July 28, 2014

July 28, 2014

CHAMPION—July 28, 2014

        “’T’ for Texas.  ‘T’ for Tennessee.  (Repeat) ‘I’ for Iowa also for Illinois, the first is for brothers and the second for Champion boys.”  Other states, nations, and continents may have been represented in the myriad mix of visitors to Champion this week, but Texans, Tennesseans, Iowans and Illusions (Illinoisans) showed up in bunches and lingered.  Champion is what is known as a ‘vacation destination.’  Welcome and come again!

        Jaci Borders had a fifth birthday on July 27.  Kindergarten is her destination and her teacher, Crystal Sartor, celebrates on the 29th.  Skyline graduate/valedictorian, Skyla Boyd, has her birthday on August second.  She will be a high school freshman this year.  Seamus Heffern lives in Springfield, but has Champion grandparents and also a birthday on the second.  He is going to be a musician, or a doctor, or a teacher, a chef, an artist, all of the above and/or whatever else he has in mind.  Youth is almost the definition of optimism.  Birthdays change in significance over the years.  They are far apart to start with and then get closer and close together.  Every day is significant for someone.  The first of August brings Elitta January into the thoughts of her many friends who miss her.  She passed away in 2011, but she stays vibrant in the hearts of those privileged to have been acquainted with her.

        Just at supper time in some Champion homes the phone rings.  An automated voice instructs, “Press ‘one’ if you are very likely to vote.”  Then the recording proceeds to ask how you feel about the proposed amendments 1, 4, and 7.  The effort on the part of advocates, pro and con, of each issue in both the mainstream and social media to inform, explain and persuade is enormous.  It would seem that there is something very important at stake.  When so much money is being spent, it stands to reason that someone expects to recoup their investment and make a profit.  The big question is, “Who?”  Political word trickery is an art.  A certain Mr. Lee said, “A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.”  If the wording of the issue on the ballot accurately reflects the question at hand, chances are fair that a person will be able to be confident that his vote is going where he wants it to go.  “Are you still beating your wife?”  This is a rhetorical trick of asking a question that cannot be answered without admitting a presupposition that may be false (or maybe not, in the case of some wife beaters).  Some voters figure from the get-go that the wording on the ballot is meant to mislead, so they just vote opposite to their immediate inclinations.  People do not readily change their minds about things even when they figure they have been given the same tactical military advice that Custer may have taken from his Sioux scouts.  Read it for yourself.  Democracy!  Champion!

        The Skyline Country Market will be held on the grounds of the Skyline School from 8 a.m. to noon on Friday the first of August.  The event is being sponsored by the Skyline Community Teachers Association.  It is expected that the community will be out in full force to support the happening and perhaps to encourage regular repeats of a market day.  Things are looking good in that neighborhood.  Visitors to the Country Market will have a chance to go inspect the school’s new green house and the outdoor classroom.  They can gaze over to the picnic grounds and see that preparations are well underway for the Skyline Picnic next week end.  Summertime is a busy time.

        A famous martial arts champion, dancer, actor, author and student of self-knowledge said, “Pretense is often an indispensable step in the attainment of genuineness.  It is a form into which genuine inclinations flow and solidify.”  This is really a message to a prominent Champion who is annually reminded that if a person acts like he is having a good time, pretty soon he will forget that he is acting and he will really be having a good time.  He may well be The Great Pretender, outdoing the Cowboy, the fleeing erstwhile barber, Almartha’s motorcycle maverick Scrabble king, and the trolling purveyor of environmental ineptitude all at once.  He is admonished in true hillbilly fashion, “If’in yev got to swoller a frog, don’t look at it.”  He will just be knuckling down and buckling down and getting things done and having fun.  The man wears many hats.  A person would think that one of them might not be red.

        When all those potatoes are finally dug, some Champions are figuring to plant some turnips.  Lem and Ned might be in the neighborhood this fall and be looking to help get the wood in or clean the chicken house.  Linda’s Almanac says that August 12th and 13th will be the first good days in August for root crops.  The first through the fourth will be good for above the ground crops.  Cucumbers might still make and fall greens could go in.  Fresh food from the garden is not available to everyone in the world.  Champion gardeners do not take it for granted and find joy in sharing the bounty.

        Once again, Laine Sutherland has shown a light on an artist whose music is inspired.  She shared a piece from the Southern Folklife Collection about Hazel Dickens:  It’s Hard to Tell the Singer from the Song.  “From the coalfields of West Virginia to the factories of Baltimore, Hazel Dickens has lived the songs she sings.  A pioneering woman in Bluegrass and hardcore country music, she has influenced generations of songwriters and musicians.”  She passed away in 2011.  One of her great songs sounds like it was written out on the spacious veranda overlooking the broad, wooly banks of Old Fox Creek.  “Hills of home—old familiar dirt roads wind through the piney glade where all the longing of childhood dreams were made, where we passed the mossy mounds where I could run and play, never a care to cross my mind all the livelong day.”  Champion!  Looking on the Bright Side!


July 21, 2014

July 21, 2014

CHAMPION—July 21, 2014

        “Home” can almost be defined by that feeling that sweeps through a body returning there after a noteworthy absence.  A few hours, a few days, or longer in the great elsewhere, near or far, can bring a fresh perspective on the hat hanging place, where shoes are left by the door and the hair is let down.  To round the bend and see the house still standing when the iron might have been left plugged in and turned on is a joyful feeling.  Gratitude is Champion.

        The Douglas County Museum and Historical Society has posted on line a couple of pictures of the Champion School.  One is from 1947, a side view of the building.  The other is from November of 1920, showing the 33 first through the fifth grade students lined up in two neat rows with their hair combed and looking studious.  The names are all there and their faces match up to tell the stories we know as history.  This was bustling burg back then.  “Facebook” has its well-earned detractors, but it is a delight that this post was picked up by Sharon Tate Williamson who flung it around on the internet for Robert Upshaw and many others to ‘like’ and for THE CHAMPION NEWS to pick up.  Some kind of cyber-magic will soon enough have these great photographs posted at www.championnews.us in the School Reunions category.

        The Champion School Reunion is just around the corner!  The Summer Social Calendar is bulging.  The first Skyline Community Market Day is coming up August 1st.  It is a morning event from 8 am to noon.  Since it is pre-election, the hopes are that viers for public office will show their faces and state their cases and spread some political largess around.  Some of them attended Skyline and might benefit from seeing the old place again.  The Market is being organized and sponsored by the Skyline Community Teachers Association with proceeds from booth rentals to go to the CTA Scholarship and the Youth Empowerment Program.  The Skyline R-2 School Foundation will have a booth selling interesting things (and taking donations) to raise the $3000.00 necessary to provide new drinking fountains for the school.  The following Friday and Saturday, the 8th and 9th, will be the high point of the summer at the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department Picnic.  The East Fairview District 46 School Reunion will be held on the 9th at the Vanzant Community building.  There will still be time for those attending the East Fairview Reunion to make it down to the Skyline Picnic for the music and for the exciting drawings.  The hand-crafted red oak, cedar lined blanket chest (cedar chest) is drawing a great deal of attention over at Recreation of the Historic Emporium on the north side of the Square in Downtown Champion.  Bonnie Mullins has sent in money for her tickets.  She and Pete are doing all right up in Wichita.  She is glad their family reunion is there this year and hopes to get back this way one day soon.  Some special arrangements will have to be made to get that cedar chest to her if (when) she wins.  Good luck to all.

        A smart dog has only one skunk experience.  Rudy has recovered from several episodes of snake bite, but Friday evening’s face off with the King of Stink will surely have set him on a lifetime path of strict avoidance.  The Annual Table Rock Lake Bridge and Food Frenzy got off to a slow but memorable start as the Oklahoma team mascot met his olfactory match.  Rudy travels with the doo wop quartet, known on the bridge circuit as the Mister Sisters.  They are a curious mix comprised of a watch maker, a card reading Gypsy word slinger, a construction goon contralto, and Tim, who learned bridge as a wee lad at his Old Grannie’s knee.  They were formidable opponents for the Fortnight Bridge group.  When the shouting was over, each team left with a prize, new friends, and an enhanced knowledge of the game of games.  Norwood’s Linda, on the Fortnight team, came home with the grand prize.  (Champion missed it by a mere 2000 points!)  Rudy’s Jill took the nickels home. (There must have been a pound of them!)  Elegant, commodious accommodations, gourmet dining, stimulating companions in a tranquil setting made the two day get away seem like a tropical cruise.  Fortnighters and Mister Sisters alike are refreshed, renewed and ready for fun.  Whose deal is it?

        One of the treats of travel is the opportunity to see unrecognizable names on political signs in yards and on fences as counties and congressional districts change through the windshield.  Perspective is a tricky subject.  People rarely change their political views even when faced with the possibility of those views having been discounted, discontinued, or disregarded by the very namesakes of the philosophy.  Words are tricky and political word trickery is an art.  The proposed Amendment Number One might look better to some if it were called the International Industrialized Intensive Factory Pig Production and Monsanto Protection Act.  Some would argue that folks in Missouri already have The Right To Farm, and as it is, the Ozarks boast some of the cleanest and most bountiful fresh water in the Nation.  Now there is something worth protecting!

        Often by this time of the year summer looks ragged and brown, parched a little around the edges.  This year seems the exception to the rule and no one is complaining.  Come down to the broad inviting banks of Old Fox Creek with your garden riches to share.  Linda’s Almanac from up at The Plant Place in Norwood reveals that July 24th and 25th will both be most fruitful for root crops and transplanting.  The 26th will be good for corn, okra, beans, and other above-ground crops.  All those days will be good for planting seedbeds and flower gardens.  It is acceptable to brag about your garden glory and not share it, but the proof of the pudding is one of the favorite of puddings.  Ethan Alexander and Zee Heffern probably had pudding (banana) on their birthdays on the 19th.  Terry Prock had a birthday on the 20th and Rosie Gunter on the 23rd.  They both teach at Skyline.  Grace Crawford celebrates on the 24th.  She will be in the 4th grade there this fall.  Jaci Borders will be five years old on the 27th and that puts her in kindergarten this year.  “Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come!”  That is the name of the last book in the series of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library.  The Skyline R-2 School Foundation has sponsored this program with some great success–the love of reading being one of the favorite of loves.

        Share your favorite loves, your news, views and summertime adventures at champion @ championnews.us or mail them to The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO. 65717.  Find out how to get tickets for that handsome cedar chest there as well.  Play favorites out on the spacious veranda at the Historic Emporium.  Hum some tune that makes you think of home (“in the good old summertime, in the good old summertime, la la la la la la with your hand in mine”)  It is acceptable to sing right out loud if you know the words and have a good voice.  Otherwise, just hum and smile.  You will be in one of the world’s truly beautiful places—Champion!  Looking on the Bright Side!


July 14, 2014

July 14, 2014

CHAMPION—July 14, 2014

        Every season has its charm in Champion.  Currently, farmers and gardeners are dealing with the unusual weather, trying to get their hay in and fight the blight on tomato plants from too much rain and not enough sun.  “Dry heat” is a fiction in these parts.  Around here ‘steamy’ goes with ‘hot’ like ‘dogs’ does—awkward language notwithstanding.  There is plenty of language, awkward and otherwise, in those intervals between hard work, as agrarians gather for a schmooze on the spacious veranda. 

        Vanzantians are most likely resting up from their wildly successful picnic on Friday and Saturday.  (The General is away from his phone.)  The weather could not have been better and attendance was excellent.  The big old yellow moon hanging in the sky added to the magic of the event, full of music, laughter, fun and games.  The food was good and the flood of familiar faces was just fine.  It is nice to see old friends and acquaintances, if just during this festival time of the year.  Many of the same bunch will be looking forward to the Skyline Picnic next month and the beat goes on.  Every week end will feature some area happening and a person could keep his social calendar full with little effort.  It was great to see Bob Berry and Mary Goolsby back in the neighborhood.  They are enjoying summertime and still take the Studebaker out for a spin from time to time.  Their Champion friends will be glad when they have re-relocated back to the area.

        Sometimes in the summer the countryside around Champion seems to pulsate with the resonating sounds of haying equipment.  Sound is curious in this part of the world as it moves mysteriously up hollows and around hills.  Sometimes, when the air currents are just right, or very still, people in near North Champion can hear the train rumbling through Norwood.  A house on the side of a hill can act almost as an ear magnifying the sound of distant machinery that turns quiet when a person steps outside to locate it.  In the early spring, a disembodied conversation from over the hill might be as clear as a bell and yet a child twenty yards away can be deaf as a post when admonished by parent or grand to, “Quit teasing that cat!” or “Come in and clean-up for supper!”  Children are as mysterious as sound.  One of the new tyrannies that old folks are experiencing is the conscious lowering of volume so that the interesting thing is being said just below the hearing range of the interested old person.  Who would ever have thought that a child could be too quiet?  It might be considered passive aggressive behavior much like the chronically shy person seems to get extra attention to be drawn out, to be begged to participate.  The ‘confidential’ tone in an aside, speaking to oneself, is a way to make cryptic remarks pertinent to the conversation that are somehow otherwise inappropriate, kind of a back door communication.  The voice in volume and tone, a terrific tool, can say more than words.  “Those with an ear to hear …” might find solace in music.

        Charlie Haden has passed away.  He was 76 years old.  He started his music career as Cowboy Charley, a yodeling toddler, with the Haden Family Band, often playing on The Ozark’s Jubilee.  His older brother taught him how to play the bass and as his voice was affected by a bout of polio in his youth he became more proficient with his instrument.  He became one of the most influential bassists in the history of jazz.  He played with all the jazz greats of his time and was recognized as a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master in 2012.  He received a lifetime achievement honor at last year’s Grammy Awards.  He said, “The beauty of it is that this music is from the earth of the country, the old hillbilly music, along with gospels and spirituals and jazz.”  Haden has cousins and other family over in Smollett, out in South Fulton, Tennessee (Hello, Darrell), and over in Nowata, Oklahoma (Hello, Ethel).  He has admirers all over the world.

        Myrtle Harris has an open book that says, “Welcome to my garden.  My flowers want to see you.”  The book is a concrete statue in one of her many flower beds and her garden is delightful.  Tall ‘tree-lilies’ and phlox in standard purple and unusual pinks, stand with day lilies in brilliant yellow and reds, dinner plate hibiscus, white with red centers and the huge deep red ones.  Begonias, geraniums dianthus, impatiens, marigolds and more are showcased against a deep bed of mulch.  Myrtle has an eye for color and design.  It is a joy to stroll around her garden.  She is full of plans about what will be transplanted where and how to keep some color going all season.  Visitors are amazed at the effort and energy that have gone into planning and maintaining this stunning garden/park with the many sculptures and unusual stones placed just so among the flowers.  Myrtle is a transplant herself from Connecticut, but has had the Ozarks as her home since the mid-1970’s.  She claims to have the best neighbors in the world.  The neighbors can say the same.

        A mistake is a good reason to revisit a subject.  That handmade cedar chest on display down at Henson’s Grocery and Gas is not white oak lined with cedar as has been reported here.  It is red oak lined with cedar.  What a prize this will be for some lucky winner at the Skyline VFD Picnic in August!  It will be one of those family heirlooms that may cause some jealousy some day when one inherits it and another does not.  Families will have to work those things out for themselves, but whoever is in possession of this exquisite chest will know that their precious items inside are protected from dust, light, insects, and prying eyes.  The eye will simply stop at the chest (as so often happens, even in polite society).  Meanwhile, plans are coming together nicely for the Skyline Picnic and a meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m., Wednesday, the 24th, up at the Fire House/Picnic Grounds to get a start on all the things that need doing.  Everyone is welcome to attend and help out.  Bring your gloves and your enthusiasm.  There will be cold drinking water on site.

        Lazy summer afternoons find the Historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square a favorite spot to loiter for a spell while things cool off.  Lee Ray was heard to say something to the effect that he had “got his wish” having said a while back that he would a site rather have been beat by a hundred than by the close score of a recent scrabble game with his sister.  She has subsequently trounced him roundly and soundly and he claims to be ‘way down in the dumps and depressed’ about it, but hardly anyone believes it.  He has a twinkle in his eye that belies most seriousness.  In that respect he reminds a person of The General Himself.  They both bring to mind that Kris Kristofferson song, “he’s a walking contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction…”  Submit your lazy summer songs and poetry or find out how to get tickets for that cedar chest at Champion@championnews.us or by snail mail at The Champion News, Rt. 72, Box 367, Norwood, Mo 65717.  Bring your truth and your fiction down to the wide, wild, and wooly banks of Old Fox Creek, take all the right directions to Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


July 7, 2014

July 7, 2014

CHAMPION—July 7, 2014

        Sunday evening’s sunset was splendid. Raindrops sparkled diamond-like on the grass–bright gifts of a sudden shower refracting the last light.  Late night time lightning rivaled Friday’s fireworks for spectacular display and Monday morning’s mist rose from the hay fields like rain-in-reverse to dampen the sky.  There are surely other places in the world that are beautiful, but this is Champion!

        Harley was able to get out of the hay field in time to make it home for the anniversary he shares with Barbara…49 this time on July the 3rd.  Most likely there will be a party next year.  Their Champion friends and family hope to see them back here together long before then.  Anniversaries and birthdays slide and fly by quickly.  Janet Burns had a birthday on Sunday the 6th.  She was seen among friends on the 4th of July at the creek having a very good time.  She probably does not know Kyra Curtis who shares her birthday and is now 14 years old.  She will be in the 8th grade at Skyline this fall.    Lyla Brown had her 6th birthday on the 7th.  She will be a first grader this fall.  Eighth grader Ceiara Carroll will be 14 on the 14th.  Some people call that a ‘golden birthday’ when the numbers are the same.  Golden birthdays stop at age 31 for some reason.  This one will be especially special for Ceiara since it is 2014.  Happy birthday everyone—sing that song to each other.

        The Skyline VFD Auxiliary has a regular meeting on Wednesday the 9th in the meeting room of Henson’s Grocery and Gas in Downtown Champion.  Everyone is welcome to attend.  The meeting starts at 6:30.  The handmade cedar chest is finally there and it is a beauty.  Actually it appears to be made of white oak and lined with cedar.  It has raised panels on the front and the lid has a brass piano hinge.  The lid stays up when it is opened with special ‘friction lid stays.’  It will be just right for someone to store keepsake quilts and family heirloom table cloths and the like.  Ticket sales are expected to be brisk.  The drawing will be held August 9th at the Skyline VFD Picnic.

        The Vanzant Picnic is coming up this Friday and Saturday night.  There is sure to be a good crowd for this event.  The popular gathering place gets a lot of good community use apart from the regular Thursday night potluck bluegrass jam.  The General will have had a big hand in the planning of the picnic so it is sure to be exciting.  In past years fellow committee members have been able to temper his influence and enthusiasm with the common sense that makes it one of the highlights of the summer festival season in the area.  It will be well worth the trip down 95 highway south of 76 or north up from 14 to go east on W to get to the fun.  There is always good parking and golf cart shuttles for those who need them, lots of good food and music and games of all kinds.  There was talk of putting the General in a dunking booth, but since he was summarily transferred laterally from the Navy when they found out he could not swim, the committee thought better of it and just muttered among themselves that he is already ‘all wet.’

        The Skyline Community Teacher’s Association is sponsoring the Skyline Community Market which will be held Friday, August 1st from 8 am to 12 pm.  Spaces are available for rent to showcase and sell your family friendly merchandise on the grounds at the Skyline School during the first community market day.  Registration forms are available on-line through the Skyline R-2 Facebook page, by e-mail from Helen Batten (hbatten@skylineschool.org) , at the school and at Henson’s Downtown G & G.  There is a nominal fee for the booth space which will benefit the CTA.  Forms and fees should be received by July 25th.  This looks like the beginning of something wonderful—Champion!

        Linda’s Almanac from up at The Plant Place in Norwood informs that July’s is the Thunder Moon.  The month’s flower is the pink larkspur and the birthstone for July is the ruby.  The full moon will occur on the 12th.   The 11th will be a good day for planting crops that bear their yield above ground.  There is still time for some fast growing things like summer squash and cucumbers.  The 12th will be a good day for planting root crops.  Radishes, beets, turnips will have time to make and potatoes as well, if a person is just looking for some nice new potatoes to cook up with the green beans.  The garden is a lovely place this time of year.  Ripe tomatoes are coming off the vines already, though some are saying that they are having a hard time with them rotting as they ripen.  That may have to do with the unusual amount of rain in the area.  Every year is different and there are plenty of old time gardeners around who might be able to answer some of the questions that worry the neophyte.  Sometimes the old folks know the answer and sometimes they will just make something up in order to enjoy the fleeting attention of the young people who seem so busy these days.  At least one household has suddenly become very quiet as the young ones have all gone back to the city.  It is time for a nap!

        Busy was the watch word down at the creek for the 4th of July.  Children were in and out of the cold water catching enormous crawdads, investigating bugs and snakes and critters of all kinds between filling their plates with mounds of perfect summer-time food.  Old friends who rarely see each other had leisurely visits under the trees catching up with a year’s worth of happenings.  There were some who had attended the Old Tree Huggers Jamboree back on the Summer Solstice and had information to relate about mutual acquaintances seldom seen.  The prevailing sentiment was one of gratitude.  Everyone seems glad that they are doing as well as they are and happy for the joys and accomplishments of family and friends.  “There’s a time in each year that we always hold dear, good old summer time; with the birds and tree-es, and sweet scented breezes, good old summer time.  When your day’s work is over, then you are in clover and life is one beautiful rhyme.  No trouble annoying, each one is enjoying the good old summer time.”  In Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!