go to the creek with their Grandmothers.  There will be other Grandmothers there whose Granddaughters can’t come this time, but Champion Granddaughter Day will be a good time nonetheless.

        Memories of Champion good times, poetry, some generalized raving about good things or bad things if necessary, and tales of summertime adventures on the creek are all welcome at Champion Items Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  Those things or any stories about the old days, and old folks around Champion can be sent by e-mail to Champion News.  Someone objected to Champion being called a ‘languid backwater,’ because it makes the place sound kind of backward and lazy.  The place is Remote and Peaceful!  Verify this information with a first hand visit to Henson’s Store in the Bucolic Middlemost.  Leave any Champion News with the proprietor there and leave the place with an renewed vision of its Placid Prosperity and Enduring Enlightenment.  CHAMPION—LOOKING ON THE BRIGHT SIDE!


July 9, 2007

July 9, 2007

CHAMPION—July 9, 2007


        It was Champion’s pleasure to host Esther and Raymond Howard again down from Marshfield for the day.  They joined friends for lunch at the North/South where Raymond discovered his cousin to be a principal in that going concern.  Their Grandmothers were sisters.  Perhaps this chance meeting will encourage more frequent visits.  There was no squirrel hunting, but a pleasant time nonetheless.  They reported adventures avoiding the flood waters on a recent trip to Texas to see their Grandson marry.  Champion is glad they made a safe return and they are glad to have their New Granddaughter.

        Bachelor Brothers Ewoldt, from up in Iowa were down visiting with their Champion sister.  They come every year and turn their hands to help out around the place.  They seem to like it here and say that they are also from a hilly area, but not so steep and rugged as these hills.  Their friendly smiles and dispositions must be a family trait.

        Champion has adopted its own soldier!  His name is SSG Raul Moreno Jr.  His address is: SSG Moreno, Raul,  4-319th, TF SABER  FOB NARAY  APO AE  09354  Email:  raul.morenojr(at)us.army.mil  Raul is a staff sergeant with a number of soldiers in his care.  He says that he is a religious person and that he prays every day.  He is married and has a daughter.  His e-mail said, “Dear Champion,  I would like to take this time to thank each and everyone of you there in the Champion community.  I too grew up in a small little town, Grafton N.D.  There is a lot of hard working people there in Grafton just like in Champion.  So thank you very much for the news letter, it does make me feel like home.  Well “F.O.B. Naray means (Forward Operations Base) and Naray is just the name.”  In an e-mail to a volunteer with the Adopt a US Soldier program he says, “My Solders and I are in a remote FOB here in Afghanistan.  We do not have a store.  A phone center is set up here, but it only has 3 phones.  Sometimes they don’t work and we’ll be without phones for days.  We have computer slots here, but only four of them for about 400-500 Soldiers.  We hardly see mail but once a week, even then depends on the current situation.  We would appreciate anything that you can send that we can cook without having a stove—microwavable or food that can be heated with/by water (ramen noodle, tuna packages, crackers, cookies, canned foods, beef jerky…etc.)”  There are envelopes addressed to him at Henson’s Store for any Champion who would like to write to him.  Anyone who would like to add items to the package being put together for him or to contribute to the cost of postage may also do that at the store.  The opportunity to support soldiers in the field is a gift.  Expressions of Love and Gratitude are always appropriate.

        There are eleven deaths waiting Department of Defense confirmation currently, bringing the number of US casualties in Iraq to 3606.  Sixty three of those people were from Missouri, including Corporal Dallas L. Kerns of Mountain Grove who died July 5th, 2004.

        Down at Vera Cruz, the Mill Pond, was just overrun with the same bunch of tree-huggers and old friends that rendezvous there every year on the 4th of July.  It was an excellent gathering with many old acquaintances renewed and stories of the past year past around.  New grandchildren and old timers mixed with good results.  Someone suggested that getting in the water was very like climbing into a Margarita.  That must mean cold.  There has been a lot of good fortune among the group and in the mix a story of some hard dirty dealing in Douglas County full of Murpheyisms and Shenanigans.  There was a song written about it:  (1) “There was some Dirty Dealing down in Douglas County,  It was one of those Real Estate Deals.  Neighbors met in the woods and agreed on a price  For those acres of trees and hills.  But along came a logger with a few more bucks That the seller could realize.  He went back on his word, The miserable bird, And his Neighbor has a tear in his eye!  He went back on his word, The Miserable Bird, And his Neighbor has a tear in his eye!  (2)It’s a cautionary story of Money and Glory, One designed just to break your heart.  How a Big Wheel Rolls with his land and gold  Never minding his own part In the meeting of Honor and Neighborly Trust.  His morals he’s completely forgot.  But his pocket’s full of money And he and his honey  Can just go to Blazes and Rot!  But his pocket’s full of money And he and his honey Can just go to Blazes and Rot!”  There are several more verses to it and the tune to it is kind of reminiscent of an old saw called “The Little Black Book.”  It ought to be played on a radio before it gets on the Missouri Song list.  In Mrs. Ethel (Haden) McCallie’s letter of June 24th, she remarked that she liked the emphasis on music and was interested in getting the tapes and CD’s of the songs on the List.  It sounds like a lovely notion to have a single CD with all these songs on it, but for now the List is all there is.  It 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’ 

        “Beyond the Missouri Sky” is a collaboration between Pat Metheny and Charlie Haden and is much anticipated in Champion.  If “Dirty Dealing” makes it to the Hit Parade, it will go on the list as well.

        Neighbors over in Vanzant had a wonderful picnic on the 6th and 7th of July.  The fireworks were said to be spectacular as was all the music and food and particularly the home-made ice cream.  There were many freezers going at the same time and everyone just raved about it.  Bill and Karen Griswold hosted his brother and family visiting from Illinois for a week and impressed the daylights out of them with the fireworks display over in Norwood and then those at the Vanzant’s Picnic were just icing on the cake.  They didn’t see the Champion Stealth Parade, but Karen said they heard it was lovely.

        The Ladies’ Auxiliary of the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department will have had its meeting before the Herald goes to press.  Among the items expected to be covered in this meeting will be the success of the Concession Stand at the Bluegrass Festival back in June and plans for the Skyline’s Annual Picnic that will occur the second week end in August.  Jeff Pardeck of the White River Valley Electric Cooperative has contacted the Auxiliary to confirm that another gift certificate has been awarded to the Fire Department to be passed along to one of it’s lucky members.  Look for more details of the Auxiliary’s activities next week.  Last year Susie Griswold bought the winning ticket and it was a nice welcome to her and her family.  They had just moved here from Florida.  They have pitched right in to make Champion their home and to contribute their efforts to the overall good of the community.

        Examples of Shenanigans, stealth, good humor, good pitching and good deeds are welcome at Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367 Norwood MO 65717.  Any kind of pleasantry connected with Champion, past, present or future, or any musical delight or original ballad is eagerly accepted at Champion News.  Opportunities for impressing the daylights out of Champions with any of those things or any other things abound at Henson’s Store in tranquil center of the languid backwater.  CHAMPION—LOOKING ON THE BRIGHT SIDE!


July 2, 2007

First Ripe Champion Tomato – 2007

2007 Winner and Champion, Donna Moskaly

The 2007 First Ripe Tomato in Champion Contest Winner is Donna Moskaly!  She is shown here at Henson’s Store on Thursday, June 28, with her prize winning tomato and the Grand Prize Antique Fruit Jar.  Ms. Moskaly and her husband Joe moved to the Champion area last fall from Illinois and have made themselves at home here.   In addition to winning the Champion Tomato contest, Donna recently won Second Prize in the Ava Art Guild Show for Pen and Ink.  Donna and Joe have become active members of the Skyline Volunteer Fire Department and are welcome additions to the community.



July 1, 2007

July 1, 2007

CHAMPION—July 1, 2007


        Champion has been awash with luscious rain and Patriotic Ecstasies!  The First Ever Secret 4th of July Parade came and went with fanfare enough to leave shreds of crape paper, burst balloons, colorful confetti, drooping bunting and an unusual number of spent shotgun shells.  Odd it was that none heard a thing!  The phantom echo of crashing cymbals, piccolo and tinkling glockenspiel in Stars and Stripes Forever lingers, haunting the damp forest undergrowth surrounding Champion.  Humidity and Expectation combine to steep the deep thoughtfulness of a Grateful citizenry.  Happy Birthday! America!  Huzzah!  The detritus was discovered by Henson’s Store proprietor at the opening of business on Wednesday.  The July 4th Stealth Parade remains a Mystery, though it must have been a doozie.  Neighbors came in to help with the clean up and just looked at each other in Wonder.  The Champion Parade Committee is to be commended!

        Happy Birthdays were in order for those Nettleton girls too!  Saundra took her Mother, Eva,  up to Lamberts to meet with her sisters Shirley and Helen to celebrate their mutual birthdays on Friday the 29th.  Among them they have accumulated 202 years!  They are a lively group.  There were stories about how Helen of Ava poured the brown beans on their Father’s head and how Shirley, now of the Purdy area, lost her doll in the outhouse and who had to clean it up and why.  Very interesting stuff.  Happy Birthday Ladies!

        Corrections have to be made from last weeks column:  It was Danny Dry, not Gray who came out from the courthouse in Ava to Esther’s Birthday party.  He has always been fond of Esther (join the club) and very supportive of the Skyline/Champion communities.  Then there is the matter of the travesty of having attributed the Ice Cream Fandango at Esther’s house on Saturday the 23rd of June to Robert Hamilton instead of Robert Upshaw.  This is a grievous error since this ice-cream maker has such an excellent reputation for his craft.  It is, however, an easy mistake to have made, since there has been no real first hand knowledge of the ice cream, its purported excellence and variety, only hearsay from satiated ice cream-aholoics.  Apologies, nevertheless, are extended with the caveat that nothing further will be said about the ice cream until it has been tasted.  Both Roberts, however, are active in the Skyline Fire Department and both have lovely spouses and grandchildren, so the mistake is understandable if not excusable.

        Donna Moskaly is the proud owner of the Blue Ball Mason Jar, a quart, that was the Grand Prize in the First Ripe Tomato in Champion Contest!  She came down to Champion on Thursday afternoon, the 28th, with the complete willingness to share her luscious ripe tomato with the judges.  She didn’t know the name of the variety.  It was a medium sized bright red jewel.  It was the first ripe tomato to be entered into the Contest, but not her first ripe tomato of the season since she and Joe had previously enjoyed one at their own table.  Therefore, any dispute or disparagement that could be brought by Louise and her Parks Whoppers is rendered Moot.  Fortunately, these ladies are convivial neighbors and while everyone knows how competitive Louise is, they also know she is gracious to the bone.

        An e-mail from Carl O. Johnson of West Plains says that all the members of the group touring in Champion last Sunday will plan to come back sometime when the store is open.  “ Have a great 4th of July Independence Day ‘Secret’ Parade—-I like the idea of celebrating it ‘all the time.’”  Carl O. Johnson.

        A letter  has arrived from Ethel McCallie of Nowata, Oklahoma!  “To the Writer of the Champion Items in the Ava paper:  Dear Sir, Or Madam,  I read and love your items, I think you are a great writer.”  (Thank you.)  “Now I’ll tell you who I am.  I’m a cousin to Darrell Haden and he suggested that I read your items.  I’m not aware of where Champion is.  I’ve heard of it all my life, but had no idea where it was…or is.  I was born at Smallett.  It’s about 9 miles S.W. of Ava and near Rome, McClurg, Bradleyville and some of the other small areas’………  “When I was a child we never got any farther away from home than Squires.  That’s where my Mother’s parents lived, their name was Warden.  My Grandpa was s school teacher, lawyer and Justice of the Peace.  You may have known of him as he taught school all over that area around Ava, Squires, Noble, Wasola and Kolb.”  …..”I seen Esther Wrinkles name in the paper and her photo saying she was having her 90th birthday, June 28th, so I sent her a card with a note in it congratulating her and telling her that I though 1917 was a very good year because it produced her and me and I told her I’d be 90 on August 11th.  I hope she doesn’t mind me doing that.”  (Esther said that had received her card and appreciated it.)  She goes on:  “Have you heard of any Hadens besides Darrell?  He is my Dad’s oldest brother’s first grandchild.  My uncle’s name was Walter Haden, and my Dad’s name was Blake Haden.  We have a Haden Family reunion first weekend in September and if I get to come, My cousin and me are going to try to find your place of Champion.  Maybe you’ll have a sign back up by then.  I liked what you said about someone taking the sign, but not the hole.”………”I also enjoyed your comments about gooseberries.  My Granny had some bushes in her yard near the back porch and us kids and our cousins used to go and pick a bunch of them, then go behind the old cellar shed and see who could eat the biggest mouth full without frowning.  Haha!  It was fun, but those berries were so sour, I never could get enough sugar on a pie to make it sweet enough for me.  I said you have to use 13 sugars to each berry!”  Ms. Ethel (Haden) McCallie writes a lovely letter and covers a wide range of subjects which will be reported in future items.

        The article in the Herald concerning the Adopt A US Soldier program has been well received.  Any opportunity to show Love and Gratitude to those serving their Nation is Welcome.  When Champion’s Own Soldier is assigned, the name and address will be made available to any Champion who would like to correspond.  To date, in Iraq there have been 3,580 US Service People who have lost their lives there.  Lance Cpl. Patrick R. Nixon, 21, of St. Louis, MO was killed when his amphibious assault vehicle was hit by enemy fire in Nasiriya, Iraq on March 23, 2003.  He was with the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

        Some people complain that the rain is making for too much mowing.  Some people figure all the rain will make the tomatoes split on the vine.  Some people just don’t know how to be happy.  That’s not the Champion way!  No one has answered the question about Gene Autry’s horse yet, but some are studying on the matter.  A copy of Champion School Memories, a very interesting book compiled by a real Champion has surfaced and merits some study.  Perhaps there will be copies available for the Champion School Reunion that will be held on Labor Day.  Between now and then there will be many picnics, reunions, and ice-cream socials.  This promises to be a delightful Summer.  July’s full moon is called The Thunder Moon, its flower is the Larkspur and its birthstone is the Ruby, says Linda’s Almanac.  Compliments, complaints, corrections and any charming correspondence are welcome at Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  E-mail those things, tales of Summer Delights or garden tips (Linda’s almanac says that the 8th and 9th of July will be good for planting root crops) to Champion News.  Hand deliver those items or any excuses and commendations to an exhausted Patriot and Inspect the sight of the Great Invisible Parade from the lofty perch of Henson’s Store in the blissful bosom of CHAMPION—LOOKING ON THE BRIGHT SIDE!