January 28, 2008

January 28, 2008

CHAMPION—January 28, 2008


        What Champion is so old that he cannot learn something new?  It is the mark, the very definition of a Champion that he should be willing to look at things in a new way.  That is what was behind the thinking of one who has always been such a stickler for observing the no trespassing rules connected with other people’s property.  Coon dogs and feral hogs notwithstanding, he figured a person ought to stay on his own side of the fence.  He always had.  So when he took off meandering around on a neighbors place for reasons that he thought were justified he had his eyes opened.  First of all, the place had long, long been unoccupied and it amazed him that such great hunks of beauty had been so long neglected.  Then, the realization that those very hunks will not exist next week made his heart break that he had not been willing to break the rules long years ago.  Would the impending loss then be greater or less for the knowing of the place more or less?  It doesn’t matter.  The beautiful place is being chewed up and spit out like a bad plug of Red Man at the rate of about an acre a day.  It might have been better for the old Champion had he never crossed the fence.  Still his heart soared for those moments of discovery and that can’t be discounted.  It is a conundrum.  Champion is full of them.

        A few years ago in this part of the world there was a great convergence of cicadas one summer.  The ones who emerge every year, joined the ones that emerged every five years, joining the ones that emerge every seventeen years and there may have been another batch as well.  Champions may remember that the noise in the evenings was just astounding.  It blocked out every musing that a thoughtful person might have had and was the talk of the whole area.  Someone said that it was like living in a science fiction story.  This comes to mind in connection with the Great Ground Hog Day Convergence which will occur spectacularly on Saturday this year.  The expectation of Champions for the coveted invitation to the Spotted Hog Ground Hog Day Parade is palpable.  The great fear is that it will be snowed out.  Nevertheless, the recent revelation that Ike was a Champion has sparked great interest.  It seems that he had made a raid on Spotted Hog before rendezvousing with Betsy up in Pike County.  He had forsaken the lead mines of Douglas County for the gold of the west with Betsy as his inspiration and sweetest companion.  Their journey was well documented and fraught with much hardship.  He is reported to have said “Dear old Pike County, I’ll come back to you.”  Says Betsy, “You’ll go by yourself if you do.”  The gist of it was a divorce and, having no family in Pike County, it is figured that he returned to Champion or to Spotted Hog.  Some say that his legacy is the surly attitude of disappointment that makes those folks so fractious over there.  A resident of Tar Button Road has reported that the Brushyknob sign has been missing for some while.  That brings to mind the great controversy of the Champion sign last year.  It was the subject of much discourse even to the distant reaches of Tennessee.  While blame was never actually assigned to Spotted Hog, it was generally believed that the jealousy over not having their own sign had sparked the larceny.  In any event, the Brushyknob sign is gone.  As to the Great Ground Hog Day Convergence, Charlene Dupre and Judith Parsons are both celebrating birthdays that day and it is the best part of the whole affair that they are such splendid Champion neighbors.  Happy Days, dear Ladies.  Huzza! and many happy returns to you.

        A pleasant note arrived from Champion’s friend Darrell Haden over in Tennessee relating to the World War I hero Sergeant Alvin York.  He sent a clipping from The Messenger of Union City having to do with the York Institute in Jamestown, Tennessee.  York founded the school after returning from the war with the idea of providing the children of rural Fentress County with a good education—something that had not been available to him when he was a child.  The original building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  It is in poor condition currently and there is a movement to restore it.  Mr. Haden said that they had attended an alumni banquet at the York Institute with a friend a few years ago.  There, they had been introduced to Sgt. York’s daughter and at Pell Mell, Tennessee, they met two of her brothers who have them a tour of their parent’s home.  He says that the York Institute is a lovely building worth the saving.

        The other evening by chance, young Specialist Todd E. Davis, age 22, of Raymore, MO, had his picture on the news on the Lehrer Report on Channel 21 TV.  That program makes it a habit to show the pictures of the fallen soldiers when their deaths are confirmed and their pictures are available.  His picture showed a full bodied, blonde healthy looking specimen of virile young manhood.  He was a real Champion and one to whom his country has a debt of Love and Gratitude.  The US Service People doing their dangerous duty around the world are worth the saving and certainly worth the acknowledgment of their Nation.

        As the fever swells for the Skyline Chili Supper someone asked about how much good these benefits do.  It happens that the benefits staged for different people in the Skyline/Champion communities have long reaching effects.  They really benefit people.  Larry and Rita Hicks were supported in dealing with some serious medical expenses in a benefit organized by Dale Melton last April.  Mrs. Violet Melton made a beautiful Rose Quilt that was raffled off to a most delighted winner.  Young Allen Melton, a fifth grader at Mountain Grove Middle School, spent some of his art class on Friday making a thank you card for Larry Hicks who was throwing a Doughnut Party for his family, friends and acquaintances this past week end.  The card said, “Thank You, Larry!  Doughnut think that we doughnut like doughnuts!”  Recently Lannie Hinote, Skyline’s inspiring eighth grade teacher was also the subject of a benefit there to help with medical expenses.  Anyone wishing to contribute to that excellent cause can still do so by contacting Helen at the Skyline School (417) 683-8458.  Skyline student, Douglas Dobbs, won the pony that was raffled off at Ms. Hinote’s benefit.  It had been donated by Buzz and Sharon Woods.  He named it “Dynamite” for reasons of his own, according to his Grandmother, and he keeps it on the farm of some nearby cousins and everyone is getting a chance to enjoy the shaggy pony.  It’s lovely.  Champions and Champion Neighbors are very interesting, diverse and giving people!  The Skyline VFD Ladies Auxiliary chili supper scheduled for the first of March will give everyone the chance to get acquainted with them and to join in the fun of giving.

        Conundrums or reports of convergences or recollections of any old ill tempered Champions named Ike can be reported to Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  Any recollections of Sweet Betsy from Pike, any pictures of the Spotted Hog Ground Hog Day Parade or any information about the missing Brushynob sign can be e-mailed anonymously to Champion News.  Feel free to mull over the various virtues of staying on your own side of the fence versus trespassing with purpose at Henson’s Store on the public square in Champion where everyone is welcome and where Champions are ever Looking on the Bright Side!


January 21, 2008

January 21, 2008

CHAMPION – January 21, 2008


        In Champion the full moon generally falls right in the middle of the lunation which is the interval from one new moon to the next and equals to about 29 1/2 days.

        That it happens like that all over the world is of no real concern to the Lunatic Fringe in Champion which seems to be concerning itself primarily with birthdays during this time.  Some remark was made about the speed with which the full moons come around these days, this one is known as the “Wolf Moon, ” and the speed with which the years pass according to how many one has experienced.

        To the matter of Birthdays: Kyle Barker has had his first one!  Celebrating with him were his parents Tom and Deborah Barker, Skeez and Inez Parker, Gene and Nancy Barker, Robert and Sharon Upshaw, Loretta Upshaw, Elva Upshaw, Michael and Melaine Upshaw and their two children, Elva Gayman, Richard and Kaye Johnston, Carrie and Mike Stewart, Tanna, Foster and Kalyssa Wiseman, Russell and Sue Upshaw, Kenneth and Juanita Anderson and Dean Upshaw.  There was lots of visiting and games and presents.  Robert Upshaw made homemade ice cream and the family and friends that were not able to attend are sorry to have missed such a splendid party.

        More Upshaw birthday business has to do with the New Years Eve birthday of Rear Admiral Robert Upshaw!  Little wonder he was in no condition to attend the New Years Day Parade of Champions!  One of his sisters leaked that information so Champions will be ready for him next year and perhaps if they are unable to dissuade him from such raucous celebrating, they can at least join him.  There is an old guy who comes into Henson’s Store almost every day who is woefully uniformed about Champion birthdays, particularly the Upshaw birthdays.  As it turns out one of Champion’s all time favorite mailmen, Cletis Upshaw and his cousin Russell Upshaw, who attended the Kyle Barker party, were both born in 1929.  Anyone who doesn’t believe that can call Cletis or Russell for confirmation.  They, at least, know how old they are.  This fellow seems to think that he is younger than most of the people in Champion which is just completely erroneous.  He is much older than Faye (Upshaw) Krider, Kaye (Upshaw) Johnston, Carol Cleveland, Wilda Moses and Betty Thomas and certainly much older than the proprietor of Henson’s Store who shares her birthday of January 19th with such notables as Paul Cezanne, (1839), Edgar Allan Poe (1809), Robert E. Lee (1807), Dolly Parton (1946) and Janis Joplin (1943).  This old fellow will be eligible for the Old Age Pension by the middle of the summer.  Champions already keep their eyes out in case he is on the roads.  In addition to being old, he has a heavy foot they say.

        Another Champion just invested in a GPS system.  Trying to get to Champion the other day, he wound up a couple of miles north in somebody’s driveway.  The thing said, “You have reached your destination.”  It turns out that he hadn’t reached it after all.  It is a lucky thing for him that he is familiar with the area.

         The cold weather of January is hard on the little wild critters.  Wild birds can use some bird seed in feeders on these brutal days and places where there is open unfrozen water is a real resource for them  The bobcats that had their haunts and holes and dens over on Orville’s place will have to relocate if they haven’t already.  The bats and deer and coons and turkeys will all have to find some place else to live.  Neighbors welcome them.  Even when the temperatures are colder it is easier to have a light heart on a sunny day.  Champions know that and are keeping the spirit of fun afloat no mater what the weather.  They are sure that US Service people in dangerous places all over the world have more of a challenge in keeping positive attitudes when they are far away from home and family.  Love and Gratitude is what they have coming from the Nation that asks so much of them.

        An e-mail came from the President of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department.  “The guys got our gun,” she says.  “It is again a Mossberg 535 ATS with full turkey choke and fiber optic sites.  It has a 3 ½ inch chamber.  It comes with a cleaning kit and a shell carrier.”  For the past couple of years the Ladies of the Auxiliary have staged a Shoot-Out to bring attention to the gun that they include in part of their annual chili supper fund raiser.  The first year the theme for the shootout was “Blast It If It Doesn’t Work!”  On that occasion they got together and blasted a bunch of old toasters, crock pots and coffee pots.  The next year they awarded prizes for marksmanship and sportsmanship that included the “Whole Shootin Match” Award.  The amount of expended brass was phenomenal and some of the ladies made some good progress toward becoming better shots.  Some of them are ‘dead-eyes’ already and don’t need much practice.  Informal shootouts will be taking place all over the area as the weather warms up and the Ladies vie for prizes to be awarded at the March First Chili Supper.  More musicians are being booked and detailed plans are being made about the food.  Auxiliary members will be making homemade pies to go along with the hot supper.  This annual event is a high point for the area, coming during the cold part of the year when ‘cabin fever’ can be a real issue.  The Skyline Volunteer Fire Department covers an area of approximately 125 square miles.  In spite of some muddy places, the weather has been dry enough that a real fire hazard exists.  As Champions haul ashes out of their stoves they are careful to dispose of them carefully.  The wind has been known to whip up suddenly and brush and grass fires are not at all unheard of this time of the year.

        Birthday Greetings may be channeled through Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  Reports of the antics of the Lunatic Fringe can be e-mailed to Champion News.  Fight the fever down at Henson’s Store where there is a chance to view pictures of the original quilt, “The Bachelor Meets the Old Maid,” and where there will be more information about The Gun.  Champions are well armed overall, which is part of the reason they are always Looking on the Bright Side!


January 14, 2008

January 14, 2008

CHAMPION—January 14, 2008


        The good news in Champion is that Mrs. Powell is back in her pew and in fine voice!  Moreover, Young Foster was visiting with his Grandparents on Sunday and so  everyone was in a jolly, light hearted mood.  There is nothing like recovered health and irrepressible youth to keep a place lively.

        The Auxiliary ladies were delighted by the “Bachelor Meets the Old Maid” quilt designed and produced by one of its members, Betty Dye.  She brought it to the Auxiliary meeting at Esther Wrinkles house on the 8th of January.  Pictures of it can be seen at Henson’s Store.  Esther reports that Dennis of the Backyard Bluegrass group had said, “I’d play any time…..for you!”  That means they will join Green Valley Grass at the annual chili supper for the Skyline Fire Department. Somebody is talking about buying a lot of tickets for the quilt on the sly in the name of a particular bachelor.  It is not that anybody particularly wants him to win the quilt, it’s just that they want to hooraw him for the fun of it.  Most likely if he were to win he would just auction it off again.  There was a query the other day about the word “hooraw” used in this context.  To hooraw someone is to tease him, to give him a little grief or hard time in a convivial, friendly kind of way.  Bachelors in Champion have always been good sports about friendly fun.  Ed Henson was one of the Champion hoorawers of all times!  An example of his hoorawing was when he called Louise Hutchison early on Christmas morning every year to ask if her refrigerator was running.  Louise took to being hoorawed pretty easy.  It has been reported that she has been fighting off a cold for some time now.  Champions wish her best of luck in doing so and hope to hear she is better soon. It is understood by all that her refrigerator is still running!

        Neighbors are some of the best things in Champion.  It has always been like that.  Orville Hicks was born and grew up in the first house on the north side of the road going West out of Champion.  He was one of five children and he eventually settled on Cold Springs Road a mile or so north of Champion.  His wife, Ruth, told how their house had been moved down off the hill with eight teams of mules.  During the late seventies they did some upgrading.  Marvin Barnes’ company came out and put a pump in their well, Orville ran the piping into the house and a newcomer neighbor came over to install the water heater and to plumb their new sink.  He asked Orville why he didn’t put in a bathroom too and Orville said, “There are some things you don’t do in the house!”  Now a person can climb the steps to the house but the house has long been gone.  It burned, as vacant houses frequently do around these parts.  As the trucks roll out off of the property everyday now with massive loads of timber soon there will be nothing of the old place that remains the same.  During his lifetime Orville saw many changes, some for the good.  Still, it is hard for some of his neighbors to see the current changes without an amount of biting loneliness for the sweeter old days when things were less convenient.

        One of Orville’s old neighbors, Evelyn Wood, called from California the other day for a pleasant chat.  She comes back to the area from time to time to visit some family here.  She can’t pop in for coffee at every portal where she was a welcome guest in days gone by, but she hits the high spots.  Somebody threatened to get all over her “like white on rice” if she is not in touch next passing.  She allowed as how she will at least phone.  Champions come and go from the area.  It is a given.  Recently Champions did some downsizing of their material goods in preparation to taking smaller quarters.  One of their parents had broken up house keeping as well and the end result of the situation is there are a lot of interesting things that need a home.  Among the lovely items numbers three sets of two glass candy dishes.  Two of the sets are on pedestals and one set might be crystal.  The third set is cut (or perhaps pressed) glass with matching lids. So there are six candy dishes; there are candle holders of various descriptions, and an absolutely enormous clear glass vase.  The thing looks like it would hold two or three gallons!  Amazing.  There is a small birdbath sculpture and a huge wire chicken among other things.  And so, as Champions are such givers, these things are being contributed to the silent auction that will occur at the fire department benefit on the first of March.  Champions are so cool!

        Other neighbors over in Norwood are already planting perennials!  Soon Linda over at the Plant Place will have Cole crops and pansies and what ever the rest of the gardeners need to get their gardens going again to keep themselves eating healthy food.  She is also giving Bridge lessons at The Plant Place on Wednesdays these days and has an interesting group of interested students.  It seems like this is a game that a person can just keep on learning.  Linda has been playing for fifty years (!) and she is still studying.

        The Pentagon says that 22 year old Specialist Todd E. Davis and five other soldiers died when an improvised explosive device went off during combat operations in Sinsil, Iraq, on Wednesday.  Davis was from Raymore, MO.  To his survivors and those of his comrades Champions send their Love and Gratitude for their Service to their Country.

        When a couple of old Champions finished watching Gary Cooper in Sergeant York on a DVD the other day they remarked that the language was kind of rustic.  It makes the people sound ignorant when they say, “Ah was a gonna go to be a doin it, but ah figgered ah would jest as leave be a puttin it off fer another day.”  The ignorant part of that is the procrastination.  The profound lesson to be learned from Sergeant York is anything but ignorant:  that is of service beyond self.  “It kind of gives a view of religion and of patriotism and the idea of a sense of responsibility for ones own condition and a view of the individual as being part of something larger than himself…..It is one of those things that fosters hope that man ‘might not all be a goin to hell in a hand basket directly.’”  Sergeant York was from Tennessee, one of Champions best neighbors.

        Anything that fosters hope of any kind is welcome at Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  E-mail pictures of white on rice or bashful bachelors to Champion News.  Reminisce about old Champion neighbors by mail, e-mail or in person at Henson’s Store.  Look at that picture of the Bachelor Meets the Old Maid quilt down there in the Heart of Champion.  Champion has a big heart and it is always Looking on the bright side.


January 6, 2008

January 6, 2008

CHAMPION—January 6, 2008


        Excellent good news in Champion is that the bad weather left the community with some much needed moisture and little if any damage.  Tremendous good news is that the bad weather that passed up North West left Johnstons, Kriders, Wisemans, Floyds, Howards , Clines, Alexanders, Hefferns and others closely connected with Champion without injury.  Everyone was not so fortunate.  Champions are big counters of blessings.

        What a jolly place is Champion! It is especially so when Raymond and Esther Howard pay a call from over in Marshfield.  Esther had celebrated her birthday on the third of the month, kicking up heels with the Wisemans and other friends.  Esther has what they call “joie de vivre.”  She can’t help it.  She has always had a spirit of fun about her and a sweet compassionate nature.  When Champion Eva Powell began to feel poorly on Sunday afternoon, Esther was right there with a comforting touch and reassuring words.  She and Raymond are active in their community in the Meals on Wheels program as well as their local Older Americans Center.  Marshfield is a fortunate place to have such residents.  Meanwhile, Mrs. Powell took a ride I one of those fancy busses with the medical staff inside.  She is home now and doing well by all accounts.  Champions hold her in high regard and are optimistic for a speedy and uncomplicated recovery.

        As another year of war in Iraq and Afghanistan gets well underway, Champions send their Love and Gratitude to the 200,000 US Service people who are there and to those in other dangerous places in the world on behalf of their Nation.

         Some Champions enjoyed a good visit with Neighbors from over on Tar Button Road during the week to exchange belated holiday greetings.  There was some interesting time spent pouring over the Golden publication the Expanded and Revised edition of the Guide to Field Identification of North American Birds.  The question was to differentiate between the Sharp Shinned Hawk and the Broad Winged Hawk.  The determination was made and examples related.  It was all very interesting.  Then came the excellent discussions concerning building additions and heating.  Is it better to keep the source of the heat near the center where the plumbing might be protected in the event of a prolonged absence, or out on the perimeter of the space?  Different situations and configurations require different solutions, and a great number of possible scenarios were played out over some good coffee with drawings turned this way and that to add to the laughter and confusion.  Everybody is an expert!

        The Bachelor has met the Old Maid in an original quilt pieced by Betty Dye of Skyline and quilted by her sister Susan Cook.  Skyline VFD Ladies Auxiliary members will get their first chance to view it at their meeting on Tuesday the 8th of the month.  This quilt will be one of the focal points of the fund raiser that the Auxiliary will sponsor for the Fire Department on the first of March.  Green Valley Grass will be playing for the chili supper and the evening is shaping up to be a grand one because the planning has already begun.  That Auxiliary bunch is on the ball!

        Orville’s barn is in rough shape.  It is loosing its battle with gravity.  This is one of those perfect examples of ‘a stitch in time saves nine.’  What a beautiful barn it was!

        It was built by neighbor, Mr. Southerland, and served its purpose well for many years.  Orville was a nice man.  He grew up in Champion and as so many Champions of his generation was full of pleasant charm and wit.  He was a good neighbor.  It is sad to see our reminders of the past slipping away.  The current Rural Missouri paper put out by Missouri’s Electric Cooperatives has a wonderful article on ‘The long-eared loggers.”

        It tells the story of a family up in Brinktown that still does logging with mules.  Ruth and Orville’s place is being logged, but not in that gentle way and soon Champions will have to work harder to recall the way things were.  Somebody said, “Well, things will just be a new way.”  “Change is not always the harbinger of progress,” says another.

        Politics is a subject that can stir a lot of enthusiasm and rancor even in a peace loving village like Champion. A Champion friend has sent in a piece from a book written by Lee Iacocca who asks, “Where are the curious, creative communicators?  Where are the people of character, courage, conviction, competence, and common sense?”  There are lots of folks like that in Champion, but they mostly are too honest to go into politics.  Even a bootlegger’s family would shy away from that sort of business, not that there are any bootleggers in Champion… anymore. 

       Rear Admiral Upshaw wrote to say, “I was unable to attend the Champion New Year’s Eve celebration for reasons I can only faintly remember.  However, I do know it was cold and our pro temperance chief of police had declared martial law in the downtown Vanzant four city block area.  Festivities here were severely stifled.  But I did sneak outside just as the spotted hog, ball, or rock was being dropped at Champion and I could hear all the cheering.  What a Champion celebration must have been had!”  It is to be noted that the Admiral was in no condition to attend the 2008 New Year’s Day Parade of Champions either.  It was such a cold day that marchers moved quickly.  A cabbage flower fell off the Cold Springs float, but otherwise the Champion Maintenance workers had little to do to clean up afterwards.  “I hope my niece don’t get into any trouble during her probation,” Admiral Upshaw goes on.  So does all of Champion.

        Champion friend Darrell Haden writes with accusations of whimsy!  He indicates that one of his favorite parts of the Champion news from the previous year was the great mystery concerning the disappearance of the Missouri DOT Champion sign and particularly the question which he calls “Zen-like” regarding the remaining (or not) hole.  It reminded him of something written by a guy named Bertholt Brecht: “What happens to the hole when the cheese is gone?”  Mr. Brecht must have been eating Swiss cheese.  Mostly Champions are Cheddar eaters.

        Miss Wigglewood from over East is teaching herself the piano and dropped a note to say that Theodore Ralph who put together a book of American songs said, “Betsy and Ike were from Pike County, Missouri” and the song “Sweet Betsy From Pike” became popular in 1851 when wagons full of dreamers crossed the wide prairie during the California Gold rush.  She thinks the song belongs on the Missouri Song List.  It will be number 12.  For a copy of the list inquire at Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367 Norwood, MO 65717 or e-mail to Champion News.  Cozy up to the stove in Henson’s Store in downtown Champion to find out what leading Champion is about to have a birthday.  She will be twenty years younger than Esther Howard!  Happy Birthdays happen in Champion where people are “Looking on the Bright Side!”