December 28, 2008

December 28, 2008

CHAMPION—December 28, 2008


        In Champion New Years Resolutions are much the same as those across the Nation.  Research shows that the following ten resolutions are the most common in the United States:  Spend more time with friends and family; Be more fit; Loose weight; Quit smoking; Enjoy life more; Quit drinking; Get out of debt; Learn something new; Help others; Get organized.  In Champion the list is more like:  Spend more time with friends and family; Help others; Enjoy life more; Learn something new; Keep a little song handy; Get out of debt; Be more fit; Eat better; Get organized; Look on the Bright Side!  As to the smoking and drinking and loosing weight…people either will opt to live better and longer or not.  No use taking up good resolutions with that stuff!  One old Champion remembers a dear friend, Buff Manion.  He was an extraordinary musician with one of the sweetest smiles ever smeared across a mug.  His perennial resolution was, “I’m just gonna treat people a little better.”  How can that be beat?

        Some of the wonderful news in the paper last week was the news that Yolanda F. Hinote of Norwood, graduated in December from William Woods University with a master of education degree!  That’s Lannie Hinote!  Lannie is a stalwart, irrepressible, inspiration to Champions everywhere, an 8th grade teacher at Skyline School!  Champion congratulations to her!  Some of the sad news lately has to do with the destruction of the Senior Center in Mountain Grove by fire last week.  It was good fortune that no one was injured in the fire, but it will take a while to get things back to order.  Neighbors are reaching out to help neighbors and it will all work out in the long run.  In the mean time there is ample opportunity to be of service to each other.  It’s a Champion notion.

        The end of the year finds Champion full of welcome visitors.  Those Tennessee boys, Dakota and Dillon, have been here with their folks visiting with their grandparents.  Kalyssa and Foster were there too with their parents and both sets of grandparents.  Eva Powell’s twin great grandsons, Troy and Theo were in the neighborhood visiting.  They are just a little younger than Kalyssa and are a couple of rough and tumble enthusiastic young fellows.  Marty Watts spotted a squirrel that had lost most of its tail.  It can be seen in the big trees around Champion proper.  It must have had some good luck escaping whatever got its tail and perhaps the good luck extends to a well-made nest occupied by compassionate fuzzy family members.

        Imagine a birthday on New Year’s Day!  The whole world celebrates!  Grandma Jan Liebert of Teeter Creek is rocking out on her special day and her Champion friends and neighbors salute her!  Robert Burns words are used to celebrate long friendships in the traditional New Year’s song Auld Lang Syne.  “Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?”  That’s not the way of it in Champion!  Even when the song is mistakenly called “Ol Hank’s High” or “Old Langs Sign” or even “Old Hag Sighs” which is a song that incorporates the slurred words of a weary wife who says “You’ve taken me for granted because I please you!”  She’ll get over it and cook up that mess of black-eyed peas with a slab of side meat and a big skillet of corn bread.  Vittles fit for a king!  The reason for this humble fare on the first of the year is to suggest that with luck they will eat at least this well all year.  Toward that end the seed catalogues are being dog-eared and discussed.  It’s too wet to plow…too early too…still the garden, like an old friend, calls.

        Last week the Looking Backwards section had the author of 100 years ago asking if readers felt that they had done anything in the previous year toward the uplifting of humanity.  Lofty sentiments were expressed concerning fair and honorable dealings with fellowmen.  “Have our hearts been constantly filled with love for our surroundings?  Are we living or just merely existing?”  Champions are uniformly able to answer in the affirmative.  Over the past year more than 500 US Soldiers have lost their lives in Iraq.  Champions live the year around with Love and Gratitude for their service.

        Some are looking at the New Year with trepidation.  The world seems to be in such turmoil and it’s difficult to make sense of it.  Everyone has a different idea about how to fix things.  One old Champion girl says that ‘quid pro quo’ is the answer.  That is Latin for ‘something for something,’ indicating a more-or-less equal exchange or substitution of goods or services.  “If’n you’ll scratch my back, I’ll scratch your’n” is a concept well understood in Champion.  Most generally any Champion can find a door jamb to wriggle his itch against or a stick of kindling to reach just that spot and so that is self reliance at its best.  As for the spirit of cooperation and the willingness to combine efforts for the overall good of the community, Champion is Champion!  The year ahead will be just like the ones past, full of triumphs and failures.  Champions will move ahead as they always have with generosity of spirit and good humor.

        Happy New Year to Champions everywhere—you know who you are!  Send examples of good humor to Champion Items, Rt.2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  E-mail versions of “Old Lanks Eye” to Champion News Savor the archives at  Lean up against a porch post at Henson’s Store on the North side of the Square in Historic Downtown Champion to soak in the beauty of the place—the tranquility.  Visitors there need not feel compelled to beller out their favorite, toe tapping, uplifting, sunny-side song, but they are welcome to do so.  It’s quid pro quo in Champion where they’re always Looking on the Bright Side!


December 22, 2008

December 22, 2008

CHAMPION—December 22, 2008


        Anyone who has been to Champion knows it to be a peaceful and pleasant place—“laid back” is the term in current vernacular.  Yet, when crises arise, when there is work to be done, or a neighbor is in a bind, Champions are ready for action.  This condition of being completely relaxed and completely alert simultaneously is knows as “equipoise.”  It is a Champion notion—one that covers the mischievous child teetering along the brink of goodness and badness with Santa as both nudge and judge.  It covers the volunteer firefighters who leap from their own warm beds to rush to a medical emergency, an auto accident or a fire.  It covers neighbors helping neighbors in countless little and big ways and often enough anonymously—Champion.

        Brava!  Ole!  Felicitacio¢nes!  Champions are delighted to congratulate Breauna Krider on having just competed her degree at MSU.  The perseverance and dedication that is required to accomplish this goal is significant.  She has the support of a large and loving extended family, but when it comes right down to the work involved, Breauna did it!  She is a remarkable young woman in many ways and is gifted with a remarkable singing voice.  It is velvety smooth, wonderfully pitched and she knows how to use it.  Her husband, Leslie Krider, also sings beautifully and their voices blend so sweetly that some friends imagine that they must be singing in their kitchen every evening and every time they go for a ride.  Music—Champion!

        Another wonderful voice is that of Tom Waits.  It is not beautiful, but gravely and raspy with a hard overtone.  So when he uses it to sing a tender ballad or “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” it is somehow more poignant.  A line from one of his original songs is “It’s hard to say grace and to sit in the place of someone missing from the table..”  It is a sad song of tragic loss.  Music is so often the balm that suffering people use to soothe their aching hearts.  Songs associated with those ‘missing from the table’ can pull them close again.  The magic and joy of music is a gift.

        Ruby Proctor has a high clear voice that sounds like a pure crystal bell ringing.  She is a welcome addition to any choir.  She said that her grandson, Bryan Proctor, who is serving in Afghanistan, called his Mom and Dad recently to let them know he is doing fine and that he will be coming home in March.  He and thousands of others will be spending their holidays away from home.  Champions are Grateful for their Service and hope they all get home safely and soon.  Many will return with obvious wounds.  Many are wounded in ways that are not apparent to the eye.  They all will require compassion and understanding and Love in return from the Nation they have Loved and Served.

        George Orwell was a Champion sort of fellow.  He wrote the novel, 1984, back in 1949 and it seemed very far-fetched at the time.  One of the things he had to say was that the people who control the past are the ones who control the future.  In this part of the country reminiscing is a way of life.  It is not that Champions live in the past, but holding on to the good memories of family and friends and retelling those stories of how things were back then is a way to hold on to the solid good qualities that make family and community and home where the Heart is.  Quite a few years ago the National Geographic Society included Champion in its book America’s Hidden Corners, Places Off the Beaten Path.  There were some great pictures of Henson’s Store, Ed Henson, and Clark Lambert.  “Eighty-three years of Ozark living etch the face of Clark Lambert, who pauses at his blacksmith shop in Douglas County, Missouri.  Lambert began teaching himself his trade at age 16.  He also farms, and he has been a minister for 50 years.  Both lifelong Ozarkers, Lambert and his wife raised ten children.”  Being off the beaten path is the best place to be and a strong sense of the past may be what protects the Nation in rough days ahead.  When the government of South Africa finally did away with apartheid there was a system established to heal the wounds.  It was called Truth and Reconciliation Committee.  Despite some flaws, it is generally thought to have been successful.  Shedding some light on the truth of recent history may be the best way to heal it up the damage done to the Bill of Rights and the Constitution and move on to better days.

        Christmas cards have come from Bob Conrad and Ethel McCallie and other Champions!  Merry Christmas back at you!  Charlene Dupre has taken off for a Christmas visit with her granddaughter, Olivia, who lives over in Virginia.  Wherever there are granddaughters there is fun!  One old Champion grandmother is poring over her Vermont Bean Seed Company catalogue and deciding on some special seeds for next year.  “King of the Garden, 88 Day Pole Lima:  Rich, honey-like taste.  Very vigorous and reliable grower, bearing uniform, dark green pods 5-8” long filled with 4-6 large lima beans of excellent quality.  Beans shell very easily and cook exceptionally well.  Produces continually to the end of the season and will bear a large amount in a very limited area.  Excellent shelled or frozen.”  On the shortest day of the year after the longest and coldest night of the year, her heart is warmed by thoughts of the garden.  Linda’s Almanac will soon be advising on planting dates for the Spring and the years roll around and around.

        “The music goes round and round…..ooooooo….and it comes out here!” in Champion!  Describe favorite lima beans, favorite old Champions, favorite songs, favorite New Year’s Resolutions at Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367 Norwood, MO 65717.  Send them to Champion News.  Sing a Christmas Carol on the porch at Henson’s Store.  Whatever you do in Champion, Look on the Bright Side!


December 14, 2008

December 14, 2008

CHAMPION—December 14, 2008


        Champions have put a lot of good thought into preparing for the bad weather that is in the forecast.  There are big heaps of firewood and plenty of candles and lamp oil on hand.  Some folks have drawn up buckets of water in case the power goes out.  Folks with generators have fuel to run them and are well versed in all the procedures to operate them safely.  The last ice storm reminded people that the old fashioned telephones are still good to have around.  A person can pick one up in a garage sale for a quarter.  The sound is better on the old phones than on many of the new ones anyway, though they have that pesky cord that keeps the user tied to the wall.  Some Champions remember a time that a long distance phone call made a person want to talk really loud.  Those things are funny to think about now.  Folks up in the northeast have been struggling with their worst ice storm in many years.  Champions wish them well.  In spite of good preparations accidents can happen.  A few years ago Cletus Upshaw was out on his regular mail route when he hit a slick spot and slid into a snow bank.  When he was unable to get his truck going again, he took off walking.  He slipped on the ice and hit his head.  He fell several times before neighbors who were checking on some cattle happened to spot him walking around in a daze.  It was his good luck to be found, but the injuries he sustained that day stayed with him until his recent death.  A long time after the accident he was heard to remark that had he stopped to take his socks off and put them on the outside of his tennis shoes he would have had better traction to walk.  Hopefully no one will find himself in that situation, but that is the kind of good information that could come in handy.  Cletus hailed from Denlow, but he was a real Champion.

        When the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department Ladies’ Auxiliary came to Champion on Wednesday evening for their scheduled meeting they were just dazzled by the festive Christmas decorations.  Auxiliary President, Betty Dye, runs a good meeting and soon got the group down to business.  This was the first planning meeting for the annual chili supper, which is scheduled for February 28, 2009.  Determinations were made about the menu and entertainment.  While Esther Wrinkles was unable to attend the meeting, it was revealed that she will be providing a quilt for the fund raiser.  Items are already being gathered for the silent auction and it promises to be another delightful event.  In other business, the Auxiliary unanimously agreed to purchase a compressor for the firefighters to use with their cascade system.  This will allow them to refill their oxygen equipment quickly.  This is a substantial purchase that represents a significant improvement in the way the firefighters go about keeping the community safe.

        The cold weather is a hardship on people with livestock.  There is an extra burden to be sure the animals have water and feed.  Those are not things that people routinely consider when they are standing at the meat counter in the grocery store.  It is easy to take conveniences for granted.  Sometimes it looks like the weather stops at the borders of the country—like the tropical storm that moved up through the Caribbean didn’t really go through Mexico, or the frigid temperatures that sink down from the North only got cold when they crossed the border from Canada.  It’s cold on the other side of the world too—where the U.S. Service Personnel are serving at the behest of their Nation.  Since the war began March 19, 2003, four thousand two hundred and nine of those people have lost their lives in Iraq.  Six hundred twenty eight have perished in Afghanistan.  The official number of wounded in Iraq is 30,852.  The actual number is estimated to be over 100,000.  As of December 10, 2008 it is reported that 18 veterans take their own lives each day.  These are just numbers and words.  The Love and Gratitude that Champions extend to all those who serve is real and heartfelt.

        This is the busiest time of the year for the Post Office.  Mailmen everywhere are weighed down with packages and cards and holiday sales brochures.  They are a good natured lot and Champions appreciate that poem about “Neither hail, nor sleet, nor snow, nor dark of night shall stay these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds!”  Thanks Bob!  Merry Christmas.  Iva Johnson and her crowd were the folks taking pictures on the porch at Henson’s Store the other day.  Ms. Johnson used to carry the mail as a substitute on the Rt. 2, Norwood route.  She had family visiting from New Mexico and part of taking in the sights included a foray to Champion.  Memory making is a Champion enterprise!

        Phone lines stay busy this time of the year too.  Champion Granddaughter Emily spends time chatting up her Grandmother, Ms. Eva Powell, on a regular basis.  Closeness is not always about geography.  Ms. Powell has some very nice things to say about some of her neighbors lately, including Robert Hamilton, who discovered that the problem with her car was that the light under the hood was not going out so it was draining her battery!

        Alexandra Jean called her Grannie the other day to tell her that she was eating chicken nuggets with catsup!  For a two year old, she carries on a pretty good phone conversation.

        Champion grandchildren Ethan and Zack have their pictures on the family Christmas card so everyone can see why Bob and Sue are so proud!

        The bright red cardinals perching in the drab brown brush lift a spirit on the coldest day.  A quick trip to The Gift Corner in Norwood reveals a variety of cardinals in the form of pictures, figurines, and Christmas ornaments.  Charlene Dupre, the proprietor, has gathered a wonderful collection of all sorts of interesting things from all over the country at decidedly affordable prices.  Family owned and operated business are becoming an endangered species and it is a delight to be able to support them.  Charlene will be headed over to Virginia to see her Granddaughter, Olivia, for the holiday.  Fortunately her sister, Linda, will be there to look after the shop.  Linda is busy with her seed catalogues and the planning that it takes to keep the community growing.  Her Granddaughter, Danniel, will be wearing out the phone lines with her too.  Ah! Granddaughters!  Champion!

        Good Christmas Wishes have come from Ms. Ethel McCallie from Oklahoma.  She extends her best regards to all of Champion!  Back at you, Lady!  She reports that her cousin, Darrell Haden, from over in Tennessee is having some health problems.  Champions wish him the best as well as a number of dear Champions who are struggling with illness at this time.  Some are having to do a lot of traveling and their Champion neighbors keep them in their best thoughts and prayers for safe travel and a return to their much needed good health.

        “Oh the weather outside is frightful!  But the snow is so delightful!  And since we’ve no place to go….”  Champions will just head over to Henson’s Store on the Square in Downtown Champion to gawk at the dazzling decorations.  They might stand around on the porch there and bellow out a carol or two.  Send favorite holiday recipies for fun to Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or e-mail them to Champion News.  Look in on just for the picture of the beautiful place in warm sunshine.  Champion…always Looking on the Bright Side!


December 8, 2008

December 8, 2008

CHAMPION—December 8, 2008


        Champion’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was an ephemeral affair this year.  Expressions of Gratitude were ubiquitous together with turkey, dressing, cranberry goo of all kinds and giblet gravy.  A new version of “The New Gravy Waltz” has been done by Vassar Clements on Hillbilly Jazz, which might be an ‘album,’ a radio station, or a genre:  “Mr. Weeping Willow, I’m through with all my faults ‘cause my baby is ready to do the ever new gravy waltz.”  (The song was written by Steve Allen and Ray Brown a long time ago.)  Some distant Champions won’t eat ‘gut gravy.’  Another Old Champion says, “The older I get, the more I realize that nothing is as good as it used to be.”  Imagine the inspiration and deep conviction it takes for the Old Champion spouse to Look on the Bright Side!  Uncle Al Masters–the Lonesome Plowboy has a grandson, Glen, who says, “Happiness is a choice!”  He doesn’t claim that to be an original point of view, but it is one to which he easily adheres.  His sons Jack and Jake are the beneficiaries of some good upbringing, as was Glen himself and his own Dear Old Dad, who is a nice man with a penchant for trouble with ladders.

        A bright and brisk Sunday found some tourists getting their picture taken on the porch at Henson’s Store in downtown Champion.  Perhaps it was the fugacious nature of the Parade that peaked their curiosity or perhaps they had old family ties to the place.  There they were, lined up three on the top step and three below facing a fancy camera on a tripod.  Whether they were making talkies or just ‘gawkies,’ it was clear from a distance that they were making memories and it was sweet to see whoever they are.

        A note came recently from Champion’s own Hovey, now a Texan.  He said, “Sorry to read of the death of Cletus.  Before television and air conditioning there was a softball league in Mtn. Grove that drew big crowds.  One of the teams was Douglas County, made up mostly of men from the Denlow community.  Cletus was probably the last of those men that played on that team.  There were some heated rivalries.  There is a story of one game that the umpire made a call in Douglas County’s favor then reversed his call.  He was chased from the field by Douglas County fans, into the concession stand.  The police had to be called to rescue the man.”  If the stories start pouring in about Cletus Upshaw this column will become a more interesting read!

        Many Champions are celebrating birthdays this month.  It seems unfair to some to have their birthday so close to Christmas.  One said she always had to spend her birthday money on Christmas presents for other people.  Another one had his birthday spoiled by the attack on Pearl Harbor.  An illustrious lawyer and judge has to share his birthday with a prosecuting attorney and a mean spirited rival.  One particularly good natured fellow from over by Vera Cruz celebrates on the 8th and those who join him for refreshments are always in for a treat.  There is another who shares her birthday with Spike Jones!  Some may be too young to remember his music full of gargling, hiccups, cow bells and slide whistles.  A person can’t be glum with a Spike Jones tune in the background.  Wilburn and Louise’s neighbor is most likely enjoying seeing those bald eagles back in the neighborhood.  She is famous for Looking on the Bright Side!

        Dr. Amanda Zappler, a prominent clinical audiologist with the University of Texas, is spending some time these days with young Veterans of the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.  She says that while many have suffered profound and irreversible hearing loss due to the explosions to which they were exposed, many others have ‘temporal lobe’ damage.  They can hear sound, but the brain damage that they have experienced keeps them from being able to make sense of it.  In some cases they are being able to retrain some individuals to recognize sounds again.  Because they can still read they are able to communicate, but the relearning process is a slow and difficult one.  Others suffer from tinnitus.  That is the ringing in the ears that many people know about, particularly people with anxiety or high blood pressure.  The ringing gets loud, which makes them anxious which makes it louder and it becomes a progressively worsening situation.  Dr. Zappler says that these young Veterans are destined to spend the rest of their lives battling these difficult conditions.  Statistics are showing the suicide rate among the Veterans of these conflicts is higher than any other group ever.  The machismo of service will cause many not to report their difficulties, but they will be suffering none the less and Champions everywhere need to keep them in their best good thoughts and to extend the Love and Gratitude that they have coming from their Nation.

        This time of the year when the weather has decided to be so cold not much is going on out in the garden.  The seed catalogues are already showing up and the day dreaming about next year’s garden has begun.  Linda, from over at the Plant Place in Norwood, is spending time making cuttings of house plants and doing general tidying and organizing in the greenhouses.  Charlene’s shop is providing some delightful one-of-a-kind gifts for people on small Christmas budgets.  While it seems that most folks on those shopping lists already have everything they really need it is wonderful to be able to choose something carefully, no matter how small, to let them know that attention is being paid to what they like and what interests them.  The chance to give is a Gift itself!  When so many these days are dealing with ill health and loss of loved ones, easing burdens and lifting spirits is a challenge Champions take on willingly.

        Send any song about any kind of groovy grub or gravy to Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or to Champion News.  Keep an eye on the website at just to see what shows up there.  Sing “The New Gravy Waltz” or “Baby It’s Cold Outside” out on the porch at Henson’s Store in Downtown Champion where “Good Gravy!” they’re always Looking on the Bright Side!