September 23, 2008

When Johnny Comes Marching Home

Illustration of a Zouave company on Civil War era broadside of “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”.


The original lyrics as written by Gilmore, are:

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When Johnny comes marching home again

Hurrah! Hurrah!
We’ll give him a hearty welcome then

Hurrah! Hurrah!
The men will cheer and the boys will shout
The ladies they will all turn out

And we’ll all feel gay
When Johnny comes marching home.


The old church bell will peal with joy

Hurrah! Hurrah!
To welcome home our darling boy,

Hurrah! Hurrah!
The village lads and lassies say
With roses they will strew the way,

And we’ll all feel gay
When Johnny comes marching home.


Get ready for the Jubilee,

Hurrah! Hurrah!
We’ll give the hero three times three,

Hurrah! Hurrah!
The laurel wreath is ready now
To place upon his loyal brow

And we’ll all feel gay
When Johnny comes marching home.


Let love and friendship on that day,

Hurrah, hurrah!
Their choicest pleasures then display,

Hurrah, hurrah!
And let each one perform some part,
To fill with joy the warrior’s heart,

And we’ll all feel gay
When Johnny comes marching home.



America the Beautiful

‘America the Beautiful’
U.S Marine Band, ca. 1953
O beautiful, for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.
O beautiful, for pilgrim feet
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America! God mend thine ev’ry flaw;
Confirm thy soul in self control, thy liberty in law!
O beautiful, for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine,
Til all success be nobleness, and ev’ry gain divine!
O beautiful, for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years,
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea!



September 22, 2008

West Plains Wagon Club – 2008

Champions and citizens of neighboring communities turned out in numbers to greet the West Plains Wagon Club as it passed through Champion in central Douglas County on Thursday, September 18, 2008.  The wagon train was on its annual trail ride from West Plains to Mansfield.  This year there were twelve wagons on the train when it pulled into Champion and there were about twenty-five accompanying outriders.  From year to year the numbers vary but the welcome is always warm and friendly in Champion.  Under the direction of 83 year-old Wagon Master Clifford Luna, the wagon train left West Plains on Monday morning.  They routinely make about twenty miles a day and stop at predetermined camp-sites.  On Thursday they camped at the Black Gate Farm just north of Skyline.  They arrived in Mansfield on Friday with few incidents to report.  A couple of outriders were thrown from their horses—one, when it was spooked by a motorcycle, and another when someone in a pickup suddenly opened a door and yelled.  The riders were not seriously injured and the trip overall was a pleasant one.  Luna and the West Plains Wagon Club will enjoy more rides this year, but Champions will have to wait until next year to see them rolling through the community again.



September 21, 2008

September 21, 2008

CHAMPION—September 21, 2008


                In Champion Summer is making an elegant and graceful exit.  Spring’s green has lingered long and the dog days have been few.  Violent storms and a bountiful harvest mark a memorable season. 

                The annual Wagon Train of the West Plains Wagon Club came rolling through on Thursday.  They must have made an early start that cool morning.  They had already passed by when Esther Wrinkles got over to the Bluegrass Park on Highway 95, so she didn’t get to see them this time.  Ruby Proctor came out to Champion, though, as did quite a number of other Champions including Elva Ragland and Violet Hinote.  Sharon and Louise brought some excellent deserts and then set them down on the table in front of Jackie!  The other outriders, wagon drivers and passengers did get to enjoy those goodies too, however.  It was a nice rest stop for the train and a good chance for the community to get an eyeful of the past.  They rolled out of Champion headed up Cold Springs Road about one in the afternoon.  Hurricane Ike played havoc with that route on Saturday night but early Thursday morning a fast moving, efficient road grader came through and set things to rights.  There were still trees partially blocking the road in areas, plus low water crossings buried in gravel and big chunks of the road just washed away.  Those guys out working on the road equipment are real masters of their art and the country people are glad!  New Champions who have recently moved to WW Highway from Springfield are Steve and Darlene Conner.  They came to see the Wagon Train and brought Steve’s Aunt and Uncle, Roy and Darlene Conner, with them.  They had come down from St. Joseph especially for the occasion.  They were celebrating their 49th wedding anniversary and enjoying the sites.  Ms. Conner said that the Pony Express was headquartered in St. Joe and that they are most interested in the old days.  From April,1860, to October, 1861, mail routes ran across country from St. Joe to Sacramento, California.  The first westbound trip took 10 days, 7 hours and 45 minutes.  It was 1,966 miles!  That’s another story.  Maybe Uncle Roy and Aunt Darlene will be regular visitors and will share more of that history.  The Wagon Train has been coming through Champion every year for a long time now—regular as clockwork.

                Champions are delighted to learn that Sally Miller has passed the test required of those who want to become Citizens of the United States of America.  Huzza!  It would be interesting to know how many citizens born and raised on These Shores could pass that test.  Sally has already registered to vote.  It is the first time she has ever enjoyed that privilege.  Living in a participatory democracy implies some responsibility and it is a tribute to Champions who take it seriously.  It was not so many years ago that women were imprisoned, beaten and committed to insane asylums for perusing their voting franchise.  Women’s Suffrage is a part of American history that merits remembering.  The electoral college is something that gets forgotten about between presidential elections and it has yet to be explained to the satisfaction of some particular voters and now some of those voters are concerned about the use of paperless voting machines.  Those produced by the company, Diebold, are used extensively throughout the country.  Princeton University studies have proven that there are great security concerns about the Accuvote TS Voting Machine.  Malicious software can easily be installed that can circumvent the logic and accuracy tests and steal votes.  Moreover, a virus can travel from one machine to another teaching them all to steal votes. There are proven examples of such chicanery already, they say.  Whoever ‘they’ are, they sing, “Oh Beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain, for purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain.  America! America! God shed his grace on thee, and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea!”  That is a Champion song!

                An e-mail came from Pete Proctor who verified the news that Ruby had reported on Thursday:  “..letting you know that Bryan shipped Monday the 15th  (back to Afghanistan).  Also on the 15th in 1968, 40 years ago, I came home from Viet Nam.  I am proud of Bryan and everyone else who wears the Uniform.  I hope all come home soon.”  Champions share that pride and hope with Pete.  One who will not be coming home is a 53 year old soldier from Wentzville, Missouri who died ‘over there’ this week.  Love and Gratitude is what his survivors need.

                Paul said, “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”  He may not have been talking about politics.  A liberal helping of apple pie is generally thought to be a good thing.  The word “liberal” is said out loud by some folks as if it were something that needed to be scrapped off the bottom of their shoe, though its definition is “favorable to progress or reform.”  “Conservative” is also a nice word and it means “disposed to preserving existing conditions.”  A conservative piece of that pie might not be as satisfying, but these are just words.  So far Champions of both persuasions are coexisting in harmonious respect for their neighbors and for the freedom to believe what they will.  More words to that song are:  America!  America! God mend thine ev’ry flaw, Confirm thy soul in self-control, Thy liberty in law.”  

                Champions congratulate Terri Ryan, Lannie Hinote and Deborah Barker for recently earning their masters degrees.  This is no small feat!  It represents serious effort and the students of Skyline School are the beneficiaries of their diligence!  More congratulations go out to Zoey Louise of Austin, TX.  She has celebrated her fifth birthday in a gala party.  Grandparents expect DVD’s and expansive detailed reports of the fun.  She shares her birthday and party with her cousin, Penelope Zappler, also of Austin, who is now three years old.  They share the date with Louise Hutchison of Champion. (It will be interesting to learn how she observed the occasion this year!) Tanna and Roger Wiseman have a wedding anniversary that day too!  It’s the last day of  Summer and a special day for many–Champions all!

                The 25th through the 30th of the month will be very good days for destroying weeds and doing general work around the farm, according to Linda’s Almanac.  Then the signs change and it will be good planting again starting on the first of October.  Harley and Barbara Krider will be in the neighborhood for a week or so ‘making hay.’  They always lift spirits when they show up.  A pleasant note arrived from Darrell Haden who hopes to attend Ray Cunningham’s Five-School Reunion on the last Saturday in September.  Soon the Pioneer Descendents Gathering will be happening over at Yates, so Champion and its neighbors are in full swing celebration mode….it’s a Champion kind of thing.

                The hurricane winds did more damage to parts of the Ozarks than anyone expected.  Eva Powell had Granddaughter Emily and her family visiting the night of the storm.  With the power out and trees down on power lines, buildings and fences it was more excitement than any wanted.  The good thing is no one was hurt and progress is being made on the clean up.  The Skyline Volunteer Fire Department lost some big trees on the picnic grounds, but sustained no damage to the buildings, fortunately.  Some in Arkansas are still out of electricity.  Champions are quick to compliment the hard work of the White River Valley Electric Co-Op people.  They did a good job of getting things up and running in short order.  Hopefully, those Arkansawyers and Texans will get some relief soon. 

                Katherine Lee Bates wrote “America the Beautiful.”  Look for all the words on the website at  Send explanations of the workings of the electoral college to Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or to  Stand on the porch at Henson’s Store in downtown Champion and sing that song or any other patriotic, uplifting, heart warming song right out loud.  Nobody will complain if the singing is heartfelt and sincere (and close to on key) because it is well known that singing is beneficial to the health, particularly the health of the singer.  With or without musical accompaniment, Champions are Looking on the Bright Side!



September 16, 2008

September 16, 2008

CHAMPION—September 15, 2008


        In Champion people just roll with the flow.  Whatever comes along next is the very thing they are ready for.  That is not to say they can’t be surprised, but they are fast adapters.  Hurricane Ike’s destruction and detritus is strewn about everywhere.  Someone said that it was all on account of the Adlai Stevenson fans in these parts.  That is just more political hogwash.  It makes about as much sense as most of what is being heard these days.  People do not seem to be able to agree on what is important—personalities or the pressing problems the Nation faces like the collapse of the financial infrastructure and the like.  Some Champions are just delighted that the lights went out (de-lighted) if only for the respite of a timely political break.  Lowing cattle, hooting owls and ticking clocks make a peaceful replacement for the ruckus and racket that comes along with the conveniences of electricity.  For those who enjoy the quiet, for a little while, it is a real pleasure.  Champions are mindful, however, of the many others who have not faired so well due to the storm.  Everyone will be chipping in to help his neighbor recover from the disaster.  From one end of the country to the other—that’s Champion!

        It has been noted that coincidences occur in Champion with the same regularity as in other less convivial places.  Recently, at the Champion School Reunion, it was revealed that an Old Cemetery in Birdstown, TN has buried in it ancestors of both Kaye Upshaw Johnston and Pete Mullins who is married to Bonnie Brixey Mullins, formerly of Champion.  This was discovered when Richard and Kaye visited out in that part of the country last year when they attended the Brixey Family Reunion.  They got their feet wet out in the Atlantic Ocean on that trip too.  There are no photos of that happening, but there are quite a number of pictures of the Champion Reunion on the internet at  Surprise!

        While Champion seems like the center of the world to some, it is clear that the world is getting smaller.  Some of that has to do with the population—about six billion now—and some of it has to do with the relative ease of travel these days.  When the West Plains Wagon Club pulls in to Champion on Thursday it will be another excellent opportunity to learn how things were really done in the old days.  The movie and television depictions of life “back then” doesn’t necessarily provide an accurate picture of what it was really like to travel across the country.  Events like this trail ride and the Pioneer Descendants Gathering coming up over at Yates provide a valuable insight into the daily existence of Champion forbearers, so “Wagons Ho!”

        “Head ‘em up!  Move ‘em out!”  Those “Rawhide” sentiments are applicable to a notable Champion who has become too well acquainted with the rear ends of a few of his neighbor’s cattle as he chases them up hills and hollers trying to get them to go home.  His neighbor does not maintain his fences and seems glad to turn the cattle into his neighbor’s good grass when his own grass gets thin.  The offended neighbor is the very essence of restraint.  While there is some legal recourse to be had, he seems to take the long view of the situation and is not inclined to escalate to a contentious level.  These are good lessons.  Things eventually work out.

        Brother and sister, Foster and Kalyssa Wiseman have recently celebrated their Mother’s birthday!  It occurred on the 13th of September and her Champion family and friends wish Tanna many happy returns.  She is making a good recovery from a recent illness in is just the picture of radiant good health.  She is a Champion!

        The 18th through the 20th will be timely for planting root crops according to Linda’s Almanac from over at the Plant Place in Norwood.  Linda has some fast making cabbage plants that form a small, compact, golden head.  She also has a variety of broccoli that produces well after the Frost.  Frost!  The wild grapes will sweeten up.  Persimmons will let go of their tree and the walnuts will keep falling.  Ike shook a lot of them down, but in some places there are many yet to fall.  Perhaps prices will be good this year.  Paw paws are plentiful and paw paw lovers are in paw paw heaven.

        It doesn’t take much to make some people happy.  Some Old Champions will be glad to have the power back on.  Those serving the Nation in the dangerous places of the world will be happy with the acknowledgement of their Nation.  Things are not easy for the returning soldier and it is hoped they will be met with Love and Gratitude.

        “Walking in the sunshine—sing a little sunshine song—put a smile upon your face as if there’s nothing wrong.  Think about a good time you had a long time ago.  Think about—forget about your worries and your woe’s.  Walking in the sunshine—sing a little sunshine song!”  That is Champion musical advice and that sort of thing is welcome at Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or at Champion News.

        Sing that song or any happy little ditty out on the porch at Henson’s Store near the hitching post in Downtown Champion—the hub of the Douglas County and the place famous for Looking on the Bright Side!


September 12, 2008

2008 Champion School Reunion

Champion School Reunion 2008
 The 26th Annual Champion School Reunion was held August 30th, 2008.  More than fifty attended this year.

Lonnie and Wayne





September 9, 2008

September 8, 2008

CHAMPION—September 8, 2008


        Champions generally consider themselves to be observant people—especially when it comes to good things.  So it was quite a surprise to one driving east on 76 Highway the other day when he happened to glace over to see the new sign on the Firehouse at the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department.  It’s a beauty!  “When did that happen?”  Well, it happened back in early August when the Fire Department was getting ready for the Picnic.  It was those Mastrangelo girls that did it—Elizabeth and Loren.  “I was sort of used to that ‘A’ being tilted over to the right, (or was it to the left?) and the whole thing looking sort of ‘catawampus.’”  Now he’ll just have to get used to the new and improved look.  It is a perfectly wonderful sign that identifies the place with the suggestion that it is substantial, well maintained and well regarded.  Moreover, no committee assigned the work.  No delegation spurred on by complaint caused it to happen.  These young ladies saw that it needed doing and did it.  They are Champions!

        Aged Champions grew up watching Ward Bond on TV shouting, “Wagon’s Ho!”

        Champions are excited that once again the West Plains Wagon Club is about to pass through town.  Wagon Master, Clifton Luna, says that the train will leave West Plains on the 15th of September.  It will be in Champion about lunch-time on Thursday the 18th.  Champions are urged to make that their regular shopping trip to the Village that week.  Some plan to bring a basket of dainty vittles just to share with the trail riders.  The chance to experience the sounds and smells and general atmosphere of a wagon train comes around infrequently and often has passed by before many Champions knew it was going on. So Champions Look Out!  Here they come!  Maybe Shelby Blades will have his three-up again.  (That’s three mules.)  Jim, Sam and Sue are the three up of Bill and Blanche Jackson of Ozark.  Last year Blanche told about a trail ride they had been on from Corpus Christ,  Texas to San Antonio through the King Ranch.  It took them about ten days.  They were in a train of 35 or 40 wagons with 300 outriders.  Champions wonder what they’ve been up to since then.  Luna said that ferrier Mutch Stone wasn’t shoeing but about a dozen a week last year.  He’s been doing that work for 37 or 38 years now and hopefully he’ll be around to chew some harness leather with local ferriers..(Joe!)  Of particular interest will be the three quarter size Springfield wagon pulled by Rabbit and Ruthie.  This outfit belongs to Jerry Sanders of Norwood.  The wagon was built 29 years ago by a guy named Elvin Huldo.  It is authentic except for the rubber tires.  Mr. Sanders is a seasoned trail rider.  He once rode 200 miles horseback for the Boys and Girls Ranch.  It took nine days.  He has been participating in this trail ride since 1993.  Last year the Gee and Haw Club out of Salem Arkansas was well represented by Don Crawford from Salem and Randall Barnet from Warm Springs, Arkansas.  Don Crawford said that he and Clifton Luna had been on every one of these rides since 1989.  Some of these rigs are just amazing to see.  Some like to keep things as authentic to the old days as possible.  Others like to innovate and have solar collectors on their roofs charging batteries for their CB radio, their TV and Radio and cell phones.  Some have lights and some have ‘running water.’  It will be a spectacle and so the opportunity to observe something especially interesting won’t slip by Champions this year.  The train is, as in the old days, accompanied by a number of outriders.  They were scouts, herders, solitaries and security.  They all have interesting stories.  Some are relatively new to the train, but others like Gary & Pam Carder of Mountain Grove have been outriders with this wagon train for 15 years.  The squeak of saddle leather and general horse and wagon racket is music to the ears of nostalgic Champions.  Lonnie and Faye won’t get to see the train this year.  They are taking their “19th trip to Tulsa.”  That sounds like a hard driving song.  Champions sing “Happy Trails” to them and wish for them safe and successful journeys.  Champions are still enjoying the music from the Champion School Reunion last week-end.  It was one of those perfect occasions.  Some good pictures of the reunion can be seen on the internet at   This is a thriving berg of constant entertainment.  Why, just around the corner on the 4th and 5th of October Dale and Betty Thomas will be hosting the Pioneer Descendants Gathering over in Yates.  That promises to be another spectacle full of wagon rides and demonstrations of all sorts!  Between now and then Farmer’s Days and other harvest festivals will be celebrated.  The social calendar around these parts is replete with fancy functions!  It’s a good time for family and friends to come wandering by.  That’s always a good time in Champion.

        As to the matter of standing on the corner and listening to the opposite point of view, some Champions struggle.  They are like King Agrippa almost being persuaded by Paul.  Abandoning momentarily their own prejudices and seeing the fervor of true belief in the faces of their friends and even misguided family members, they are pulled almost to believe the Contrary.  Ultimately, they know what is right, however, and hardly any except the politicians ever change their political minds once decided upon.  They resign to tolerate the crackpot opposition because sometimes they are married to them or have lived next door to them for forty years.  “Where do these off-the-wall ideas come from?”  One old Champion about teared up the other day saying that it is a heartbreaking shame that Adli Stevenson wasn’t respected.  He might have been the smartest man to run for office this century.  “Smart” doesn’t seem to mean much he laments.  The voting franchise has been hard won and Champions take it seriously.  This will be the first presidential election that folks who are ten years old now will remember.  Champions are hoping for the best!

        So are the Veterans of Foreign Wars.  There are many more of them now than ever and they could use the Love and Gratitude of their Nation. As of September 5, 2008 the Department of Defense reports that there are 320,000 Vets with brain injuries.  There are 18 Veteran Suicides per day among the Nation’s 25 million Veterans, according to Dr. Ira Katz, the VA’s head of Mental Health.  Clearly these patriots who step out there to protect the voting franchise could use some advocates.  They will be here for the duration.

        When the ground is so nice and wet, the weeds slide out of the ground with the least amount of pulling.  Sometimes they come out with the sound that the sod-busters loved as they turned the prairie grasses over to farm.  That same sound was the death knell for indigenous peoples and it was  their heartbreak.  It is all so subjective.  Linda’s Almanac says the 14th will be good for planting above ground crops and the 15th for root crops.  Both days will be good for vines.  The 12th and 13th will be good days to prune to discourage growth.  Encourage growth by pruning on the 23rd and 24th.

        Encouragement of any sort is welcome at Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or at Champion News.  Sing like Roy Rogers and Dale Evans out on the porch at Henson’s Store at the way station:  “…Some trails are happy ones, Others are blue.  It’s the way you ride the trail that counts, Here’s a happy one for you.  Happy trails to you Until we meet again  Happy trails to you Keep smiling until then.  Who cares about the clouds when we’re together?  Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather.  Happy trails to you, until we meet again.”  Meet up with yer partners at Champion where they always Look on the Bright Side!