September 30, 2014

2014 West Plains Wagon Club Trail Ride

On the Square


Wagon Master Clifton Luna leads the West Plains Wagon Club out of Champion.

Mr. Luna’s wagon is followed by Jerry and Diane Wilbanks with their extra mule trailing behind. Jerry and Diane have the only white mules on the train this year. One of the white mules had a severe accident last year, but with the help of their granddaughter, Candice, they were able to nurse the animal through its injury.

Jerry and Bonnie Arnold follow the Wilbanks out of the Champion Square. Their beautiful sorrel mules are well matched.

The Arnolds lead Jim and Judy Cantrell.

The Cantrells lead Ken Felts. Ken has a nicely matched three up pulling his vinyl covered wagon.

Randal Burnet has a three up pulling his big wagon.

Coy Stone’s is the last wagon out of the Champion Square.

With Candice Summer and Nate Williams riding drag, the train goes up and over the hill on the way to Cold Springs and then on to rest for the night. Good bye!

September 29, 2014

September 29, 2014

CHAMPION—September 29, 2014

        Champions have been warned that, in terms of weather, the two weeks ahead are two of the four most beautiful weeks of the year in this lovely part of the world.  The other two weeks are those just past during which time Champion has been the destination of many visitors, some familiar with the area and some just out rambling.  On Tuesday Jim Cantrell, of Mansfield, and his buddies from the Gee Haw Horse and Wagon Club of Viola, Arkansas came back through town and camped for the night on the Square.  Locals knew they were coming so they had prepared some dishes to augment their supper.  Neighbors came out to visit around the campfire for a spell in the evening.  The travelers harnessed up and pulled out of town early the next morning planning to make it home on Friday.  The Gee Haw bunch were Ken Felts, Randall Barnett and Coy Stone.  Cantrell only went along with them because he had left his truck and trailer down in Arkansas.

        Bud Hutchison and a half dozen of his friends came riding in from Crystal Lake on Wednesday.  This was not Bud’s scheduled “Fall Ride,” but just a beautiful day to be in the saddle.  The scheduled ride will meet up at Champion on October 8th, and at about ten o’clock they will take off up Fox Creek and amble around over towards Vanzant.  Sometimes this is quite a large group of equestrians.  Wilma Hutchison always gets a good picture.  They make their loop and get back to Champion at two or three in the afternoon.  The neighborhood comes out to see them off and to welcome them back again.  Bob and Ethel Leach will likely be there to greet them, as well as Almartha’s mischievous motorcycle maven, and a prominent Champion and perhaps a prominent Champion girlfriend.  Everyone is welcome.

        Skyline VFD Auxiliary President Betty Dye will celebrate her birthday on October 7th.  She shares the day with OACC activist Vicky Trippe of Springfield and with Skyline prekindergarten student Macy Smith.  The OACC folks had a great gathering at the Hammond Mill Camp recently.  They support the environment, sustainable farming and social consciousness, among other good things.  Madelyn Ward was born in 2006 on October 10th.  She is the granddaughter of Kaye and Richard Johnston, so it is predetermined that she will have a great birthday.  The next day Champion Steve Connor has a reason to celebrate and along about this time in years past, Pete Proctor is said to have had a birthday.  The 14th is shared by three grown-ups who do not know each other—nephew Glen Masters, in his 40’s now, Jillian Hall III, great niece and award winning filmmaker, and Leslie Krider, dairy farmer and Peanut-The Wonder Girl’s dad—lovely people all.  Joe Moskaly shares the 15th with Skyline prekindergarten student Keedien Smith.  Olivia Prock is in the sixth grade.  Her birthday is on the 16th.  The next day the whole school will celebrate Skyline’s PTO Fall Festival.  It will be held at the school from 6 to 9 p.m.  The event replaces the Halloween carnival.  Everyone is welcome to attend to support the excellent little rural school that is preparing responsible and involved citizens for the future.  These are the people who will be running things when most readers of The Champion News will be doddering, old and gray or gone.

        The Christian Agricultural Stewardship Conference will be held on Friday, October 3rd, 2014 at the Vanzant Community Building starting at 11a.m.  The conference is being co-hosted by coordinator Geffrey Goss and President Keith Montgomery.  The program this year will feature Carroll Montgomery speaking on the subject of soil balance, Jill Henderson on vegetable crops and seed saving, and Vernon Kinsinger on the subject of epigenetics.  Everyone is invited to bring samples of crops such as corn or other field crops (non GMO please) or samples of vegetable crops for a show and tell.  There will be a pot luck dinner in the evening followed by bluegrass and gospel music provided by the group Wires on Wood.  Past conferences have had an average of sixty or so people in attendance.  There will be free literature available on a variety of agricultural subjects as well books for sale.  The event is free to the public.

        To augment his income The General has taken a position as a ‘stringer’ for The Champion News.  His first offering:  “What a great night we had at the Vanzant Community Center Thursday night pot luck and jam.  Great music and food.  That fabulous banjo player and his beautiful wife that lives on highway 14 east of Ava showed up for the first time in about 19 months.  Wayne and Joann Anderson were greeted with a standing ovation when they came through the door (Possibly because they arrived a little late and everyone was standing in line to serve themselves at the buffet table).  Anyhow, it was great to have them back.”  An example of Wayne’s wonderful picking can be heard by going to “Champion Events– School Reunions” at  There is a short mp3 there of Wayne and Lonnie Krider singing, “We Live in Two Different Worlds.”  Their harmonies are unforgettable and plans are to get more of their recordings up soon.  Meanwhile, it is great to have The General on the TCN team and readers look forward to more from him.  He was over at ‘Vanzant Under The Stars’ Saturday night and reports are that he was well deported (good behavior as opposed to good-bye) for this charming new weekly community gathering.  Thanks, Ms. Stillwell, for getting it together.  River has had family visiting from afar.  That is always a special time.

        The 13th Annual Pioneer Descendants Gathering is happening on October 4th and 5th.  Hours are 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday and 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday.  Betty and Dale Thomas have made this an excellent happening–getting better year after year.  It is a free public event with everyone invited to see exhibits and demonstrations of the 1860 to 1960 era.  Musicians from all around the area will be performing, so bring your lawn chairs and prepare to be entertained under the big pavilion.  Apple butter and molasses cooking will keep the air full of good aromas.  Hungry visitors will have plenty to enjoy while the music plays. Wagon rides down by Bryant Creek will be going on all day and chances are friends you have not seen in a while will be there too.

        Linda’s October Almanac from over at The Plant Place in Norwood indicates that there is plenty to get done in the garden this time of the year in addition to bringing in the sheaves.  According to the almanac, the Hunter’s Moon will be full on the 8th of the month and that is also the day of the full lunar eclipse.  It will occur early in the morning with the total eclipse beginning at 5:27.  The eclipse will be at its maximum at about 5:55 and will end at 6:22.  It looks like it will be clear and if there is not a hill between you and it, and if you are willing to get up before daylight, and if you are in the mood for celestial excitement, this will be an excellent opportunity to be reminded that the world is round.  Expect conversations concerning that concept to be rife out on the wide veranda at the Historic Emporium.  The power of willful ignorance cannot be overstated, so come join in the discourse in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


September 22, 2014

September 22, 2014

CHAMPION—September 22, 2014

        Last week’s rain was heavy at times and much appreciated over the entire area.  Champions were concerned that the West Plains Wagon Club might have difficulties keeping to their schedule, but they rolled into town Thursday no worse for the wear.  Only two outriders accompanied the seven wagons and they reported having been drenched on at least one occasion.  They were all in good spirits and happy to be dining again under the enormous walnut trees in the little church yard.  The usual crowd of gawkers and musicians were not as intrepid as the travelers, but those who did come out were well rewarded.  Bob and Linda Cottengim and Joann Carter, all of Norwood, came out to rendezvous with Jim and Judy Cantrell of Mansfield.  Linda is Judy’s aunt and Joann is Linda’s sister-in-law and they are all well acquainted.  Bob Cottengim is 85 years old now.  He recalls having come down to this part of the country once when he was a kid.  Someone his family knew had a car.  He and Linda used to run into Ed Henson at the feed store in Mt. Grove fairly often.  They kept saying that they would make it down to Champion ‘one of these days,’ and when they read about the event in the paper they figured the day had finally come.  Bob says they will not be strangers in the future.  Linda used to write the Mt. Zion column for the paper and she is a regular reader of The Champion News.  Others out to see the train were Mark and Gretchen from East Dogwood and a number of Kriders, Clines and Johnston.  Outrider, Candice Summer, was very sweet to the young ones and sat them up on her pretty paint horse for pictures and for the fun of it.  The fun continues as several of the wagons plan to pass back this way on their return to Viola, Arkansas.  They will camp here overnight and be genuine Champions!

        Last Monday Champions out on a tear ran into Pat and Wes Smith in a Mexican Restaurant in town.  It was Pat’s birthday (September 15th) and they were celebrating, though she said something to the effect that getting older is nothing to brag about.  She was, however, willing to brag about her grandson, Weston.  She and Wes had been down to Mt. Home to see him and help him celebrate his birthday.  On their way home they stopped in Seymour to enjoy the Apple Festival.  It sounds like she came home with a couple of birthday presents one of which is a gourd that is painted and cut in such a way that when a person does something with it, it sounds like thunder.  She was quite pleased with it and a better description of it will be forthcoming once it is on public display.  Wednesday will be Grandfather Chapin’s birthday.  He says that between now and Grandma Chapin’s birthday on October 12th, this part of the country will experience the most beautiful weather of the year.  Other birthdays falling into this glorious period are those of Nicole Johnson, Skyline’s preschool teacher’s aide, on the 27th.   Seventh grader, Newt Souder, has a birthday on September 30th.  First grade student Lydia Harden shares her birthday on the first with a prominent Champion, who once again is reminded, “When you act like you are having a good time, pretty soon you will forget you are acting and will really be having a good time.”  Malachi Johnson is a second grader and he will be having a good time on October 4th.  The Upshaw twins have been celebrating that day for quite a few years.  One is older than the other and does not let her sister forget.  They are both older than one of their friends by a couple of weeks.  During those weeks the younger person makes it a point to say, “Yes, Mam” to her friends and opens the door for them—“Age before beauty,” etc.

        Posted on the internet recently: “UPDATE:  From the Vanzant Weather Lab and Alien Observatory, the dry weather spell for Vanzant and the surrounding area has been extended through 11:15 a.m. 17 Sept 2014.  Everyone watch out for a downpour of spizzel.”  The local meteorologist and alien observer might have enjoyed the “People’s Climate March” on Sunday the 21st.  While many folks in this part of the world do not believe it is happening, there is significant evidence that there is a lot of melting going on way up North and way down South.  Almost four hundred thousand people marched in New York City to bring attention to the issue.  Every large city all across the world had enormous demonstrations to shed light on the subject.  There were even some in Springfield and the OACC folks (Ozark Area Community Congress) had their gathering at the Hammond Mill Camp over the week end.  Climate change does not seem to get much publicity in the mainstream media, but there have not been this many people out in the streets trying to raise consciousness of an issue since the 2003 demonstrations against the Shock and Awe bombing of Baghdad.  The bombing made it to the news but the worldwide resistance to it did not.  Back to climate change, if indeed the planet has passed the tipping point and no amount of human effort can mitigate the damage, it would seem the thing to do, as was suggested by William Burroughs, is to align oneself with the inevitable.  Several years ago some folks from the east coast of Virginia bought property in Brushy Knob because they figure that before long the Ozarks will be the new east coast.  Champions will stay alert and make room for new neighbors.

        One of those nice Tennessee boys came over from Cripple Creek to visit with his Grandmother over the week end.  He had to get back to Murfreesborough for school Monday morning, so the visit was short but sweet.  He helped out in the milk barn and showed off his continually growing banjo skill.  He had his bow with him, but the white tails were elusive.  The season is open back home now, so he will have more opportunities to put meat on the table.  Some Champion gardens are still pouring forth good food for the table and the larder.  If the frost will hold off for a while, there will be a few more tomatoes.

        There are green tomatoes on the vine in little kitchen gardens in fair Edinburgh and a Champion lad there thinks he will introduce fried green tomatoes to his Scots friends.  Some of them (45%) could use some cheering up as the Referendum for Independence did not work in their favor.  It was said that the majority of the ‘no’ vote was cast by elderly people, and there are reports of significant shenanigans as Russian observers were present at a number of polling places and reported irregularities.  They must be pretty irregular to impress Russians.  The Scots have had a nice reconciliation gathering that suggests there will be some positive changes.  Positive change is the best kind.  They say, “Don’t change the old for the new.”  Several, including Ray Charles, Sophie Tucker and Benny Goodman, found out that this will never do.  They figure, “when you grow old, you don’t last long.  You’re here today and then tomorrow you’re gone.”  Gone where?  To Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


September 15, 2014

September 15, 2014

CHAMPION—September 15, 2014

        It happens every year that the heat breaks and the mornings are suddenly quite cool.  It does not matter if a person is ready for it or not, seasons change.  Champion!

        Louise Hutchison’s birthday is September 21st.  That is an auspicious day, being the traditional date of the Autumnal Equinox.  Some calendars say autumn begins on the 22nd and some say the 23rd.  It is a nice thing that birthdays do not move around the calendar that way.  Her many friends will be wishing Louise the best on her special day.  She shares it with Zoey Louise in Texas and with Penelope Zappler as well.  Zoey will be eleven.  Penelope will be nine and Louise will be smiling at the pile of cards and well wishes coming her way.  Atticus Umba Fowler is the newly arrived grandson of Sandy Ray (“Searching for Booger County”) and Janet Chapin.  He lives up in St. Louis.  He will eventually find out that his Grandpa’s birthday is the 24th of September and Granny’s is the 12th of October.  Sandy says that the best weather of the year here about is always between their birthdays.  Certainly it is a busy time of the year.  Tristian Jeffery is a kindergarten student at Skyline.  His birthday is September 26th.  Dustin Johnson is in the 5th grade and celebrates on the 26th.  The school year is well underway and there are good times ahead for the little country school student body and staff.  Skyline Champions all!

        Frances Sutherland celebrated her 82nd trip around the sun back on the 14th of September.  Her Champion friends wish her a happy belated birthday and hope to get to see her on Thursday the 18th when the West Plains Wagon Club comes rolling into the Square in Champion around noon time.  Mr. Clifton Luna has been heading up this annual trek from West Plains to Mansfield for many years.  He is getting close to 90 now and there is speculation that this may be his last year for this train.  Observers will note that just getting from here to there on a wagon hitched to horses or mules is no small task.  It is a wonderful learning experience to see how it used to be done.  Champion always turns out a good welcoming committee and there may be music up on the Veranda or out under an oak tree while the animals rest and the travelers take in all the sights on the wide wooly banks of Old Fox Creek.   The General said that he would gauge the level of excitement that his squeeze box might create in the draft animals before he let fly too many notes.  Past years have seen as many as fifteen rigs of various kinds and dozens of outriders who travel ahead and behind the train for security.  Some outriders travel the whole distance and others join up to ride for a day or two or for just a few hours.  Ronnie Thompson will miss getting to ride along this year.  His friends and family are looking forward to having him back in the saddle again soon.  Everyone is welcome to come enjoy the spectacle.  If you cannot make it this time, go to and look at some pictures from past years.  The weather ahead looks like it will be ideal for photographs.  Jo and Royce Henson will be there to greet the train, as will Kaye and Richard Johnston, maybe some Sutherlands, Brixeys, Upshaws, and Cooleys, and Proctors.  Pictures will be taken.  Champion is a very picturesque place, situated as it is at the bottom of several hills where country roads meet at the end of the pavement.  A recent visitor asked why these banks of Fox Creek are always called ‘wooly.’  The debris still stuck high in the trees from the flood of August 2013, is part of it and other parts may be the mystery and history of what is up the creek and down it.

        By the time the wagon train pulls out of Champion on Thursday, the lovely people of Scotland will have cast their ballots and will probably know if they will be an independent nation or if they will still be tethered to the United Kingdom.  Had our precious Colonies been able to simply cast a vote for independence it might have saved a lot of bloodshed but might not have yielded ‘freedom.’  It is a spectacular moment in history today for Scotland as it was for us in 1776.  This election is being watched closely around the world by other captive countries.  We feel secure out here in our tranquil rural homes where we seem untouched by the troubles of the tumultuous world outside.  The right to vote has been hard won and Champions do not take it for granted.

        The recount in Douglas County of the vote in the August 5th primary election showed that Amendment 1 was passed by 287 votes–state wide by 2,375 votes.  It will be interesting over time to see if this amendment really does protect the right to farm for farmers or if it will just allow the nice people of China to move their “Smithfield Foods” pork production to the Bryant Creek watershed or any of the other beloved waterways of the beautiful Ozarks.  When the U.S. government approved Shuanghui International Holding’s purchase of Smithfield Food, Inc. in September of last year, the deal was valued at approximately $7.1 billion.  That is a lot of bacon.  It was the biggest takeover of a U.S. company by the Chinese to date.  Time will tell and Champions will all hope it tells a good story.

        The Pioneer Descendants Gathering is gathering steam for another fine show.  It will occur on October 4th and 5th.  Admission is free and everyone is invited to see the exhibits and demonstrations of the 1860 to 1960 era.  Dale and Betty Thomas have been hosting this gathering for 13 years now and it is just getting better.  The event is promoted by the many descendants of Tom Brown and John Burden.  There will be lots of live music in addition to good food and many opportunities to appreciate the skills and ingenuity of our predecessors.

        Proceed to the wide, wild, wooly banks of Old Fox Creek and enjoy the view from the Veranda looking out across the square.  If a song comes into your head and you have a good voice, let it out.  “A charm from the skies seems to hallow us there, which seek thro’ the world, is ne’er met elsewhere.  Home! Home! Sweet, sweet home!” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


September 8, 2014

September 8, 2014

CHAMPION—September 8, 2014

        This week looks perfect and those not busy enjoying it will be missing something delightful.  Champions do not get ahead of themselves other than to plan well and firewood is being contracted this week.  The nip in the air is suddenly portentous of the winter ahead which some are predicting will be a rough one, as if last winter was not.  Neat stacks of firewood and lots of full canning jars are Champion preparedness.

        The extended community turned out in a big way for the benefit for Ronnie Thompson at the Skyline School on Saturday.  The event was well planned and well executed and the food was delicious.  To be a part of so many friends and neighbors from all across the area coming together in a lovely loving common cause is a gift to everyone who participated.  Helping –Champion!

        “Deep in the Ozark Mountains.  Down  by a rushing steam.  Is the place I love to wander and have a sweet day’s dream.”  Ethel McCallie’s father’s poem is timeless for lucky locals.  A recent letter from her to The Champion News revealed that the Hayden Family Reunion was well attended.  She estimated close to 78 or 80.  There were sad absentees as there are in every nostalgic reunion.  Ethel is a wonderful storyteller.   Bonnie Brixey Mullens over in Wichita, writes that Ethel’s sister was her aunt, married to Virgil Proctor.  The family trees in this part of the world look like the Briar Patch.  Bonnie is hoping to make it down to Denlow for the Proctor Family Reunion in May.  Meanwhile TCN (The Champion News) will encourage a correspondence between Ethel and Bonnie.  Look for the transcript of Ms. McCallie’s latest letter in the Champion Neighbors Category over on the right hand side of the page at  It starts out, “9-3-14 Well, Howdy Doody and a pleasant good marnin to you.”

        Skyline School first grade student Lexus Ledbetter has his birthday on September 10th.  The 13th is set aside for Tanna Jo Krider Wiseman, mother of Foster and Kalyssa, Skyline alumnus.  Breann Davis is a seventh grader at Skyline who celebrates her birthday on the 14th together with nephew Konrad Zappler, father of Sophia and Penelope.  Elmer Banks will party on the 15th and everyone who sees him is welcome to ask him just how old he is anyway?  He might have some yarn to spin about it and a wise person will take the time to listen.  Most generally Elmer has some good information to share.  The General is a little less predictable.  They are both predicted to be out on the spacious veranda over on the North side of the Square on Thursday the 18th when the West Plains Wagon Club comes rolling into town.   Coy Stone will probably be representing the Gee Haw Club out of Viola Arkansas.  He is the guy who whittled that ball and chain on display in the Chat Room in the Emporium.  Champions are hoping Diane and Jerry Wilbanks will be on the train.  Their new friends here miss them.  The wagon folks are awfully nice about letting people look at their rigs and their animals.  It is a real education for many who have just heard about the old days when the only way to get around was by horse or wagon or walking.  People might have been healthier for the exercise and they probably made every trip off the place count.  “Put on your old gray bonnet, with the blue ribbons on it, while I hitch Old Dobbin to the shay.”  Perhaps there will be an example of a ‘shay’ on this train.  Bud Hutchison’s Fall Champion trail ride sometimes has a buggy or two along for the ride.  A shay sounds kind of fast and sassy, like the hot rod of the day.  Champions will be on the lookout and invite the neighborhood to come out and enjoy the spectacle around noon time Thursday the 18th in Historic Downtown Champion.

        Thursday, September 18, 2014, the people of Scotland will vote on a referendum that restores their sovereignty and removes them from the United Kingdom.  Each side has vocal supporters and detractors.  The “Yes” for Independence people ask the “Better Together”(“No”)people, “Why is it not better already?”  People from all over the world weigh in on the issue because Scots are everywhere from Nova Scotia (New Scotland) to Perth, Australia, and they hold on to their culture.  1703 does not seem that long ago in Scots history.  Caledonia is the Latin name given to the area by the Romans.  The old song goes, “I’ve been telling old stories, singing songs that make me think about where I’ve come from.  Let me tell you that I love you, that I think about you all the time.  Caledonia, you’re calling me, now I’m going home.  But if I should become a stranger, know that it would make me more than sad.  Caledonia’s been everything I’ve ever had.”  The world is watching and hoping for the best for the fine people of Scotland.  The recount of the votes on Amendment One in Missouri’s primary election is still underway.  Results are available from some counties, but so far nothing significant has developed.  Less than one quarter of one percent margin would indicate that there are strong opinions on both sides.  Democracy rules even when it rules against the best interest of the people.  Alas!

        Linda’s Almanac from over at The Plant Place in Norwood says that the 10th and 11th will be good days for harvesting crops.  Crops harvested on those days are thought to keep well.  The 12th and 13th will be favorable days for planting root crops and fine for vine crops.   They will also be good days for transplanting.  This might be a good time to plant garlic for next year.  Some already have a good size patch of tiny turnips sprouting in anticipation of a fall visit from their favorite friends Lem and Ned.  These fictional boys are big lanky fellows who come ambling up the driveway looking for a chore to do for a housewife.  They bring their own dinner bucket and will do any kind of onerous chore she cannot get the old man to do—clean the chicken house, turn the compost, haul brush, cut sprouts, etc.  They just want a few turnips for their effort since they are independent gents, not needing much but the chance to help out where they are needed.  Daydreaming down on the wild wooly banks of Old Fox Creek or a little ways up The Clever is easy to do in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


September 1, 2014

September 1, 2014

CHAMPION—September 1, 2014

        It has been a busy week in Champion with another busy one ahead.  Recent visitors have remarked that there seems to be a lot going on in a place so geographically small.  That is because the community extends well beyond its borders.  It turns out the world is full of Champions.  It was a joy to have so many returning for the Champion School Reunion on Saturday.  They came from Kansas, Arkansas, Tennessee and Texas and one was just back from Oregon.  They shared good food and great conversations as old friendships were rekindled and renewed.  Eight stalwart individuals made the “The Walk of Ages” which was routed from Denlow to Champion this year and was led again by Royce Henson.  Mini Jo was at his side as well as their son Vaughn, and daughter, Valley and her husband Tom Mills.  The route had been chosen by Kenneth Henson (Hoovie) who scouted it out back during the spring and allowed as how there were hardly any hills at all.  He paid for the prevarication by huffing and puffing and dragging up the rear of the party.  He was lucky that his wife, Dawn Henson, was willing to drive the support vehicle with the cool water.  Brothers Pete and Frankie Proctor made that walk in honor of their Mother, Champion Ruby Hicks Proctor, who passed away since the last reunion.  When the walkers arrived they found a nice crowd enjoying the day:  Elva Ragland and her daughter Sheila Brown, Fae Krider, Wes Lambert, Elsie Curtis, Debbie Massey, Ethel Luellen Anderson from Kansas and her three daughters, Louise Rinebold, Ruth Daharsh, and Betty Bishop, Wilma Hicks Hamby, Glenna Lambert Henson, Vivian Krider Floyd, Irene Keller Dooms, Beverly Dooms Keller, Betty Henson, J.R. and Janet Johnston, Wayne and Frances Sutherland and Laine Sutherland, Robert and Sharon Upshaw, Darrel Hutchison, Harold and Eva Phillips, Jerry and Shawna Smith.  Shawna is a collector of arrowheads and found a beautiful and perfect little white specimen out on the banks of Old Fox Creek.  There were just over forty in attendance including prominent citizens and with only a hint of rain, some light sprinkles at lunch time, it was a perfect day for gathering on the old school grounds again to reminisce and to catch up with old friends.  This was the 30th year for the reunion.  Last year Russell Upshaw sat out under the trees visiting with family and friends until late in the day.  He and a number of other dear ones were sorely missed this time.

        Russell Upshaw was the inspiration behind the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam which is a pot luck affair happening every Thursday night at the Vanzant Community Building—supper at six.  Readers of TCN ( The Champion News) on line can simply ‘click’ on this link and see 38 minutes of a session in April, 2012.  “This particular Thursday night there were people in the audience from New Jersey, Idaho, and Iowa.  Max Cooley, playing dobro and singing, lives in Nebraska,” reported an attendee.  Looking around the room it was like a Who’s Who of Bluegrass–a spectacular evening.  David Richardson of Whetstone is probably responsible for the video.  He records a lot of the good stuff that goes on in the area and it will be good to have another of his pieces up on the website.  More of the good stuff going on has to do with the community benefit for its Champion Ronnie Thompson.  The advertisements in the papers say that it will start with a chili supper at 5 on Saturday at the Skyline School.  There will be an auction and a volleyball tournament.  Ashley Pierson (417-686-0164) is the contact person.  The ad says to bring a pie for the auction.  What the ad does not say is that the Thompson family has been a part of the real infrastructure of the community for generations—ideal neighbors and friends.  Champion!

        Wayne Anderson celebrated his birthday on Saturday.  He took a rambling ride with his family over to the Clever Creek Unity Cemetery.  It was established April 5th, 1928.  The trustees were Elijah Anderson, president, Isaiah P. Henson, secretary, James H. Schudy, treasurer, Harve G. Mears and Fleming Ghear.  From there the party made a swing up through Denlow, then over to Mt. Grove for dinner, and back down through Champion.  They missed the school reunion but enjoyed visiting and hearing all about it.  Laine Sutherland had been there and it was her birthday too.  Bernice Wiseman said, “Thank all of you so much for helping me grow old.  It is a pleasant journey with friends like you all.  Appreciate everyone so much.”  That was her response to the many birthday wishes she had received.  Tennessee grandson Dillon Watts was in Champion on Sunday.  He has just had his 21st birthday.  His cousin, Drayson Cline, is a one year old boy now and on the run.  It will take more than The Champion News to keep up with him.  Larry Wrinkles birthday is on September 1st.  Skyline sixth grade student, Ethan Poppas, has his birthday on the 4th.  Eighth graders Derek Camp and Donavon Sarginson both celebrate on the fifth.  Renaissance woman, Jeannette C. Tharp, will start merry making Friday for her Monday birthday.  Her friends will help!

        Ms. Ethel McCallie had her 97th birthday on August 11th.  She was in town (Ava) for the Hayden Family Reunion over the week end.  Her Champion friends missed getting to see her this time.  They will make up for it with some nice telephone conversations soon just to see how it all went.  She lives over in Bartlesville, Oklahoma but has deep connections to the area.  Ethel is a good neighbor.

        Because the Constitution Amendment #1 was approved on the August 5th ballot by less than one quarter of one percent of the vote, Mr. Wes Shoemeyer, President of Missouri’s Food for America, requested that the vote be recounted.  The recount of the Douglas County votes will happen at nine o’clock on Friday, September 5th in the court room of the Courthouse in Ava.  The county by county by county recount results will be published on the internet at  The Secretary of State’s office takes care of that.  Mr. Shoemeyer lives over in Clarence, Missouri just a little to the west of Hannibal.  Folks on either side of the issue are aggravated that so many people did not vote and that many who did voted against their own best interest because of family tradition or lack of factual information.  Ah!  Democracy!

        Soon it will be “Oh! Pioneer” as the Descendants Gathering comes together for the 13th time on October 4th and 5th.   Before then, “Wagons, ho!” Fans of the West Plains Wagon Club will be pleased to know the wagon train will be back in Champion on Thursday the 18th of September.  They will leave from the West Plains MFA Sale Barn at 10:00 Monday morning and pass through Champion for the noon time rest on Thursday.  The General asked if there would be music again at the Champion Welcoming.  That is a good question with a couple of weeks to answer it.  He said that he would measure the response of the draft animals to the sound before he let too much air out of his accordion.  (Note:  He missed the Walk of Ages, having taken a wrong turn and winding up somewhere north of Spotted Hog before he came around.)  Bring those guitars, fiddles, banjos, mandolins, basses and good voices down to the Wild Wooly Banks of Old Fox Creek any day of the week, but that particular Thursday will be a good one to show up in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!