February 24, 2014

February 24, 2014

CHAMPION—February 24, 2014

        It is easy enough to see that Champions are resilient and a stoic people who rarely complain about the weather as there is hardly any point in doing so.  They do, however, express their delight in a glorious day.  “Isn’t this wonderful?”  One pair out on a lark to Ava Saturday ventured out on 14 and returned on 76.  It seems that along both roads as well as C highway many have accomplished quite a little cleanup of their property.  Certain yards are suddenly fairly free of refuse and are beginning to look altogether tidy.  It could have been Thursday’s big wind that did the trick.  There were reports of some roof damage and downed limbs but nothing too serious locally, according to a preeminent Champion.  There is plenty of reason to be grateful.  Meanwhile, what treasures and surprises there are to be found in the woods and fields in the days ahead!

        Parents and grandparents are hugging their young ones close to them in the wake of the recent tragedy in Springfield.   The uneasy feeling of vulnerability comes with the distressing news and the realization that catastrophe can happen anywhere.  It is a terrible reminder to stay watchful as compassion for young Hailey’s family wells in Champion hearts everywhere.  There is no fixing this.

        A distant reader of The Champion News inquires about the timber thief.  A call to the Court House reveals that a continuance was issued and now the date to set the date for the preliminary hearing will be March 20th.  (The attorney of the accused had a family emergency.)  The preliminary hearing will determine whether there is substantial evidence that he committed the crime.  Witnesses will testify in front of a judge who will, if he finds the evidence compelling, send the case to the Circuit Court for trial.  The witnesses who saw Mr. Bobby Davis of Willow Springs attempting to leave the scene with a semi-truck load of red and white oak logs taken from private property adjacent to the Mark Twain National Forest in eastern Douglas County are the Forest Ranger who blocked the exit and Sergeant Vernon Johnson of the Douglas County Sheriff’s office who responded to the Ranger’s call.  Ninety 50 and 60 foot red and white oak trees amount to a good size chunk of change and the mess left behind by the woodland marauder will be evident for a long time.  The crime occurred on December 13th.  The arraignment was on the 23rd of January.  The date to set the date for the preliminary hearing was February 20th, now March 20th.  The wheels of Justice roll on.  In the “Perry Mason” television series, the courtroom scenes were almost always preliminary hearings.   Tree huggers and other Champions will be watching.

        Skyline pre-kindergarten student Mattalynn Hutsell will have her birthday on February 27th.  Frankie Proctor has not been in school for a long time, but he still has birthdays just not very many of them.  His is on the 29th of February so he is not scheduled for another birthday until 2016!  He and Freda always look like they are having a good time anyway.  See them at www.championnews.us  in the snapshot called Ruby’s Family.  They are a nice looking family which brings us back to “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  Yes, Old man Potter got away with the $8,000.00, but he was destined to die a twisted, thwarted, lonely old man with no one to love him or mourn his loss, while George and the garlic eaters proved to be a resilient community able to rely on each other for financial and moral support during stressful times.  During the Great Depression, the film’s director, Frank Capra, became America’s preeminent filmmaker, leavening despair with his irrepressible optimism of the Everyman triumphing over seeming insurmountable odds.  He said, “I always felt the world cannot fall apart as long as free men see the rainbow, feel the rain and hear the laugh of a child.”  That is very American and very uplifting.  He sounds like a real Champion.  Still, some want Potter to give back the money.

        Remnants of Blackberry Winter and Rene Woods’s Jazz Trio were some of the entertainment at the Yellow House in West Plains on Sunday.  The benefit for the listener supported local radio station KZ88 out of Cabool turned out to be a lovely affair.   It is great to have a local station with so much interest in the old time music and such an appreciation of local musicians.   Excitement is building for the Skyline Auxiliary Chili Supper and chances are quite good that some of those nice radio people will be there.  Last year KZ Perkins made a recording of much of the program and it was nice to hear it repeated a couple of times in the following weeks.  With Backyard Bluegrass, Whetstone and Flatline on the program this year it ought to be a special time.  Jerry and Diane Wilbanks will be at the Chili Supper.  They were in Ava on Saturday having lunch with their beautiful granddaughter and her beau.  They are a smiling family, a positive addition to the community.  They came ambling through town with the West Plains Wagon Club a while back and decided this part of the country was home.  Diane said that Ray Gibson of Paragould, Arkansas has bought a place in the area as well.  He belongs to the Gee and Haw Club out of Arkansas.  Welcome neighbors!

        Drayson Cline will be ready for the Olympics in no time.  He had his six month birthday on Sunday and is ready to start crawling.  He is getting quite a voice too and seems to have figured out that it is himself making that wonderful sound.  He is a pretty good traveler and it looks like he will enjoy watching the races with his old Dad.  Round and round.  It will not be long before he is up and running around with Taegan and Foster and Kalyssa.  Time seems to fly faster around young ones.

        Linda’s Almanac is up on the top of the page on The Champion News website.  It is on the bulletin board at Henson’s Downtown G & G.  It says to finish pruning the grape vines and other fruit trees and late blooming shrubs such as Rose of Sharon and spirea, but not lilacs or forsythia.  The Jigsaw Puzzle quilt that will be the Skyline Chili Supper treasure this year is on display at the G & G as well.  Get a look at it and you will want to have it.

        Bring your enthusiasm for Spring and your love of music that gets a person up and moving to the conversation lounge behind the wood stove at the Recreation of the Historic Emporium over on the North Side of the Square.  Send any of that kind of thing to champion @ championnews.us or to The Champion News, Rt. 72, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717. Daffodils will soon be showing up and Wordsworth’s poem will be circulating through peaceful thoughts:  “I wandered lonely as a cloud/ that float on high ore vales and hills, when all at once I saw…” Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


February 17, 2014

February 17, 2014

CHAMPION—February 17, 2014

        Champions are pleased that George Washington and his army were willing to endure great hardship at Valley Forge in 1778, in order to break away from the Crown.  It has been so long ago that it might be easy to take those sacrifices for granted.  “No taxation without representation!”  That was one of the rallying cries and some think that is the case now when wealthy people buy politicians who then do not work for the betterment of their constituency.  The great Scots poet, Robert Burns, was a big fan of Washington and as Scotland prepares to vote on its own independence, his ode for the General’s birthday may be repeated, “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!”  The Queen probably has a lot to mull over.  The vote is in September.  Champions will be paying attention.

        Shelby Ward was given a pink violin for her birthday on Valentine’s Day.  She wants to be in The General’s Band.  He wants to be sure she does not get too much classical training as he does not want to be ‘showed-up.’ LaShell Upshaw Bearden had her birthday on the 16th.  Her uncle, The General, used peanut butter as a stifling agent when LaShell was little in order to stem her flow of conversation.  Trish Davis has her birthday on the 17th.  She lives over by Ava and is a health care professional and not married to the Bobby Davis of Willow Springs (whose preliminary hearing date for timber thievery will be set in Douglas County on February 20th), but to another guy by the same name from the Ava area—a nice guy they say.  Pete Proctor’s birthday is on the 18th.  He is a proud Veteran and active in the VFW.  The 19th is set aside to remember Pete’s mother, dear Ruby Proctor.  She had lots of birthdays, a number of charming children, and many friends who miss her dearly.  Joana Bell celebrates her birthday on the 21st.  There is fun and laughter where ever she goes.  Drayson Cline’s mother, Staci, was born on the 23rd of February.  Drayson is just about to start crawling they say.  He has several teeth now and is already better looking than his Papa!  Judi Pennington also has a birthday on the 23rd.  She had a bear in her yard last year and is just about over the scare.  Ell Mae is a great Champion friend.  That is not her real name, which is Margaret, but people call her Peg.  Her birthday is on the 24th.  That is Arne Arhnstat’s birthday too, but folks figure that must be his real name.  Find him in the garden year round.  Emma Evans is a 6th grade student at Skyline.  Her birthday is also on the 24th.  Birthdays might be more exciting when a person is in the 6th grade, but Emma might find out that they just get better and better the more of them a person has!

        The Thursday bluegrass jam at Vanzant went on without Sue Murphy as she and Duane (Murphy) went off to see their granddaughter play basketball that evening.  That is another wonderful kind of fun.  No reports have been circulated of any untoward behavior on Thursday, so it is generally figured that the jam was its usual success.  Warmer weather will find more Champions there in the future.  There was a report of a great success by Morgan Whitaker.  She won second place in the Rogersville Archery Tournament.  Congratulations are due to Morgan and to the fine Skyline Archery program.  There are more accolades to share as Mike Upshaw’s play, “The End Came in Spring,” is to be presented at the Stained Glass Theatre in Ozark.  The show will run between April 24th and May 24th.  It is very exciting to see some talent in that family!  A tour around the internet reveals that during the first week of the performance a DVD will be made and will be available for sale and available to those who may not be able to go to the theatre or to those who just want to see it again and again.  Bravo!

        Catherine Mallernee of Kimberling City wrote that she was interested in the letter from Ethel McCallie where she mentioned that she was related to Doyles and Dickersons around Mansfield and Macomb.  Catherine’s mother was a Doyle and she looks forward to a visit with Ethel about family.  All the connections have been made so they can get together.  Catherine received an email and Ethel will get her information on a Champion post card.  Be advised:  it now takes 34 cents to mail a postcard.

        The Skyline Auxiliary meeting on the 12th was most productive and enjoyable.  Guests and now active new members, Diane and Jerry Wilbanks and Star Peters, have joined right in to help make the upcoming fund raiser a success.  They will be baking pies, chopping onions and finding good items for the silent auction.  Karen Griswold has used her good organization skills to create a task list that is one sheet of paper front and back that covers every aspect of the affair.  It is still a lot of hard work but the smoothness of the operation makes it a pleasure.  It is always a joy to see people out and about again after a lot of bad weather.  They get together for a good time with good food, good music and all for a good cause.

        “Trolling” is a technique for fishing.  It also describes a pricking devise for use in conversation when one makes a deliberately provocative statement with the aim of inciting an angry response.  That is exactly what one distant Champion submits happened in The Champion News recently when the unseemly word “ignoramus” was applied to the provocateur.  The troller is now perceived to have been the victor in the exchange and the frustrated writer diminished in equal measure.  This is a valuable lesson.  Perhaps the tables will turn and he will be called a “Teabillie” who is whimpering about how the cold snap proves global warming is not real.  Is that provocative enough?

        “Groundhog Day,” the movie, was recently compared to “It’s a Wonderful Life” as one of those timeless pieces of film that helps to define the American experience.  Filmography aside, a Champion astutely points out that Mr. Potter still had the $8,000.00 at the end of the movie!  George Bailey was saved from committing suicide by Clarence the angel and had the wonderful knowledge that the world was a much better place with him in it.  The townspeople gathered in support of George and among them came up with the necessary funds.  The Champion suggests that this is very much going on today.  The banking industry is in the robbery business with no regulations or sanctions and the poor people have to come up with do re mi again and again.

        “If you’ve got the money, Honey, I’ve got the time!”  Poetry, music, laughter, stories, fishing techniques and tales of great adventure are welcome around the stove or out on the veranda of the Historic Emporium nestled securely over on the North Side of the Square.  Look out across the wide, wild wooly banks of Old Fox Creek and know you are in one of the world’s truly beautiful places—Champion!  Looking on the Bright Side!


February 10, 2014

February 10, 2014

CHAMPION—February 10, 2014

        The Olympic Spirit is alive and thriving in the heart of Champion.  Last week before the games started, young Taegan Krider’s parents posted a YouTube of the girl singing “We are the Champions!  And you’re going to hear us roar!”  It was very cute.  Janna Brixey posted that Jenna had been singing it too and apparently it is a big song in Skyline among the prekindergarten set.  They may be part of the opening ceremonies for an Olympics someday.  Sochi has some pretty incredible slopes and they must have cameras on drones to get some of the pictures that they show on TV of skiers and snowboarders catching big air.  Adventures are becoming fairly common in these parts as well and if a person could get down to the store he might hear all kinds of stories about catching air.  Any gold medals handed out around here will be for the “Most Amenable Companion.”  Being snowed in with a grouch could be a real drag so once again Champions have reason for much gratitude.  There is an old saying that when it is raining in the sunshine, the devil is beating his wife.  They call that kind of rain a “sunshower.”  There are some feminist who would say that the devil is beating her husband since they are looking for gender equality in all things.  When it’s snowing in the sunshine it could be called “sunsnow” and it is just about to be decided that winter is kicking the butt of the mid-west, south, north and east.  Like Taegan says, “We are the Champions!” so it is fairly well figured that we will get through it and winter does not stop birthdays!  Madison Bradshaw is in kindergarten in Skyline and Wyatt Nelson is prekindergarten student.  They both have their birthday on the 16th of February.  Some think it will thaw by then.

        The internet was rich with philosophy and yearning this week as many were confined to home.  Here are a few of the stories gleaned from social media.  Connie Grand celebrated her birthday up in St. Louis on Sunday the second with her lovely granddaughter.  Lilly’s photograph showed her wrapped in the growth chart quilt that her grandmother had made for her.  Connie is a master craftswoman artist.  Then Lannie Hinote had some great news about medal winner Morgan Whitacre bound for State competition in Archery.  The archery project has been very successful at Skyline and Lannie is a big supporter.  She also had great pictures to share of herself and some nice looking young people enjoying the excitement of a Lady Bear’s Game.  Elizabeth Johnston posted some great pictures of her niece Shelby Ward’s birthday party.  They were at the Firehouse Pottery Studio making some interesting looking crafts.  Of course, her sister Madeline Ward was there and distant cousins Drayson Cline, Kalyssa Wiseman and Kyle Barker and a number of other good looking young folks.  It looks like they really had a good time.  Internet surfers were well rewarded with music of Dennis and D.J. Shumate.  It is advisable that if a person is going to be snowed in with a musician try to find one who can really play.  It is very nice of them to share their music.  They will be the headliners—Backyard Bluegrass–at the Skyline Auxiliary chili supper on March 8th.  Excitement is building for a cabin fever party.

        One of the philosophical conversations had to do with the phrase “Take America Back.”  The gist of it seemed to be that people have a romanticized portrait of the past that is free of cruelty and privation, but fraught with adventure and genial fellowship that made for contentment.  Contentment is what they think they have lost and that is what they want back.  It probably never existed because tragedies and difficulties are best forgotten.  Perhaps the trick is to find some contentment in the present.  It is like a preacher on a Greyhound bus said last summer, “The past is history; the future is mystery; the present is a gift of God!”

        Ms. Ethel McCallie from over at Nowata, Oklahoma writes in her beautiful old fashioned penmanship to say how much she enjoys The Champion News.  She particularly likes references to the old songs and she made a list of some well know songs and a few that are fairly obscure.  She said her most favorites are “Fair Carlotta,” “Long, Long Ago,” “Angels Climbing the Golden Stairs,” and “Twilight Is Stealing.”  She says that they always sing at their Hayden family reunion.  “I don’t want to brag, but actually the Haden families are really good singers.  They get it.  Or it comes from the Kay family.  My granny Haden was a Kay.  Her name was Frances Indiana Kay.  If you ever knew any Doyles or Dickersons in or around Mansfield or Macomb, they are our relatives too.”  Find more of the text of her letter in the “Champion Neighbors” section under “Oklahomans” at the www.championnews.us website.  She closes this letter by saying, “I’m still not walking good after a broken hip and pelvis at age 96, but I’m thinking I probably will not walk good anymore, but I’m not going to give up or stop trying.  I know I’m sunk if I do and I don’t want to be totally incapacitated.  I hope you and your family are all well.  Well, keep everything good and looking on the Bright Side.  My best wishes to you and all Champions, especially Ms. Henson.  Also my prayers for all.”  And she signs it “Ethel Mc.”

        A lovely Texas woman, Phyllis Winn, sends a letter full of jokes from Auntie Acid.  It came just in the nick of time for some solid laughter.  In one story Auntie says she is going to move in with her kids when she gets a little older.  She is going to eat all their food, hog the computer and when they ask her to clean, she’ll throw a hissy fit.  She says she can’t wait.  Phyllis can spin a yarn and has that particular drawl that makes a person hungry for more.  She has two pairs of earrings.  One is gold and the outline of the state of Texas.  Her other pair of earring are fishing lures.  She loves to fish.  Chances are pretty good that she and another Champion friend will make it up for a summertime visit.  She will be in the middle of the “perpetual series of occasions for hope” which is what John Buchanan said about fishing.

        The pavement is clear, but the gravel roads are still icy.  The admonition is to stay safe even if that means not getting down to the broad and wild banks of Old Fox Creek to sit around the stove with the merchants, cowboys, carpenters, farmers, firemen, fishermen, tourists and loafers.  Send your adventure stories to The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 via the wonderful United States Postal Service (thank you, Karen) or to Champion @ championnews.us. When it is prudent to do so get yourself down to the very seat of optimism—Champion!  Looking on the Bright Side!


February 3, 2014

February 3, 2014

CHAMPION—February 3, 2014

        Champion is the kind of place that makes a nice home.  The scenery is beautiful, the people are friendly and helpful, and the amenities rival any for convenience and comprehensive amplitude.  Why wander afield?  Travel broadens perspective and helps maintain a compassionate worldview.  Also, travel brings newcomers to Champion and that is a plus.  Jerry and Diane Wilbanks came ambling through the place with the West Plains Wagon Club and decided to make it their home.  Their neighbors, the Pricharts, had moved off to Hawaii for a while, but found the lure of their Champion home too much to resist.  They made the transition just in time to be dazzled by the ice and snow.  Welcome home!  They will be pleased to know that the Vanzant Weather Lab over in Far East Champion predicts that February will not be as severe as January due to having a shortage of days.  “The cold weather is expected to break around the last week of June here in Booger County with near normal temperatures predicted through most of July.”

        Diane Wilbanks called on Thursday to say that on Wednesday, in advance of the expected snow, Jerry had gone out to cut some wood.  The chainsaw had not been run in a while and the carburetor spit out a spark that quickly ignited a fire that headed directly for the house.  Jerry came to the door and said, “Call the fire department!”  She did.  They came.  Diane was most complimentary of the Skyline Volunteer Fire Department.  They surrounded the fire and used those leaf blowers to contain and control the blaze.  With the wind so fierce, Diane said that it was just amazing to see how efficiently the men worked.  Their training really showed.  Diane had been to Champion on January 13th for ice cream.  That is her birthday and her favorite outing.  She thinks she will come to the Skyline Auxiliary meeting at 6:30 on February 12th to get acquainted with some of the help behind the fire department.  Those leaf blowers and lots of other equipment including a ‘Jaws of Life’ apparatus are the results of Auxiliary activities.  Star Peters thinks she will come to this meeting too.  She has some nice items to donate to the silent auction at the Auxiliary Chili Supper in March.  A couple of days of moist misty rain and now snow again have reduced some of the fire danger, but Champions are very glad to know that those Volunteers are at the ready.  Kristie Towe of Pea Ridge, Arkansas has sent $20.00 for tickets for the Auxiliary Jigsaw Puzzle Quilt.  She saw pictures on-line and now has 24 chances to win a family heirloom while supporting a great cause.  She has some genuine Champion connections.

        Skyline seventh grader Angel Parkes will celebrate her birthday on February 6th.  If school is back in session by then, the kids will have a ball.  Birthday gifts include some saddle soap and a new horse blanket for the Cowboy who will have a special day on Friday.  It is a dead sack cinch that his friends will have some fun with him over the big number.  Sarah Rucker, mother of Champion granddaughters Zoey and Alex, will have her birthday on the 8th of February.  Austin will be a rocking place for that party.  Aubrey Johnston is in the first grade at Skyline and will celebrate next Monday the 10th.  Then Cheyenne Baker, 4th grader, will enjoy her day on the 11th.  Joshua Garner, a first grade student will be hoping to be in school for his party.  He will share his birthday with Sondra Powell, daughter of Champion Mrs. Eva Powell.  Champion granddaughter, Shelby Ward, will have her party on Valentine’s Day.  She is a real sweetheart according to older sister Madelyn and the rest of her lovely family.

        Treacherous road conditions are the reason many even adventurous folks have been sticking close to home.  Sherri Bennett did a do-si-do Saturday night.  Snagged off the internet:  “Left the Dance tonight at Diggens.  It was slick as glass.  I got down the road and my car started to fishtail.  When I got stopped I was in the ditch and almost met myself coming back.  LOL.  I calmed myself down and put that little white Versa in low gear and said, ‘Lord help me get this car back on the road.’  We made it.  Drove about 10 to 15 mph the rest of the way home.”  That was Saturday night and Sherri went to sleep at home hoping that everyone else had made it home safely.  Some did not.  Three of the foursome that make up the Fortnight Bridge Club wound up the overnight guests of the hostess.  Linda made everyone comfortable and the game resumed after a lovely breakfast until enough snow had fallen to provide traction to get home from Norwood.  The MoDot guys were out in force on Sunday.  In Douglas County, C Highway was sanded on the steeper hills and the sharper curves and prudent cautious driving got everyone home by the middle of the afternoon.  It was a real adventure in very good company.

        Good company indeed!  It was a glittering and elegant evening at the Robbie Burns-Groundhog Gala in Champion North.  The entertainment was lavish with homage to both Burns and the rodent.  To Burns:  “Oh! My Luve’s like a red, red rose, That’s newly sprung in June.  O my Luve’s like the melodie.  That’s sweetly play’d in tune.” To the other via Buffy St. Marie:  “Ground hog, ground hog, what makes you smell so bad?  I’ve been living in the ground so darned long, I’m mortified in my head!”  Then, having been reminded by Laine Sutherland what George Orwell said in ‘1984’ in 1949:  “Football, beer, and above all gambling, filled up the horizon of their minds.  To keep them in control was not difficult.”  It is a sure bet that The General was in on that and probably some of Steve Moody’s famous pulled pork, as he had RSVP’d in the negative to the Gala.  Back to the party:  By that time it was figured that it was about half time at the game, so some of the ladies wanted to tune in to see Bruno Mars.  One was saying that he is the new James Brown—very musical, athletic and sexy without being vulgar.  When the rappers joined in the ensemble, the girls switched it off, preferring Bruno alone.  With Vince Guaraldi, Jusef Latif and Jonny Hodges in the background, they enjoyed sparkling repartee, good gruyere and a nice Chablis.  All in all it was a fanciful evening, a chance for the ladies to wear their finery and for the gents to shine.  Tom Cooley still cuts a dashing figure in the woolen overcoat that his mother gave him for his high school graduation.  It still fits and he has had many opportunities to show it off this winter.

        Those householders who so easily resist the appeal of socializing, leaving the place, or doing much of anything apart from grumbling about the weather, are apt to discover a mate who is perfectly willing to have extra fun in order to make up the shortfall in the family quotient.  Musical excitement, adventure stories, estimates of gambling losses, examples of extra fun are all welcome at Champion @ championnews.us or at The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  Put some wax on your skis and climb to the heights of Mt. Champion and ski down Lonnie Krider Memorial Drive to the Historic Emporium where you can warm around the stove and soak up a good dose of optimism.  Champion!—Looking on the Bright Side!