February 22, 2010

February 22, 2010

CHAMPION—February 22, 2010


        Fifty some odd years ago there were three families living around the Champion—Denlow area and each of them had sons.  Three boys, one from each of these families, went out hunting one day.  Among them there was only the one gun, probably a 22.  Out North of Denlow, stalking their prey, they came upon a certain hollow log.  It was a particularly contrived hollow log in that it had a door built right into it.  This door might have had hinges, or the door might have just have been composed of an overlayment of bark and moss, but a door nonetheless and behind it sundry jars or jugs.  (The pertinences of the story are vague due to a persistent requirement for anonymity.)  These vessels were doubtlessly inspected, perhaps sampled, but surely left overtly undisturbed (or perhaps not, the particulars are vague.)  The owner of these sundry jugs or jars took exception to their discovery and their treatment by these young rogues, however was reluctant to complain to any specific authority for reasons of his own.  Now it came about that there was an old abandoned home place that had an old abandoned mailbox out by the road and one of these hunters frustrated that day (or another) from lack of game, shot a hole in the mailbox.  Maybe he just needed to sight in his gun, or he felt it a shame to go out hunting and not even shoot, or maybe it was the mailbox itself or the rough words of the unhappy property owner that caused him to shoot.  The mailbox was shot and a complaint was lodged and the ruffians were summarily summonsed to stand before the judge–all three of them.  Champions would all like to have been a fly on that wall that day or, perhaps not as flies are not so long lived and all this happened such a long time ago.  Still, it is kind of exciting and somehow more engaging than current events.  Share thoughts about these rouge hunters or any Champion stories that come to mind at Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or at Champion News.

        A few sunny days warm the blood fast and the geese fly, the buzzards return, frogs start to sing, daffodils sprout up and the rosy nose of rhubarb peeks out of its garden bed.  The purpose of these luscious pre-spring days is to drive home the bitterness of cold when it comes again.  After the teasing warmth, the cold seems colder.  Last year a heavy snowfall fell on the Skyline VFD chili supper when it was too late to call the whole thing off!  Nevertheless, it was a splendid evening and it was a good benefit for the fire department.  People braved the elements to kick the slats out of the cabin fever and to get a jump-start on the spring social calendar.  It will be the same this year.  No matter what the weather, people will pour in from all over the country to support the little fire department that does so much for the area.  All the firefighters go through intense medical training and fire and rescue training of all sorts.  The rural community benefits significantly from having all this expertise available in the event of an accident or emergency.  Look in on the www.championnews.us website for more information about the chili supper and a full color view of Esther and that lovely queen star quilt that will be given away that night to the owner of the winning ticket.  It is going to be another fine get together.

        Champion Douglas Holt sent an interesting list of Marine Corps bumper stickers.  A favorite one was “If you can read this, thank a teacher.  If you can read it in English, thank a Veteran!”  Champions are grateful to all those who are serving on behalf of their Nation, in and out of uniform at home and in the dangerous parts of the world.  One Champion has a cousin who was a helicopter mechanic in the Marines stationed at Mosul, just across the Euphrates River from the ruins of Nineveh, which was the intended destination of Jonah who finally made it.  The cousin has not been heard of for a while, but routine checks of the rosters of the fallen and injured have not revealed his name.  That is a good thing, but it is a morbid search nonetheless and it keeps one reminded of the actual costs.

        Wednesday the 24th and Thursday the 25th are both good days to plant above ground crops, flowers and seedbeds.  Linda’s Almanac from over at The Plant Place says it is also a good time to apply chemical fertilizer, if a person is of a mind to do that.  The next good planting days will start on the third of March and go through the sixth, all days being good for planting root crops.  The almanac says the 5th and 6th will both be good days to prune in order to encourage growth.  Time is going by quickly.

        Music is one of the gifts that all can share.  Whatever the circumstance or situation, chances are pretty good that there is a song that will explain it or ease the way or offer some comfort or hope.  Such a song is Unchained Melody, a 1955 popular song by Alex North with lyrics by Hy Zaret.  “Time goes by so slowly, and time can do so much.”  Champions of a certain age will have their favorite versions even if they do not know the name of the song.  It does not matter.  Step up on the porch at Henson’s Store in beautiful Downtown Champion and let your favorite song slip into your head.  Just keep it in there if you are too shy to let it out.  It will do you almost as much good.  Send out a few of those interesting Champion picture postcards to friends and family stuck out in the dismal and depressed parts of the world.  It will do them good to get a view of Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


February 15, 2010

February 15, 2010

CHAMPION–February 14, 2010


        Champions are always ready to celebrate.  Knowing that the world is full of woe, worry, and wearing winter weather, Champions choose to celebrate in protests of the glum.  The verb “to champion” means to defend and support.  That’s what Champions everywhere do and this week in Champion, Champions celebrate Ruby Hicks Proctor.  She was raised just over north east of the store.  She had three brothers and six sisters and her folks were John and Golda Hicks.  She married Mr. Proctor when she was seventeen.  There is a story in Champion that she worked at the knothole factory until she went to work at the doughnut hole factory.  The knothole factory was the Cloud Toy Factory, which was situated near the railroad in Mountain Grove.  She worked there for a long time and then took a job at the bakery at the Town and Country grocery store.  She worked there for eighteen years, getting to work at four in the morning to get the doughnuts started and things ready to open up for business at 6 a.m.  During this time she was raising children and working on the farm.  Now that is a Champion woman!  She has her birthday this Friday on the 19th and rumor has it that she will be 85.  Her grandson Bryan and his family are over in Virginia under a lot of snow, but are well and are wishing Ruby a happy birthday.  Bryan is in the service and Champions are wishing him and all his fellows the best as they serve the country at home and in the dangerous parts of the world.  They have Champion Love and Gratitude.

        Ruby’s good friend, Esther Wrinkles, has again provided a beautiful quilt for the fundraiser at the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department Chili Supper, which will occur on March 6th this year.  The quilt is a queen-sized beauty, with a star pattern and a blue lining.  It is stunning.  Esther has also been quite instrumental in securing a great line-up of music for the affair.  Back Yard Blue Grass, Spring Creek, Big Creek, David Richards and Erin Akers, and the Green Mountain Messengers will all perform.  It promises to be quite a night.  In addition to chili there will be chicken and noodles on the menu.  Once again the chickens in the noodles are home grown organic big fat hens produced by one of the fire fighters and his family and generously donated to the auxiliary for this special occasion.  Folks will be glad to find some stationary bicycles in the silent auction to peddle off some of the potential pounds produced by the plethora of scrumptious pies that come donated in the door.  What a Champion delight!

        Even an extraordinary place like Champion sees changes in the population.  Folks move away for various reasons or sometimes they pass away and land and old home places change hands.  It is as if the country is breathing—out with the old—in with the new.  Champions certainly miss old friends and dear ones as they leave and the old stories around Champion hearths keep the good times that have passed fresh in Champion hearts, but hearts open to new neighbors and new friends.  Steve and Darlene Conner have made a home in the place where Ruth Hicks last lived and a lovely couple, Gabriel and Mark, have built that beautiful straw bale house up at the site of the New Old Dogwood School House on C Highway.  New porch lights twinkle in the darkness as people find their way here from all over the place.  So Welcome!  Come and meet your neighbors.  The place still known as ‘the Goldie Dooms’ place, however, has been unoccupied for quite a while.  Even though the original house has been replaced a couple of times, local people still refer to it as the Goldie Dooms place.  The house been vandalized and ransacked and the doors and windows left open and what was a cute little place at the bend in the road has taken on a specter of danger.  Someone said that it had been purchased on the courthouse steps the other day.  Maybe someone will take possession soon.  They’ll find some neighbors willing to help out.  Some were thinking to call the sheriff to see if the place could be boarded up as a way to make it less attractive to vermin, but maybe things are about to turn around.  The sheriff probably is not the guy to call for that kind of thing anyway, but his number is the one to call for a fire, auto accident or medical emergency.  That office routes emergency calls to the appropriate responders and in these parts that is the Skyline VFD.  The number to call is 683-1020.  A firefighter was remarking the other day that the sheriff’s office gets a lot of calls for frivolous or silly things but they’ve got some capable people there who know how to their job.  While Champions hope they never have to use it, they are glad to know the number.  It is easy to remember–1020.  It is 683-1020.

        Back to Goldie Dooms, it seems that there were a number of ladies named Golda or Goldie in the Champion area in years past.  Ruby’s Mother was Golda and Oscar Krider’s wife was Goldie.  There are many ladies of a certain age named Shirley after Shirley Temple.  It would be interesting to know the Goldie after whom these Champion girls were named.  That information is welcome at Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or at Champion News.

        The 20th and the 21st of the month will be good days for planting above ground crops according to Linda’s Almanac from over at the Plant Place in Norwood.  The 24th and 25th will both be good days for starting seedbeds.  Go to the links section of the www.championnews.us website to see the almanac or go on over to The Plant Place and pick one up.  Charlene Dupre, who is Linda’s sister, runs the Gift Corner there and the kind of lovely items she routinely has in her shop will be much in evidence at the silent auction at the Skyline Chili Supper.  Those ladies are the very definition of good neighbors.

        Dillon and Dakota Watts were down in Champion visiting for a few days from their home in Tennessee.  They like to come down to spend time on the farm and to help out with whatever needs doing.  They are growing up and their young cousins Foster and Kalyssa think they are just the greatest.  They are all good singers and Kalyssa was heard Sunday showing off her skills with the scales…Do Re Me Fa Sol La Ti Do!  What a girl!  Her big brother, Foster, has a fan club at the Bank of America.  Gayla Blackwell’s father was named Foster and she said that it is not a common name and she enjoys reading about the young fellow.  Ms. Blackwell should know that Foster is an exceptional runner.  He climbs that steep hill at Champion and then just flies down it.  He almost never falls and most of the time he can avoid knocking down his little sister when he gets to the bottom.  She is a pretty good sport about it though and just figures it to be part of the territory.  She was reported to have told her Aunt Linda that she is always in trouble.  She will be four at the end of the summer.  Champions wonder just what all kinds of trouble she could be in?

        “Trouble in mind, I’m blue, but I won’t be blue always.  You know the sun’s gonna shine in my back door some day.”  That is an old song with some good memories attached to it.  Champions are routinely checking their back door for sunshine and when it does not appear, they go on down to Henson’s store for a little bright spot in their day anyway.  Steve and Darlene just back from a Padre Island adventure brought Ms. Henson a new bamboo wind chime to hang on her porch.  It is a beauty with a haunting melodic tone that brings sunny beaches to mind, a nice addition to Champion—already looking on the Bright Side.


February 8, 2010

February 8, 2010

CHAMPION—February 8, 2010


        Champion is one of those places that makes sport of the weather.  It doesn’t matter how cold or snowy or muddy or wet or hot or dry or windy it gets in Champion, there is liable to be someone around who can make a joke about it.  Jackie Coonts said that the snow was probably going to get axel deep on a Ferris wheel.  He had several other thoughts on just about how deep he reckoned the snow might get but the Ferris wheel one was the most printable.  He was still in good spirits after having had a birthday on Sunday and while did not say just how old he was, he said that when he was a kid going to the Dogwood School (The New East Dogwood School) over on C Highway, he walked to school and got there first to build a fire in the stove.  It was a big wood stove like the one at Henson’s Store around which this yarn was spun.  He said he got there early one morning when it was about zero degrees out and filled the stove full of pine knots and paper.  The whole thing was glowing red including the stovepipe when the teacher got there.  He said it was a wonder he didn’t burn the school down.  For the fire lighting service the school paid him a silver dollar every month.  In those days students would get a silver dollar at the end of the school year if they had perfect attendance.  Jackie collected seven of those.  Roy Brown, who now lives over at Mansfield, collected eight of them.  Somebody said those silver dollars might be pretty valuable now on account of being so old.  Jackie did not say just how old he is but Champions expect somewhere past fifty.  Jackie asked if you fed cows snow would they give milkshakes?

        A note came from Judith Parsons responding to the Champion birthday wishes and talking about the quilt she won a couple of years ago, “I would love to tell Ms. Violet Melton what a wonderful quilt she made, and how lucky I was to have won it.  We have really enjoyed it, and our guests have enjoyed it very much for its beauty and warmth.”  The Melton family was doubtlessly well represented at the big doughnut fry party at the home of Larry Hicks on Friday.  This annual event has been going on for some time and is a chance for friends and neighbors to get together to get better acquainted and to enjoy the hospitality of a good neighbor.  Larry has been a good neighbor to the Skyline Volunteer Fire Department over the years and chances are good that the tomato on your burger at the Annual Skyline VFD Picnic came from Larry’s garden.  Or it well could have come from Alvin and Beverly Barnhart’s garden.  It is so often the case that people who are good gardeners are people who like to share.  One of the very best things that Champion has going for it as a community is its neighbors.  Champions are thinking a big juicy homegrown tomato would be pretty good about now.  The next good planting day for above ground crops will be on the 16th according to Linda’s Almanac from over at the Plant Place in Norwood.  Some are ready to get their hands dirty already.

        News has come that Elizabeth Johnston has a cast on her leg all the way to up above the knee in treatment for her broken ankle.  She is spending some time with her parents, Kaye and Richard Johnston, up in Marshfield while she recuperates.  She has had visits from family, friends and co-workers all wishing her well and a speedy recovery.  Kaye and Richard always try to make it down to Skyline for the Chili Supper.  Maybe Elizabeth will be up for the trip by March 6th.  The Auxiliary ladies had a good productive meeting on the second and plans are in full swing for another fine evening of good food, good music, good fellowship and a good break from the cabin fever that will be fairly pervasive in the area if the weather doesn’t settle down a little.  Champions do not complain about the weather and they always have a good time at the Skyline Chili Supper.

        Champions can remember when there was no phone service in these parts at all.  It was in the late 1990’s before the party lines that were the technology of the area finally gave way to the new buried fiber optic lines that are in place now.  The fiber optic lines can carry the broadband internet and Champions are excited about the possibility of having their internet speed enhanced.  It would be very much faster so that when a certain college student/dairy farmer has his accounting homework done and gets ready to submit it on line, he will not get kicked off and have to start all over.  The high-speed internet is already available over in Champion East, but others are on the waiting list.  A representative of the CenturyLink people said that priority is determined by demand, so those interested in the service can contact them at 1-800-201-4099 and it may just happen that Champion will be able to join the 21st century before too much of it has slipped away.

        Some Champions have been enjoying the sight of the Common Flicker, which the bird book says is common in open country near large trees.  They are jay-sized woodpeckers with brown back, no white on wings, and a black breast crescent.  Champions have seen them around before but were wondering if they stayed all year or if they were migrants.  Robbins, bluebirds and cardinals seem to be around all year so maybe these Common Flickers are too.  The big migration problem has seemed to be with the GetGOIN people.  As they performed their migration of the e-mail accounts to the new platform there were all kinds of little glitches and hitches and customer service people were putting in some long hours.  One of these hardworking people is Kimberly Mayfield.  She is the granddaughter of long time Champions Lee and Maggie Cooley.  Lee (Theodore) was a World War I Veteran who grew up in Champion.  He has one surviving sister who is Frances Southerland, wife of Wayne Southerland.  Maggie (Martha) Cooley who is 89 now, still lives in the area and subscribes to three local papers.  So, Ms. Cooley, if you are reading this, your granddaughter is a lovely person.  She has a pleasant way of explaining complicated technological things to people who might think that microchips are just the small ones in the bottom of the bag.  Kimberly said that the internet provider had decided to move the e-mail accounts to an outfit that had better control of the Spam!  Technology is Champion!  Just look in on www.championnews.us for proof.  Several mentioned that they had heard Lonnie Krider and Wayne Anderson on the radio two mornings in a row last week on the new public radio station out of Cabool, 88.1 on the FM dial.  Champion!

        The Chinese New Year will commence on St. Valentine’s Day this year.  It will be the Year of the Tiger and it is generally thought that it is a fortuitous time for acts of courage.  Describe such acts at Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO. 65717 or at Champion News.  Sweethearts are urged to courageously step up on the porch at Henson’s Store and spring for that box of chocolate covered cherries for your Valentine.  Sing “Let me call you sweetheart, I’m in love with you,” to the right person and know that romance is a big deal in Champion where they’re looking on the bright side!


February 1, 2010

February 1, 2010

CHAMPION—February 1, 2010


        Champions are again dazzled by the beauty of their environs as the full moon mixing with falling and fallen snow fixed Champion in the swirling center of a luminous pearl.  February’s is called the Snow Moon and some are thinking that before the moon is full again on the 28th, the countryside will have retreated into mud, mud, glorious mud.  It hardly matters as ecstatic joy and bitter complaint have equal affect on weather and road conditions.  It is a Champion thing to love the weather especially on Groundhog Eve.

        An email from Kenneth Henson says, “Enjoyed the news from Wally Hopper.  Growing up Wally Hopper would say and do things that were funny.  My younger brother and I would play Wally Hopper and mimic the things he did.  His mother was the kindest and most Godly woman that I have ever known.  Hovey Henson was an obnoxious kid but she loved him in spite of the defects.”  This woman was named Irma and neighbors from long ago remember her as having been a lovely person and Hovey as obnoxious!

        An article last week reported that last Sunday, the 24th of January, a vehicle driven by Doris Lininger had washed off a low-water crossing on County Road 114 off East Highway 76.  The daring water rescue by Missouri Highway Patrolman, Justin Piccinino, was described and the participation of Patrol Trooper Rob Crewse, Sheriff Chris Degase, Deputy James Venrow and “fire department personnel” was noted.  The fire department personnel were Skyline Volunteer Fire Department firefighters Robert Hamilton, Craig Blankenship, Dom Mastrangelo, Bill Griswold, Michael Griswold and Wayne Griswold.  The article also says that Ms. Liniger was treated for hypothermia by paramedics at the scene.  The paramedics were not named, but Champions and all the residents of the beautiful remote rural areas are grateful for them and the excellent emergency response of State and County personnel and particularly the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department.

        Betty Shelton is making progress toward healing after having broken her arm a month ago.  She has begun to be able to do a little housework again and is happy to stand at her sink looking out over beautiful downtown Champion to do a few dishes.  Champion relatives learned over the weekend that Elizabeth Johnston slipped on the ice and broke her ankle.  She has had a reconstructive surgery and will be recuperating with her folks in Marshfield for a little while.  Just last year her cousin, Elva, had a mishap that resulted in a cast and a nice long visit with her folks.  It is a cautionary tale that strong resilient young ladies can have accidents.  It makes some old Champions want to hold on.

        Those Groundhog Day birthdays need special celebrating because a day so propitious for change must surely have hailed the arrival of exciting people.  Judith Parsons from over west of Ava is one of those exciting people.  She makes hominy starting with wood ashes!  How many Champions have done that lately?  A couple of years ago she bought the winning ticket for the quilt made by Ms. Violet Melton that was the centerpiece of the Skyline VFD Chili Supper.  It was a beautiful rose pattern worked in a lavender cross stitch.  Judith is an excellent quilter herself and can boast having a great number of talented quilting friends all of whom love her and wish her the happiest birthday.  Charlene Dupre is another of those exciting birthday people.  She has just returned from a trip to Florida spending time with her charming granddaughter, Olivia.  This six year old reads so well that her teachers have to send notes home in sealed envelopes!  Charlene runs the Gift Corner at the Plant Place in Norwood and it is always a treat to see what new things she has acquired.  Charlene has a keen eye for beauty and is a gifted artist.  The shop is open again after the winter holiday and gardeners will be pleased to see that Linda’s Almanac is already available there.  It will also soon be up on line under Champion Connections on the www.championnews.us site.

        “Now the moon shines tonight on pretty Red Wing; the breezes sighing; the night birds crying, while afar ‘neath the stars, her brave is sleeping while Red Wing’s weeping her heart away.”  There are many versions of this song.  It is an old one.  This one came from “The Education of Little Tree,” a book written by Forrest Carter.  Well, Little Tree was an orphan boy of about five years of age when he went to live with his grandparents in the hills.  His grandmother was a Cherokee and his grandfather was Cherokee and Scotch.  The back cover of the book says it has all emotions—humor, sorrow tragedy, bigotry, unselfishness and love and goes on to say that Mr. Carter exalts personal precepts and an appreciation of nature.  One of those personal precepts is when a person finds something good he ought to share it right away.  Forrest Carter was five years old in 1930 and he only lived to be fifty-four.  He was sort of a controversial figure so Champions figure he would have fit in these parts pretty well.  He also wrote “The Vengeance Trail of Josey Wales.”  Douglas County still bears scars of the Civil War.  It is part of the make up of the country.  Maybe Josey Wales did not look like Clint Eastwood but the scars of war are as evident today as ever.  Soldiers returning from service in the dangerous parts of the world can look forward to some readjustment problems.  They have the Love and the Gratitude of their Nation, if they can just get some understanding and assistance.

        The Skyline Ladies Auxiliary will have had it’s meeting before this gets to ink.  The details of the March 6th Chili Supper will have been worked out including the music, the menu and this year’s quilt.  Time is flying and excitement is building!  Champion.

        Sing, hum, or whistle your version of “Red Wing” out on the porch at Henson’s Store in the blissful heart of Downtown Champion.  Look up and down the beautiful expanse of Lonnie Krider Memorial Drive and let the tranquility of the place sooth your ruffled feathers.  The Store is on the North Side of the Square, but the porch faces south so there is a little break from the wind there.  That is not to say that there is not plenty of wind going on inside the store, depending on the time of day.  It has always been like that. If you can’t make it through the mud to the store, share good Champion news at Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO. 65717 or at Champion News.  It is Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!