May 26, 2008

May 26, 2008

CHAMPION—May 26, 2008


        The Memorial Day Celebrations in Champion were just right.  Though the holiday that used to be called ‘Decoration Day’ was originated to decorate the graves of the Civil War dead, it has become an occasion for people to gather for the best of all possible reasons:  Love and Gratitude.  Families and friends joined for the pleasure of each other’s company and to commemorate the lives of special ones who have passed on.  Champions also remember those currently serving The Nation in all the dangerous places in the world.  They have families at home waiting for their safe return.  One family was all together for the first time in 27 years.  Three of the children live in Illinois, one lives over near Vanzant and the fifth in Texas.  The circumstance of their Mother’s birthday drew them together and there was much joy in Muddville.

        The reunion celebration at Denow was going pretty well, they say, until someone started playing a sad song.  “Hear that lonesome whippoorwill.  He sounds too blue to fly…”  Well, the waterworks really broke loose.  The General, unable to contain himself, sobbed uncontrollably and would not be comforted.  It liked to have spoiled the whole affair.  But for the delicious food and the auction, and the drawings, and the music and the fellowship it could have been disastrous.  The meeting was well attended, though the attendance was not recorded this year.  An issue with the engraver also has put the dedication of the Civil War Memorial on hold for the time being.  Those things will be resolved, however, and in future years descendants of those soldiers will be able to read their names and get that feeling of continuity that makes people proud of their heritage.

        Linda’s Almanac from over at the Plant Place in Norwood indicates that the last few days of May will be ‘barren’ days, but starting on June 1st planting will be good.  The first and second will still be good for root crops and then the third will be excellent for above the ground crops again.  A long time Champion, granddaughter of I.T. and Hattie Henson, says, “We get a year like this about once in every twenty years.”  With the cost of food and fuel on the rise, some Champions are foregoing most of the ornamental beauties this season in order to cultivate the edible delights.  Beet greens and spinach are very pretty, as are pea blossoms and blooming tomato plants.  It is all perspective.  After the nice rains the weeds almost jump out of the ground.  They just need a little encouragement.

        A little city girl visiting with Grandparents in Champion had a chance for her first ride in the back of a pick-up truck.  It was exciting.  She and her little sister swam at the Mill Pond until their lips turned blue and their teeth chattered.  Her name is Zoey Louise and she met Louise Hutchison with whom she shares a birthday.  She had her picture taken among Louise’s beautiful roses and met Mr. Hutchison who was sitting on the front porch.  His friends and neighbors are glad to know he is feeling better.  Zoey Louise had some Cheetos and purple grape juice down at Henson’s Store and sat down for a nice visit with Mrs. Henson.  Then a friend named Geof gave her some delicious strawberries at the house of the Daughter of Grace.  She was a big help in her Grandmother’s garden and she learned how to pick spinach and leaf lettuce without pulling up the whole plant and how to wash the leaves by dipping them out of a bowl of cold water.  She found two caterpillars on leaves that she later ate herself and decided that she is a real leaf eater now.  She asked, “Grannie, are you going to miss me and be so terribly, terribly sad when I am gone?”  Her grandmother replied that she would indeed miss her, but that she would not spend any time at all being sad.

        There was a photo shoot at Beverly’s Beauty Shop next door to Plumber’s Junction on Tuesday morning, May 20th, to get some exposure for the beautiful Rose Star Quilt.  It’s a queen sized quilt, hand pieced one winter by Esther Wrinkles and beautifully machine quilted by Ms. Faye Chaney, who has since passed away.  Tickets are being sold in South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee and Kansas.  Support for the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department is really strong in Champion and the surrounding areas because this Volunteer Fire Department is great.  The men train regularly and are certified for all kinds of hazardous duties.  They are competent and selfless in their service to the community.  They are part of what makes the Champion and Skyline communities especially lovely places to live.

        An E-mail came from “a misplaced Ozark County Hillbilly” who lives in Nashville Tennessee these days.  He says, “Hello way up in Champion!…I read your Items every week and a week or two back you said you went to school at Silver Shade School.  That would make you a Tetrick, Bell, Berry or Hall.  I was wondering if you would give your name and who your parents were.  You can ask Eva Powell who I am.  Thanks & hope to hear from you, Bill Pool.”  Ms. Powell said, “He’s my Mama’s baby sister’s boy.  She was my Aunt Esther Pool.”  She seemed very pleased to have heard from him.  The article to which Mr. Pool refers came from the April 30th column when Champion’s other Tennesee friend, Darrell Haden, wrote a note giving Douglas Holt permission to make a tape of “All the Late News from the Courthouse,” for an interested Champion.  Mr. Holt had e-mailed that he just happened to have the record of Professor Haden’s song that he would share with permission.  Darrell writes, “I remember when Douglas Holt was a young man growing up on Springcreek.  I knew and appreciated him, his father and grandfather.  Doug is a cousin of Douglas County’s most famous old fiddler, Bob Holt.  Bob and I went to grade school together at Silver Shade in the late 1930’s.”  So it was Darrell Haden and Doug Holt who went to school over at Silver Shade.  It must have been a great school, because those guys seem to have turned out pretty well.

        Sharing music is a Champion thing to do.  Singing helps the immune system to fight off disease and depression.  Report favorite uplifting, light hearted sunny side songs to Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  List good reasons not to be sad at Champion News.  Have some Cheetos and purple grape juice at Henson’s Store on the North Side of the Square in the midst of the garden spot of Douglas County where Champions are always looking on the bright side!


May 18, 2008

May 18, 2008

CHAMPION—May 18, 2008


        All of Champion is delighted to see Wilburn Hutchison recuperating on his own front porch.  He could not find a more pleasant spot to do his mending.  Louise keeps the hummingbird feeders filled and so there is constant natural excitement going on.  He can at any time cast his gaze out across the hills and fields that have been in his family for generations.  His grandfather, Sam Hutchison, homesteaded the place and it was said that they were all raised and weaned there.  The luxuriant growth resulting from the very wet spring is lush indeed.  The hope is that Wilburn will just enjoy the temporal beauty and not fret about work that needs doing.  That work will always need doing and there will still be plenty of it to do when he is back up to snuff.

        Finally the soil has begun to warm up in Champion.  The danger of a hard frost is surely past and gardens are going in all over the place.  Linda’s Almanac from over at the Plant Place in Norwood says that the 22nd and 23rd will be poor days to plant, but late beets, potatoes, onions, carrots and other root crops could go in on the 24th and 25th.  There are lots of potatoes up already and looking good.  Certainly this year looks favorable for the production of weeds of all sorts.  One old Champion woman likes to mulch her garden with newspapers.  She will weed out a little place and then cover it up with wet newspapers and then put the weeds pack on top of the newspapers to keep the wind from blowing them away when they dry out.  It’s a funny process and she claims to get most of her reading done out in the garden.  She just uses the black and white newspaper not wanting to put those colored chemicals into her soil.  Newspapers this time of the year are full of graduation pictures, valedictorians and engagement pictures of optimistic young couples.  It is exciting to see young folks embarking on their new lives full of hope and promise.  That their pictures will wind up mulching some old lady’s squash is of no consequence to them.  That Denlow School class picture of 1949-1950 is certainly a jewel.  No wonder the place used to be called “Upshaw!”  That one will get clipped and saved by many, no doubt.

        The picture taking of the Rose Pink Star Quilt did not come off as planned on Thursday last.  “Twern’t a fit night out fer man ner beast!”  The new plan is to meet up at Beverly’s Beauty Shop there at Plumbers Junction on Tuesday morning, May 20th, for the photo shoot.  The Internet is a-buzz with the quilt already.  “What size is it?”  It’s a Queen sized quilt, hand pieced one winter by Esther Wrinkles and beautifully machine quilted by Ms. Faye Chaney, who has since passed away.  A photo is available on the Internet at Champion News.  Tickets are being sold in South Carolina, Texas and Kansas.  Support for the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department is really strong in the Champion area, but a chance to win one of Esther’s quilts is ‘coveted!’

        A chance to win the First Ripe Tomato in Champion Contest is dependant on getting started early.  Last year the rivalry was intense.  Louise claimed to have had the first ripe one, but didn’t want to share with the judging committee and besides she already had an antique blue fruit jar just like the one that was being given away as the grand prize.  It will be remembered that local artist, Donna Moskaly, took the prize, though the tomato she shared and with which she was photographed for the paper, was not her first one of the season.  Truthfully, Carol Cleveland, the daughter of Grace, had the first ripe tomato in Champion in 2007.  Since her tomatoes were on plants that she had carried over from the previous year, however, it was decided by the CTCRC (Champion Tomato Contest Rules Committee) that Ms. Cleveland would be ineligible for the prize but would certainly have the pleasure of eating ripe tomatoes when the rest of the contestants were just dreaming of them.  This year in addition to an antique blue fruit jar, the winner of the contest will receive $5.00 worth of quilt tickets (6 tickets) for the coveted Rose Pink Star Quilt as well as a box each of wide mouth flats and regulars.  It is generally agreed that official Contestants need to mill around Henson’s Store somewhat in advance in order to drop hints of their expected success.  Sizing up the competition is one of the tenants of a good contest.

        Dillon and Dakota Watts will be back on the Krider farm for a few days helping out while Granddad is away on a quick trip.  School is out in Tennessee, as well, and those fellows rarely miss a chance to get back to Champion.  They are always a big help and keep the place lively with their antics and fine singing voices.  Other Champion grandchildren will be visiting for a few days.  Zoey Louise and Alexandra Jean will be spending a few days with their Grandparents.  They are up from Austin, Texas.  This will be Alex’s first time on the farm.  She is a real outside girl, though, so everyone is expecting to have a wonderful time.  They will be in Champion just in time to help out with the garden.  Zoey is a big fan of blueberries.  The Eckerts over at Dora say that their blueberries will be ready the end of the first or second week in June.  So Zoey may just have to enjoy strawberries from over at the Simpson Family Farm at Mtn. Grove instead this year.  “When this you see, think of me..”  Wonderful Foxfire Champion, Jack Ryan, said something similar to that one day toward the very end of his life.  He was on a plum tree digging expedition with someone who had grown very fond of him.  Now the plum trees they dug that day are loaded with fruit and the memories of an exceptional individual come back sweetly.  He and Gladys were married young and had an interesting life together, full of good cheer and thoughtfulness.  They were appreciators of the old days and the old ways.  The community is better off for having had them if it is somewhat lonesome for them now.

        Lonesomeness is a real theme for sad songs.  “Don’t forget me Little Darlin, when I’m growin’ old and gray!  Just a little talk before I’m going far away.  I’ll be waiting on the hillside for the day that you call, on the Sunny Side of the Mountain where the rippling waters fall.”  Now that’s lonesome, but it’s hopeful too.  For all the US Service Men and Women serving their Country in the dangerous places of the world, Champions, with Love and Gratitude, are hoping they have someone waiting on the sunny side of their mountains and that they make it home safely soon.  As for the singing, it is a proven fact that music aids digestion and singing releases those endorphins that fight disease and depression.  Of course there are some whose voices can be a little depressing to the ear of a musician.  They know who they are, but that doesn’t seem to stop their wailing.  Copies of the first song in the New Champion Song Book, “Keep on the Sunny Side,” are still available at Henson’s Store on the North side of the Square in Champion.  While the motif of the collection is light hearted, uplifting, optimistic music, if one finds some sort of cheer in a sad song he can fill his own songbook with those.

        Report interesting mulch to Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  Brag about exceptional grandchildren there or at Champion News.  Size up the competition or release some endorphins at Henson’s Store on the Sunnyside of the Street in Delightful Downtown Champion where they are always Looking on the Bright Side!


May 12, 2008

May 12, 2008

Champion—May 12, 2008


        Mother’s Day in Champion found the place overrun with sons and daughters with their wives and husbands, and with grandchildren and great grandchildren.  They took the opportunity to celebrate the sweetness of life and the preciousness of Mother.  Sappy sentimental cards, flowers and gifts were presented and emotion filled smiles and hugs were exchanged.  It was a beautiful day.  Troy and Theo Petty were first time visitors in Champion.  They came to see their great grandmother, Ms. Eva Powell.  Ms. Esther Wrinkles also reported having had a beautiful day.  She received lots of cards and phone calls.  She went to church in Houston on Sunday with Larry and Theresa and then out for a nice lunch.  The ladies came home with big red roses and another pleasant memory.

        Champions all send their best wishes for a speedy recovery to Wilburn Hutchison who is experiencing some cardiac issues up at St. John’s in Springfield.  He was born right up the road from the Champion square and has a wealth of stories to tell about the place.  He and Louise have represented the best of Champion’s spirit for a long time and everyone is looking forward to having him home again.

        Pamplona, Spain has the Running of the Bulls every year.  Champion has the Champion Spring Trail Ride.  It came off again ‘without a hitch.’  Bud Hutchison has played a major role in its success for many years and it has been going on for a long, long time.  It was reported that there were about forty riders this year, that they took their regular route and had a good time.  Foster Wiseman was just a little surprised at how tall Jackie’s horse was when his Aunt Staci put him up there.  He is a Champion who likes to participate in everything.  Sometimes names aren’t mentioned in reporting community events for fear of leaving one out, but a resolve not to be fearful rules today and so most names will be left out!  Other riders were Danny Dry, Joe Heath, Travis Thompson and Tip Proctor who came all the way from Oregon to participate in this trail ride.  Tip Proctor is the reason any names were mentioned at all.  He is a real cowboy they say.  He grew up over in East Champion and has continued living a Champion kind of life out on the open range and on his spread in the Oregon territory.  He has been visiting for a spell they say and hanging out with that Wild Bunch over at the Junction:  Cletis and the General.  General Upshaw is the one who last year addressed his friends at the Denlow School reunion as “you thieves and thugs, scoundrels, bootleggers and bushwhackers.”  That Reunion is about to come up again and it will be interesting to hear what he has to say, if the gag order has been rescinded.  The reunion will be held on Saturday, May 24th.  There will be a program at 10:30 in the morning and lunch at 12:30.  They have decided to unveil the Civil War Soldiers Memorial plaque just after lunch.  It will contain the names of all the Civil War Soldiers who are known to be buried there and some history of the battles and skirmishes that occurred in the Denlow area.  Everyone is welcome to attend.

        A couple of old Champions have been watching old movies as a way to escape the constant barrage of bad news of modern life.  “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” is a story about a young man who was appointed by his state’s governor to take the place of a deceased senator for the duration of his term.  The movie was made back in the forties or early fifties and depicted the greed and corruption of federal government officials in fairly clear if simple terms.  The disillusionment of this young patriot and his ultimate vindication is a heartwarming tale.  Five decades later, the situation in Washington has only compounded, but out in the sticks, out in places like Champion people remember the extraordinary history of their Nation and maintain those ideals and values that made the country great.  Among those things is Love and Gratitude to all the US Service Men and Women who serve in dangerous places around the world at the behest of their government.

        It has been reported in a number of places including the Douglas County Herald (May 13, 2007) that “singing causes the brain to release endorphins that help the immune system to fight off disease, infection and depression.”  Thursday night music is popular at the Ava Family Theatre.  Bob Moody and the Easy Goin’ Band will be playing there this week.  Thursday nights are also a great night for music at Plummer’s Junction located at the intersection of 76 Highway and 95 Highway, which is a hang out for many Champions.  It is an open mike jam session and it is always a good time.  Everyone is welcome.  By six thirty or so things really start jumping with the efforts of many talented local musicians.

        Linda’s Almanac from over at The Plant Place in Norwood says that the 12th to the 16th would be a good time for killing plant pests, cultivating or taking a short vacation.  The 17th and 18th will be an excellent time for planting corn, beans peppers and other above ground crops.  It will be a good time for sowing hay, fodder crops and grains and for planting flowers.  The 19th through the 21st will be good for root crops again.  Everyone will be glad to have some ‘settled weather’ for gardening.  E-mail has arrived from Betty Thomas from over at Yates.  She says, “Our garden is planted finally but parts are under water.  We set out 166 tomato plants too.”  She goes on to say, “I have read about the 8 pointed star quilt that Esther Wrinkles made and I would like to see a picture of it if possible.”  A picture of the beauty was straight way e-mailed to Betty and Esther has agreed to come up to the Thursday Night music at Plummer’s Junction to have her picture taken with the quilt for publication in the paper for the benefit of people without access to the internet.  (Some newspapers won’t publish a picture that doesn’t have people in it.)  She generally attends the Thursday musicals anyway, so this is an opportunity for everybody to get to see the quilt in person.  It will be one of the main attractions of the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department Picnic in August.

        Severe weather, here and abroad, earth quakes and wars and illness all go to make these days seem very tumultuous and unsettling.  Day by day, Champions count their blessings and extend themselves to help their less fortunate neighbors.  Reports of beautiful days and examples of good neighbor behavior can be sent to Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  E-mail those things or some good garden reports to Champion News.  Release some endorphins in song on the porch at Henson’s Store on the Square in beautiful downtown Champion, where hearts are light and everyone is looking on the bright side!