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!