CHAMPION—August 6, 2008


        Champions said, “Hello” and “Goodbye” to Dolly on Wednesday evening last.  All of a sudden without warning a strong little storm swept through the place.  In the first few minutes over two inches of rain came down.  The weather bureau had said that some remnants of the Hurricane Dolly might make it out this way and that is certainly what it felt like—or maybe like a little tornado!  The rain actually came sideways and from every which way and the wind whipped centuries old trees around like they were saplings.  During those first minutes some big limbs came down in a number of locations.  In Champion proper some enormous limbs were twisted out of the tops of some of the biggest walnut trees.  One came down on the propane tank there at the store.  (The tank wasn’t damaged and some good neighbors made quick work of cleaning up the mess.)  Up the hill to the North Harleys big walnut tree out in the field East of the gravel road sustained some damage and on up Cold Springs Road there was debris in the road and reports of tree damage from various locations East of C Highway.  Before the system left the area a total of three inches of rain was deposited.  The ferocious winds were accompanied by frequent lightening strikes and much cloud to cloud lightening.  The rain was welcome, but the wind was not.

        Champions and Skyliners are on the move getting ready for the Picnic!  The Skyline Volunteer Fire Department’s Annual Picnic is coming up the 8th and 9th and promises to be a lively affair as usual.  A good sized crowd gathered on Saturday to get a jump on getting the grounds ready.  There was tree trimming, raking and mowing in preparation for setting up the various booths and games.  The cook shack was put in order and a big meal served to the workers who were most appreciative.  The heat was just astounding!  Fortunately the forecast for the picnic is for cooler days.  That will be a welcome relief.  Everybody will be glad for the chance to get out and about again to get together with friends and enjoy the fun of the picnic.  Over the years there have been some changes to the picnic grounds.  There was a story that circulated about how the old red cook shack met its demise.  According to a fellow who was there, “A big gust of wind took it off down the hill.”  It might have had some help!  The old ‘Ma’ and ‘Pa’ outhouses had some help burning down on Saturday.  There were firemen all around and a tidy job was made of it.  The old facilities have been replaced with some new fangled ones and it is overall agreed to be a good change.  Some things change for the better and some things stay the same for the better.  The constant things include the generosity of the community when it comes to the Skyline VFD and the solid service provided to the community by the Fire Department.  First responders answer to a lot of medical calls and auto accidents in addition to all the brush fires, flue fires, house fires, and other emergencies.  It is a long way to town and rural residents appreciate having these resources available nearby administered by friends and neighbors.  Henson’s Store in Downtown Champion has been joined by merchants from surrounding towns in donating a great number of excellent door prizes to be given away at the picnic.  It will be a good time!

        When a certain Champion long years ago shot his Dad’s big sow with rock salt out of his shotgun, his friends didn’t squeal on him.  The sow didn’t suffer overly, it is thought, and the questioning of the Father brought no information.  Champion friends are loyal ones.  But now friends and neighbors are on the look out for the General.  He’s on the loose again and will no doubt be making a spectacle of himself at the Skyline Picnic.  That alone is worth the price of admission! (Which is nothing!)  There is still time to get in on the drawings for the $100.00 free electricity being provided by White River Electric Cooperative and then there is the fabulous Rose Star Quilt!  As pictures of it have circulated on the internet it has sparked interest from California to up-state New York!  The lucky winner will be announced on Saturday night.

        It was reported here last August that as August 5, 2007 the number of US Service People who had lost their lives in Iraq was 3,671.  That included Staff Sergeant Gina R. Sparks of Drury, Missouri, who died October 4, 2004.  That number has grown to 4,128 now and does not count casualties in Afghanistan.  Gina was 36 years old when she died and had been in the military for 18 years.  She grew up in Drury and went to school in Mountain Grove.  She had one sister and two sons who are now teenagers.  They live out West somewhere with their Father.  Last week it was reported that Private First Class LaVena Johnson from Florissant, Missouri was the first woman from Missouri to die while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.  She died July 19, 2005, so she was not the first female Missouri soldier to die over there.  Nevertheless, they are both gone.  LaVena was 19 years old.  Her folks still don’t know exactly how she died.  Gina’s death has also been a mystery to her survivors.  Perhaps they will get some answers someday together with expressions of Love and Gratitude from their Nation.  It is also to be hoped that answers will be forthcoming in the electrocution deaths of 16 American soldiers in their living quarters in Iraq in the last two years.  Kellogg, Brown and Root is the company owned by the Halliburton Oil Company that was given the no-bid contract to provide housing, food service, etc. to the military personnel stationed there.  They are not performing adequately and soldiers are dying in the very place they go for rest and safety.  These contracts represent many billions of dollars.  They are being paid for with money borrowed from the Chinese.  Those debts will be paid by people who are now entering kindergarten, or by their grandchildren.  For sure a lot of big money is changing hands these days.  It will be nice if some of it comes in the form of support to the returning Soldier.

        E-mail has come to the effect:  “Hi Champions!  Contact Chester Smith.  He knows the huckleberry pie song.  He has a Drury address.  Bill Pool, Nashville, TN.”  It is rumored that Bill Pool is a huckleberry himself!  Another e-mail came from Bob Conrad.  He has been having difficulty communicating with the website.  He said, “My wife went to school there and we have visited there.  I want to look on the Bright Side–Help!”  The problems he was encountering have been solved so he should be able to post his comments.  It will be exciting to learn what he has to say.  A picture of Esther Wrinkles standing beside the Rose Star Quilt can be seen on that website too.  An e-mail from Linda over at the Plant Place in Norwood contains her almanac.  From the 7th through the 11th the days will be favorable for planting crops that bare their yield above ground.  Request a copy of that almanac on line at Champion News.

        Song lyrics, pros and poetry extolling the virtues of Looking on the Bright side are always welcome at Champion Items, Rt. 2. Box 367 Norwood, MO 65717.  Expressions of relief that the elections are over for a while are also welcome there:  “Happy days are here again. The sky above is clear again. So let us sing a song of cheer again.  Happy days are here again.!” Any one visiting Champion with its architectural wonders and bucolic splendor will have difficulty refraining from some sweet refrain.  Nostalgic tunes evoking home and hearth are particularly good for the health when sung with feeling.  Any catchy tune that smacks of optimism is a Champion tune—Looking on the Bright Side!