August 27, 2012

August 27, 2012

CHAMPION—August 27, 2012

          The mist hanging in the valleys on Monday morning speaks of the rain that fell enough to wash the dust off the cars, but not enough to wake a person up to say, “Oh! It’s raining!”  The forecast for the end of the week shows Champion to be cool and damp.  When it comes to the weather, Champions never complain.   Zoey Louise, a Champion granddaughter who will soon be nine years old, says, “You get what you get, and you don’t pitch a fit!”  That is an excellent precept that speaks of a good upbringing.  It must come from her Mother’s side.

          When Harley an Barbara were down from Illinois during the Skyline VFD Picnic, Harley remarked that he has some incredibly beautiful tomato plants that are not making much in the way of tomatoes.  He did have a small bunch of plump Romas to share with sister-in-law, Karen, who said they were very pretty and very tasty.  It is to be noted that Barbara had her birthday on Sunday and now is considerably older than some of her family and friends in Champion.  Until they catch up with her again those younger people will go out of their way to show deference and appreciation for their elders.  It is the Champion way!  Harley drives a bus and school has started up there again too so they probably will not make it to the Champion School Reunion this year.  It is coming up on Saturday, September 1st.  Even Champions who never attended school there are welcome and everyone always goes away from the occasion with a smile.  Bring lawn chairs, a bite to eat, and get ready for some serious visiting, reminiscing, acquainting and reacquainting.

          The 30th Annual Champion School Reunion is just the first of a series of excellent gatherings of the fall season in the bustling crossroads of one of the prettiest places in the world.   “Crossroads” is used here only as a designation for a gathering place or for the hub of a community.  Looking from above (on the map), the loop around the Square is Lonnie Krider Memorial Drive.  It connects County road 243 from the north, with County Road 234 from the east and with the pavement of Highway WW that goes off to the west.  If a person is of a mind to go south, he might take out east on 234 for a way and then turn right on 235.  A person could spend a pleasant hour just perusing the map, but better yet, make the trip.  Refresh yourself out on the porch at the Historic Emporium and enjoy the sites.

 On Thursday, the 13th of the month, the West Plains Wagon Club will come through again on their week-long trip from West Plains to Mansfield.  They generally spend the lunch hour and a little siesta break around the Square and are most congenial to spectators, many of whom may never have seen, up close, wagons and buggies hitched up to horses and mules.  There are all kinds of different outfits.  Many of these rigs are equipped with solar powered electric lights and running water, but some are as close to the original historic configurations as is possible with only minor alterations to fit current conditions.  Look in on to see some great pictures of Wagon Trains in Champion or come out and see them in person.  The procession creaking out of the Square on its way north puts a person in mind of the changing of times.   “The only constant is change,” they say, and Champions are not at all adverse to it.  Forward thinking is not anathema to a love of history and precious memories of the golden days of youth.  “The old grey mare, she ain’t what she used to be, many long years ago!” Every guy who was born in 1939 thinks the ‘57 Thunderbird (or Desoto) is the prettiest car ever built.

 It will be remembered off in the future (way off) that Janna Brixey did not want to go to school.  She does not like riding the bus and the whole process of going every morning seems egregious to her.  Once she gets there, however, and gets involved in the day, she seems to like it quite well.  She talks about it favorably when she returns home in the evening, and yet, the morning starts the whole process over again.  She will soon discover that the rewards are worth the trouble it takes to get there.  Kindergarten is cool.  Meanwhile, she and Kalyssa Wiseman will have their fifth birthday on Friday, the 31st of August.  One is just a few minutes older than the other.  They will probably know each other for the rest of their lives, so they can work it out between them who is older.  Larry Wrinkles has his birthday on the 1st of September.  He most generally is at the Champion School Reunion and he will have to make a good appearance this year as a stand-in for his Mother, Esther Wrinkles.  She will be spending a little more time at the Autumn Oaks Care Center where she is doing rehabilitation for a broken hip.  This will be the first Reunion that she has not attended and these are the kinds of ‘changing times’ that people dislike.  She will have lots of company there as friends stop in to report on the reunion and to tell her how much she was missed. 

Third grader Jasmine Schroeder will miss getting to have her birthday at school.  She will be nine years old on the third of September which is Labor Day this year.  She can celebrate with her Skyline classmates later.  The forth of September is the birthday of both Ronald Thornhill who will be 14, and Eathaniel Poppas who will be 10.  Two sixth grade boys, Derek Camp and Donavon Sarginson, share their 12th birthday on the fifth.  Birthday celebrations can be some of the best part of life.  The chance to tell friends and family that they are loved and cherished on their special day and that the world is somehow sweeter for their very presence is a chance not to miss.  The feeling one has about his own birthday can change from age to age and if a person is lucky somewhere along the line he begins to be grateful for having lived another year.  Send any birthdays that you would like to commemorate to Champion at or to Champion Items, Rt. 2 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  Freely, lavishly send birthday cards to friends and loved ones by the U.S. Postal Service.  Write some post cards and love letters to the troops overseas and tell them how much their sacrifices are valued. Karen Ross, Champion mail carrier, participated in the Customer Appreciation program of the post office by delivering banana bread.  Notes back to her in thanks for the deliciousness included the sentiment that it is the community who appreciates her.  Reliable mail service to rural residents is noting to take for granted. 

Elmer Banks’ birthday is on September 15th! It will be hard to tell how old he is and the fact is he may not know himself.  He is originally from Transylvania, Louisiana and lived many places before he settled on Champion as his home.  Fun and laughter come along with him and it will be “Elmer Banks Day” in Downtown Champion on his birthday as the whole town gathers for a swap meet kind of festival with the Fall All City Yard Sale and Musical provided by the All General Accordion Ensemble.  Come for the fun to Champion!—Looking on the Bright Side!


August 20, 2012

August 20, 2012

CHAMPION–August 20, 2012

          The good news in Champion is plentiful. The weather is being pleasing and little dribs and drabs of rain keep Champion hearts optimistic for eventual drought relief. An agronomist was heard to say that gardeners can expect a bumper crop of weeds next year on account of so much barren ground this year. Ahead of the times, as usual, many Champions already have quite a bounty of weeds, which some classify as any plant whose virtue is not yet known. Some who have had glorious, ornamental, non-bearing green beans are expecting the plants to suddenly produce a plenteousness in these temperate days. Great expectations abound in Champion.

          Over the years the ‘Champion Items’ have been written by a number of people. Sylvia Henson, wife of Ezra and no kin to Edgar and Anna, wrote them back in the 1950s and 1960s. Ruth Hicks, who lived on the next place over, wrote them for a while and Esther Wrinkles, who lived in Champion proper, wrote them for many years. There were others as well. Some research off in the future will detail the chronology of Champion writers for anyone who is interested in such things. This particular permutation of the ‘items’ only goes back to August 28, 2006. The first entry was: “News has reached the Champion community that its former longtime resident, Mrs. Clifford Wrinkles, has suffered a mishap that has resulted in a plaster cast on her foot together with admonitions to stay off the foot for two weeks. This will work a hardship on Ms. Wrinkles who is routinely more active than most.” Since then she has made a dozen or more quilts, hundreds of pies and gallons of noodles. She has lifted the spirits of family and friends and kept the road hot with her comings and goings. Now she has had another mishap that put her in the Autumn Oaks Care Center in Mountain Grove. She has a steady stream of visitors who join with many others who know and love her to wish her well. All her fellow music lovers are dedicating the best song that plays in their heads to Esther.

         Tennessee Champion Dakota Watts’ aunt Tianna Ogelsby celebrates her birthday on August 22, and Dakota has his on the 24th. His great aunt Barbara Krider shares her birthday with Dana Harden who will be six years old and is in kindergarten at Skyline School. Barbara’s sister in law, Rita Krider, has her birthday the next day. They live near each other up in Illinois and will probably revel together in a big chunk of cherry cheesecake to mark the occasion. Rowdy Woods, Skyline first grader, will be seven on the 29th, which is the same day Wes Smith will be—well, older. It would be interesting to know if Wes was like Rowdy when he was that age. Something in the twinkling of the eyes makes one think that might be the case. Abigail Dyer will enjoy her eighth birthday in her third grade class on the 30th, and then Kalyssa Wiseman and Jenna Brixie will celebrate being five years old on the same day–August 31st.

         The Champion School Reunion is fast approaching—September 1st. Alumni of the Champion #47 School District, which last held classes in 1959, together with descendants and other family and friends will gather on the grounds once again to tell the old stories and to hear them. “Ain’t it funny, how times slips away?” That could be one of the songs proffered by the various attending musicians, to which some might remark, “T’ain’t funny, McGee!” If you would like to see what a Champion #47 School Reunion is all about, go to and look under Champion School Reunions. There you can find pictures from the first one, held in 1984. By then the school had been closed for twenty five years. A particularly interesting reunion occurred in 2008. While everyone is not computer-savvy or particularly interested in being so, most people know someone who has access to the World Wide Web. Out there on the web is stored some pictures of the 2008 reunion and a person can almost hear the laughter and pleasant sounds of acquaintance renewed. Also find there the Dynamic Duo of Lonnie Krider and Wayne Anderson singing “Two Different Worlds” with such sweet harmonies a person cannot help but to smile and express some gratitude for the experience. It is a chance for the young folks to take the old folks on a computer tour of Champion. Captain Picard (not to be confused with the General) says, “Make it so.” The past is “slip sliding” away; the future is a promise; today is happening right now in Champion!

          Linda’s Almanac from over at the Plant Place in Norwood says that Friday and Saturday the 25th and 26th will both be good days to cut winter wood and to prune to discourage growth. One finds it amazing that there is forever something timely to be doing and, at the same time, gratefully, not much in the way of an oversight committee. One is inclined to do just as she pleases and she finds it serendipitous in the extreme that those things she so enjoys doing are the exact things that most need to be done.

      “They” say that good news travels fast. If you have some good news or joy that you would like to spread around send it to Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or to Champion at   It is a joy to tour a friend’s garden to see how differently and how effectively each gardener approaches the endeavor. Driving down a country lane, if the gardener stands up to watch you pass, he will probably wave at you. The tidy little plot next to The Historic Emporium in Downtown Champion is the very picture of a garden specific to the gardener’s needs. It is just right. Lean over the porch rail to admire it. Look around and take a moment to appreciate the tranquil beauty of the setting with its great trees and grassy creek banks, its charming lanes and precipitous hills. It is Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


August 13, 2012

August 13, 2012

CHAMPION—August 13, 2012

          Champions begin the week with grateful hearts that the severity of the summer heat has for a while abated.  They are optimistic that the moderation will endure and that rain will eventually fall.  Every dry spell in history has ended in a shower.  When the creeks are up too deep to ford, will Champions remember these dry days?  Yep. 

          “The Orange Blossom Special” was a deluxe passenger train that ran between New York and Florida from 1925 to 1953.  The song by that name is known as ‘the fiddler’s national anthem’ and was written by brothers Ervin and Gordon Rouse in 1939, when Esther Wrinkles was a girl of 22.  She is 95 now and her friends, Backyard Bluegrass, finished their last set at the Skyline VFD Picnic on Saturday night dedicating the song to her.  She is recuperating over at the Autumn Oaks Care Center and this is the first Skyline Picnic that she has missed.  She has been a mainstay in the organization since it first began and her friends are looking forward to her getting back in the swing of things.  Tamara Griswold was the winner of Esther’s quilt.  She and her husband Greg moved to the area a couple of years ago from northern Illinois.  They have been coming to this part of the country for several years visiting family in the Skyline community.  They live over in the EE/76 Fire District, but have been buying Skyline quilt tickets for years and years.  She is very happy about the beautiful quilt and will, no doubt, be first in line for tickets for the next one.  Champion! 

          The weather was perfect for the picnic and attendance was quite good.  People came from far and wide to meet up with old friends and family for the fun of it.  Some had to go the long way around to get there, but they came nonetheless and had a good time.  Ruby Proctor and her family were there both nights, as were Louise and Wilburn Hutchinson, Violet Hinote, and many others.   Harley and Barbara Krider came all the way from Illinois for the occasion and were happy to visit with many people they had not seen for years.   Area merchants are generous with their donations of door prizes and other support for the picnic and for the fire department.  It is a good relationship.  On a humorous note, Bob Upshaw, (When is he not funny?) engaged in some competitive bidding that went like this:  Anna Lou Wallace-$5.00, Bob Upshaw-$12.00, Wilda Moses-$13.00, Bob Upshaw-$14.00,  Aldous Huxley-$15.00, Bob Upshaw-$16.00, George Orwell-$17.00, Bob Upshaw-$18.00,  E.E. Cummings-$19.00, Bob Upshaw-$20.00.   The prize?  It was a fuzzy green wig, which upon winning, he promptly donned and proceeded to overwhelm the bingo parlor’s guests with antics too wild to report.  Do not be surprised if this typical behavior is repeated on Thursday evening over at the Vanzant Community Center for the Thursday night music and pot-luck.   Myron Jackson from KZ88 Radio in Cabool spread his money around at the auction and came out of it with some glass electric insulators, a Mad Magazine board game and a number of plates and platters that were commemorative of various states.  He is a music lover and can be found at all the local picnics, benefits, and festivals.   

          Dirk Beeson is a name to remember.  He is the hero of Michael Upshaw’s novel, “It’s About Time,” soon to be available in local stores.  It is almost a field manual on the use of resources, intellect and a sense of humor to solve the problems of the universe.  Two signed, first edition copies of the novel were on the silent auction block and brought in some good revenue for the fire department.  Tim Scrivner made another of his wonderful bird feeders for the auction and Tanna Wiseman’s Chocolate Chunk Cookies brought in a cool sawbuck.  Proceeds from the auction are being spent this very week on some super-duper leaf blowers for the firefighters to use for clearing fire breaks.  It is an important piece of equipment that can make a real difference in controlling and suppressing a dangerous fire.  

          William Crawford will be thirteen years old on the 19th of the month.  He will be a seventh grader at Skyline.  Caitlynn Pierce will enter the sixth grade this year and will have her twelfth birthday on the 21st.  School is back in session and everyone is set for another exciting year of learning and growing.   The Dolly Parton Imagination Library is gaining a few more subscribers and so Skyline School can look forward to more future students with a well-developed love of reading.   

          Rachel Pitts who lives over by Hunter Creek was the winner of the White River Valley Electric Co-Operative’s $100.00 of free electricity at the Skyline Picnic.  Jeff Pardek from over at White River is kind enough to make this award to the fire department every year.  Ms. Pitts is a lifelong resident of the area and she says that with the price of cattle, the lack of rain, and the dreadful heat, this winning ticket was a real bright spot for her family.  They have always been staunch supporters of the fire department and love to come to the picnic.  Her daughter, Kristi Vinson, taught at Skyline in past years.  Nine years ago when Kristi’s son, Jacob Teaster, was four years old he had an illness that put him in a coma for three weeks.  During that time the Skyline community had a benefit for him and Ms. Pitts said it was greatly appreciated.  Her grandson, Jacob, is thirteen now and is doing just fine.   She remarked that she had recently been down to Champion to see the new store and she very much approves.   It is a real winner!  So is Ms. Pitts and a Champion!

          Linda’s Almanac says that the 14th and 15th will be good days for transplanting and for planting below the ground crops.  It is also good for planting seedbeds and flower gardens.  Then the moon changes and the 22nd through the 24th will be time to plant above-ground crops again.  Some Champion gardeners are experimenting with ‘earth-barrels’ for some of their fall garden.   Being willing to try new techniques is the mark of a Champion!  Cowboy Jack was in Henson’s Downtown G & G on Monday morning bemoaning the fact that the Olympic equestrian events did not include one for swimming.  Perhaps the committee will come to its senses and will add a cold creek swimming event for man and horse.   He will be ready to go to Brazil in 2016.  His friends all wish him the very best!  Send any ideas about any other place where Cowboy Jack can go to Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367 Norwood, MO 65717 or to Champion at

          The Fairview School Reunion is reported to have been a great success.  Lyman Proctor was part of the program representing the Veterans of the group.  He had a moving statement to make about his recent visit to the various monuments in Washington D.C.  He does a good job of keeping Veterans and those serving currently in the forefront of the community consciousness.  They are Champions every one.    

          The cool weather makes a sojourn out on the porch at the Historic Emporium just right.  It is a beautiful place, picturesque and tranquil, an excellent place to enjoy a pleasant visit with friends, or just to meditate for a quiet moment.  Come on over on to the North Side of the Square in Downtown Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


August 6, 2012

August 6, 2012

CHAMPION—August 6, 2012

               Some Champions are feeling that they have had a reprieve, as if they have been pardoned or have found amnesty or sanctuary from the heat and the oppressive prospect of no-end-in-sight to the brutality of summer, in spite of the full knowledge that ‘eventually’ it will be some other season.  An inch of rain is truly a gift and Champions say right out loud, “Thank God!” 

              “You can’t go home by the way of the mill.  There’s a bridge washed out at the bottom o  f the hill.”  Well, the bridge on Highway 76 at Bryant Creek was not washed out but it is being rebuilt.  They say it is going to be a doozie.  Anyway, it will not be open in time for the Skyline VFD Picnic, so people from the other side of the creek will just have to go around in order to get to the fun this year.  Maybe the bridge will be will be ready for use when school starts on the 15th of the month.  Students and teachers are getting geared up for another successful term of learning and growing.  Kinzleigh Crain will have her 10th birthday the day before school starts and Trent Homer will have his seventh birthday the day after school starts.  Kinzleigh will be in the fourth grade and Trent will enter the first grade.  There may be some new students in Skyline this year as there are reported to be some new families with children moving into the area.  It has been said that due to the current state of the economy the birthrate in the US is significantly down.   Add to that to the evidence that while the overall population of rural Ozarks counties is increasing, so is the median age.    There are plenty of Champion grandparents who would be pleased to have some young people move into the neighborhood, preferably their own grandchildren, but any would do.  A new batch of Dolly Parton Imagination Library Applications has been delivered to Henson’s Store in Downtown Champion so the little ones who make their way to Champion/Skyline will be able to get started right away building their own libraries.  It is true that much of the knowledge of the rest of the world will be coming to students on the internet from here on out, but it is also true that a bound book with paper pages, new and bright, or ragged and well-read can spark imagination and curiosity just as it did for Champions back in the days when they attended their own treasured little school.   As the years roll around and people look back with nostalgia on their school experiences in the little one and two room school houses in these parts, perhaps they will think about the one hundred or so youngsters who are attending the Skyline School today.   The Skyline School Foundation has been set up to help this small rural school with some of its needs, which are many.  There will be some good information about the Foundation available when the East Fairview District #46 has its reunion at the Vanzant Community Building on the 11th.   The Champion School Reunion is always held the Saturday before Labor Day and there will be plenty of opportunity for Champions past and present to subsidize the future by supporting the Foundation today!  Look in on to see Champion School Reunions from the past.  There are pictures there of Hensons, Cooleys, Sutherlands, Kriders, Hicks and Hutchisons, Smiths and Upshaws, Andersons and Proctors and on and on. 

               Esther Wrinkles is feeling better and someone said that she should have had a stack of quilt tickets by her bedside there at the Autumn Oaks Caring Center in Mountain Grove.  She has a pretty steady stream of visitors and they all have an interest in this year’s quilt.  Bob Berry comes by to see her every few days and he has bought lots of quilt tickets over the years and he won one fairly recently, maybe at the Skyline chili supper a couple of years ago.  Mary was very happy about the whole deal. 

                Linda’s Almanac from over at the Plant Place in Norwood will let you know that there is plenty of growing season left this year.  As the harshness of the weather abates, enthusiasm for gardening is refreshed.  Some gardeners mix lettuce and radishes together and the harvest process promotes the thriving of each.  The almanac reveals that the best days for destroying weeds will be the 11th, 12th,  13th and 16th , though some figure that anytime you pull a weed is a good time.  There are good times to be had in a garden any time.  One says that when the soil is so nice and damp from the rain, “Why, the weeds fairly jump into your hand!”   Find the Almanac up in Norwood, on the internet or on the bulletin board at Henson’s Downtown G & G on the North Side of the Square in scenic and serene Champion.

                As is frequently the case, Linda had the high score in the regular Fortnight Bridge Club game on Saturday night.  She has been playing for a long time and continues to take lessons and teach.  The game is a good exercise for holding on to the processes involved in remembering things and keeping brains working with agility and keenness.  It works better for some than for others.  A link in the  site takes a person interested in bridge to the American Contract Bridge League.  There is a link there also to the VFW website where a great deal of good information about Veterans is available.  For example, one in seven new Veterans will have some form of post-traumatic stress disorder.  There are 244,000 new cases of traumatic brain injury and it is reported elsewhere that every day one American Service person takes his own life.  Veterans have a lot of Love and Gratitude due them as well as some support and understanding.  Local Veterans are always a significant presence at area picnics, chili suppers and benefits.  They are Champions every one.

                “You ought to see my Blue-Eyed Sally.  She lives way down on Shinbone Alley.  There’s a number on the gate and a number on the door.  The next house over is the grocery store.”  Those are lines from Bob Wills’ song, “Stay All Night.”  Sally Prock might have been the Blue Eyed Sally that Mr. Wills was singing about, but she was most likely just a very little girl when the song became popular and she lived more than a few doors down from the Mercantile.  She is quite popular in Champion and she shows up for every important function and sometimes just for the fun of it.  She has a great smile.  “Pull off your coat.  Throw it in the corner.  Don’t see why you don’t stay a little longer” In Champion–Looking on the Bright Side!