October 31, 2011

October 31, 2011

CHAMPION—October 31, 2011

          Champions are still reliving their biggest event in recent history.  Old friendships were rekindled and old scores settled peaceably as Champions put aside their differences to join in the Celebration of Champion!  The Recreation of the Historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square is the flagship and anchor of the shopping district.  It was the object of much favorable comment with only that nagging criticism of being “overbuilt” for balance.  The Celebration itself is immortalized on you-tube by David Richardson.  http://youtu.be/SOFom1e2oJk Go there for a ten minute slide show to the strains of “An Ashoaken Farewell” interspersed with live music as it occurred on the spot.  You distant Champions are encouraged to disperse this piece of technology lavishly among yourselves. It will be almost as if you were really there among the throngs.  Three hundred or so signed the guest book registry, but the estimated attendance was on the high side of four hundred.  One Old Champion said that anytime four or five hundred people get together in Douglas County it ought to be ‘news.’   He is just cross because he takes the wrong newspaper.  Jerry Wagner was good-natured about his gripe.  He said,   “The paper made it sound like I ran over Bud myself, and then lit out for Oklahoma to hide out!”  He laughed about the mix up and then went on to shed light on several subjects that will be held in abeyance for a while, for want of room and for reconsideration as to propriety.  Has anyone noticed how that whole Wagner bunch smiles so sweetly?

          Talking about sweet smiles, the awesome Skyline PTO Halloween Carnival brought out a lot of spooks and goblins on Friday night.  It is just an excellent set of circumstances that this little school is here to provide a safe gathering place for wild little country kids.  They are forging the friendships and relationships that will last them a lifetime—just like those old Champions who are still reliving school days from seventy years ago.  Among the lady bugs, cave men, vampires, and cowboys, parents and grandparents had the chance to spend time with teachers and with each other.  No one takes the existence of our wonderful rural schools for granted.  Tax payers in the Skyline R2 School district and alumni of Skyline and other local (now gone) schools can start looking for the orange letter in the mail that will give them all the information about the Skyline R2 School Foundation.  They will be given the chance to participate in the support and encouragement of the very cornerstone of rural American life—the rural school.  The newly established foundation is affiliated with the Community Foundation of the Ozarks which does a lot of good work.  About every week an article appears in local papers outlining some philanthropic enterprise of this great non-profit organization.   Champion!

          Champions are those Veterans!  Veterans Day will be marked as 11-11-11 on the calendar this year.  It is the birthday of Linda and Charlene’s Dad, Charles Barns.   He was born in 1916, and passed away in 2002.  Veterans Day brings him to mind as it does countless Veterans who have served our Country in times of peace and war.  As those enlisted people come home to stay, they will need some help.  Already many wounded Veterans from recent and past conflicts are in dire straits.  Young Scott Olsen, 24 years old, returned from active duty and was lucky enough to get a job.  In the evening he went down town to support the 99% people who are advocating for a more equitable economic profile for the Nation.  While exercising his First Amendment Rights, for which he fought, and while breaking no law, he was critically injured by local police, decked out in riot gear that is significantly more heavy duty than any armor or protective gear that Scott had provided to him by the US Military in a war zone.  At home things will continue to be complicated.  Champions advocate restraint and compassion, Love and Gratitude, while they look on the Bright Side. 

          Champions find it to be a continual battle to stay just a little ahead of their mistakes.  Jack Coonts points out that the article about Bud Hutchison’s Fall Trail Ride failed to acknowledge Charlie Cox who came all the way from Louisiana to ride the trail with Bud and the bunch.  There are probably other mistakes in the process of being made at this very moment, but Champions forge on!

          The Old Biddies Bridge Club, which meets once a month over in Mansfield at the wonderful Community Center, had a great game on Thursday last.  Founding member, Betty Swain, celebrated her 92nd birthday on the 20th of October and her friends recognized her for drawing them all together.  She is also recognized as quite an astute player.  It was the Champion player’s good fortune to have Betty as a partner for the last round.  She is a keen bidder and a great fan of the ‘no-trump.’ While Champion did not leave the game ‘in the money,’ Betty’s example is reassurance that brains can be kept sharp with activities like bridge.  Of course, a sharp brain to start with is required.  Dorlene House is one of those sharpies.  She was seen hob-knobbing with her old school chums down at Champion during the Grand Champion Celebration.  She attended high school in Ava with Champions Vivian Krider Floyd and Royce Henson, both of whom gave her the glad hand out on the Champion Square.  Dorlene got the glad hand, but Linda walked away with the big money from the game on Thursday.  She has been playing for a long time and is still taking lessons.  Anyone interested in learning bridge can get a good start by contacting the American Contract Bridge League, or just any friend that plays.  Bridge players are always recruiting.

          Hunting Season requires Champions and everyone enjoying the great out of doors to be mindful and colorful.  Blending in is not advised at this time of the year with the woods full of armed people.  There are likely to be some interesting hunting stories and they will be welcome at Champion at getgoin.net or at Champion Items, Rt. 2 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  The call out for words and music to “All the Late News from the Court House” was answered promptly and the tune will soon be posted to the website at www.championnews.us for all to hear.   Gary Hutchison shared the piece that he obtained personally from the author Walter Darrell Haden himself.  There is a great line in the song, “If any news to you is better than no news at all…” Champion!  Looking on the Bright Side.

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October 24, 2011

October 24, 2011

CHAMPION—October 24, 2011

          When Champions get in the mood to celebrate, they do it right.  The weather was perfect for the occasion and the crowds came pouring in.  The Western entry to the square was cordoned off to vehicular traffic and auxiliary parking was made available in a nice flat Fox Creek Farm field with golf cart shuttles that ran all day.  Between passengers, Henson son-in-law Chris Cogdill, entertained multiple children with rides around the square.  There was a continual swarm of kids around him.  Mervin Jameson operated another shuttle.  He is quite an interesting fellow and has Champion connections not only as a neighbor to the Cogdills over in Branson, but he was married to the daughter of Champion Ray Harris.  Jameson retired in May 1975, from the military service.  He was a Combat Medic in Korea in 1951-52.  He has been everywhere and has done every interesting thing including having carried the Freedom Torch in Antwerp. Now he has his important participation in this amazing Champion Celebration to add to his resume. 

          People came from far and wide to join resident Champions in honoring the passing of the Old Store and the inauguration of the New Store–Henson’s Grocery and Gas.  It is to be noted that during the entire process of dismantling the old and constructing the new, not one regular day of commerce was lost.  The community was served throughout without interruption. The General’s Address to the Champion Masses was delivered with great emotion and broad gestures, his voice rising to fevered pitch and falling to barely a whisper (noted in parenthesis) surprisingly evangelical in style, certainly impassioned and fervent, if ill-timed as there was something interesting going on elsewhere so few heard the oration.  He was overheard as he rehearsed, pacing back and forth along the creek bank to the amusement of the three horses tied up under the trees,  “That famous stone monument in South Dakota only took fourteen years to carve.  Old Gutzon Borglum overworked himself and did not live to see it completed.  His son, Lincoln, worked on it one more season, but he left it just about like it was when his dad passed away.  And so, dear Champions, it is our great good fortune,” he pontificated, “that the Chief Architect and Hammer Swinger (though the building is largely put together with screws–we just didn’t want to say it) [voice rising] of the Recreation of the Historic Emporium did not so overwork himself and that he did, indeed, live to see his work finished.  As a matter of fact, some would say he didn’t give the impression that he overworked himself much at all, which is why it seemed like fourteen years in the completing.”   With this, the General who had been gesticulating wildly slammed is fist down into his open palm with such a smack the horses were startled and strained at their tethers.  This seemed to bring the magniloquent General back to his senses and he finished with his declaration that the edifice was “surely a candidate for recognition by the National Registry of Historic Places.”  Champion!

          The horses were ridden in from Crystal Lake, a three and a half hour ride, by Howard and Penny Price and Raymond Johnson of Ava.  Billy and Beth Williams came all the way from West Monroe, Louisiana to be present for the affair.  Beth is the sister of Elmer Banks, but just a lot better looking.  The register of attendees is an exciting read.  The Rankin family from over in the Anne community was well represented. Far flung descendant, Ed Gehrman, came from Quincy, California up high in the mountains and the McGinty’s and Helen Rankin Byrd came from Marianna and Walnut Hill, Florida.  They were on their annual family rendezvous incidentally and asked folks in Anne about Champion. “Why, there is nothing there!” they were told.  As readers of the Champion News in their dispirit places, however, they had to convince themselves that the Champion Community was not purely fictional.  They expressed their surprise and delight and wandered about agog identifying the landmarks, “Oh!  There’s the Loafing Shed!”  Royce and Jo Henson made their third trip to Champion in the space of six weeks.  Royce is still intrigued by the particle accelerator that can cause a neutrino to hit the wall in Italy before the gun that fired it was shot.  He was about as surprised to be able to buy a cheese burger in Downtown Champion.  The Champion Bistro was operated by familiar Champions, friends, and neighbors and provided some excellent nourishment to the hungry bunch. 

          The music kicked off early with Bill Connelly on the fiddle, Darrell Cooley on guitar, and David Richardson on his beautiful washtub bass.  They started out on the porch, but soon moved out under the big oak trees on the southwest corner of the Square as more joined in and the crowd grew.  Many musician came and went throughout the day and the spectators enjoyed continuous entertainment.  The perfect weather and the chance to get together with seldom seen friends added to the festive spirit.  Customer appreciation is always the order of the day at the Recreation of the Historic Emporium and a day to appreciate the Champion Community and the Emporium itself well designated.  The official word from behind the counter in Henson’s Gro. & Gas is that all the efforts by all those who helped to make it such a Grand Celebration are very much appreciated.

          Rest assured, Dear Champion readers, you have not heard the last of this.  Darrell Haden called from Tennessee on the eve of the Celebration to extend his good wishes.  Look at www.championnews.us for a link to excerpts from The Headless Cobbler of Smallette Cave.  Halloween is fast approaching and a little spookiness is in order. ( The Skyline Halloween Carnival starts at 5:30 Friday!) Several people asked about Haden, hoping that he would be in the crowd.  There is a big resurgent interest in his song, “All The Late News from the Court House.”  Anyone with a recording of the song or a copy of the lyrics is asked and encouraged to share them at Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  Champion’s good Whetstone neighbor has made a movie of the Champion Celebration.  It will be a ten minute u-tube flick and it will be linked up to the Champion website.  There will be lots of pictures there for the enjoyment of those who were fortunate enough to attend and for those who, sadly could not.  Many signed a get-well card for Louise Hutchison and maybe someone will take a laptop up to her so she can see what all the fuss is about.  She was certainly missed, but Wilburn made an appearance and was in good spirits.   Send any pictures that you would like to share to Champion at getgoin.net and just know that you are a Champion!  Looking on the Bright Side!

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October 19, 2011

October 19, 2011

BUD HUTCHISON’S FALL TRAIL RIDE—OCTOBER 19, 2011

          Wednesday, the 19th of October was the date of the long anticipated Fall Trail Ride organized by Bud Hutchison that begins and ends in Champion.  He was joined by sixteen other riders on the trail this year:  Bill Collins, Gary Braden, Bill and Margaret Brunner, Butch Linder, Dale Lawson, Nancy Burns, Herschel Letsinger, Joe and Wilma Hamby, Junior Brown, Gene Dunn, Joe Heath, Carl Loftis, Jack Coonts and Bob Herd.  The day happened to be the first really cold day of the season, but the colors were just spectacular and no complaints were heard from any of the riders as they ended their ten mile excursion around the big old wood stove at Henson’s Store in Downtown Champion. They had planned to take their lunch alfresco out on the Shannon Ranch, but the brisk wind and open exposure made Champion a more attractive lunch spot.  Lots of good hot coffee and a pleasant conversation was the order of the day.  Most of these riders are members of the Missouri Fox Trotters Association.  There is a great deal of information on-line about the Fox Trotter breed of horses and the people who support them.  The public libraries in the area are also well informed and there is quite an expansive display of photos and other material at the Association Headquarters in Ava.    They say that Fox Trotters became the using horse of the Ozarks. They were the favorite mounts of cattlemen, country doctors, sheriffs, and tax assessors before improved roads and cars appeared on the scene.  Old Fox, one of the breed’s most influential sires, was a chestnut stallion that spent his adult life trailing cattle in southern Missouri and northern Arkansas early in this century.  He was a Champion!  There is a rumor that Fox Creek was named after the horse.  Check it out with Bud the next time you see him.

          Some of the stories told around the stove the other day included one by Junior Brown.  It seems that a neighbor named Jess ‘something’ gave Junior a billy goat that grew up bad and liked to visit at the school house.  It might have been Wilma Hicks Hamby who was headed out to the outhouse when the goat got after her.  Opal Proctor was the second grade teacher then.  She took a baseball bat to the offender.  Several students have memories of that incident but do not recall what ultimately became of the Billy goat.  Ask Junior. 

          Bud cleared up the story about having been run over by the car back in 1956.  It turns out that it was New Year’s Day and as Jim Hancock turned the corner around the Champion School, Bud jumped out in front of him.  Bud says it was as much his own fault as Jim’s.  He said that it was true that just when he had been relieved of the full body cast, he was kicked in the chest by a horse and all of his upper portion was broken up again.  He did not have to have a cast the second time.  Bud went on to talk about having been in a car wreck and then another horse hurt him in the 1970s.  He had his jaw wired shut for nine weeks over that.  Then in 1988 he had his ribs broken again—car wreck or hose kick, ask him.  Bud is also the man to ask about trail ride events in the area and about anything to do with the Fox Trotters Association.

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October 17, 2011

October 17, 2011

CHAMPION—October 17, 2011

          Champions are rejoicing, bringing in their sheaves, saddling up to go for a ride with Bud to no place in particular, getting ready for company as tourist flock in to town for the big Celebration.  What a pleasant time of the year.  Champions generally feel that way about every time of the year, but this is beginning to feel pretty special.

          Esther and Raymond Howard spent some time in Champion on Sunday.  They always pick up the spirits of the community when they are around.   Esther shared a new green bean canning process to the interest of many.  Raymond has a sunny disposition and fine singing voice—one of those altos that is always at the right place at the right time.  He always leaves everyone feeling better about everything.  He and Lonnie used to try to get a squirrel hunt in about this time of the year.  He likes the big reds. 

          The Clever Creek Kid writes in ink on paper to say, “I lived ten of my youngest years at Cold Springs just across from the old school house.  We had a lot of fun in Clever Creek.  I write a lot of what I call hill side poetry…… I remember the Hutchisons and Smiths up and down that old hill.  Wilburn gave me by pen name, so I remember Champion.”  Then he goes on to say nice things about the Champion News.  “I remember the flood the Hensons wrote about.  The water lacked one inch coming in the door of the old log house.  It was water from one hill to the other and no way out.   Wilburn always says, ‘Come down and we will go crawdad hunting.’ HA!”  “The Kid” signs his name as Harold March.  Wilburn is home now after his own stint in the hospital, with plans for more serious health care exercises in the weeks ahead.  Meanwhile, Louise Hutchison, St. John’s Hospital, room 2203-B1, 1235 E Cherokee, Springfield, MO 65804 is a good place to send a get well card to Louise herself.   Mail that comes to her home address gets to her too, so the notes you want to send will surely reach her, and word is that they are doing her some good.  She is walking 400 feet these days, a little at a time, and singing “Amazing Grace” and “Jesus Loves Me.”  She is trying for “What a Day That Will Be,” but has not quite mastered it yet, according to Connie who answers the phone at home and does who knows what all to keep the Hutchison Family ball rolling.  She says her Mom’s in ‘rehab’ and her Dad is in ‘house-arrest,’ but what is going on really is she is taking care of her folks.  A very gorgeous Champion woman is that Connie. 

          Those Tennessee boys made a quiet visit to their Grandparent’s farm from about Monday to Thursday while they were on a break from school. They wrangled cattle, went hunting, and had many Champion farm experiences.  They are growing up.  They have become young men.  Their Mom enjoys a trip home to her family farm, though she came close to being run down by a wild bull calf on this occasion.  He made a run at several different people over the course of a few days and it proved to be the wrong thing to do for a little bull calf.   Uncle Harley’s critter is hanging in a freezer locker now and will be featured at many family dinners in the future.  He may be a little more muscular than ‘veal’ but he will definitely be tasty.  Unfortunately, the Tennessee school break did not coincide with the Grand Opening Celebration of Henson’s Grocery and Gas, which will occur on the coming Saturday.  They were in and out of the establishment many times during their stay, however, and so it was probably better for them, as they were looking for a personal experience, not to have to contend with the crowd.  The same is true for Harley and Barbara.  They will be doing other fancy family things up in their Illinois home in lieu of joining the parade around the square.  That is fine.  They too had a week’s worth of quality one on one time at the store.  They will be satisfied with photographs and second hand accounts of the festivities.  Barbara did make arrangements for the placement of the new sign that will mark Lonnie Krider Memorial Drive.   She hopes that it will be in place by the time the party gets started.  Not only are the absentee Champions going to be absent at the big fandango themselves, but they have lured away others. Mr. and Mrs. Dusty Mike are sojourning among the Northern tribes at this critical juncture as well!  They will come dragging back in in the middle of the night with Harley’s tractor on a big trailer.  They will content themselves with reports from friends and family about what an excellent affair it will have been.

          Champions are enjoying the exciting build up to the Grand Opening Celebration on Saturday.  People will be here from miles around.  Linda will come down from the Plant Place in Norwood, and probably Kurt Dooms, the Norwood Postmaster.  Maybe his Mom, Irene Dooms will make it over and her sister, of course, Esther Wrinkles will come home to see the sights.   Ruby Proctor and some of her lovely bunch ought to make it for sure and there will be Smiths and Stones and Elliots, Hutchisons, Upshaws (the General for sure), Cooleys, and Coontses galore.  Murphy from the barber shop in Mt. Grove will not be able to make it.  Butch Linder and Todd Miller from barber shops over in Ava might come.  Murphy is going to a wedding in Lebanon.  He was reminded by a disappointed Champion that he is already married.  He will be taking Sue to the wedding, so her mandolin will not be part of the music this time.  “This time!” you say. “Why, this is a once in a lifetime event!”  Champions know that every event is a ‘once in a lifetime event’ and that nothing can be replicated exactly when it comes to life experiences.  This one might remind J.T. Shelton of the old days when Champion would be full of people every Saturday, visiting and learning the news, trading dogs and any number of other things not widely reported.  Come see for yourself.  Saturday, October 22, 2011 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in Downtown Champion at the bottom of several beautiful hills, on the wide and wooly banks of Old Fox Creek just where the pavement starts. 

          Follow The Clever Creek Kid’s lead and send your poetry to Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717, or to Champion at getgoin.net.  Look in at www.championnew.us for more of his work.  This one is called “Looking on the Bright Side.”  “If the day be dark and dreary, look for sunshine. If you’re feeling sad and weary, look for sunshine. You will always find a path of blue Where the sunbeams sparkle through, If you look for sunshine.  Friends are falling every day for want of sunshine. Help them up along the way.  Show them sunshine. If you help the world in seeing, You are always sure of being In the sunshine.”  Champion!

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October 10, 2011

October 10, 2011

CHAMPION—October 10, 2011

          Was it Will Rogers who said, “All I know is what I read in the papers?” Champions are the kind of folks who just do not believe everything they read.  It is a good thing too.  Last week in some publications there was a long, convoluted story leading up to Bud Hutchison’s Fall Trail Ride.   Everyone was entreated to show up to see the spectacle.  The eloquently worded and heart felt invitation was extended for the wrong day—Saturday.  It turns out that the trail riders will actually meet up in Champion on Wednesday, the 19th, to go off on their mounted expedition to somewhere as yet undisclosed.  The good thing is that at least the error was in advance of the event.  If anyone shows up on the wrong day, they will have the opportunity to attend on the correct date, just by waiting four or five days. (Which is it–four or five?)  All of this is decidedly better that showing up four or five days late!  Being at the right place at the right time is truly a Champion attribute.  Anyone who likes the sound of horse hooves, squeaking leather and spinning yarns ought to show up on the Square that morning (Wednesday the 19th), just for the fun of it.  The talk will be of pawpaws, persimmons and wooly worms and it will be part of the continual “Occupy Champion” demonstration that only goes to demonstrate that this is about the best place in the world to be.  Meanwhile, back out on the trail, in 2006, there were 41 riders and 5 wagons. (That year the first eagle sighting was October 8th.)  The next year it took seventeen stock trailers to get all the horses to Champion together with two buggies and a wagon.  In 2008 thirty one riders left Champion, but only 29 arrived in Drury.  The next year only six riders made the Champion ride because of a conflict in events.  Last year 22 riders made the trip.  All this information has been gleaned from archives at www.championnews.us and is available for all to see and/or believe.  

          October’s Full Moon is known as the Hunter’s Moon.  It occurs on the 11th of the month this year which happens to be the birthday of a relatively new Champion who has been busy making himself useful and being a very good and welcome neighbor in recent years.  Steve now has an enormous whole dug in his yard with the plans for an innovative home to be built there.  Darlene, his lovely wife, has her birthday on the 18th of the month.  Their neighbors Leslee and Breauna have their birthdays on the 14th and the 24th of the month.  Breauna shares her day with brother-in-law Brian Oglesby who is the lucky father of Eli and Emerson Rose.  Then a couple of days later Uncle Harley has his big day and will once again be older than everybody around.  One Champion has her birthday on October 21st, but she has decided to celebrate on the 23rd of November, since someone with that birthday has appropriated the 21.st  It does not matter the day, the passage of time seems immutable, even if Royce Henson thinks he can harness the little neutrinos for some serious time travel.  Those who wake up in the mornings just go on with it one day at a time, older and wiser–Champion! 

          One little old hummingbird straggles behind in Champion.  Her friends and family have all left already.  Maybe she dreads the long trip or perhaps she just does not want to leave her Champion home.  Friends and families came together on Saturday in Norwood to acknowledge the passing of David Littrell.  He was born on October 21, 1952, and passed away in a tragic auto accident on August 20, 2011.  He was young and had led a vital, exciting life that touched many people.  Over in Cabool that day, a memorial service was held to honor Elitta January.  Her birthday was August 1, 1938, and she passed away in her home in the presence of her family on September 24th, the birthday of her friend, Sandy Chapin.  Often in prayers, people ask for an ease of passing for those on the brink and for comfort for those left behind.  Those are good prayers and Champions would only add that expressions of appreciation and affection to loved ones while they are living are never wasted. 

          The glorious changing autumnal colors inspire artists and musicians and people with empty woodsheds. “The autumn leaves drift by my window.  The autumn leaves of red and gold.”  Preparations for winter are well under way and hopes that the frost will continue to hold off for a while are less and less likely to be granted as the days progress.  Recently, as the beginning of the ten years of war in Afghanistan was marked, it was noted that less than one half of one percent of the population is currently engaged in the active wars.  During World War II, that number was nine percent of the total population.  For every Veteran, every one actively serving, and every survivor there is a story.  “Hate war, but love the warrior” is a much used quote attributed to a number of different warriors in a number of different wars.  Wherever it came from, Champions agree.  Love and Gratitude abound here for those who do and for those who have served.

          Champions are in a whirlwind of excitement as the date for the Grand Opening Celebration of Henson’s Grocery and Gas has been set for October 22, 2011.  Festivities will kick off at ten in the morning and go through five in the afternoon.  Butch Stone is organizing music on the porch.  There will be refreshments and lunch available on the grounds at an old-fashioned affordable price.  This is an opportunity for all of you who have just been reading about the beauties of Champion to really get an eye full of it and to meet your favorite Champions.  The Recreation of the Historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square in Downtown Champion will be centerpiece of the jubilee.  As a new era is ushered in the past is embraced fully with great affection.  Champion is located off C Highway between 76 and 14 at the end of the pavement on WW at the bottom of several steep hills and on the wide and wooly banks of Old Fox Creek just down from its confluence with the Clever.  It is easy to find Champion.  Look on the Bright Side!

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