March 25, 2013

March 25, 2013

CHAMPION—March 25, 2013

        Fierce winds blew the clouds apart in the middle of the night long enough for the soon to be full moon to shine golden down into the face of the sleeping Champion.  Being awakened in such a pleasant way made it easy to slip back into the comforting dreams of coming spring.  At daylight the winds were still howling around the corners of the house blowing snow in every direction not letting it stick anywhere. Though March is not yet over, the adage of ‘in like a lion and out like a lamb’ seems to be reversed.  Champions are grateful for the moisture and most are happy to acknowledge that the unpredictability of the weather makes this an exciting place to live.

        The wind has been whipping around the corners of Wilburn and Louise’s house up there on the high spot.  They have a nice view, but with it comes vulnerability to the wind.  Wilburn says he has seen some real tornadoes over the years.  He says that he and Louise are doing fine and are comfortable where they are, in his old family home place.  He is happy to have good long handled underwear to keep the draft away.  His grandfather Samuel Bradford Hutchison had an old sweater that he really liked about which he said, “It’s more holey than righteous.”   I.P. Henson, the Krider family and Wilburn’s grandfather all came to this part of the country about the same time back in the 1800’s.  He thinks they came from Tennessee or Kentucky, somewhere over in there.  Those family names are still part of the local phone book.  Wilburn says he has burned a lot of wood this year and that he appreciates living in a community that is full of good neighbors to help out getting in the wood and loading the stove.  He is particularly fond of Ms. McCleary, whom he teases mercilessly about her cooking out of a box and the density of the biscuits.  She sets the standard for a positive attitude and sense of humor and is well known as the Fashion Icon of Champion.  Her smile makes anything she wears just beautiful.

        In the middle of the 1960’s a couple of Champion sisters pooled their money and had a friend from church make a deal for them for a rose pink 1958 Chevy Impala.  It was a four-door model—a beautiful car.  They loved it and shared it for their purposes of going to work in Springfield and coming home on the weekends to help their Mother take care of their invalid Grandmother.  On one occasion the younger sister was on her way home and just east of Ava on highway 14 in the middle of a bridge had a head on collision with a local man who had already been drinking quite a bit that morning.  She was not hurt, but the car was never the same again.  She had called her sister at work to report the sad news.  Their next car was a new Dodge Dart.  Now that younger sister and her husband have a nice Buick.  On the way to church Sunday up at Strafford they hit some ice that spun them around 180 degrees and put them over in a ditch.  It was their good fortune to have a cell phone and a son-in-law with a big enough truck and the willingness to help them out.  That old story about having an ox in the ditch did not apply this time.  They made it to the service and home safely if a little roughed up for the experience.  The car is fine.  Most likely that beautiful Impala would have survived the incident as well. Dusty Mike had an unpleasant car experience over the week end.  It was a combination of unfortunate things that included a headlight falling out and a tire running over it and a road hazard warranty not being honored at the last minute because he had not made an appointment.  He had a few things to say before he went over to the Firestone store and bought a new tire.  It is complicated being out on the road.

        Skyline School students enjoyed a snow day on Friday as did everyone in the area.  The deep white stuff was just right for snowman making, wet and heavy.  The snowmen did not last long out in the rain and the only complaints heard about them melting were by the young builders themselves.  Taegan Peanut Krider made her first snowman and used daffodils for eyes.  She told her Grammie the next day that it was ‘melding.’ Local roads stayed open and safe and no significant problems were reported.   School is on again and Jazmine Barker is a first grader with a birthday on the 27th.  Gavin Sartor celebrates on the 29th.  He is a fifth grader in Ms. Ryan’s class.  Lindsey Fisher and Samantha Moore are both in the second grade.  Lindsey’s birthday is on the 30th and Samantha’s is on the 31st.  Second graders are an interesting group of people.  They are busy learning about suffixes and prefixes, how to add and subtract and how to measure things.  (One of them should go visit with the General who measured four times and got 25.5761 inches of snow over in Vanzant.)   A new friend over the wide ocean also celebrates her birthday on the 31st.   She is an author, an artist, a fiddler, a storyteller, a great painter of penguins, who invites a crow to her shoulder to share the coziness of her candy apple red/pink hair and has been heard to say, “Oooo, I like a little draft.”  People accustomed to living in two or three hundred year old houses learn to like a wee draft.  She makes chocolate covered ginger and makes people smile-happy to know her.  So, Edina!  A braw happy day to Scotia’s darlin lass!

        Contemporary songwriter Dillon Bustin wrote, “Oh my friends it’s springtime again.  Buds are swelling on every limb.  The peepers do call, small birds do sing and my thoughts return to gardening.”  The 29th and 30th will be good days to apply organic fertilizer to the garden.  From the 27th through the 30th Linda’s Almanac from over at The Plant Place in Norwood says that it will be a favorable time for planting root crops, fine for sowing hay, fodder crops and grains.  It is an excellent time for starting seedbeds and good days for transplanting.  The weather is so unpredictable; gardeners will just have to gamble, maybe replant some things and certainly be happy for the rain and nitrogen fixing snow.  They might have to get ready for a bumper crop!  Share your gardening or bumper crop songs at Champion at or at Champion Items, Rt. 2  Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  Come down to the Historic Emporium over on the North Side of the Square in Downtown Champion and find some real Straight Eight cucumber seeds.  When you slice a Straight Eight cucumber kind of thin and toss it together with some onions and a little vinegar and oil and a pinch of sugar in a small amount of water and set it in the ice box until dinner time, you have a treat in store.  Looking at the seed packets will soon have you thinking about fried okra and your mouth will water just thinking about pulling a ripe tomato off the vine.  Optimism is Champion– Looking on the Bright Side!


March 18, 2013

March 18, 2013

CHAMPION—March 18, 2013

Sunday’s rain was just what Champions needed.  One of the TV weather people said the neighborhood is in better shape this year going into the growing season than it was last year.  Better is good.  Champions are glad and optimistic by nature so, “Let it rain, let it pour.  Let it rain just a whole lot more.”  It would be just fine with Champions up in the Northern suburbs if they had to go the long way around to get down to the store.  It has been some years since Clever Creek was too deep to ford there just before it joins the Fox.   There is no time to lament how it used to be.  Champions are busy figuring out how it is now and how best to work with it, ’it’ being the weather.

Kalyssa was surprised to hear that she had been on the radio.  She was not tuned in on Saturday morning when K. Z. Perkins from over at the community radio station in Cabool played an hour-long excerpt of the music and fun of the chili supper benefit for the Skyline Volunteer Fire Department back on March 2nd.   K.Z. had gone around with her microphone that night and talked to several people and when she asked the little girl her name, the five year old replied, “Kalyssa, K-a-l-y-s-s-a!”  Maybe she will grow up to be a radio personality.  Ms. Perkins did an excellent job of capturing the music and the feel of the evening and of editing it down to just an hour.  Steve Moody’s tribute to Esther Wrinkles was moving to hear again.  It is always a gift to see how the community rallies around a good cause.  It takes a lot of work to make the good things happen.  The radio station volunteer spoke eloquently from recent personal experience about the good works of local rural volunteer firefighters putting themselves between danger and the people they protect.  Champions!  Jeanie Maddox had to be out of town due to an illness in the family or she would have been at the chili supper.  E-mail from her said, “I’m so glad the towel sets sold as well as they did.  I’m glad to share my talent and help the fire department for all the hard work they do and help with the expenses to do this hard work.  Sounds like you had a good turn-out.  We sure hated to miss it.  We enjoy visiting with all and hearing the music.”  Jeanne is making arrangements to put some of her handiwork in at Henson’s Downtown G & G.  She said, “I’m so glad that Champion store is still open.  I remember it from way back in the 50’s when I was a little girl and going there.  We would usually get a bottle of pop, orange or grape–many years ago.”  Jeanie says that she is ready for spring and warmer temperatures but, “that means mowing to keep up with!”  It is always something.

The something for Mrs. Elizabeth Mastrangelo Brown was her birthday on the 16th.  That was Saturday and a good day to have a party.  It is always a treat to run into the charming Mrs. Brown with her warm sweet smile.  Myla Sarginson, second grader at Skyline School, was smiling about her birthday on the 18th and the next day Katelyn Souder celebrated with her seventh grade friends.  One of those Champion Skyline Volunteer Firefighters has his birthday on the 23rd.  He went to the Skyline School and had some adventures up in the attic behind some ceiling tiles or so the story goes.  It was a very long time ago.   A notation in the community birthday calendar that Elva Ragland is having one on the 23rd turns out to be an error.  Her birthday is not until November and she is not anxious to be getting older than she has to any sooner than necessary.  She has had a cold but is starting to feel better which makes her Champion friends happy.   She had ventured out to the Vanzant music on Thursday night and said there was a good crowd there and about 16 musicians playing.  The ‘Elva’ whose birthday is the 23rd of March turns out to be one of The General’s lovely daughters.  The lovely part comes from her dear Mother, and she has fortunately been spared many of the paternal attributes which could have represented stumbling blocks the size of giant opossums over which she would have had to scramble for success.  She has made it anyway, and is quite a Champion in spite of having grown up a Vanzantian.   A certain Ms. Pennington of Tar Button Road fame celebrates that day as well (the 23rd), though some of her friends tried to start her party a month early.  She is a good sport though and would be happy to celebrate for a solid month any time.

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library is a great program for a rural community.  It provides a new, age appropriate book every month to any child in Douglas County free of charge.  The program addresses children from birth to age 5 years and is an excellent way to get a good start on loving to read.   One Champion who loved to read as a child told her sister that if she would take her turn washing the dishes one night so that she could finish reading a book she was enjoying, she would do the dishes for a year.  Her sister took her up on it and made her stick to her promise.   That Champion still loves to read and now has three grandchildren enrolled in the DP Imagination Library.  Applications for the program can be found at Henson’s Grocery & Gas in Champion.  It is a free program for the community which has been sponsored by the Skyline R-2 School Foundation.  The Foundation has a mission to support the wonderful little rural school and it is a way for any community member to be able to influence in a positive way the survival of a great local institution.  Mail those donations to Skyline R-2 School Foundation, Rt. 2 Box 486, Norwood, MO 65717.   Some people like to give a one-time good sized chunk of money to take advantage of charitable tax deductions on their income tax, and some people like to give a little at a time as they can afford it on no set schedule.  Several good contributions have been made by residents over in the Hunter Creek area lately and those folks over there can feel pretty good about themselves.  They are Champions of a good cause.

Linda’s Almanac from over at The Plant Place in Norwood informs that the 20th to the 22nd will be the best planting days for above-ground crops, especially peas, beans, cucumbers and squash where climate is suitable.  Plant seedbeds and flower gardens.  It is a good question about ‘where the climate is suitable.’  These days it is anybody’s guess.  The days many are waiting for are the 27th through the 29th. Those are the best days for planting root crops and for transplanting.  That means that the potatoes will finally go in the ground and then all those wonderful things that are going to get done “as soon as the potatoes are planted” will get done.  Maybe.  Linda has some great broccoli ready to transplant.  It is the Packman variety and it produces a nice uniform head and continues to produce smaller heads throughout the season.  She specializes in perennials, and spring bedding plants and a couple of different kinds of bridge.  That is a card game with many, many rules.  A copy of her monthly almanac can be found there in Norwood or on-line at or on the bulletin board at the Recreation of the Historic Emporium over on the North Side of the Square in beautiful downtown Champion.  “Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain.”   If Old Fox Creek and The Clever are full to overflowing, a person will have to come into town from the West down WW Highway.  If you are there at just the right time of day, you can see that the sun really does rise in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


March 11, 2013

March 11, 2013

CHAMPION—March 11, 2013

        The first day of the week was a good one to have started off with rain.  Champions do not complain.  The skies were full of lightening through Saturday night and wind whipped everything that would bend or blow away.  The moisture was well received.  In the ‘old days’ the creeks were running year around and the constant caution during severe weather was ‘turn around, don’t drown.’  Residents became acquainted with their local low water crossings and learned how to navigate them.  It may happen that things get to be like that again, but it will take a lot of rain.  Champions will welcome it.  Even Cowboy Jack has probably dried off/out/up enough to be ready for another creek crossing.  His trail riding buddies will keep an eye out for his safety as they take to the saddle more often this spring.  They are Champions.

        The Skyline VFD chili supper is still being discussed and enjoyed in the Skyline/Champion area.  Tim Scrivner shared another one of his great bird feeders.   Several builders were looking at it on the silent auction table with the critical eye of competition, and others out and out stated they were figuring to steal the design.  It is a great design.  People who have managed to win one of these beautiful feeders at previous Skyline VFD functions have discovered that the only trouble with them is keeping them filled.  The birds love them.

        The chili supper was also a chance for one underemployed, yet well quaffed, individual who lives way at the bottom of a hill, seven tenths of a mile long, to suggest, with his dazzling smile,  that any writer might benefit by ‘the’ fair and balanced view.  He registered astonishment that the correspondent had not yet provoked the reading population to violence.  (What he really said was, “I’m surprised that with what you write nobody’s shot you yet.”)   The fair and balanced view he touts so convincingly is probably why he is able to easily identify left leanings.   They are most visible to a bird whose right wing is over developed.  It just goes around in circles and to the left at that!   ‘Birds of a feather flock together’ is an old adage and, while it is indeed lovely to have like-minded friends, it  also a takes a balance of two strong wings for a bird to make any forward progress or to stay aloft at all, if progress is not the goal, which would seem to be the case in this instance.   “Circular logic,” was the assessment of one old Champion previewing this paragraph.

        Some Champions braved the threatening weather Saturday night and ventured into the county seat to hear music in the new Performing Arts Center.  What an excellent hall!  It is bright with very comfortable seating, good acoustics in spite of being made of bricks, and very sturdy as it doubles as the town’s tornado shelter.   The Ozarks String Project held a benefit concert there to help buy instruments for young musicians in the area.   The project got its start in 2007, with 12 students and now has more than 40 young people who are interested in making traditional music and learning about other forms as well.  Anyone interested in donating to the program or who would like more information about it can contact Barbara Deegan:  email at or at 417-683-5450, ext.  136.  This part of the world has a rich fiddle history and needs to keep it going.  Ms. Elizabeth Johnston is taking fiddle lessons on an instrument presented to her late uncle Lonnie Krider by his brother Donald some years back.  Her aunt has given her the long time loan of the fiddle, and her dad has had it reconditioned and strung.  Now it is up to her.  Perhaps she will get with her young Tennessee banjo playing cousin, Dillon Watts, and get a good start on a family band.  Certainly practice space can be found in Champion!

        Bailey is the granddaughter of some Champion News fans who live over in western Douglas County.  She is a precocious and beautiful young sprite who lives too far away.  So often it is thus with grandchildren, alas!  Happy birthday across the miles to Bailey, and at home to Skyline School’s second grade teacher Mrs. Katie Vivod, who had her birthday on Sunday.   Tuesday is the birth anniversary of Geoff Metroplos.  Geoff passed away last November and his absence is keenly felt by his family and by his many friends who knew him to be inquisitive, energetic, and good humored.   His birthday is also that of music and art teacher Mrs. Jennifer Wilgus.  She is the force behind all the wonderful musical presentations at Skyline and it is easy to see how music can keep a person young.  The Ides of March is a day on the Roman calendar that corresponds to March 15.  It is best known as the date on which Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44BCE.  A soothsayer had warned Caesar not to go to the theater that day saying, “Beware the Ides of March!”  It might have been a good day to die for Caesar.  It was certainly a good day to be born, as can be attested to by the parents of Sam, Jacob, and Ursula.   Sam and Ursula both live in Edinburgh just south of the Firth of Forth and are both great appreciators of music.  Sam is a fiddler and grandson of Uncle Al, the Lonesome Plowboy.  Jacob is ten years old now.  He lives in Austin, Texas and is the great grandson of Uncle Al, the Lonesome Plowboy.  He probably has some musical bones in him that he doesn’t even know about yet.  The 16th of March is Mrs. Helen Batten’s birthday.  She is the secretary over at Skyline School and does a good job of keeping things organized and pleasant there.   Happy Birthday, Helen!

        The 16th and 17th of March are both good days for planting above -ground crops, according to Linda’s Almanac from over at The Plant Place in Norwood.  Find a copy of the almanac there at The Plant Place or on-line at or posted on the bulletin board at Henson’s Downtown G & G.   The 13th, 14th, and 15th are all good days to prune to discourage growth.  Youngsters, who have been neglecting their chores, sassing their grandmother, or otherwise acting out, should spend some time out in the fence rows cutting sprouts.  It is a good chore for boys about ten or twelve years old.  It is a punishment they will remember as having been awful, and as the years go by and they become adults they will remember themselves as having had to do it all the time.  To hear them tell it off in the future will be kind of like being around the stove at the Champion Chat Room on any rainy day.  Why, it is amazing that there is any brush at all left in this whole country.

        Send reminiscences of the good part of country living to Champion Items, Rt. 2 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or to Champion at   You are welcome to spin your yarn of exaggerated memories around the stove at the Recreation of the Historic Emporium over on the North Side of the Square in Downtown Champion.  The establishment is located on the broad and wooly banks of Old Fox Creek at the bottom of several steep hills and at the conjunction of several county roads just where the pavement starts.  On your way there you can sing “Keep Your Hand on the Plow, Oh Lord!”  When you get there you will be in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


March 4, 2013

March 4, 2013

CHAMPION—March 4, 2013

        It may well be that the buzzards have regretted coming back so early.  No sooner had they shown up than the weather decided to be winter after all.   Now warm days are wafting over Champions again and the snow and ice of the previous week are all but forgotten.  The cold wind lingered past its welcome but the days have been full of warm community activity and all the good feelings appropriate to burgeoning, latent, impending spring are the mode of the day.  Smiles are Champion.

        Smiles were evident everywhere at the Skyline VFD Chili Supper.  A hearty meal was followed up by a bright evening’s musical entertainment with cloggers and more music makers and jokesters.  The fun of the auction had friends bidding against each other in lighthearted ways and people, who only see each other at this annual function, were ready to get together with hearty handshakes and good catching up conversations.  Folks came from far and wide.  Early in the evening Steve Moody, everybody’s favorite Master of Ceremonies, gave a tribute to Esther Wrinkles whose presence was still very much felt.  Later, that spark of a live wire, Sharon Woods, got hold of one of Esther’s aluminum pie plates and conducted an auction for it.  It was just an old aluminum pie plate with scores of scores in the bottom from its many slices and EW on the back of it in Magic Marker.  It was sold empty for a pretty penny.  A coconut cream pie made by Esther’s receipt and baked by her dear daughter-in-law was the item in the silent auction that commanded the highest bid.  It would bring a smile to that dear Champion to know how much she is revered and missed by her fire department friends.

        A copy of the tribute to Esther can be had by writing to Champion Items, Rt. 2 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or to champion at  The KZ88 radio folks recorded it as well as much of the music that evening.  Many of the Community Radio Volunteers live in the fire district and are longtime supporters of the fire department and those volunteer firefighters who put themselves at risk to protect people and their property.  The radio volunteers not only brought some great things for the auction, but provided some good air time promoting the event in advance.  Volunteers in a community show that the whole is greater than the sum of its individual parts and these parts are full of some great individuals.  Champions!

        Dale Thomas was smiling when he reported having bought a three-quarter Napoleon cannon barrel.  He did not say from whom he purchased the big gun, but he has already made a carriage for it with his characteristic home wrought wooden wheels.  It is considered to be about a 4 pounder, which is the size of the cannon ball it can shoot.  Dale said those cannons that were involved in the battle at Vera Cruz were five pounders.  The old weapon will be on display and probably in action at the Pioneer Gathering this fall, but an invitation was heard to have been tendered by his cousin to bring his new big boom to the Skyline Picnic this summer.  This strapping fire-fighter has indicated a preference for loud cannon fire, having been disappointed by exhibition on the picnic grounds by another cannoneer some years back.  Ammunition was a hot item on the silent auction table at the chili supper.  It may well have sold for more than market value.  It might be that the reason for the high bids lay somewhere between generosity toward the fire department and the perceived scarcity of the commodity on the open market.  A number of people mentioned having taken the ‘conceal and carry’ course recently.  The General indicated that gun safety is a big part of the course.  That can only be a good thing.

        Larry Casey held the winning ticket for the wonderful queen sized quilt that Auxiliary President Betty Dye donated to the event this year.  It is a real prize and Larry will be enjoying it for years to come.  Larry was the winner of the First Ripe Tomato in Champion Contest in 2009.  He generally grows Rutgers.  At that time he said that he had been gardening for seventy years, though he was only seventy-three at the time.  He is a retired welder and pipe fitter who moved to Champion about fifteen years ago.  In addition to being a tomato aficionado, he is a proponent of the purple hull pea.   These days he is busy gathering eggs and keeping the lovely Debbie Newlin busy.  Louise Hutchison is a fan of the Parks Whopper.  She won the First Ripe Tomato contest the year before Larry.   It was still too cold on Saturday night for her and Wilburn to make it to the chili supper and it is the first one they missed.  Friends will be stopping in to visit and tell them all about everything so they will stay well within the community loop.  Wilburn has turned into a real food critic and seems to be earning his living by assessing the hardness of the biscuits and the thickness of the oatmeal.  The delightful Ms. McCleary just flashes her winning smile and continues on with good humor and the bright outlook that makes her a real Champion.

        Skyline fourth grader Shaelyn Sarginson shares her birthday with teacher Mrs. Deborah Barker.  They were probably celebrating all week end and perhaps well into the week.  Mrs. Barker’s venerable old Dad came late to the chili supper.  His calendar is full, as he is actively pursuing higher education, so his time is at a premium and his many friends are glad he could take the time out to come socialize and mingle a little.   Linda from over at The Plant Place in Norwood always supports the Skyline Fire Department and her contributions were much in evidence at the silent auction.  She shares her birthday with her good neighbor Crenna Long from the northern reaches of Norwood.  There will be a surprise bridge game for Linda to celebrate and no doubt Big Bad Bill will once again become Sweet William for his Louie Crenna.  Linda’s Almanac is available at the Plant Place, on line at and at Henson’s Grocery and Gas, a.k.a. the Historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square in Downtown Champion.  It will let gardeners know that any root crops that can be planted on the 6th and 7th will do well and that the 11th and 12th will be good days for planting above ground crops and setting strawberry plants.  A gardener just needs to make his own determination about his elevation as far as frost is concerned and also about what he figures the weather might really do.  Some say that for every time it thundered in February it will frost that many times in May.   It is a gamble, they say.

        Years ago the kids used to sing on the bus coming and going to school.  Maybe they still do.  Back in the late 1970’s they sang, “You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away and know when to run.”  Walk or run down to the Chat-Room in the Recreation of the Historic Emporium to chat more about the chili supper.  It is over for another year and volunteers are smiling in Champion — Looking on the Bright Side!