March 28, 2011

March 28, 2011

CHAMPION—March 28, 2011

        The wild unpredictable vicissitudes of Spring are not lost in Champion and Champions stand with bouquets of early flowers and optimism for the warm days ahead.  Mushrooms will be gracing certain tables and spring breakers will be out looking for more just to please a sweet grandmother…Meanwhile late Sunday night found fortnight bridge players driving home in the driving snow!  What a Champion kind of Spring!

        About forty people attended the meeting over at the Vanzant Community Building last Friday night.  President Bobby Emory and second fiddle, Robert Upshaw, have been joined on the board by secretary Debbie Stone, treasurer Debbie Shannon, and board members John Unger, Theresa Wrinkles and Brenda Massey.  They will have a board meeting all to themselves to assess the situation and hash out plans this coming Friday and then another public meeting on Friday April 15th to inform the community of their findings and figurings.  The group has designated the 8th and 9th of July for the Vanzant Picnic this year, so things are moving along already.  An email came from Carmen McCarty with some good information about the old building.  It was called Clifty Hall School and the last school year there was 1967-1968 with Mrs. Cap (Verla) Wood the last teacher.  Clifty Hall was consolidated with the Mountain Grove School District then.  Ms. McCarty’s Dad, Claudle Lovan, was a bus driver for the little school as was Merle Kutz.  She thinks the only living teacher who taught there is Sybil Geer.  She remembers that they had a Clifty Hall Yearbook one year but she lost her copy during one of her moves. Perhaps someone will find an extra copy to share with her. 

        “You’ll never plow a field by turning it over in your mind,” according to an old Irish saying.  Linda’s Almanac from over at the Plant Place in Norwood says that the 29th through the 31st will be barren days, best suited for killing plant pests or to plow or cultivate.  The first and second of April will be good days for planting root crops, extra good for vine crops and to set strawberry plants.  These are also good days for transplanting.  It looks like the 5th and 6th will be good days for getting those peas in the ground for slowpokes who do not have it done yet.  Some old Champions have become so precious that they do not think they should be cold or uncomfortable in any way.  Fair weather gardening is still probably much better than no gardening at all.  A look at the prices in the grocery store might be enough to have them rethink their delicacy.  Find a copy of the Almanac on the website at or over at the Plant Place or down at Henson’s Store currently located in the Temporary Annex on the West side of the Square. 

        “When?”  It is a much-asked question.  “Whenever” is as good an answer as is liable to be had. “Are we there yet?” the kid asks before the car is out of the driveway. Patience.  It seems that every week there is a family dispute concerning the spelling and meaning of a couple of words.  To finally set the record straight:  A “patient” in a hospital is often required to have “patience” with the red-tape and aggravations of being hospitalized.  Two people in the hospital are “patients” and must each also have “patience.”  English is a delightfully complex language.  It is always appropriate to correct the grammar of a child if it is done in a kind and instructive way.  Patience is always appropriate even when “When?” is over-asked. 

        Mr. and Mrs. Wesley Davis of Republic have had their nuptials celebrated Booger County style with much fanfare and delight of family and friends who wish them a long and happy life together.  It is lovely to see a young couple starting out well grounded and with the support and appreciation of a good community.  Congratulations!  Mozel tov!

        The struggle to stay on the Bright Side is less arduous in isolation.  When there is no distressing news of political unrest, natural disasters, unnatural disasters, and human suffering, it is easy enough to live that sweet Utopian (Champion) life—free of any contention, free of artificial flavorings and colorings.  The bright and flavorful citizens and environs of Champion have no requirement for dangerous and unnecessary chemicals.  Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 are particularly onerous.  An editorial in the Washington Post reveals that the European Parliament requires that foods containing these chemicals must bear a label warning that the dyes “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”  There are cancer risks as well.  There are many vivid natural food dyes made largely from plant extracts that do not pose these threats, but using them requires costly and inconvenient reformulating of the food products—something that European manufacturers but few companies here have been willing to do.  Maybe the worst aspect of the whole food-coloring issue is that children are attracted toward brightly colored processed products that are high in calories but low in nutrients.  Champions recognize that there is an emotional connection between people and color and as citizens of the world, prefer to grow their food rather than to manufacture it.  Informed choices are Champion.  It all adds up over time like plutonium, which was the first man-made element produced in a quantity large enough to see.  Now they say that there traces of radioactivity in the rain in Champion.  It adds to the little piece of radioactivity from Chernobyl and all the atomic tests and bombs going back to White Sands, and all the mammograms and dental x-rays that do not shield the thyroid gland.  Even in the deepest hollows and the ‘fer backest’ hills there is no longer the option to be isolated.  So Champions accept their place as world citizens and will live the example of being good neighbors and friends, minding their own business and behaving.  One old Champion will try to stop using the word ‘sweet’ to mean good.  It is a start.

        Vivian Floyd was just about settled in to enjoy a Stained Glass Theatre production the other evening when the General abruptly appeared and demanded to see her ticket.  He seems to be everywhere at the same time and to Ms. Floyd’s credit she laughed right in his face!  She has a great laugh and Champions hope she will bring it down home one of these days soon.  Maybe she will be here for the Champion Easter Parade again this year.  The General is practicing walking and playing his accordion at the same time and if he can find someone to follow maybe he will not wander off into the brush this year.  They said that last year he was following the Spotted Hog.  If a gentleman is someone who knows how to play the accordion, but doesn’t, then what do you call a General who does not necessarily know how to play, but does?  Answer at Champion at  His fans most often request him to play “Far Far Away.”   Sing what you like as you stroll around colorful Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


March 21, 2011

March 21, 2011

CHAMPION—March 21, 2011

        Champions watched the Super-moon set on the first morning of Spring and saw the new season suddenly emerging in bright yellow forsythia and daffodils against deepening greens as the woods are thickening with swelling buds.  Dogwoods will soon be showing themselves and redbuds will pink up the woods in their own special way.

        Champions have lost a Champion.  Betty Shelton passed away on Monday the 14th.  She was 77 years old and had been in ill health off and on for a long time.  She and J.T. have lived in downtown Champion for twenty-one years. J.T. grew up just a little east of Champion and Betty was from a little further east over by Bakersfield.  J.T.’s sister, Gladys, and her husband Jack Burchell have spent the week with him and Dennis Shelton came down from Iowa for a few days.  Betty had a good sense of humor and a great laugh.  She liked to be out and going when she could.  Her passing will not be unnoticed in Champion.

        Good news in Champion is that Connie is feeling very much better.  Louise took a moment away from her company to make the good report on Monday morning.  The company was Wilburn’s brother Manuel Hutchison and his wife Sue who were on their way back home to Lost Nation, Iowa.  They had a pleasant visit, which is the only kind a person could have at Louise and Wilburn’s house.  They are Champions.

        There is to be a meeting at 7 pm on the 25th of the month over at the Vanzant Community Building.  The meeting is being called to elect board members for the administration of the building.  Currently Robert Upshaw and Bobby Dean Emory are the board and the organization is looking for new membership, additional board members and some interest, ideas, enthusiasm and help.  Sources close (very close) to the General say that he will be there with bells on.  It is unclear why he will, but once he gets something in his head it is Generally a done deal and having the General on one’s side is no small asset in any endeavor.  The Vanzant School last held classes there back in the 1950’s.  In recent years the building has been the site of many fundraisers and benefits for local people and people have held garage sales there and other events.  The annual picnic is always one of the highlights of the area.  The facilities are in need of some updating, but the soundness of the existing building and the good central location, good parking and good history make it well worth the effort.  Everyone is invited.  Esther Wrinkles said that Bob Berry and Mary Goolsby will be there and they live over on the other side of Twin Bridges!  So from far and wide, come and meet your neighbors and help out with a good cause.  There will be some Champions there for sure!

        “Desire trumps time.”  That is what one Champion told an acquaintance who is struggling still with the tobacco habit.  Twenty years later, not having had a cigarette in all that time, the urge is still there for the Champion and so there is weight to the words.  A young relative recently wrote that if you cannot change the thing that you do not like, change the way you think about it.  So a possible change might be to learn to enjoy the wanting.  Before, the smoke had been the reward for having finished something, the excuse for a break, and the solace for thought.  Now the little unfinished feeling, the little lack of something, the tentative uneasiness could be the end in itself.  To always be a little hungry is a good way to stay thin they say.  If the lack of something bad is indeed the same as something good then there is a star on which to hitch your wagon.  Wagons are typically easy places from which to fall, but Champions can always get back on.  The handle is on the bright side.  A while back someone wrote in to comment on the Old Champion’s rules by which to live.  Right after #2 “Be where you are” is “Have no unsustainable habits.”  (Previously, the rule had been written: “Do not get strung out on something you cannot have,” but it was decided that the vernacular was coarse and the new version has fewer syllables.)  Champions support each other in their struggles and apply another of the rules:  “Give us all a break!”

        Dillon and Dakota Watts go to different schools over there in Tennessee and, as it turns out, they have different spring break schedules, so there will be grandson on the Fox Creek Farm for an extended period of time—just not the same one the whole time.  It is not at all confusing to the family and the whole community gets a lift when they are around.  Cousins Foster, Kalyssa, Taegan (Peanut), Eli and Emerson Rose will all be looking for some fun with them.

        Some Champions are out getting their potatoes planted these first good days for below-the-ground crops.  Linda’s Almanac from over at the Plant Place in Norwood says that the 27th and 28th will both be good days for that kind of planting.  A few warm days can cause some to get ahead of themselves garden-wise.  It is easy to let the enthusiasm for the activity obscure the fact that May 10th is considered to be the last frost date in Champion.  An extra big bunch of turnip seeds is going in the ground in the hope that Lem and Ned will show up about the time that some serious weeding will be required.  They are the daydream hillbilly boys that like the drudgery and dirty work that husbands are so often reluctant to do.  They work for practically nothing (a few turnips) and have gone to the Festus Haggen School of Convoluted Syntax and so are the dad blamedest most gentlemenliest and shore fired most eloquent spoke of airy a barefoot, loose limbed, lop eared, yeah-who that the likes of any of you plush bottomed rocking chair wranglin old scutters might ever have saw.  Enough said—surely.

        While Salem Sal was running the faro bank at the Ace Café, a rough customer became abusive toward her and was summarily dispatched by young Frank.  He then proceeded to rosin his bow and perform a funeral march.  This is the gist of the poem that the Old Champion hopes will be revealed in full at Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or at Champion News

        The world is in turmoil with people struggling against natural and man-made disasters and against oppression.  Safe and secure at home in Champion, it would be easy to ignore the troubles of the world, but Champions know that the world has really become quite small and, on some level, what affects one affects all.  Love and Gratitude for doing what has to be done goes out from Champion to all those serving at the behest of the Nation.  Come home safely and soon to the people who love you.

        April 1st is coming up quite soon.  It looks like it will be on a Friday this year.  It may be that the waiting will be over about then.  Champions who like waiting and enjoy that little unfinished feeling may be rewarded for their patience eventually.  The excitement is palpable and rather than run the risk of jumping the gun, Champions will bide their time, bite their tongue, hold their horses, keep their hand on the plough and wait.  Come hang around Champion for a little high quality waiting, but do not get in the way of progress.  Admire the beauty of it:  Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


March 14, 2011

March 14, 2011

CHAMPION—March 14, 2011

        Champions have felt little earthquakes in recent weeks.  They are unsettling.  As tragedies unfold in other parts of the world, Champions take a moment to reflect on their relative security and their great good fortune.  An individual’s fate can turn on a dime, so can the fate of a nation.  Champions everywhere need not look far to find others in less desirable circumstances. 

        Sophia and Penelope are visiting their great aunt and even greater uncle in Champion and in a few short hours have collected rocks, transplanted tomato plants, made lots of music and have had dinner, cake and ice cream, good baths and a bedtime story.  They have plans for a great many other activities including a big bonfire, walks in the woods, and work in the garden.  Penelope Kay is five years old and attends the Little People’s Academy in Austin, Texas.  There are six people in her class and her teachers’ names are Miss Ariel and Miss Linda.  She is not a big fan of school yet, and finds all the writing practice to be boring.  She has a friend named Gio with whom she likes to play dinosaurs.  So far she has most enjoyed picking special rocks out of a big pile of gravel.  Sophia Lisbeth is a third grader at Henderson Mill Elementary School.  She says there are about twenty two students in her class, a few more boys than girls.  She says that they are given a lot of homework to do every night.  Reading is her favorite subject.  She particularly enjoys fiction and has read a number of books about a contemporary heroine, Abby Hayes.  She has been enjoying her time on the farm and especially transplanting the little tomato plants.  When asked about the likelihood of an earthquake happening in Texas she said, “It would probably not happen where I live, but I feel bad for the people in Japan now.”   She said that tornadoes are the things to worry about where she lives, but they have a good warning system there.  It is a long trip from their city to Champion, but many things are the same.  Champions keep their eyes out for tornadoes all year long and Champion hearts also go out to people in other parts of the world who are suffering in the dreadful disasters.

        Good neighbors over in Vanzant had a very successful fundraiser for Ed and Kristi Miller last Saturday night.  Ed had a heart attack back around Christmas and can no longer work.  Gwen Banks organized the deal and there was chili and hotdogs, music and a great auction, which included some beautiful items as well as numerous cakes and pies.  Sources said that pies sold for an average of about $20.00.  It is reassuring to know that neighbors will step up to help each other in difficult times.

        Word has arrived that Harley has visited the Hoover Dam and is home now thinking about it.  Perhaps by the time he gets back over to his old Champion home he will have digested all the sights and sounds that California had to offer him and will be able to make some cogent statement of his assessment.  It will be good to see that branch of the Kriders any time they show up.  Young Dillon Watts over in Tennessee is said to be making good progress from his ear surgery and since his physical activities are to be restricted for the next few weeks it might be an excellent time to practice his banjo!  Now there is a guy who knows how to utilize his time.  Miss Taegan Krider and cousin Foster Wiseman were notably absent in Champion on Sunday.  They are fighting bad colds and all their Champion friends and family wish them a speedy recovery. 

        When the ladies of the Skyline Auxiliary got together last week to hash over the results of their recent chili supper they were all well pleased with the results.  A few improvements were suggest for next year and pats on various backs were liberally assigned.  Donna Boyd will have received the “thank you—I’m sorry” card by now that acknowledges her tremendous effort as well as Paul’s hard work, and the apology from the Champion correspondent who called her “Tina” in the paper last week.  The card went on to say that a correction this week would be a chance to say, “Thanks again!”

        Times have changed as everyone knows.  A study shows that when there are fewer elders in a community they are more revered.  The nation is getting older and every day in America 10,000 people have their 65th birthday.  Almost any one of them would say that when they were growing up if someone came into their mother’s house they were offered a cup of coffee, a glass of tea, or at the very least a drink of water.  That still goes on in some places, in some households, but Champions are cautioned not to have feelings hurt if it does not happen.  The times are changing.  Age is no more synonymous with venerability than faith is with virtue.  Champions are, by and large, charitable and friendly to strangers, helpful to the poor, sick and disadvantaged.  What a great place to live!

        It was good to see that the young soldier from Monette, Christopher Stark, had a memorial service seemingly free from disruption.  Hundreds turned out to honor him and his family and to stand in the path of that group of protesters who seem to exemplify faith but not necessarily virtue.  Champions extend Love and Gratitude to all those serving, all those who have served and all those who love and care for them.  The link has been changed in the website so that a look to the VFW Post 3770 takes you to the national VFW site—well worth the look.

        Get out to that website to see some great pictures of Sophia and Penelope as well as that great link to the Dairymaid!  It is a most enjoyable read.  The old Champion lady is still looking for someone to respond with the rest of the words to “Fiddling Frank.”  Send them to Champion News, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO, 65717 or to Champion News.  Get ready for a delightful exercise in waiting as the last few aspects to the Re-Creation of the Historic Emporium/Mercantile on the North Side of the Square in Downtown Champion come to fruition.  One day it will be as if it were always thus.  It will not be long after the big change until it will seem as if it has always been just like this.  What a celebration is in store for Champion!  Looking on the Bright Side!


March 7, 2011

March 7, 2011

CHAMPION—March 7, 2011

        In Champion the reason for hope is always there. People looking on the bright side always have something to look forward to with optimism for a good outcome. Emily Dickinson said, “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul, and sings the tune—without the words, and never stops at all.” She goes on to say that hope requires nothing from the people who are hoping. Such a Champion notion!

        Skyliners had another excellent chili supper on Saturday night. The food and music were wonderful as always and neighbors who rarely see each other got the chance to get caught up with visiting. It was lovely to see Ms. Velma Gray again. She has just celebrated living in her Skyline home for 63 years. Ruby Proctor was seen having a good time with her friends and she said that she had recently been down Champion to look at the progress on the new store building. She loves it and is looking forward to the grand opening. Big Murph Murphy out bid out-of-state bidders for the painting of the Old Store at Champion, by Pat Michaud of Marshfield. He plans to hang the painting in his barbershop there on the corner of the square in Mountain Grove, but someone said that Sue has her eye on it for their home. Esther Wrinkles said that if Sue wins out on this, she has some nice photographs of the old store that she will be pleased to share with Murph. The silent auction was quite exciting this year with so many nice pieces donated by local artists and craftsmen. Noted pie-artist Esther baked the coconut cream pie that was the big money maker, going for a record $80.00 to Bob Berry. Bob also won the drawing for the queen size quilt. He has been buying tickets from Esther every year since the first quilt was put on the block for Skyline back in the 1980’s. When M.C. Steve Moody read his name, the crowd roared! It is almost as wonderful to have friends win as it is to win oneself! Louise and Wilburn Hutchison, Sharon and Farel Sikes, Tina and Paul Boyd, Betty Elliot and others did all the hard work and heavy lifting in the kitchen that produced the excellent meal enjoyed by all those attending. All the behind the scenes work and planning that these dedicated folks do is the reason these fundraisers are so successful.

        This is the part of the world where people really reach out to help each other. Ed Miller had a heart attack back during the Christmas season and he can no longer work. So Gwen Banks (948-2707) and others are getting together to host a benefit for Ed and Kristy at the Vanzant community building on Saturday, March 12th. Chili and hotdogs will be served starting at 5:30 and an auction will begin at 7:00. Everyone is welcome to attend and to contribute pies and auction items. It is a real opportunity to meet good neighbors and to be one.

        E-mail arrived in the Champion News mailbox saying, “I can almost always figure out what you are talking about eventually, but I am lost about the Cowboy’s Lament and whatever is supposed to come before it.” Well, the Cowboy’s Lament is that song that everybody knows that starts out, “As I walked out in the streets of Laredo,” and goes on to tell the story of the dying cowboy. The poem that sometimes is recited before this song is about Fiddling Frank. The old Champion thinks that there is a first verse of the poem that she does not know. The part that she knows begins, “Now there was a doll-faced gal, by name of Salem Sal.” The story goes on about how she loved young Fiddling Frank and how he defended her against a rough customer and then picked up his fiddle. Anyone acquainted with the Fiddling Frank poem is urged to send it in its entirety to Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717. In a part of the world so blessed with good fiddlers, surely someone knows, “He tuned his strings, as a soul took wings, and a funeral march did play.”

        Daffodils are beginning to bloom all over the place. They are lovely anywhere, but it is especially sweet to see them blooming out lonely in a field or all by themselves in the woods by the side of a country road. It says that once there was a home place there that has disappeared except for the attentions of some long ago woman who did what homemakers do. People sell out, move on or die and the old house and outbuildings deteriorate and disintegrate over time, but the bulbs and shrubs so lovingly planted are living memorials to nameless old-timers who also had beauty in their lives. Gardening is a Champion pastime today. The state of the economy is such that many will be planting more vegetables this year than ever before. Farmers are sharing the old manure and people are sharing saved seed and good experience. Linda has her free monthly almanac available over at the Plant Place in Norwood (also at and will have those Cole crops ready when it is time to put them out. Perhaps the years only seem to go by this fast when a person has accumulated more than sixty of them! Zip!

        Twenty two year old Christopher Stark of Monett died in Afghanistan last Monday. He was trained as a bomb specialist and was on his way to a site where an improvised explosive device had been spotted when his vehicle was hit with another device. He and 25-year-old Chauncy R. Mays of Cookville, Texas are now among the more than 2,348 soldiers in the U.S.-led forces that have been killed there since 2001. As their families deal with their loss, it is to be hoped that they are able to do so with the support of their communities and with the Love and Gratitude that the Nation owes them.

        This time next year Champions will already be forgetting about that strange transitional year between the Old and the New. By then the New will be ordinary again and life will progress as if nothing out of the ordinary has gone on. The flavor and tenor of the new situation will be much as the old one except that the floor boards will not be worn through and it will be more spacious if still so cozy and sweet. Sing your tune with or without the words on your way down to Champion to Look on the Bright Side!