CHAMPION—May 31, 2010

        Champion is enjoying the fullness of the season.  The hay harvest is truly plenteous and while the laborers are few they have some big machines and all is well.  Harley, particularly, has some pretty hay down and up.  Visitors to the community, friends and family, are all made better by their sojourn in the tranquil environs.  The place was hopping on Wednesday morning with the ground-breaking ceremony for the replica of the Historic Emporium being constructed on the North side of the Square.  Visiting dignitaries included retired city planner, Thomas VanDyke, of Houston, Texas.  The illustrious Mayor of Champion was handed a stainless steel sharp shooter shovel and he summarily scooped up a representative clot of Champion Earth while cameras clicked and whirred from every angle.  Though the photographs are unavailable for publication, the oratory was emblazoned on the psyches of all in attendance.  The reconstruction was likened to the Phoenix Rising, representing the capacity for vision.  The mythical bird is the symbol of high virtue and grace, of power and prosperity.  Progress on the project is steady and substantial.  Champion–steeped in the classics and good planning.

        The 24th Denlow School Reunion was a wild success!  There were sixteen former students in attendance as well as a great number of friends and family and some idle passers by.  The reunion was first started by the late Lucille Shannon Ketchum, who kept it tightly organized for nineteen years.  Mary Joe Cole Denner, who recently passed away, and Evan Williams were also a part of that original organizing group.  Williams, who attended school at Denlow in 1924 or 1925, enjoyed himself at the reunion, as did Lowell Lutrelle who attended in the 1930’s.  There were four Hoppers in attendance– Marilyn, Wally, James and Ricki.  People came from far and wide and Vernon Upshaw made it out from Mountain Grove!  One of the highlights of the program was a talk given by Gene Hendrickson.  He is from Fairfax Station, Virginia.  He grew up in North Dakota where he still owns his family farm.  He was on his way back there after the reunion.  He is a Bird Colonel, a veteran of 30 years in the Marines with tours of duty in Viet Nam and Desert Storm.  He remarked that young troops do most of the fighting and have done so all the way back through the civil war and beyond.  Generation after generation young soldiers enthusiastically step up to serve their Nation and the cause of Freedom.  He and his wife, Sharon Hammons Hendrickson, had been in Denlow last fall visiting the cemetery where her great granddad, James Hammons, is buried and they were invited back for the reunion.  They had a nice visit with second cousin Bertha Wood over in Mountain Grove during their stay.  After an amazing dinner, a big bunch of the group assembled in the pavilion where Laverne Miller conducted an auction.  He was in a hurry to get it done on account of a pending obligation up in Chicago at the National Billy Goat Auction.  He has been in charge of most of the reunion auctions over the years.  He is a veteran too.  He landed in Normandy not long after D-Day and as part of the signal corps, strung wire for General Patton.  His wife, Jessie Mae Miller, contributed several crocheted pieces to the auction including a filet crochet wall hanging saying, ‘Home Sweet Home.’  She had with her a photograph of her family with her great grandparents, her mother and father, her mother’s parents and numerous brothers and sisters.  Her granddad had passed away in 1913, so the photo was pretty old.  It was made right in Denlow, but was too full of people to see much of the scenery.  Barbara Anderson was the winning bidder on a set of Champion Picture Post Cards, which had been presented, “To Denlow with affection from Sister City, Champion, May 23, 2009.”  It took a year for the General to be willing to part with them—so picturesque!  The morning’s program had also been pretty scenic as Virginia Fuller, Kaye Johnston, and Sally Prock reprised their exotic Polynesian dance to the accompaniment of Robert Upshaw’s torture of an otherwise quite nice squeezebox, which he called a ukulele.  It is his notion that once word gets out about the spicy nature of this performance, the 25th Reunion next year will be standing room only!  Esther Wrinkles and Ruby Proctor had a chance to sit and visit a while Saturday with Virginia Jacobs and others there on the benches at the entrance to the cemetery.  Esther was pleased to meet up with her cousin Louise Holt, who made it out to Denlow on Sunday.  She is from Excelsior Springs and came down to see her sister Betty Garrett who lives in Mansfield.  While she was in the neighborhood, she attended a church meeting with Esther, and Larry and Teresa Wrinkles.  The meeting was being held by 80 year old Johnny Elmore in Houston, MO.  Irene Dooms came out to Denlow in the afternoon to visit with her sister and their cousin Louise.  They saw a lot of people that they rarely see including Wayne and Frances Southerland.  He is doing better Esther says, getting around with his walker.  So it will take some of the committee a while to rest up from this shindig, but they are already thinking about the next one.

        Champions are reminded of the First Ripe Tomato in Champion Contest.  This is the fourth year for the contest and the rules are the same:  The winning tomato must have been grown in Champion and must be shared with the judges to verify authentic ripeness.  Donna Moskaly won in 2007 on June 28th.  Louise Hutchison won the next year on July 12th with a Parks Whopper, and last year Larry Casey won on June 30th.  Prizes will be announced soon.  Time is flying by and Linda’s Almanac from over at the Plant Place in Norwood says June the 4th, 5th, and 6th will all be good days to plant root crops.

        Memorial Day is the time to stop to think of those who breathed their last in our Nation’s cause.  It is a comforting day also, a time to gather with family and friends, a moment to enjoy the Love of those closest to our hearts.  Judy Ing, of Bastrop, Texas, was a dear Champion friend, who visited here many times over the last thirty years.  She was taken from the world in a sudden tragic accident on May 22, 2010.  Judy was a true and generous friend and the many people whose lives she touched are Grateful to have had the chance to Love her.

        Step out into the Loafing Shed on the West side of the Square in Downtown Champion for an eyeful of excitement.  Bring your family and friends down to Champion to get their spirits lifted as the Phoenix rises.  The Temporary Emporium Annex over on the West Side of the Square is full of all the pertinences to keep a Champion life sweet—from ice cream to bailing twine.  “Miss your voice, your touch on my hand, just to know that you understand, my buddy!  My buddy, Your buddy misses you!”  Send your favorite sweet sad song to Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO, 65717 or to Champion at  Visit the website for a beautiful view of Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!