May 28, 2012

May 28, 2012

CHAMPION—May 28, 2012

          Most Champions know that the “Ag News” program comes on TV very early in the morning—very early.   Several were up early enough to hear it Saturday when it was reported that Missouri is flooded!  Cries rose up out of darkened Champion farm houses in the pre-dawn hours:  “Where?”  “We’re not we-et!”  “Bring it on!”  “Whhore’s ma boat?”  (Where is my boat?) Or in the case of a certain cowboy, “Whar’s my horse?”   From Coonts Holler to Champion, wherever Rowdy might caper, it is sure he is leaving his hoof prints deep in dry, sifting sand.   Champions have turned off their televisions and have gone out to water the garden. 

           A prominent occasional Champion denizen remarks that he enjoys taking his ease out on the broad, elegant veranda at the Recreation of the Historic Emporium where he and the fellows can contemplate new words.   “Sylvan” is the word of the day.  It refers to an association with the woods, with that which inhabits the woods, is made of tree materials or comprises the forest itself.   Used in a sentence:  “Champion’s sylvan surroundings embrace the serenity of the bucolic scene.”

          Some Champions are worried about the hummingbirds.  By this time of the year, in years past, the chore of keeping the feeders filled has been a delight but truly a chore as the voracious little critters kept things humming outside the windows.  This year Champions are reporting just having one or two pairs.  The Missouri Department of Conservation Ombudsman, Tim Smith, up in Jefferson City talked to the State Ornithologist who said that he is not aware of an overall decline in the population.  As their migration is triggered by day length, the unusually early spring here caused regular flowering plants to be past their prime already when the birds came through, so they just kept going.  He said that some areas are reporting a larger than usual population.  The dry weather may mean that only as many hummingbirds as the area can support will be entertaining here this season.  Champions are pleased with every one they see and do not take them for granted.  They are making smaller batches of food for their feeders and changing them frequently to keep the few little birds healthy.  The ornithologist said that late summer and fall may see a larger population in the area.  Champion!

          The Skyline  R-2 School Foundation Bass Tournament is reported to have been a lot of fun.  Rusty Darnell of Joe Bass Team Trail really pitched in to help and the Foundation is much benefited from his generosity and that of all the sponsors and participants.  Brian Sherrill has pictures to share and is busy planning for next year.  Expect continued excitement from this great new organization dedicated to the education of the great area kids.  So far, the Foundation has signed up twenty-nine children in the Dolly Parton Imagination Library.  This is an excellent program where the Foundation is able to provide a new book every month to children from birth all the way until their fifth birthday. The new age-appropriate books arrive in the mail.   It is a way to get them ready to read, ready to enjoy school, ready for a successful life.  Anyone in the Skyline School District is eligible to participate at no cost.  There are applications available at Henson’s Grocery and Gas in Downtown Champion and from any Skyline School Board Member. 

          Wayne and Jo Ann Anderson celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary on Saturday, May 26th at the Denlow School Reunion.   Helping them enjoy their day was Linda Clark, Robert and Sharon Upshaw, Marilyn Hopper Gerald, Kendall Gerald, Malachi Gerald, Bill and Elgin Upshaw, Bethany Adams, Lavern and Jessie Mae Miller, Kenneth and Barbara Anderson, June Chambers, Walter (Pete) and Bonna Mullins, Lorene Johnston, Ed and Sonja Williams, Sally Prock, Carol E. Coats Barnhart, Ruby Proctor, Peggy Hancock, Vivian Floyd, Russell, Dean and Sue Upshaw, Tom Cooley, Darrell Cooley, Ray Hicks, Kenneth and Beverly  (Miller) Tooley, Robert Dean Brixie, Michael and LaSchell (Upshaw) Bearden with Meryl  and Catherine, Elizabeth Johnston, Kaye and Richard Johnston, Shelby and Madelyn Ward, Esther Wrinkles, Lonnie Mears,  Fred and Jean Follis and Virginia Jacobs.  These are not nearly all the people who were there.  Some neglected to sign the book and some were hoping to remain anonymous.  A number were off on other family business in Tennessee where Dakota Watts (Champion grandson) has graduated from high school.  Bravo!  Meanwhile, back in Denlow, Fred Follis led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance and then the fun began.   There was the obligatory recitation of the ‘shoot out’ of March 9, 1879, and a variety of questions designed to educate attendees on the version of history currently being popularized by the self-appointed historian.  By contrast, the food was most enjoyable.   After dinner the pavilion filled with well-fed friends and relatives for the annual auction.  Laverne Miller was the auctioneer and once again he did a splendid job in difficult circumstances.   Time and time again, the General bid against himself.  Being told that he already had the bid only seemed to spur him on to bid on things he did not even want.  It would have been sad, if it were not so funny.   On the serious side of things, the Veterans of the group were recognized.  Lavern, himself, landed on Omaha Beach shortly after D-Day and made his way all the way across France and Germany and was in Switzerland when the War ended.   The occasion of Memorial Day keeps Veterans and those currently serving in mind.  They have the Love and Gratitude of the Nation due them and the Flag flying over Denlow serves its grand purpose. 

          Gardeners have the good news that above the ground crops can be planted all the way from the thirtieth of the month through the third of June.  This is information from Linda’s Almanac from over at the Plant Place in Norwood.  In this very dry season mulch and irrigation are important.  Some things want continual moisture and some want occasional deep watering.  Haymakers are reporting fewer, lighter bales with less food value.  The price of beef in the grocery store would indicate that the sale barn might still be a good place for relieving the strain on the pasture.  

          “Mother” Mary Harris Jones is believed to be the inspiration behind the song “She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain.”  In the late 1800’s she was traveling around the Appalachian coal mining camps promoting the formation of labor unions when this version of the song became popular.  Miss Taegan Krider is singing it these days, “She’ll be driving six white horses, when she comes.”  It is a lovely song and at two years of age, this young lady does it justice.  Come on down to the Historic Emporium located over on the North Side of the Square in Downtown Champion to sing your favorite verse.  (The one about chicken and dumplings is a good one.)  If singing is not your strong suit, perhaps you have an ax to grind.  You can do that at Champion Items, Rt. 2 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or at Champion at   If you do not want it speckled, grind it in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


May 21, 2012

May 21, 2012

CHAMPION—May 21, 2012

           “Thanks for what little you did do.”  That jest from the parent of a Campion many years ago was meant to say, “I am grateful for your effort, but do not think you are through.”    When Sunday’s lightning and thunder produced almost enough rain to settle Champion’s dust some were looking the gift horse squarely in the mouth.  The horse is thirsty.  Champions never complain about the weather though it is frequently the subject of the conversation.  Now that many have their first cutting of hay up in the barn, it would be most timey to get some regular afternoon showers, or some all-night gentle soakers.   Champion, Terri Ryan, who teaches at Skyline School and has had a history of horses visiting her place, shares a remark made by Joyce Meyer: “There is no danger of developing eyestrain from looking on the bright side of things, so why not try it!” 

           Terri Ryan is also on the board of the Skyline R-2 School Foundation which is having its big Bass Fishing Tournament on Saturday.  Friends of the Foundation from Gainesville, West Plains, Mountain Grove, Ava, Thornfield and other places are sponsoring the event and providing door prizes as well.  The rules say the winner will have the most total weight of five fish and that all fish must meet legal Bull Shoals Lake length limit.  Ties will be determined by the largest fish.  Only artificial lures can be used.  The Joe Bass Team Trail is providing scales and the stage.  It will be held at the Spring Creek Boat Ramp in Isabella, MO from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.   Brian Sherrill, who knows about these things, has been instrumental in getting this great happening together.  He is a new Skyline School Board member and the father of a student who will be in kindergarten next fall.  By the time Silvana graduates from Skyline she will have been there for ten years and the school will have enjoyed the participation of these active, interested parents for a decade.   It happens that some students have their birthdays after school is out.   They have summer parties.   Joseph Kennedy will have his birthday on the 29th of May.  He will be four years old and will be in pre-k in the fall.   Landon James will be six on the first of June and the first grade is where he is heading.  Michelle Cochran will have her birthday on the third of June.  She has graduated from Skyline now and is moving on to high school.  Time goes by quickly, or so it seems to old people.    

                   Neighbors over in Denlow are getting ready for the Denlow School Reunion on Saturday.  The General will officiate (again).  The program will begin at eleven in the morning and will include the regular quiz where Denlow students are pitted against students from Elsewhere.  The questions are ‘Generally’ contrived to give the Denlow students the advantage, but crafty team leaders like Linda Clark, and Elsewhere student, Cathie Alsup Reilly, have thwarted the home team on more than one occasion.  Cathie has stated that retribution for her victory caused her to be relegated the “hula” squad the following year.  “Don’t ask.”  The potluck lunch at twelve thirty does not require participation in the quiz or the hula, but just an appetite for good cooking and good conversation.   The food is always wonderful, but the best part is the chance to fellowship (used here as a verb) with friends and neighbors, new and old, in a most welcoming, hospitable situation.  This is another of those exceptional times when fond memories of days long gone collide with the delightful here and now.  “Champion!” or rather “Denlow!”  Memorial Day weekend is the perfect time for this affair and the perfect time to remember the Veterans who have sacrificed so much as well as all those so dearly missed. 

           Friends of Community Radio KZ88 gathered for a party in the park in Cabool on Saturday.   There was an eclectic program of live music which accompanied a barbeque feast celebrating the third birthday of the station.  KZ88 is licensed to Real Community Radio Network, Inc., a Missouri non-profit corporation based in Cabool.  The station concentrates on locally created programming and has an affiliation with Pacifica Radio and Free Speech Radio.    They encourage local musicians to submit their music for on air play and offer free classes in everything to do with radio.  It is a nice little outfit, commercial free and listener supported.  Find a link to listen live on line at  Among those at the party was a charming lady named Brenda, who has retired from teaching English and creative writing at Cabool High School for more than thirty years.  She is a very attractive lady who has maintained her sense of humor in spite of exposure to teenagers for decades.   She calls The Champion News ‘creative journalism’ and allows that it is perfectly acceptable.  Champion!

            Linda’s Almanac from over at the Plant Place in Norwood indicates that the 25th all the way through the 29th will be a barren period, good for killing plant pests, cultivating or taking a short vacation.  The 30th and 31st will be good for above-ground crops.   After Bud Hutchison’s trail ride a week ago last Wednesday, the Cowboy bowlegged (another verb)  his way up the steps of the Historic Emporium and allowed as how he expects to win the First Ripe Tomato In Champion Contest this year and for his prize expects some new Levis and a nice cowboy shirt.  He said that he already had tomatoes ‘this big’ whereupon he proffered a thumb and forefinger circle somewhere in size between that of a marble and a ping pong ball.  Speculation is that he spent $4.98 each on full grown tomato plants with tomatoes already on them.  Well, there is no way of proving that, but since the First Ripe Tomato in Champion Contest is sponsored by The Champion News, which has no revenue, it is likely that the prize will be the same as in previous years and will amount to an old fruit jar and a dozen canning flats.   Some say he is not even eligible, since he lives in Evans, but he seems to be a fixture in Champion and Champions are known for their latitude.   Little Emerson Rose brought the winner down to the Square on behalf of her Champion Grandmother back in 2010.  There are some nice pictures of her on-line out in the Loafing Shed and some question about whether her Grandmother collected her prize.  There are no pictures of last year’s winner and no one can remember just who it was, so most likely no prize was awarded.  The rules are simple.  The tomato must have been grown in Champion and must be shared with the judges who will be those people present at Henson’s Grocery and Gas when the tomato arrives.  A picture must be taken and pertinences revealed, such as the variety and culture of the winning fruit.  It is all very exciting.  Share your excitement at Champion Items, Rt. 2 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or at Champion at

                   The solar eclipse made quite a stir in some parts of the country.  Many Champions missed it altogether because of the nonproductive cloud cover, the hills that obscure sunset for some and suppertime for others.  As pictures of the event become available from those places to the west where it was most visible, it is easy to see that ancient peoples might have assigned a great deal of mystery and magic to such an occurrence.   Astronomers and NASA scientists have it all pretty well explained now and in sixteen years they say it will happen again just this way.  Meanwhile June Carter Cash wrote “Ring of Fire” and a plaintiff rendition of it can be heard in her album recorded in 1999, where she accompanies herself on the autoharp with just a fiddle in the background.   Come down to the Recreation of the Historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square and sit a spell.  Remember The Carter Family’s “Keep on the Sunny Side.”  You’ll be in Champion—already Looking on the Bright Side! 

 P.S. (For the Herald)

          Champions extend congratulations to friend Keith on the occasion of his fortieth wedding anniversary to the fair Charlotte.   He works in an industry devoted to the interests of all the people of Ava and some of the other people in Douglas County.  He makes some excellent points about the value of skepticism when it comes to the media and joins with Champions in wielding Ben Franklin’s speckled ax while in the pursuit of self-betterment and moral perfection.


May 14, 2012

May 14, 2012

CHAMPION—May 14, 2012

           Way off in the future there will be Champions who recall these pleasant days out in the wonderful glider and comfortable chairs on the front porch of the Historic Emporium.  Now that winter’s chill is a distant memory, much of the socializing has moved from around the stove to the porch, where friends and neighbors meet serendipitously, or by plan, to pass a few tranquil moments.  ‘Romantics’ from Almartha regularly spend a peaceful hour there, being willing to travel the considerable distance for the experience.  The fiddler’s brother in law asked (essentially) “Where else might one go to find a real country store at the end of the pavement, on the banks of a creek, at the conjunction of county roads, at the bottom of several beautiful hills in the midst of such agreeable company?”  That is Champion. 

           Cowboy Jack was leading the pack when Bud Hutchinson’s Annual Champion Trail Ride came into the Square Wednesday afternoon.  Fourteen riders made the trip and all seemed to report a good time.  Wilma Hamby and her son, Mike, were there.  Wilma only wears one spur.  Bob Herd has some nice spurs.  He dozed for a moment on the porch.  Junior Brown, Nancy Burns, Dale Lawson, and Marvin Eagleston enjoyed the ride as did Bill and Marsha Brunner.  Cheryl Fortunia rode a quarter-horse and the rest were on Fox trotters.  Hershel Letsinger shed some light on the number of available trails in the area.  He pointed out that this part of the country was deeded to individuals as it was settled.  Later the Forrest Service came in to buy up the parcels from the settlers to form the Mark Twain National Forest.   Many of the farm-to-market roads and trails and old Model T roads that became part of the Forest have not grown over altogether and so they provide many miles of trails for the horsemen to enjoy on their weekly outings.    Butch Linder brought up the rear of this trip, which Jack says is usual.  The two of them took turns leaning on the porch rail describing just how they are both related to the same people without being kin to each other.  They both grew up right in this area and so it is almost a chore to draw the distinction and it is a source of much amusement for onlookers.  This week many of these riders will head over to Braddock Lake for their jaunt.   With the “Near Drowning” still fresh in their minds, the Cowboy’s friends will be keeping a close eye on him.     

           School is out this week!  Skyline students are celebrating.  Summer stretches long and lusciously out before them now.  They will learn, when they get older, that summer really passes in quite a great hurry.  Young Meikel Klein will have his fifth birthday on the 17th and so will go into kindergarten next year.  Grayson Atchison will be in the sixth grade and he will be eleven on the 18th.  Heidi Strong will have her sixth birthday on the 22nd and so will be a first grader next year.  Isaiah Collins will be eight on the 23rd.  He will be in the third grade.  For a few weeks now many students will have choices about what they do through the day.  Some will sleep late.  Some will buck hay to earn a few dollars.  Others will go to camp or visit their Grandmother.  Champions hope they all know that these are some of the days they will look back on with great fondness in the distant future.   The Skyline R2 School Foundation is getting ready for the big Bass Fishing Tournament down at the Spring Creek Boat Ramp in Isabella, MO on the 26th.  Brian Sherrill has all the good information about it at 417-683-7950.

           A distant Champion News reader writes that she appreciates the reference to the Suffragists Lucy Burns and Alice Paul, who labored against an oppressive regime to secure the voting franchise for women in this Nation.  “In this intensely interesting political climate,” she says, “it is good to remember that women cast more than half the ballots in the national elections and 66.6 percent of female citizens are reported being registered to vote.”  Lucy and Alice would be proud.  The occasion of the Skyline VFD Community potluck dinner brought out quite a number of political candidates.    It was a good chance for them to become acquainted with potential voters and vice versa.  There were no formal speeches made, but plenty of hand shaking and quality chit chat.  The food was plentiful and tasty and the fellowship most pleasant.   It would be a gift if all the political assemblies to come could maintain such a high level of civility with rancorous divisive rhetoric left behind.  People with differing opinions are still neighbors, still live in the same communities, still care about the same things.   

           A young soldier from Rolla was killed while serving in Afghanistan on Saturday.  He was Pfc. Richard McNulty III and he was scheduled to come home soon.  His wife is due to give birth to their first child in late June.   This is one of the many families suffering a terrible loss as the conflict goes on.   Since 2001, there have been 1969 US Military killed there for a total of 3005 coalition military fatalities. They are far away from their homes, but are fighting for the sake of their Nation.  They have Love and Gratitude due them from their Country, as well as some compassion and assistance.  Champions all. 

           Mother’s Day had the phone lines and flower shops busy as Champions paid attention to their favorite ladies.  Esther’s lovely pies got the attention they deserved at the pot luck and Esther herself was treated to dinner by both her sons on Sunday.  She said they really had a good time.      

           Linda’s Almanac says that the 17th and 18th will be good days to kill plant pests.   Pig weed is one that many gardeners like to kill, but some encourage lambs quarters, mullen, and dandelions.  It is said that a weed is simply a plant whose virtue is not yet known.  Pig weed has no virtue as far as can be discerned.  After the weeding, Saturday the 19th will be a good day for planting root crops and for transplanting.  Sunday starts the good planting time for the above the ground crops again and the next good days for those will be the 23rd and 24th.  The Almanac is posted on the refrigerator in Henson’s Store and online at  It can be found at The Plant Place in Norwood as well.  Rain is being scarce in these parts, but gardeners who can irrigate and mulch stand a good chance of success in this unusual year. 

           Come down to the Historic Emporium on the north side of the Square to sing your favorite rain song.  “I never meant to cause you any sorrow.  I never meant to cause you any pain.  I only wanted to one time see you laughing in the purple rain.”  Whatever the color of the rain, if it is wet it will be welcome in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


May 7, 2012

May 7,2012

CHAMPION—May 7, 2012

                     Moonstruck Champions used many square yards of digital camera space taking pictures of the Super Moon.  Some think of it as phantom film.  Certainly the visage resembled an apparition.   Many just enjoyed the spectacle transfixed with no need to preserve it for the future.   It is quite a Champion thing to recognize the beauty of a moment.  

                  The internet is full of moon pictures from all over the world.  There were certainly some good ones taken around Champion, which has lovely topographical contours even in moon glow silhouette.  Neighbors over on Teeter Creek, southwest of Champion, have been posting some excellent pictures not just of the moon, though it is an excellent photo, but of native plants and herbs.  Fire Pink, for example, is a flower that many will recognize, but just may not have known the name.  There are also pictures of Blue Cohosh, Alum root, Toothwort and Giant Trillium.  The photos are taken out in the woods so it is a great help in identifying so many familiar plants.  The Teeter Creek Herbs site also had some great morel pictures earlier in the Spring.  They are good neighbors and it is a real gift to share knowledge.    A prominent Champion, known more for his work habits and responsibilities than herb lore, was heard explaining that the dandelion flower is very rich in Vitamin A.  Smartweed is a common weed in this area that everyone will recognize.  It is the very herb that the young lady was reported to have been collecting when the damp, shivering cowboy came riding into camp that day.  Conjecture is that it was really stinging nettle that she was collecting in order to prepare a tea for treatment of arthritis.  Whatever the herb, it was a most neighborly thing for her to abandon her own enterprise for the moment to help the struggling rider.  Help is coming in for him from all directions.  Anonymous donors have stopped in at the Recreation of the Historic Emporium over on the North Side of the Square in Downtown Champion with a set of “floaties” though they did not indicate whether they should be used by the cowboy or the horse.  Someone else has left a tiny bar of fine milled French soap (pilfered no doubt from a Parisian hotel) suitable for carrying in a saddlebag, should the wrangler opt for creek side ablutions in the future.  “Savon” by Lane of Paris has a pleasing aroma that may ameliorate the ambient odor of the saddlebags if not the cowboy himself.  Rowdy is supposed to smell like a horse.   Bud Hutchison will lead the annual Champion Trail Ride on Wednesday so there will likely be recounting of the Near Drowning and so much of the focus of the trip will be trying to keep the barber from losing his saddle to laughter.  By the time the bunch gets back to Champion there will probably be more stories to tell and Champion is a good place to tell them and to hear them. 

           Champions are finding ants in flowerpots, under stones and all the regular places inside and outside where ants like to live.  For getting rid of inside ants there are special ‘baits’ that really do the trick.  They are the best on the market for the job and they are the only ant baits available at Henson’s Grocery and Gas in Downtown Champion.  It has proven out that the Mercantile has a very expansive inventory and that the diversity of the stock available is made possible by the quality of the merchandise.   It is as simple as that—the good stuff can be found in Champion.  More “good” to recognizes is the quality work being done by the County Road people.   The repair to and dressing up of the aprons at the low water crossings after the big rains makes it a pleasure to come to town.  

                    The outlook for a cooler week ahead has some Champions renewing enthusiasm for their gardens.  From Thursday through Saturday those root vegetables can go in with the prospect of good success.  Prospects for good success are the standard kinds of prospects in Champion.  Linda’s Almanac from over at the Plant Place in Norwood also includes information about the best days to prune in order to encourage growth and a list of the month’s best fishing days.   Area fishermen are looking forward to the big bass fishing tournament that will benefit the Skyline R-2 School Foundation.  Local businesses from all around the area are sponsoring the tournament which will be held May 26th at the Spring Creek Boat Ramp in Isabella Mo.  Contact new Skyline school board member, Brian Sherrill, at 417-683-7950 for more information.  The school year is winding down and the week will be busy with end of the year activities.  Eighth grader Sage Clunn will have his 14th birthday on the 10th so he will get a chance to celebrate with his friends before school is out.  Saturday evening the Skyline School cafeteria will be the site of the Skyline VFD Community potluck.  This will be a prime opportunity for people who live in the Skyline Fire District to get together and to meet their volunteer firefighters.  The get-together will start at six p.m. and promises to be a lot of fun.  Her Auxiliary friends are hoping to see Esther Wrinkles there with some of her strawberry-rhubarb pie or whatever she feels like making.  Esther is a good cook and a longtime supporter, actually a founding member, of the fire department.  Anyone interested in the possibility of becoming a volunteer fire fighter or participating in the Auxiliary is urged to come. 

                   Mother’s Day will be a chance for Esther’s family to express their appreciation for her.  She has many fans outside her family as well.  There are some nice pictures of her on the website at   She has always been active in the community and has served on the election board for many years.  Mother’s Day is a fine time for the voting public to recognize the women like Lucy Burns and Alice Paul who fought so long and under such oppressive circumstances to gain the right for women to vote.  The 19th Amendment to the Constitution was passed in 1920.  Alice Paul said, “When you put your hand to the plow, you can’t put it down until you get to the end of the row.”  They were great Champions of equal rights for women.  Happy Mother’s Day all you Champion women!  Send your songs and poems about your Mother to Champion Items, Rt. 2 Box 367, Norwood, MO. 65717 or to Champion at  If you are a good yodeler, come out on the porch at Historic Emporium located on the broad and shady banks of Old Fox Creek and sing that old Jimmy Rodgers tune that goes, “I’ll never forget that promise to my Mother, The Queen of My Heart!”   You will be in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!