CHAMPION—August 16, 2010

          There was a mighty rush of wind in Champion as Champions heaved a collective sigh at the breaking of the brutal heat wave that has held the country in its grip for what seems to have been a long, long time.  Uncomplaining Champions have gone on about their businesses with their regular good humor and enthusiasm, though some are moving a little more slowly.  It is important to be cautious in extreme weather.  Champions know that heat exhaustion is every bit as dangerous as hypothermia.  Hot or not Champion is a very cool place.

          The Skyline VFD Picnic for 2010 was one of the hottest on record.  Still the staunch supporters—long time loyal friends of the Skyline Volunteer Fire Department came out in numbers.  Those firefighters and auxiliary people who do all the hard work that makes the picnic happen were rewarded by a good turn out and the community seems grateful to have this wonderful tradition to count on year after year.  Not everyone can volunteer to fight fires—drive the big trucks and drag those big hoses—but the chance to participate in a meaningful way in such a solid community organization is one of the reasons people choose to live here.  Increasingly the population of the area is of retirement age.  Those pies that get baked for the Picnic kitchen, the cakes made for the cakewalk, and those quilt tickets purchased, and bingo games played all add up to some significant participation in the fire department.  It is a privilege to serve and it is clear to see that the Skyline VFD Association Membership takes pride in doing so.

          Marilee Richards was the lucky winner of the quilt at the Skyline VFD Picnic this year.  Esther Wrinkles made the queen size quilt; a pattern called Stripes and Scraps, and sold the winning ticket as well.  Ms. Wrinkles said that she had stepped into the First Savings and Loan to get some copies of the tickets made, which they are pleased to do in support of the Skyline VFD.  Ms. Richards made the copies of the tickets and bought the very first ones that Esther sold this year.  She will receive the quilt later this week and will have plenty of reason to be happy.  Such a beautiful quilt will likely keep Ms. Richards participating in the Skyline Picnic for years to come.

          Brenda Paul was the winner of the $100.00’s worth of free electricity donated to the Skyline VFD by Jeff Pardeck of the White River Valley Electric Co-Op.  The annual gift by White River Electric is one of the mainstays of the Skyline Picnic.  Bernard and Brenda Paul moved to the area about a year ago from Oklahoma.  She said that this was certainly a good welcoming to the community and she is looking forward to becoming acquainted with the area and with the people.  She was pleased to hear about the Chili Supper that comes up toward the end of February every year.

          Buzz Woods won the drawing for the Nikon 3 x 9 x 40-rifle scope that was donated by Out Back Gun and Rod of Norwood.  The Out Back outfit has long been a big supporter of the Skyline Volunteer Fire Department.  So has Buzz Woods.  The 2010 Skyline Picnic was a win-win situation.

          Will Rogers said to get someone else to blow your horn and the sound will carry twice as far.  Standing in the center of the square in Downtown Champion looking up through the trusses and purlings at the bright Champion blue sky, it is easy to imagine being in a great shipyard long ago where the magnificent wooden sailing vessels were built from the ribs out. Light alternating with the long row of identical members plays intricate geometrical games on the eye.   If the builders of this elegant structure are shy about having their horn blown, they should have kept the thing under a bushel.  It’s just too pretty not to be admired profusely.  Moreover it is inspiring building in the most unlikely spots.  One old girl is thinking about building a building out of old pianos.  Newcomer, Joyce Donaldson, is having a little Victorian cottage built down by her pond. Linda and Charlene have been having extensive renovations done to the pavilion over at the Plant Place and Gift Corner in Norwood.  This was not so much a renovation as a continuation of a long-term plan.  It sometimes takes years to get things just right and it is lovely to see a good plan coming together.  They will be open for business again on the first of September and Linda’s Almanac will be available then.  It is nice to see local businesses thriving.  As things continue to cool down it will be timely to plant some lettuce for the fall and maybe some spinach. 

          Pete Proctor was at the Skyline Picnic standing in with Commander Donnie Bunch of American Legion Post 30 from Mountain Grove as they presented the Colors on both evenings.  Pete is a member of the America Legion and is a Commander of the VFW Post 3770.  Picnic master of ceremonies Ray Bradley does an excellent job of leading “The Star Spangled Banner” and has no trouble with the high notes in “the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave!”  During the ceremony Pete asked Veterans of the various conflicts past and present to stand to be recognized.  He wants local Veterans to know that they are welcome to attend the VFW meetings the second Saturday morning of each month.  Ed Hawley is the Service Officer for the 18th District and Pete will have Veterans know that there are benefits available and Ed Hawley is the man to see to get things moving if they need help.  The Love and Gratitude of the Nation they have served is the least they are due.

          The Champion School Reunion is coming up the 4th of September.  There are some excellent photographs of  previous reunions on the website.  It is a nice place to go to reminisce.  Some will be surprised and pleased to see the changes that have taken place since last year.  Others will be saddend by what they see as a loss of history.  The history is still there and so is the place.  It is living yet—living history and Champions are proud to be part of it. Will Rogers said not to use up too much of today with yesterday, but Champions have a good sense of balance.  Share some Champion history that would otherwise be lost were it not for you.  Tell it out loud right there in the Loafing Shed next to the Temporary Emporium of Henson’s Store on the West Side of the Square in Historic Downtown Champion.  Send it in an anonymous note to Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or to Champion News.  Published in 1912, this song was already old when Champion was young: “We were sailing along on Moonlight Bay.  We could hear the voices ringing.  They seemed to say, ‘You have stolen my heart now don’t go ‘way’ as we sang love’s old sweet song on Moonlight Bay.”  Sail on into the Square and stand in the sunshine to gaze through the fanciful framework of the town’s newest structure—Champion!  Looking on the Bright Side!