CHAMPION—September 1, 2008


        The Champion Reunion of 2008 was one of those gatherings that is just the essence of good community.  Fifty people and a few more were on hand to reunite with old friends and family in a place so dear to them.  Someone said that there will be no need for a formal Labor Day Parade in Champion this year on account of the Reunion folks marching so steadily around the tables of food.  There was every thing from soup to hay!–ribs and chicken and enchilada pie, rolls, salads and vegetables and watermelon.  Then came the deserts, which were incredible except for the blackberry cobbler which was stupendous!  The grand old walnut trees shaded those gathered and a pleasant breeze stirred the air just enough.  Old friends Lonnie Krider and Wayne Anderson sat down with mandolin and guitar the way they have done for forty-plus years.  They were joined by Charles Lambert, Rod Humbird, Todd Miller and Robert Graham.  They sat in a loose circle the way musician do when they are playing for each other.  Low conversations gave the music room to move easily among the people as any welcome guest might.  “There’s an old spinning wheel in the parlor” and “Rank Strangers” and a hundred more old tunes drifted out among the folks.  It was easy to see people were actively making memories—sharing old ones and making new ones.  For a few hours on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in the old school yard under the amazing old trees people shared the best of the past and the best of the precious present.  It is a gift that Champions share—knowing when things are good.  This was the 26th Annual Champion Reunion.  These are the people who came.  If there is a “*” by their name it means they won a door prize.  Robert Graham*-Drury, Mary Graham-Drury, Lorene Johnston-Marshfield, Pete & Bonna Mullens-Wichita, KS, Shirley Brixey-Springfield, Karen Krider-Champion, Lonnie Krider-Champion, Linda Watts-Murfreesboro, TN, Ruby Proctor-Mtn. Grove, Barbara Cooper*-Norwood, Debbie Massey*-Norwood, Elsie Curtis*-Norwood, Daniel Kingston-Norwood, Linda Kingston-Norwood, Pete Proctor, Mtn. Grove, Betty Henson*-Champion, Verla & Lonnie* Mears-Springfield, Vivian Floyd*-Rogersville, Esther Wrinkles*-Vanzant, Elva Ragland*-Drury, Wilda Moses*-Champion, Tom* & Arlene Cooley-Mtn. Grove, Charles Lambert-Ava, Dakota Watts & Dylan* Watts-Murfreesboro, TN, Robert Upshaw-Vanzant, Lucille Ketchum-Mtn. Grove,  Bertha Wood-Mtn. Grove, Russell, Sue & Dean* Upshaw-Mtn. Grove, Dain Lambert-Ava, Larry & Theresa Wrinkles & Quinton-Vanzant, Benton Hutchison-Ava, Tommy Sutherland-Mtn. Grove & Branson, Wesley Lambert-Ava, Kenneth E. Anderson*-Mtn. Grove,  Barbara Schwartz-Republic, Wayne* & JoAnn Anderson-Ava, Fern Bishop-Ava, Linda Clark, Marty Watts-Murfreesboro, TN, Frances Sutherland-Mtn. Grove, Shirley Elaine (Laine) Sutherland, Nashville, TN, Greta Cope, Rita Coble and granddaughter-Mtn. Grove, Todd Miller-Ava, Rod Humbird, Ethel McCallie-Nowata, OK.

        A hot bridge game came off without a hitch up in Riley Holler on Saturday night.  The looser (the host) won a dollar and the winner walked off with $1.75.  Not bad earnings for five or six hours of work!  A couple of the players had just returned from a bridge match that had lasted twenty-three hours over a two day period.  The winner there came out with $4.80.  She says, “It’s not about the money.”  Really?

        Linda’s Almanac from over at the Plant Place says that the 6th and 7th will be good days for planting above ground crops.  The 8th will be an excellent day to celebrate Carol’s birthday!  Her sweet Mother-In-Law, Sally Tharp, gave her some wonderful garden advice:  “Cultivate lasting friendships.  Sow seeds of kindness.  Listen to sage advice.  Don’t let the little things bug you.  Be outstanding in your field.  Take thyme for yourself.  No Vining!”

        There was a substantial crowd at the Denlow Cemetery on Sunday afternoon for the dedication of the Civil War Memorial.  The ceremony was well orchestrated by Catherine Alsup Reilly of the Daughters of the Union Veterans of the Civil War.  There were several speakers including the monument designer and builder Rick Alsup.  A twenty-one gun salute was presented by Civil War Re-enactors David Coffman, Gary Lee Riley, and Mike Metcalf with their muzzleloaders.  Pete Proctor raised the Colors, which include the American Flag and the black flag commemorating the US Soldiers Missing in Action and the Prisoners of War.  The contributions of many individuals toward the realization of the Memorial were recognized, particularly those of Cletis Upshaw who has done a great deal over the years to preserve the stories of Denlow and Douglas County.  Friends were happy to see him in attendance.  Jared Moore played Taps as the ceremony drew to a conclusion.  There were a lot of photographs taken and overall it was about the most proper and dignified event imaginable considering the degree of participation by a certain General Upstart.  The starkness and difficulties of living in a war torn area were brought to mind by re-enactor Mike Metcalf.  He said that the war had been particularly hard on the women who lived around the fighting.  That is true in every war then and now.  The dedication of this memorial brings to mind those serving now.  Love and Gratitude is their due.

        Champions agree with E.B. White who said, “There is no limit to how complicated things can get, on account of one thing leading to another.”  Everybody likes to stand around on the porch or the street corner and talk with people who believe exactly the same thing that they believe.  They can agree with each other and feel smart when everyone agrees with them.  They aren’t likely to learn anything new, however, or to gain an understanding of people who believe the exact opposite.  Even if they are honest, hardworking, loveable people–even some of them friends and family, it’s hard to listen to that other opinion with an unbiased ear.  Champions do all agree that they find themselves living in an Extraordinary Nation–one shaped and strengthened by diversity.

        Monday rolled around and the AF of L and the CIO were suitably honored in the Champion Labor Day Parade.  The American Federation of Labor has been around since the early 1880’s and the Congress of Industrial Organizations sprang out of the New Deal.  They were acknowledged with a cursory salute as Champions resumed their orderly and productive activities.  The day was warm and quiet enough for a nap, much needed after the frenetic pace of the week-end celebrations.  There is at least one Old Champion that says, “Any day you get a nap is a good day.”  He makes it a point to have as many good days as possible.  He’s been thinking of an old song “Ain’t We Got Fun!”  “In the morning, in the evening, Ain’t we got fun? ..Not much money, Oh but Honey!  Ain’t we got fun?…  There’s nothing surer.  The rich get rich and the poor get poorer.  In the meantime in between time Ain’t we got fun!  The song lists any number of things that have gone wrong but it doesn’t seem to matter.

        Any old song that brings back memories…sweet or sad or silly…is welcome at Champion Items, Rt. 2. Box 367 Norwood, MO 65717.  They all are beneficial to the health if they are sung with heart.  Perhaps Champion’s Tennessee Friend, Darrell Haden, will remind Champions of one that has over time slipped their minds but once heard again is as familiar as an old friend…some toe tapping tune that brings a smile automatically.  That’s the ticket.  E-mail anything like that to Champion News.  Stand out on the porch at Henson’s Store in historic downtown Champion or on a street corner somewhere (where they have corners) and listen carefully without derision to the logic of a different point of view.  Think about it and ask questions.  That’s the Champion thing to do.  Once you’ve parted company with the crack-pot you can slap your thigh and guffaw, but be polite and Look on the Bright Side!