February 25, 2013

February 25, 2013

CHAMPION—February 25, 2013

          Champion is just the kind of place that makes a resident pleased to stay home.  With the help of the telephone, one could be comfortable enough not to ever have to venture out.   Then an old friend calls.  What could be sweeter than that?    Ruby Proctor called last Monday just to chat.  She said that Lyman was enjoying his birthday and that her family had been celebrating her 88th birthday steadily for a week.   They had enjoyed multiple trips out to dinner and cake and ice cream with big family bunches.  Her sister, Amy has her birthday within the next few days and the 29th is her son Frankie’s birthday.  He is a leap year baby so he is not very old.  He just lives right across the field from Ruby and is happy to come and get her to take her to his basement when a bad storm hits.  He’s a good son.  All her children are good.   She has had experience with bad storms and is glad to have a safe place to go.   A look back through the www.championnews.us archives reveals a lot of interesting information about Ruby.   She was raised in Champion just over north east of the store.  She had three brothers and six sisters and her folks were John and Golda Hicks.  She married Mr. Proctor when she was seventeen.  There is a story in Champion that she worked at the knothole factory until she went to work at the doughnut-hole factory.  The knothole factory was the Cloud Toy Factory, which was situated near the railroad in Mountain Grove.  She worked there for a long time and then took a job at the bakery at the Town and Country grocery store.  She worked there for eighteen years, getting to work at four in the morning to get the doughnuts started and things ready to open up for business at 6 a.m.  During this time she was raising children and working on the farm.  To call her a Champion Woman is an understatement.   Ruby said that she had enjoyed reading Bob Berry’s letter about Esther Wrinkles in the Champion News a couple of weeks ago.  She and Esther were baptized in Old Fox Creek down at Champion on the same day seventy years ago this June.  She misses her dear old friend and remarked that she was so touched that Esther’s family had invited her to sit with them that sad day.  Old friendships endure in Champion.

         Champions will have plenty of good reason to get out Saturday when the Skyline Fire Department Auxiliary has its annual get together.  Hopefully the weather will be perfect for it (nice and chilly for a nice bowl of chili) and Ruby will be out with her family early to tour around the old stomping grounds before the supper.  The Pride and Joy Cloggers will be doing some stomping this year.  They are an energetic group of young people who emphasize the downbeat of the music with their enthusiastic footwork.  The dance has its origins in Wales and England during the Industrial Revolution.  The cloggers will demonstrate their fancy stepping just after the Whetstone bunch play up on the stage Saturday night.  It ought to be a great kick-off for the Spring Social Season.  There are a number of other bands slated to perform and there will be chances to win the handsome quilt made by Auxiliary President Betty Dye.  It is a queen sized beauty.   It is obvious that everyone who puts time and energy into making this annual event such a good time for everyone is having a good time while they are doing it.  That sentence reminds a person of the song, “I was looking back to see if you were looking back to see if I was looking back to see if you were looking back at me.”   Hope to see you there supporting the vital rural fire department that puts so much training and effort into looking out for the safety and security of the community.  It is a Champion outfit that goes by the name of Skyline VFD!

         Linda’s Almanac from over at the Plant Place in Norwood says that the 27th and 28th will both be good days for planting root crops.  The 1st and 2nd of March will also be good days for those gardeners who feel comfortable in getting the potatoes in the ground before St. Patrick’s Day.  Someone suggested using plenty of good mulch if planting this early.  One Champion gardener figures he has been planting his potatoes much too deep in recent years.  He is getting a little older now anyway, so it may be a good time to experiment with some other methods and save a little of that hard work for some other tasks which his amiable wife can help him identify or for taking a nap.

         A variety of information comes from the Thursday afternoon meeting of the Liars Lair at the downtown Vanzant Convention and Wisdom Center.   The first piece of interesting information is that such a place exists.  It is presumed that a bunch of otherwise unoccupied individuals get over to the venue early before the Thursday Night Bluegrass jam to get things (or themselves) oiled up for the festivities.  There was a great deal of misinformation and patent gossip about the Great Champion Gridlock Traffic Jam of the day before.  It happened just at the crest of the hill when an eighteen wheeler,  with a collie in the driver’s seat, found itself perpendicular across WW with some of its many wheels stuck in the mud.  Fox Creek Farms had its best man on the job unloading hay while polite travelers waited in lines in both directions for the chance to continue on their way.   It was completely civilized, contrary to reports from the Lair.  A special surprise guest speaker for the next “LL” meeting will present a program on “The Dangers of Preaching to the Choir.”  Not that many of the charter members have much experience with either, but the brunt of the program will focus on the difficulty in hearing fair minded, reasonable people disagree with the point of view shared by one’s fellows.  When they only ever speak with people who believe exactly the same things they do, the rhetoric gets more impassioned (inflammatory) so that anyone who might speak up with a differing view becomes some kind of whack-job.  It has always been the same.  Seventy-five years ago some local papers were proposing that the New Deal Monopoly in Washington ought to get thrown out.  Social Security and a great many local public works projects that benefited the area came out of it, but it was unpopular in conservative areas like Douglas County.  It was systematically being shut down by the opposition which many historians believe would have brought on another deeper Depression, and then, of course, the Country was saved by World War II.  It’s always something.

         Bonnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years caring for people who were in the last few weeks of their lives.  She wrote a book called “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.”  She observed that people gain a very clear vision at the end of their lives and the following are the common themes surfaced repeatedly.   1.  I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.   2.  I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.  3.  I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.  4.  I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.  5.  I wish that I had let myself be happier.   Come down to the Community Chat Room and discuss the Champion life without regret.  This chat room is located in the Historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square overlooking Old Fox Creek.  You will be in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


February 18, 2013

February 18, 2013

CHAMPION—February 18, 2013

        In Champion, Monday was kind of cold and blustery.  The temperature was not so low, but the wind made it feel wintry as it flapped the Grand old Flag vigorously on the porch post at the Recreation of the Historic Emporium over on the North Side of the Square.  George Washington was 28 when Robert Burns was born and so the poet grew up in Scotland much in admiration of the Colonial General who was successful in breaking the Tyrant’s grasp.  He wrote a stirring “Ode for General Washington’s Birthday,”  which included the lines, “A broken chain exulting, bring and dash it in the tyrant’s face, and dare him to his very beard, and tell him he no more is feared…They shout a People freed!”   George Washington’s Birthday was designated a national holiday in 1885, and used to be celebrated on February 22nd every year.    In 1971, under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, it began to be celebrated on the third Monday in February as President’s Day.  Skyline teacher Terry Ryan sent out an urgent message Monday saying, “Why am I the only one at school?”  Then she laughed and said that it is a day that all teachers remember.    Postal carriers remember it too.  Some folks are anxious that starting in August, rural mail delivery will not be available on Saturdays.  Some are very excited and happy to have their own special family postal carrier home all week end.  As in most stories there are two sides to it.  Come down to Champion to discuss any concern that you might have.  At the very least you will learn the Bright Side of it.

        People born in 1945 became 67 last year.  So someone with the birthday 01-23-45 was 67.  This year they became 68 and so will people born on 02-23-45. People born in 1983 are now 30!  It is amazing!  The charming Judi Pennington of Tar Button Road fame is one of those people born on February 23rd.  Fascinating Skyline teacher Staci Cline is another.   She will have sisters coming from far and wide to commemorate her day with her.  Pete Proctor had his birthday on the 18th and his sweet mother, Ruby, has hers the next day.  Glen and Linda’s daughter, Joanna rings her birthday Bell on the 21st.  A frequent Sunday visitor to Champion has his birthday on the 22nd and managed to convince the fair Alicia to marry him on that very day.  He will not forget their anniversary and they have had a bunch of them as well as two gorgeous daughters.   Emma Evans will have her birthday on the 24th of February.  She is a fifth grader at Skyline.  That is a Sunday, so perhaps her school friends will party with her on Monday.  She shares her birthday with a big sweet Sweede whose thumbs are very green and with a precious Texas friend, Margaret, who goes by the alias of Ella Mae though many call her Peg.  Every day is the ‘special day’ of 384,000 people around the world.  That is the number of people born every day according to the World Population Reference Bureau’s “2010 World Population Data Sheet.”  It also informs that 156,000 people die every day which gives a net increase of 229,000 to the world population every day.  That is about the total off all the people in Springfield plus four counties the size of Douglas County.  Happy birthday World!

        Valentine’s Day probably robbed the Vanzant Community Jam of a few of its players and a few of its regular audience, just because it was a special day for sweethearts and music lovers are, by definition, sweethearts.  Still, topping one of the many surrounding hills on that dark night, the lights of Vanzant shone out across the country with a dazzling brilliant invitation.  Inside the place was jumping.  There were musicians from all across the county and many a fine tune was offered up.  “Down Yonder” is a favorite and it was beautifully executed.  A lively novelty song by stand-up bassist, Sherry Bennett , “Five Pounds of Possum in My Headlights” was another highlight.  Ruth Collins ( ”used to be a Fish, but got caught,” according to a gentleman who seemed to know) did a fine job of “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and the plaintiff “Wayfaring Stranger.”  Sue Murphy, with her great voice and mandolin sang several favorites and Norris Woods with his pleasant smile, sat picking away on the old banjo.  Other players came and went through the course of the evening.   The long table full of appealing pot-luck food and plenty of good coffee made it all just right.  Frances and Elmer Banks were there.  Elva Ragland said that Elmer has six extra roosters that he is going to give her.  She did not say what she was going to do with them.  “Elvie” met up there with her longtime friend, Linda Collins of Richfield. They used to live on the opposite sides of the mountain and they would take their children up over the top to visit with one another.   Now their children are grown and the two friends meet up at the Vanzant Community Building on Thursdays to visit–just like old times.

        “Elvie” said she might look around to see if she has some of her embroidered tea towels to put in the silent auction for the Skyline Chili Supper.  Somebody has donated a set of neoprene, nylon jersey, ‘Bone Dry,’ Redhead camouflage overalls with built in rubber boots, men size 8.  All stretched out they look like they are built for a tall man, but one figures that when the fellow puts them on, they will take the proper shape and look just right.    The year rolls around quickly.  This year The Pride and Joy Cloggers are going to perform between the band performances.  It promises to be a great show.  David Richardson, of Whetstone out of Norwood, will kick off the first set and is also providing his sound system for the event.   The Pocket Hollow Band and Calvary Mountain Bluegrass will be on the bill together with the EMT Gang out of Ava.  Every little rural fire department is a gift to the community it serves.  They are Champions!

        “Plant peas as soon as the ground can be worked,” says the package.  Get down to the Visitor’s Center at Henson’s Downtown G & G to discuss garden philosophy.   Sing, “Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness, sowing the noontide and the dewy eve…”  You will be in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


February 11, 2013

February 11, 2013

CHAMPION—February 11, 2103

                Champions start off Monday with bright sunshine and a stiff breeze that blows in the promise of a nice week ahead.  Some Champions have friends and kin in New England who are enduring deep snow and looking at the possibility of an ice storm on top of it.  Things like that have happened around here in years past and Champions can understand the difficulties the people face and sympathize with their northern countrymen.  For those still not recovered from the hurricane, this seems like quite an overload.  Aunt Elizabeth, who spent time in Wooster, Mass as a young woman, would say “Oh!  Bless their hearts!”  

                Jean and Tim Scrivner have family and friends up in that part of the world, and their Champion friends hope for them that this weather is being an adventure rather than a hardship.  Tim is being called on as the Skyline School Foundation liaison with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to come up with more applications for the wonderful program.   Because the Douglas County Library has also become affiliated with “DPIL,” any child in Douglas County is now eligible to participate.  Henson’s Downtown Grocery and Gas has been steadily distributing the forms and generally has them on hand to get a youngster started on the happy road to reading.  It is one of the excellent services provided by the most pleasant little mercantile in the county. 

                One of the regular services not provided by the Historic Emporium is birthday parties.  Parties frequently happen there, but participants bring their own cake and candles.  There were no candles on the cake that surprised the cowboy on Thursday, however.  Modern bakeries have special printers that use food coloring to print pictures on cakes.  So it was explained by a staff member of the Richard’s Brothers bakery from whence came this tasty beauty.  It featured the depiction of a dripping wet, disheveled, bowlegged cowboy leading his horse out of the stream and “Over the Hill!”   The cartoon was probably enough to identify the septuagenarian—no names needed.  Another cowboy birthday card reads, “May your horse never stumble.   May your cinch never break.   May your belly never grumble and your heart never ache.”   What a sweet sentiment.  More happy thoughts go to Shelby Ward whose birthday is on Valentine’s Day and to Madison Bradshaw who has her birthday on the 16th.  Madison is in prekindergarten at Skyline.  Trish Davis has her birthday on the 17th.  She has been out of school for a while now, but when last seen was still quite youthful in appearance and demeanor, in spite of being married to an old, old man.  Mrs. Ruby Proctor has her birthday on the 19th of February.  She is a Champion’s Champion born and raised right around here.  She sets the example for kindness and gentility.  There are some great pictures of Ruby and her family in the “Snapshots” section of www.championnews.us

                This letter from Bob Berry came to the mailbox at Champion at getgoin.net. “Missing Our Angel” is the heading and Bob goes on to say, “I would like to share some of my memories of Esther Wrinkles.  She and my Mom were good friends in the old days.  When Mom got sick, Esther came with cakes and pies and little bags of food from town.  She just seemed to know when we short on food.  Looking back, I’m sure they probably didn’t have enough food at home but still she shared with us.

                “Then there was the cold March day when Brother Finley was having a baptizing at Brush Creek. When it was my turn, Brother Finley did his job and then he asked me if it was cold?  He didn’t have to put me down again!  As I came out of the water, guess who was standing there by my Mom, Esther with a big white towel!  No one had a phone back then but she knew exactly where she was needed.

               “Then in 1964 I got drafted but I was back home in three days.  Little did I know that someone had gone to the draft board and stood up for me because I was needed at home.  Maybe Esther?   I am sure Esther was an angel, always knowing exactly what was needed!  In later years, when I opened the Gentryville Garage, Esther and Clifford came regularly to have work done on their cars.  Folks, it’s okay to borrow a Mom, Dad, grandmother, or grandfather from time to time when you don’t have your own. I want to thank Larry Wrinkles and Lonnie Mears for letting me borrow their mom when I no longer had my own!  God has called our Angel home – maybe he likes coconut cream pie too. “

                 Her many Champion friends appreciate what Bob has to say.  Those pies that Esther made over the years were a great source of pride and fun.  She said, “Thank you,” with a pie or offered condolences with one.  She acknowledged friendships with pies and raised a phenomenal amount of money with them for the causes she loved.  The Skyline Volunteer Fire Department was one of her particular loves and as the Auxiliary meets this week to finalize its arrangements for the annual chili super, she will be in the thoughts of her friends.   The meeting room at Henson’s G & G over on the North Side of the Square will be the scene of the action as these industrious activists prepare for another excellent event. 

             Robert Louis Stevenson, said, “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.”  Some believers in global warming are planting early against the possibility of another very hot summer.  The moon has changed again and so the 16th, 17th, 18th, 21st and 22nd will all be good days for planting crops that bear their yield above the ground.  Greens of all kinds can go in the ground and peas might be planted by those brave souls who figure they can protect them against unexpected, if seasonal, cold conditions.  It is a gamble.  The daffodils are blooming in old home sites long abandoned.  Before long they will be joined and succeeded by narcissus and tulips then iris and peonies.  Gardeners live on through their hardy perennials.  Lilacs, flowering quince, and the Rose of Sharon are some of the other wonderful things gone wild in the woods that used to have people in them.   Jack Ryan, known as “Foxfire,” as he transplanted some wild plumbs, said that an old Vietnamese arborist admonished, “When you eat the fruit, think of him who planted the tree.”  Love and Gratitude are some of the best things in Champion and they are handed down through the generations. 

            Come down to the village and see for yourself all the splendors that make it unique and precious in a fast paced, technology driven, tumultuous world.  Come tip toe through the tulips on the broad green banks of Old Fox Creek, where country roads meet and the pavement starts, where beautiful hills roll down to pleasant vales and where hearts swell with the joy of being in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


February 4, 2013

February 4, 2013

CHAMPION–February 4, 2013

          In Champion the groundhog jumped back in his hole on Saturday and commenced to shove the daffodils up out of the ground.  There is a rumor that there are actual blooms  over in West Champion, but for those along county roads North of the Metropolis the bulbs had sprouted up to be only two or three inches tall by Sunday afternoon.  It is a sure sign that real Spring will eventually arrive.   With winter doldrums as the mode o’ day in some quarters, the prospect of colorful blooms and warmer days is very exciting.  Excitement is standard in Champion where one family looked out to see a genuine flock of bluebirds–in the neighborhood of a hundred of them!  It was the size flock generally associated with robins, but these were genuine blue bluebirds and simply lovely.  

          Whatever the weather, Champions are lined out for a great week ahead.  A phenomenal Champion daughter-in-law has her birthday on the 8th of February and then Cheyenne Baker, third grader at Skyline School will have her birthday on the 11th.  Joshua Garner, in kindergarten, will celebrate on the 13th along with Ms. Powell’s little girl Sondra.  Shelby Ward, Champion great-niece, will continue to be everybody’s Valentine on her special birthday–the 14th.  She is two years old and has a wonderful big sister and perhaps the most kind and loving grandmother ever a child could have.  

          The Douglas County Museum is doing an excellent job of preserving the history of the county and publishing family histories in the Douglas County Genealogical and Historical Society Journal.  The new Winter Journal of 2012 came out in early December.  The families in it this time are Dobbins, Thurman, Porter, Tooley, and Wilson.  There are also some interesting letters and pictures of Saturday on the Square.   There is an index available at the museum listing all the families that have been featured in the Journal.    Volunteers can help a person find his family history and there are sixty issues of the Journal to draw on.  The Museum has been publishing a lot of interesting pictures on the internet lately, but of course not everyone has a computer.  Currently the Museum is only open on Saturday’s from ten in the morning until two in the afternoon.  It is staffed by volunteers.  The Museum could stand to raise some funds to operate this summer so that folks coming back home from far away can enjoy mementoes of the place they remember.  Everything seems to take a little money to operate.  The good thing is that they have a nice membership program offered and the Journals are available for a very few dollars so it should be not such a big deal to help out.  Generally there is a copy of the Journal on the table in the Reading Room near the wood stove in The Recreation of the Historic Emporium known as Henson’s Grocery and Gas over on the North Side of the Square in Downtown Champion.  This unique establishment has itself been the subject of the Journal in years past and of any number of other serious publications of local and national acclaim.  Champions like their past and enjoy greatly their present.  The future has some great promise with a whole new crop of dairy farmers growing up in the area.  They can trace their families way back—Champions.

          Someone said we hate what we fear and we fear things we do not understand.  It is also true that fearful people can do stupid things.  Some do not like the world ‘stupid’ because it sounds rude.  It is rude.  Ignorance, on the other hand, is just not having information.  Stupidity is having the information, but behaving ignorantly anyway.   All this goes to the hypocrisy of one particular Champion who hates football with a passion.  Her friend in high school back in 1962, died in his sleep one night of an aneurism after the big game.  In spite of having been a grade school cheer leader, she turned against the game and subsequently found all kinds of reason to dislike it.  She dislikes the money it generates that could be used for wholesome, healthful things, and the mean spirited, macho, gladiator culture.  She has been known to disparage the costumes particularly, saying that women dressed in such a manner would be considered to have sketchy morals.  The hypocrisy part comes in here where she admits a particular liking to the boys in the gold britches.  She does not care what team they are on, and she prefers them not to have stripes down the legs.   The stupidity part comes in here where she willing discusses her hypocrisy.  “Push ‘em back!  Push ‘em back!  Waaaay back!”

Some gardeners in the area try to always have their potatoes and onions plants planted before Valentine’s Day.  Others say to plant lettuce and greens out in the garden on Valentines and wait until St. Patrick’s Day for potatoes.    Some old timers say that the one-hundredth day of the year is the proper day to plant potatoes, regardless of the weather or any other considerations.  Certain old gardeners are careful to plant onions and potatoes on opposite sides of the garden, believing that potatoes will not do well if onions are growing too close.  A little boy who asked about this was told that the odor of onions “makes a ‘tater cry its eyes out.”   A note in “Ozark Superstitions” says that while gardeners may disagree on the best date for planting, they fairly well agree that potatoes should be dug in the light of the moon, otherwise they will rot.  Some had such good luck with their potatoes last year that they have the first seed of their own to plant.   It’s a long way until potato digging time, but Champions are thinking about it anyway.  Charlene Dupree over at the Plant Place in Norwood had very good potato luck last year planting in tires.  She put her seed potatoes in a tire on the ground and added some good quality soil.  Then as the plants grew she added tires and soil.  When it was harvest time she had tires full of big perfect potatoes.   She can probably give a better explanation of just how it worked the next time you are over in that neighborhood. 

A song written about gardening back in the 1970s by Dillon Bustin says, “Polish your hoe till the blade it does shine.  Likewise your rake and sharpen each tine.  Dress up your spade with a light coat of oil.  Then you are ready to prepare your soil.”  When the melody is discovered, a link in the form of an MP3 will appear in the website at www.championnews.us.  Meanwhile any good garden song is welcome at Champion at getgoin.net or at Champion Items, Rt. 2 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  Take a trip down to the beautiful garden spot, next to the famed Mercantile on the broad and lush banks of Old Fox Creek, where hearts are light and the honey bees buzz– in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!