December 28, 2009

December 28, 2009

CHAMPION—December 28, 2009


        ‘Out with the old and in with the new!’  Champions understand the sentiment and welcome the New but they are careful not to get rid of the good Old things.  When folks say, “They don’t make ‘em like they used to,” they are talking about Champion.  The official CPC (Champion Parade Committee) has announced that the New Year’s Day Parade of Champions will be postponed due to the cold, the alternate date to be announced at some random time in the future.  No word has come from Spotted Hog about the Hogmanay (pronounced hog-ma-NEY) scheduled to welcome the new decade.  Spotted Hog was settled by Scotsmen, they say.  The four-day festival will start on the thirtieth this year and end on the second of January.  The music and feasting and general celebrating will likely catch the interest of the Missouri State Trouper who lives on C Highway now, so revelers beware and behave responsibly.

        Christmas found Esther’s house full again—full of family and feasting.  It turned into a comedy of errors with a protracted hunt for car keys, which turned out to be in the jacket pocketed of a visiting son.  He had gone out to the freezer to get the desert that Esther had made from the receipt that Betty Henson had given her and he had pocked the keys without thinking.  Two hours later that set of keys was discovered and then another set materialized out of a little pocket in Esther’s purse.  It is good that bunch has a sense of humor.

        Champion Betty Shelton took a tumble on Saturday and spent the night in the hospital.  At first it was thought that she had dislocated her shoulder, but it turns out that she broke her arm.  It is her good right arm that she has broken the ball right off of up at the shoulder.  She said that it would be immobilized for at least a month.  There is no good time to have this kind of accident and Champions will be pitching in to be of some help to her and J.T.  Last summer Champion friend, Charlene Dupre, suffered an almost identical injury and she has made a good recovery so there is good reason to be optimistic.  Looking on the Bright Side can be a challenge to those injured or ill at any time.  Friends are Champion

        Tennessee boys are visiting their Grandmother on the Krider Farm with Foster and Kalyssa and assorted aunts and uncles and lots of good holiday spirit.  Those big boys chip right in on the farm chores and everybody has a good time.  Harley and Barbara have fled the deep snow of the North in time for the deep freeze of Champion.  Wherever they are good times roll.

        Ruby Proctor is happy to be home and has had some good company.  Her grandson, Bryan, and his family have been visiting from Virginia where he is stationed in the military.  It had been a long time since they were ‘home’ for Christmas and this one will long be remembered as a special time.  Service families separated from each other during the holidays struggle.  Champions wish them all the best with Love and Gratitude for their service.

        Some lucky old Champions are settling in with their seed catalogues and only glancing out at the thermometer every now and then.  They know that it will get colder before it gets warmer.  Garden planning is a favorite pastime and soon Linda will have her almanac out again and Champions will be getting their hands dirty.  The seasons go round and round and seed catalogues make good reading any time of the year.

        Another note came from Hovey.  He said, “As a little kid I was terrified of the swinging bridges.  Then, as I grew older, I began jumping up and down on them making them sway.  Here’s wishing all in and around Champion a Happy New Year!”  Good wishes also came from Betty and Darrell Haden over in Tennessee.  It is a sure bet that their house will be full of music through the holidays.  For many people the little chatter that goes on inside their head all the time is mostly music.  One Champion finds herself singing “Ya Who Dore`” from The Grinch That Stole Christmas.  Funny.  Soon all those versions of “Old Hank’s High” will be showing up again.  Robert Burns wrote “Auld Lang Syne” which salutes old acquaintances and times gone by.  It was already an old song when he wrote his version down in 1722.  He was born in Edinburgh, Scotland and the Edinburgh Hogmanay Street Party will feature 100,000 plus voices there all singing that song at that midnight hour on New Year’s Eve.  The hour will be six hours earlier in Champion, so anyone wishing to participate in the worldwide singing of that song can do it at six p.m. just for the joy of joining in and “We’ll drink a cup of kindness yet, for Auld Lang Syne.”  Champions will remember dear old friends and good times gone by.

        Sing that song or any other out on the porch at Henson’s Store in Downtown Champion.  It is on the North side of the Square on the Sunnyside.  Spend a moment around the stove thinking up those New Year’s Resolutions.  Declare them right there or mail them to Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367 Norwood, MO 65717.  Email any especially good ones to Champion News.  The best ones so far have been: “Be a better neighbor,” and “Lighten Up.”  The best one yet is truly Champion—“Look on the Bright Side!”


December 21, 2009

December 21, 2009

CHAMPION—December 21, 2009


        Champions welcomed Old Man Winter on the 21st with good humor and the sure knowledge that the days will begin to lengthen once more and that the calendar will flop open to a new page and a new decade, if one subscribes to the notion that next year will begin the next decade as 2009 ends the current one—if one begins counting with zero, capisce?  (Italian for ‘understand,’ pronounced ‘capeesh’)  It does not take an Italian mathematician or weatherman to figure out that it is cold and may get colder.  Champions do not care—it is Winter after all.

        There is good news to report that Ruby Proctor is much improved and ready to come home!  While St. Johns is a good place, ‘home’ is better and Ruby’s family and friends are all smiles to know she may be back in her own nest soon and just in time to enjoy Bryan and his family who will be in for a week.  These particular days evoke images of home and family and smells of festive cooking and music, music, music.  It is an established fact that singing is good for the health of a person, physically and emotionally.  There is proof.  Ruby has a fine soprano voice that is as clear as a crystal bell and her Champions friends hope she sings often.  Several errors were noted in reporting the number of Proctor children allocated to each family in the last Champion column, but it has turned out that all those Proctor children know who they belong to and just how many of them there are…they are a Champion bunch!

        Champion is about to be overrun once more by those Tennessee boys and their folks!  Moreover, Harley and Barbara will be in town again and so the fun will begin!  All this visiting is contingent upon big snowstorms and Winter weather back east and up north.  Safety in their travels is the seasonal gift that all Champions wish for their loved ones out on the road.  The call of Home this time of year is strong and deep.  Many must be content with telephone calls and the wonderful U.S. Postal service.  Champions want to thank Postmaster Kirk Dooms and his charming staff for keeping Champion connected to the rest of the world for another year.  The Route 2 driver, Karen, is a particularly pleasant vision coming down (or up) the road–she always has a smile and a wave.  Champion!

        Astronomers and other Champions are getting ready to finish off the decade with a Blue Moon…Once in a very blue moon does the full moon occur on New Year’s Eve and a Blue one to boot!  Champions cannot remember a single incident.  A situation so rare as this can call for unusual preparation.  The Old Champion Girl who added, “More shrimp! More champagne!”  to her New Year’s resolve last year has had tremendous success.  As success fosters success, she has made good progress with any number of her other resolutions and is feeling altogether good about things in general.  It will be interesting to see what she has come up with for beginning the new decade.  It need be no more elaborate than:  “Be a better neighbor.”  That sounds like a good one even for a tea totaler with a shellfish allergy!

        Some Champions observe that once a person has decided for sure about how he feels about something, it is almost impossible to change his mind.  When this person decided that he is absolutely right about something, he became impervious to any other persuasion.  No amount of truth, information, fact or proof can penetrate the protective shield built around this belief, especially if a respected authority has reinforced it.  No accumulation of words or crafty string of syllables can move or dissuade the solid belief in the truth.  Well, that is good.  What is not good about that?  Strength of belief—how wonderful to know for an absolute certainty that you are right!  Such a gift!  It is thrilling to see it applied equally to opposing views on the issues of global warming and forestry management, war and peace, paper or plastic, etc.  So much of what the world has to offer is sham and superficial.  Clear site is Champion!

        An e-mail surfaced in Champion not long ago from a distant but dear Champion Friend.  It contained photographs taken by a Marine unit over in Iraq.  One shows a foxhole in the rain.  It is really just a ring of mud, like a big muddy piecrust dam to keep the water out while soldiers wrapped in tarps try to get some rest.  Another shows two long lines of vehicles flanking a double row of man-sized shallow holes dug in the sandy dirt where soldiers stretch out to sleep or to read and rest.  There is a picture of a row of soldiers laying on blankets on the concrete of an air strip, their shoes off and their heads covered with their shirts to keep the sun and sand off.  Then there is the picture of the soldier sitting up against his tank in a sandstorm.  The text of the e-mail is to say that those soldiers remember why they are there and that they remember those who have been lost.  Go to and find a link to “Thank a Veteran Today” to see the whole thing.  It is worth the time.  Champions are happy to send Love and Gratitude to all those who serve at their Nation’s request, in uniform and out, past, present and future.

        What’s the best Christmas gift for a gardener?  A gift certificate for a seed catalogue!  What could be better?  Linda and Charlene have some lovely items over at the Plant Place and the Gift Corner too.  Soon Linda’s Almanac will be giving good planting advice.  The seasons move quickly!

        A lovely card came from Wayne and Doris Moore who said they visited Champion on May 6th for their 64th wedding anniversary with Wayne’s sister Angilee and Galen Neher.  They had a double wedding ceremony at the same church they still attend.  It is the Mountain Valley Church off Highway N.  Champions welcome them back any time!

        “It was Christmas in prison, and the food was real good.  We had turkey and pistols carved out of wood.  I dream of her always even when I don’t dream.  Her name’s on my tongue and her blood’s in my veins.  Wait a while Eternity, old Mother Nature’s got nothing on me.  Come to me, run to me, come to me now.  We’re rolling my Sweetheart, we’re flowing, by God!”  This song by John Prine is one of those that serves as a reminder that circumstances the world around are difficult for many and for many not of their own doing.  One hardly has to cast his glance far to find someone in less fortunate circumstances than one’s own.  Prine goes on to say, “She reminds me of a chess game with someone I admire, or a picnic in the rain after a prairie fire.”  He is quite the poet.

        Send your favorite poem to Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or to Champion News.  Recite your poem out on the porch at Henson’s Store in beautiful downtown Champion.  Step on in for some peppermint candy, or chocolate covered cherries just like you got when you were a kid.  The talk around the stove will all be about the upcoming New Year’s Day Parade.  Will Spotted Hog send that disgusting pig float again this year?  Will the General ever cease with bugling?  Will Barbara finally designate the spots for the signs that designate Lonnie Krider Memorial Drive?  Will there ever again be such a sweet and lovely spot in the big world as Champion?  (“Schmaltz” is Yiddish for rendered goose or chicken fat used to fry or to spread on bread, but in this case it means the overly sentimental or florid style typical of this column.)  Merry Christmas!  It is Champion!—Looking on the Bright Side!


December 14, 2009

December 14, 2009

CHAMPION—December 14, 2009


        In Champion, as well as in all the other less fortunate places in the world, the only constant is change.  Champions embrace change and encourage it in the good ways.  The things that do not change in Champion are also quite good, i.e., friendliness, good neighboring, good humor, good music, good food, good grief and good intentions.  Good intentions are the pavement to places not so good, they say, but in Champion good intentions eventually play out—Champions meet the new neighbor and extend a hand of friendship, or they finally get that note written to the mail carrier and tied to the bag of cookies and stuffed in the mailbox for the holidays, and endlessly on and on.  Sometimes it takes a good long time for good intentions to play out, but in Champion they do.  “Good grief!”  It is what Oscar Krider called a “by-word,” meaning in this instance a term to express exasperation, surprise, incredulity or an expletive as in the case of a stubbed toe or knocked noggin.  In the Champion sense, good grief is the kind where the empty seats at the holiday table are filled with good memories.  All those departed Champions: mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, children and dear friends left Champions who remember them and honor them with love and good memories.  Much of the sadness of loss gets tempered with gratitude over time and sweet smiles flit across the faces of those momentarily lost in deep thought.  As to good food, even Champion kitchens with poor reputations (remember that sweet potato pie) are turning out some unexpectedly attractive and delicious dishes, breads and confections.  On the subject of confections, a long time ago Wilburn Hutchison and another kid were caught stealing the divinity candy stored in the springhouse of a certain lady on Cold Springs Road.  Wilburn’s punishment was to carry a hundred buckets of water, he didn’t say from where to where.  He probably sang, “Ninety nine buckets of water to haul, ninety eight more buckets to haul.”  Champions kept a song in their hearts even back then.

        It has been good news to Champion to hear that Ruby Proctor is feeling better.  She has been spending some time up at St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, but it is to be hoped that she will be back home again soon.  She lives in Mountain Grove, but she is a Champion thru and thru.  Her folks were John and Goldie Hicks.  They lived up on the side of the hill above Fox Creek just north east of Champion.  They had neighbors Jim and Elizabeth Shelton.  J.T. and Betty Shelton now live just about in downtown Champion.  Like Wilburn, J.T. has not strayed too far from his home.  There are a number of Champions in that particularly pleasant boat.  This whole part of the country was at one time much more populated than it is now and back then families all had lots of kids.  Ruby had eight or nine siblings, the George Proctors had ten kids, Howard Proctor, Basil’s Dad, had twelve children.  There were sixty students in the Champion School and there were a lot of little schools around the county.  The population has changed with a few of the old families well represented—the Hensons, Hutchisons, Kriders, Upshaws, Sheltons, Proctors, Hicks, Coonts, Brixies, Mallernees and others.  The new comers are filling in the holes nicely and it may be that change will eventually fill the countryside up again.  The roads have changed.  There are some new ones–paved and improved and some of the old ones are overgrown and lost.  Properties have changed hands and been split up and clear-cut and plowed up, but the heart of Champion is beating strong.  Everybody came from somewhere and Champion feels like home.

        Another Champion from just over in McMurtrey township sends seasons greetings to her Champion neighbors with the news that the bald eagles are back for the fourth year in a row.  She always has interesting information to share including her appreciation for the rich bounty of wildlife in her neighborhood.  A brief note from Bob Conrad said, “Just checking in—OK, Conrad Corner.”  Now that is brief! Who has not seen those amazing turnips?  A couple of weeks ago amid pictures of trophy deer and River’s Locks of Love was Darrell Hesterlee with two mammoth turnips.  This week comes Alvin Barnhart with some even more massive!  He says the Just Right variety has a sweet flavor, making them better to eat raw.  Earlier this season Barnhart shared some of these beauties with a Champion who found them to be excellent.  She was expecting a pithy quality and sharpness, due to the enormous size even then, but to her surprise they were crisp and bright tasting, very pleasant.  It looks like turnip lovers, Lem and Ned, must have found the Barnhart’s place because the tidy rock gardens and landscaping show a degree of perfectness and attention that could only occur as the result of the boundless energy and enthusiasm of true turnip lovers.

        When Pete Proctor wrote to inform Champion, Drury, and Vanzant about Ruby, he said, “She needs all of our prayers.  Also I want to say ‘Merry Christmas’ to all the Veterans that served and are still serving.  Bryan will be home for Christmas this time for the first time since 1993.”  Champions all join Pete in his good wishes for the troops.

        More good news is all about new trail through Skyline’s “Tiger Holler.”  Champions are excited to tour the trail and are pleased to learn that community support is welcome to lengthen the exiting trail and to prepare more garden areas.  Champions from anywhere can get more information about helping at the Skyline School, 683-4874.

        Fortnight Bridge turned out to be a pretty good game.  Good cards prompted a number of bid slams that were not made and three slams made but unbid.  Good cards and the pineapple upside down cake made by the Norwood host, made the drive through the dense fog well worth the trouble.  Vera Cruz had the high score and Brushy Knob was low.  The Champion player’s ranking was, as is frequently the case, next to the bottom.

        Champion children of every age are watching out and not crying against the chance that Santa really does know.  Hearts are light and dreary weather has no effect.  Prove it to yourself down at Henson’s Store in the heart of the Historic District.  It’s on the North side of the square and situated perfectly on the broad expanse of Lonnie Krider Memorial Drive.  Sometimes folks go to Champion on the pretext of buying some binder twine or pistachio pudding mix, but really they go just to stand around the stove and remember.  Sing your favorite song out on the porch or to yourself on your way home.  “Tra la la! tra la la! la la la!”  Share some memories at Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or at Champion News.  Look in on for some pictures of the past and some hope for the future.  In Champion–Looking on the Bright Side!


December 7, 2009

December 7, 2009

CHAMPION—December 7, 2009


        As the days continue to get shorter in Champion the nights are getting longer.  Farmers are busy getting as many of their chores done before dark as they can and are doing the rest after dark in the cold wind and drizzle.  They are farmers because they love the life and these Champions are fortunate to live close to the Earth, aware of the seasons and the swiftness of time.  Those long summer days are just around the corner.

        Whatever reasons Champions have for being out on the roads they are aware of the need to be safe drivers.  Twisty windy mountain roads with beautiful views around every sharp turn and just over every steep little hill that the two narrow lanes with no shoulders traverse are the only way to get from Champion to anywhere.  Familiarity with the scenic byways and thoughts wandering to destinations in advance can make Champions vulnerable to the recklessness of others.  One particular driver in a beige sedan has been seen on local pavement speeding and passing other vehicles and school buses in no passing zones, on hills and blind curves.  More than one Champion has had a close call and everyone is cautioned to be more alert.  It hardly matters how well a person can handle his own vehicle and how considerate he may be, if the oncoming traffic is erratic and unsafe.  So far no one has been able to get the license number of this offensive individual, but Champions are on the lookout knowing that forewarned is forearmed.

        Champion is not really the halfway point between Iowa and Oklahoma, but some are treating it that way.  Louise and Wilburn have been back and forth to Oklahoma City and have been hosting guests from Iowa on their way to other places.  Thanksgiving saw another fabulous feast come out of Louise’s kitchen.  No one leaves her table unsatisfied.  She had the good news to report that one of her Champion neighbors has donated seven fat hens to the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department to be used for chicken and noodles at the Skyline Chili Supper on the 6th of March!  These are homegrown, healthy, wholesome hens—just right for a great community supper.  Music is already being lined up and some great things are showing up for the silent auction.  It is going to be another smashing affair!  The Ladies Auxiliary will be getting together on Groundhog Day to get things going.  What a social whirlwind is Champion!

        Teddy Roosevelt’s image adorns the masthead of the Organization for Competitive Markets together with the words “Honesty, Prosperity, Economic Liberty.”  This comes to mind concerning those seven fat healthy hens, homegrown and wholesome.  How fortunate is the Champion with a freezer full of good homegrown food and a pantry full of mason jars of tomatoes, green beans and pickles.  Most of all the food in the grocery stores comes through a very few large multinational companies:  Tyson, Cargill, Swift, National Farmers, the Archer Daniel Midland Corporation and a few others.  They serve a purpose and do a good job of making everything available everywhere.  Still the opportunity to support local food sources, the gardeners and growers that keep the local farmer’s markets going, are not lost on Champions.  Teddy Roosevelt would probably have been right at home in Champion, the old Rough Rider.

        An article in a national newspaper indicates that soldiers are being less likely to be open with mental health workers about their war experiences, as they are required to sign the waiver that states that the information is not privileged if it reveals bad acts.  The whole nature of war is ‘bad acts.’  If the soldiers cannot unburden themselves of the horrors they experienced, will they be able to resume a normal life at home again?  War changes everything and probably resuming a ‘normal’ life is a moot point, but these thousands of U.S. Service personnel are doing what their Nation has required of them.  A cousin was remarking the other day that back in World War II everyone participated.  Children brought newsprint to school one day, used cooking grease another day, and other things on other days all to support the war effort.  Women spent spare moments knitting socks and gloves for soldiers.  Scrap drives and rationing of all kinds of materials were common.  These current conflicts, however, are being borne primarily by the military and their families alone.  The civilian population can easily enough go through a day with hardly a reminder that these conflicts are claiming American lives.  Champions all over the Country will step up to listen when the soldiers need to talk.  On Pearl Harbor Day and every day let those returning be met with the Love and Gratitude they have coming.

        A charming Champion will celebrate a birthday on the tenth of the month.  She shares this anniversary with Morton Gould, prolific composer, Emily Dickinson, poet, Anton Mauve, Dutch painter, Chet Huntley, newscaster, and they are all in her good company.  This Champion is a geranium cultivator, par excellence!  She has appropriated one called “Happy Thought” to be the Champion Flower–the town flower, like the State bird, the bluebird; the State instrument, the fiddle; the State tree, the dogwood, etc.  About the Champion Geranium she says, “It has ruffled leaves, dark green around the edges with a splash of yellow in the middle.  It is a ‘zonal’ not a scented geranium with a very pretty single pink flower.”  Champions will be looking for it in the Spring!

        Linda’s Almanac from over at the Plant Place in Norwood says that December’s is called The Cold Moon.  The December birthstone is turquoise and the flower of the month is the Paper white.  These colder days give gardeners the time to review their successes or failures and to start planning now for next year’s garden.  Food and flowers make a nice mix for any garden.  “There is a bluebird on your windowsill.  There is a rainbow in your sky.  There are happy thoughts your heart to fill, near enough to make you cry.  And if perchance your heart grows sad, you still can smile again, and with every tear you’ve ever had comes the sunshine after the rain.  There is a bluebird on your windowsill.”  So sang Doris Day.

        Share happy thoughts about a gray day at Henson’s Store in downtown Champion.  The place has recovered nicely from the Black Friday frenzy and still the ice cream sells.  Winter or summer, people just like it.  Flowery descriptions of anything Champion are welcome at Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO. 65717 or at Champion News  Look in at to find Linda’s Almanac or to find out about your favorite Champions.  (Go to the ‘Search’ box down at the bottom of the archives.)  They are there somewhere.  Champions!  Looking on the Bright Side.