December 29, 2014

December 29, 2014

CHAMPION—December 29, 2014

        December 25th found people standing still, wrapped in their coats and shawls, eyes closed and faces turned up to the sun, their lips sagging into smiles of relief.  The long grayness had passed, if temporarily, and hope bloomed again.  Champion!

        Among the many kind greetings Wesley and Karen (Suzie) Freeman, hillbillies down in McKinney, Texas, say they are still kicking (“Don’t know how high”), “Read your items every week in the paper.  Hope you and people down Champion Way have a very Happy Christmas and New Year!”  Bonna Mullens sends her good wishes for the season and the New Year along with her welcome support to TCN-on–line (  Champion friends and family look forward to seeing her and Pete in Denlow on Memorial Day.  It will be here soon.  Pat Metroplos has been off in Seattle enjoying her birthday which was on the 22nd of December.  She will be home soon with adventures to share.  Birthday greetings include salutations to Teeter Creek Herbs’ own rocking grandma, Jan Liebert, on the first day of the year.  That day also was for Jacob Wellington Masters, a long gone rascal of a moon shine drinking, brush arbor preaching grandfather over in McDonald County.  Jacob Coon’s dad has his birthday on the first.  Jacob is a 6th grader at Skyline now and has his birthday on the third.  Music man, Leland Isley, will be in the company of the fair Amanda for his birthday that day.  He is a lucky man and he knows it.  Then comes the 4th of January, the first Sunday of the New Year, with big time celebrations in store for the lovely Sami McCleary.  This dynamo of a Champion girlfriend will probably start her partying on New Year’s Eve and carry it on through the following week.  She makes smiles happen.  Congratulations on the anniversary of another trip around the sun, whether or not it is out.

        Champion Richard Heffern has generously shared some timely observations with The Champion News.  “We spent last week in the Missouri Ozarks, in our little house in Mad Dog Hollow.  It’s, of course, the darkest time of year, and it was very, very dark as soon as the sun, which had perched all day in among the oaks and pines very low in the southern sky, set in a modest blaze of wanly-lit grey cloud.  Then… the dark swallowed up the world.  We’re 20 miles from the nearest small town, seventy from the nearest city, and for most of the night there was no moon.  Clouds obscured the stars, and it was cold.  Stoking up the wood stove was the least we could do to ward off this solstice-time assault by darkness.  Later, lying in bed, I placed my hand in front of my eyes and realized I couldn’t see it.  And I thought this was the experience of most of humanity for hundreds of thousands of years—just up until the last few generations.  For so long, we huddled around fires and chimneys and told stories into the long, long nights.  Feeling this kind of darkness down in your bones and deep in your psyche, one realizes how much, at this time of year, we need….well, each other, stories of light, hope that the sun will indeed return and not continue its descent toward the horizon permanently.  No wonder this time of year is time for closeness with family and friends, for celebration—Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Yule.  Season’s greetings!“

        Herr Dr. Schmeckle writes in part, “I worry about the stress that Xmas puts on poor families – and yes, I know, the spirit of Xmas moves through the poor as well as the wealthy.  It doesn’t stop me from thinking about the adults who put themselves into debt because consumer consumption has taken the place of holiday’s spiritual core.  I worry about those, young and old, who wake up with the feeling that they are missing out – missing out on gifts, missing out on family or, most commonly I suspect, missing out on happiness.  Mental health is fragile at best; around the holidays it takes one hell of a pummeling.  I want peace and love in the world.  I want you to accept me as I am, just as I will accept you.  I want everyone to work together for the benefit of the greater good – you know- healthcare, education, housing etc.  These are concrete manifestations of things that religions (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, whatever) strive for at their very core.”  Well said, Doc!  A note in the paper from 125 years ago says, “A man’s debts always overtake him.  He can never out run them or hide from them.  Debt has sharper eyes than justice.”  This is comforting thought for some who feel a debt is owed them.

        The Friday morning before Christmas Cowboy Jack and Mrs. Cowboy were thinking about going to town, but decided against it.  A little while later they became aware that their flu was on fire.  Skyline Volunteer Fire Fighters were summoned and extinguished the fire by depriving it of oxygen.  They were quick to the scene with the requisite equipment and skill and so the Cowboy and his Mrs. still have a nice roof over their heads and a Happy New Year ahead thanks to the Skyline VFD!

        A note from Tim Scrivner of the Skyline R2 School Foundation says, “At the last School board meeting Jeanne Curtis handed me a donation of a $100 bill from someone and also a check from the School for $237 from a fund raiser the parents/students had done.  We’ve also learned that the remains of a Wellness grant we received last year has been approved to buy drinking fountains!  I don’t have the details yet, but I understand that the fountains will be the latest and greatest. Our funds (now totaling over $1500) can be used to pay for installation, etc.”  This is great news.  Clean water=healthy children!

        Ms. Ayn Thrope suggests reading for next year to start with “Savage Anxieties,” by Robert A. Williams Jr., a professor specializing in American Indian law.  She says it is an eye-opening harrowing read made current as Congress passed a measure in December to give sacred American Indian lands in Arizona to a foreign company—2,400 acres of the Tonto National Forest destined to be the largest copper mine in the world.  She quotes Williams as saying, “These are folks that have been fighting the federal government over their land rights and cultural rights for a long time, and here you have this little, small tribe of Apaches, one of the poorest tribes, trying to stop this.”  Thrope speaks about logging in an area of Brazil where there were forty indigenous tribes and now only six of them are left after a period of just ten years.  She says, turning attention back home, “And while we are at it, Merry Christmas to Louis Peltier rotting in jail, framed by the FBI.”  Ax grinding might be Ms. Ayn Thorpe’s forte—a real country girl.

        Dakota and Dillon Watts used to be called ‘those Tennessee boys,’ but are now are being referred to as those nice young men from Tennessee.  They were in town over the week end together with eight of their Champion cousins, four aunts and four uncles, their Grandmother Krider, and various great aunts and uncles.  It was a momentous kind of memorable occasion where many photographs were taken, many hugs shared around.  That is the Champion Way!  Happy New Year from The Bright Side!


December 22, 2014

December 22, 2014

CHAMPION–December 22, 2014

The busy Saturday before Christmas found the Strong family stopping in at The Recreation of the Historic Emporium over on the North Side of the Square in Down Town Champion. Billy and Leigh Strong are the parents of eleven year old Alyssa, a sixth grade student at Skyline, eight year old Heidi who is in the third grade, and Billy who is six and a kindergarten student. Heidi and Billy reported that they had done some good Christmas shopping at school with Tiger Bucks that they had earned for good behavior. Billy was particularly excited about a gift he has for his Dad. The days ahead promised to be busy ones for them as there was baking to do and popcorn yet to string. They planned to enjoy Christmas Eve with one grandmother, Christmas day at home, and the following Sunday with their other grandmother. Their parents were almost as excited as the children knowing the surprises in store. Merry Christmas to the Champion Strong family!

        In the way that home is the most beloved of all human concepts, so Christmas is held up by much of the world as the best day of the year.  It is the much longed for day when expectations are sure to be met, when families are gathered and memories are made to go along with the photographs that are taken for proof.  It is the reference point for family milestones:  “It was that year when thus and such happened…, you remember…our last Christmas with Mother.” There is a lot of room in the Champion heart for sentimentality and nostalgia with plenty to spare for being mindful of the moment as it happens.  The smells and tastes, the racket and music, the laughter, hugs and tears add weight to the reverence of the acknowledgement of the special day.  “God bless us, every one” on the Bright Side!  This year the DC Herald has made arrangements with a talented local potter, Louise Walker of the Crystal Lake neighborhood, to provide gifts to all the community correspondents.  Like the communities themselves, each piece is unique, beautiful and useful.  Thank you from Champion!

        Christmas is a perfect time for fence mending and forgiveness.  Sometimes those fences are mended not because the injured party has become forgiving, but, as often as not, because he is weary of carrying the burdens of grievances and remembering his injury.  The grudge is surely the heaviest of all loads.  Time can be a factor in forgiveness.  Blows can be softened or hardened in memory.  Some may be motivated to forgiveness by a magnanimous righteousness that comes with perceived vindication.  “See?  I was not wrong.”  It may be that a person eventually has to say, “I was wrong,” and adjust his countenance and tone accordingly.  The human being is an inscrutable creature.  However it comes to be, the warm embrace of renewed filial feeling is a preciousness….a gift for forgiver and forgiven alike.  If some postpone that reconciliation beyond the grave or eschew it altogether, it may just indicate that they are at peace with themselves living a conscious life.

        Skyline archer, Morgan Whitacre had a perfect score at the recent tournament in Crane.  Congratulations, Morgan!  Pope Francis had his birthday on December 10th.  He gave 400 well-made sleeping bags to homeless people in Rome.  What a guy.  Second grader Destiny Surface shares her birthday with Mary Goolsby.  Mary and her sweetie, Bob Berry, have moved away from the area, but they are much and pleasantly remembered by the many friends they left behind.  Logan Brown is a 7th grade student at Skyline who shares his birthday with Skyline VFD Auxiliary’s Chris Dailey on the Winter Solstice.  Days are already getting longer by the 23rd when the dynamic and beautiful Sharon Sikes celebrates her birthday.  Willard Hall is in the 7th grade.  His birthday is on Christmas Day.  He has probably figured out how to deal with that.  The 27th is the birthday of Corinne Zappler, a most loved and appreciated Champion great niece.  Logan Hull is in the second grade at Skyline.  His birthday is on the 29th.  He can stretch the giving season out for a few more days.  Eli Oglesby is a Champion grandson who celebrates on the 30th and will be 10 years old.  His little sister, Emerson Rose, and all his Champion cousins will be singing that song to him.  The year ends with the birthday of Denlow and Vanzant’s most transformational personality, sage, philanthropist, world traveler, ambassador of Ozark culture to a confused and hungry world…The General Himself!  Around the globe people will be raising a glass.  Salutations! Cheers!  Slange i va!  Happy New Year!

        Ms. Ayn Thrope includes a dire warning in with her Christmas card.  (Notice that she is spelling her name Ayn now like Ayn Rand.)  She addresses those she calls ‘sedentary sofa loafers’ and suggests that they get up and get involved in the ‘orenda.’  She explains that that is the mystical force present in all people that empowers them to affect the world or to effect change in their own lives.  “Oli Garkey’s robber barons will have a pig farm on top of your spring before you know it as a result of ‘The Right to Farm.’  What nonsense!   Now ‘The Right to Work’ is another shameful thing.  It is a corporate scam to control the worker by keeping wages low, work places less safe and keeping benefits and insurance out of reach.  Surely someone will introduce the ‘Right to Stay Uninformed.’”  To her credit, she does think that by paying attention and being willing to engage in some productive dialogue a general raising of consciousness will be an improvement.  She thinks Winter Soldier Hearings might be appropriate about now.  Other seasons’ greetings in the mail box are full of optimism for the year ahead and reminders of all the reasons for the celebrations.  Merry Christmas back at all you lovely well–wishers!

        The last Tuesday of the month will be the 30th and Angela Souder with the Douglas County Health Department will be at Henson’s Grocery and Gas from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. checking blood pressures and doing body mass index readings.  She brings the lung age machine with her and this time she will be doing blood sugar tests as well.  It is a free service and a valuable one.

        Christmas in the kitchen has one old Champion offering advice and instruction to young cooks who are about to put their hands in the dough.  “Blow your nose.  Wash your face and comb your hair.  Secure your sleeves and wash your hands and dry them.  Then you can knead the pizza or bread dough, cut out the cookies, or ice the cake.”  Julia Child suggested that a cook should never do anything in the kitchen by himself that he would not do with people watching.  That way you will never embarrass yourself and the people you are feeding will have no reason to not enjoy their food.  That means if you taste the soup for seasoning, do not put your face over the pot and please use a clean spoon every time.  Some great cooking has been going on in the neighborhood and the many holiday recipes circulating on the internet are causing a few old Champions to be gaining cyber weight.  The Cowboy, the barber, Chad’s dad, the farmer, various Smiths and Stones, Bob and Ethel, strays from Almartha, Elmer and the gang are joining prominent Champions and prominent girlfriends around the stove and cookie jar for seasonal stories and fun.  The Christmas tree in the meeting room is festive and cheerful.  “Tis the season to be jolly” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


December 15, 2014

December 15, 2014

CHAMPION—December 15, 2014

        Sunday was semi-sunny and two hours of vitamin D straight from the source has lifted the spirit of one old Champion who feels cheated when the moon is out and she cannot see it for the clouds.  Knowing that the sun is gleaming and beaming on the other side of the hazes does not warm or comfort her.  The Geminid Meteor Shower peaked behind a dense fog with embers from the ‘rock comet’ streaking through the heavens fit to awe if they could have been seen.  (The three mile long chunk of rock called ‘3200 Phaethon’ was only discovered in 1983, so its comet tail has been unappreciated before.)  Maybe next year the skies will be clear.  For now, it looks as if Champions will trade the gloom for the cold.  Champions will not complain.  Winter will officially arrive next Sunday on the Brrrrrright Side!

        Skyline’s teacher Lannie Hinote says, “Big congratulations to the Skyline Archery Team for placing 3rd in the Middle School division at the Crane Archery Tournament.  To Cheyenne Baker for placing 3rd in elementary, Morgan Whitacre placed 6th in middle school female division and Gavin Sartor placed 6th in middle school male division, Levi Hicks placed 7th in elementary and Dylan Ford placed 10th.  Crane is one of our most challenging tournaments.“  The skills these young people are developing in this fine archery program are skills that they will be able to cultivate for their lifetimes.  They will be able to provide meat for their tables or compete in the Olympics.  Girls and boys can compete and not really run the risk of blowing out their knees—an all-around good sport.  Skyline students celebrating birthdays this month include second grader Destiny Surface whose birthday is on the 20th, and Logan Brown, seventh grader, on the 21st.  Yea! Birthdays!

        Shannon Alexander and Spike Jones share the 14th of December as their birthday.  They were born in different years but they have a lot in common.  Multitalented, zany, creative, productive (good looking) men with great smiles and big hearts are treasures in a hum-drum world.  Spike Jones and the City Slickers brought a light hearted approach to ‘serious’ music and gave America some hearty laughs back in the 40s and 50s when they were much needed.  Shannon just makes a person smile.  Then he takes a picture.  He takes lots of pictures from which emerge the portraits that are destined to be the real family heirlooms.  It takes a special eye to see the way he does.  K and Zack look at him kind of funny sometimes.  Judy Gale Ing was another jewel in the world that came to light on December 14th.  It was said of her, “Judy lived like all should live, free spirited and wild at heart.”  “Judy was everything that I perceive as being right with life.  She was more than a sister to me.  She was a life mentor and I think of her often,” said Daniel Ing, a sentiment echoed by her bereft Champion Comadre.  Jesse and Sarah Ing journeyed up to Champion from Texas with their mother on many occasions.  They jumped off the big rock at the Mill Pond, and splashed in the Bryant and Hunter Creek.  They scampered up and down the hills ferociously with their friends doing all the wild, country kid things, being rowdy and getting muddy and eating watermelon with the juice making stripes down their dirty bellies.  Judy and Sarah are off dazzling the heavens together and Jesse is having his birthday on December 16th.  He’s a big time Hollywood guy now, but he and his mother and sister occupy a big chunk of some Champion hearts.  Amanda Masten has the 16th as her birthday as well.  She has had an exciting life that started out over by Ava.  She jumped off that big rock at the Mill Pond as she was growing up and now watches her own children jump off of it.  Well, Olivia jumps off of it when she is not catching the biggest crawdads you ever saw, and Leo will be big enough to jump off of it in a year or so.  Rita Silverberg is having her birthday on the 17th.  She is reaching the same ripe age as a number of substantial ladies in this area.  Many were the happy hours she shared with friends here while their children were young.  Now her Joby Dorr is off in the wilds of the Pacific North West living an adventurous life, and Rita is in Tucson, Arizona making it a more lovely place.  Ben Cohen will have the charming Ilene sing that birthday song to him on the 22nd.  Together they do a Spike Jones like acapella bagpipe rendition of ….one cannot remember the song for the hilarity of it.  They are teachers and students and excellent examples of a perfect fit.  Happy birthday to you Champions–every one!

        Among the emails in the mail box is another from Ms. Anne Thrope.  She says, “OK, you’re enjoying ‘low’ gas prices now, but think about it.  Do take advantage of two dollar gas, but don’t figure that you’re getting a bargain.  You’re going to pay for it sooner or later at whatever price they stick you with and there won’t be anything you can do about it.  You can fairly well figure it is just a manipulative, nasty ploy by Oli Garkey and his oil producing companies to assert:  # 1.  That on account of ‘fracking’ we’ve got just way lots of oil.  #2.  Gas prices being down, no use investing in any of that funky alternative energy like ‘solar’ and ‘wind.  #3.  Don’t bother buying a car designed to get good gas mileage.  #4.  Figure that oil is good, hence Keystone is good (or will be when they jack the prices back up).  #5.  Some say Saudi Arabia is doing this to drive small American producers out of business, but they (Saudi Arabia, British Petroleum, Shell, hell, all of them) are in cahoots.  For a while it looked like the lower cost of oil was a manipulation to punish Vladimir Putin for his intrusion into Ukraine and a way to punish ISIS for their million-dollar-a-day oil habit, stealing out of wells in war torn areas to finance their heinous nastiness.  Shoot!  If we can have two dollar gas to punish Putin & ISIS, how come we can’t have two dollar gas to benefit hard working Americans?  I’m just saying that things are rarely what they seem, so enjoy it while you can and don’t be surprised when it changes in ways we cannot imagine now.”  Other emails in the box say things like, “Thanks for all the good news from Champion!  You folks sure have a lot going on.  You make everyone want to be a Champion.” 

        Imagine, if you can, The General, in his alter ego, holding hands with Dorothy and skipping down the Yellow Brick Road with the gang headed off to Oz, or ‘himself’ standing at the helm of Aladdin’s magic carpet, wind in his face.  That kind of thing is what he has been up to this week according to Ms. Coolforests.  His whole existence has become like a dream.  ‘Euneirophrenia’ is a noun that represents the peace of mind that comes from having pleasant dreams.  Though it takes some time to figure out the pronunciation (you-knee-row-frenia), it will be a handy word to use in a sentence around the old wood stove at the Recreation of the Historic Emporium.  Come and join the holiday fun over on the North Side of the Square on the wooly, wide and wild banks of Old Fox Creek.  Sing, “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the ones I used to know.  Where the tree tops glisten and children listen to hear sleigh bells in the snow.”  Then you can say, “We sure do have a lot of nice euneirophrenia in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!”


December 8, 2014

December 8, 2014

CHAMPION—December 8, 2014

        The population of Champion was increased on Tuesday, December 2nd, with the birth of Luxe McKenzie Krider.  Her big sister Taegan, her parents, grandparents and all her cousins, aunts and uncles are delighted with a new addition to the family.  Champion is improved.  To paraphrase, “Welcome to our world.  We’re so glad you come on in.”

        The General, in his alter ego as Robert Hood, has made the cover of Time Magazine.  Acclaimed journalist and restaurateur, R. Quiet Timber, has documented lavishly for the internet, the heretofore unknown exploits of this dynamic individual who played back up behind Hank Williams, rode the Apollo 13 rocket to the moon, chatted up the Dali Lama and the Pope, hobnobbed with Queen Elizabeth II and FDR, applied diplomacy to Vladimir Putin and Kim Jon Un, taught George Clooney how to ride a bicycle, advised the Supreme Court, and currently unofficially officiates at the Thursday night Bluegrass Pot Luck and Jam Session under the bright lights of Old Vanzant.  Get out your fiddle and rosin up your bow!  The fun starts at 6:00 with supper and then music!

Workers from Southern Construction have been clearing the electric right-of-way for the White River Electric Co-op in Downtown Champion.

        Once again, Aaron L. Hawkins and the nice folks at Hawkins Home and Lawn are donating a new washer and dryer to a home in need during the giving season.  They are a generous outfit and have always been kind and supportive to the Skyline Volunteer Fire Department and other worthwhile organizations all around the area.  Marjorie Carter over there at the Downtown Pawn is a regular reader of The Champion News and also a regular supporter of the Skyline VFD.  Located midway between Ava and Mountain Grove, the VFD and the Skyline R2 School get good support from both directions.  It is a luxury to live in a part of the world where the community supports local merchants and the merchants support the community.  The White River Electric Co-operative is also part of that good reciprocal alliance.  Those fellows from Southern Construction have been busy cleaning up the right-of-ways (rights-of-way) for the White River electric lines with a bunch of big heavy equipment and a lot of hard working men.  This is a good time of the year to do this kind of work.  The leaves are down for the most part and the county brush hog has already been down the road chewing things up (in a good way) so that the initial mutilations of the landscape are not as unnerving as they might otherwise be.  Champions are alert to the possibility of a little blinking of the power while the dangerous work goes on.  There are quite a few folks around who remember when the first electric lines came to this part of the country way back when.  It might be interesting to see how well some young folks could navigate off the grid.  It would take some adjustment.  Brother Dave Gardner said, “If it weren’t for Thomas Edison, we’d all be sitting around watching television by candlelight.”

        A wise, wild and wonderful woman who does not celebrate birthdays and shall remain nameless has her birthday on December 10th.  Her friend and The Champion News salute her for her positive resilience, her persistence, her creativity and her steadfastness, tenacity and grit.  Eva Coyote (Kai) Parsons celebrates her special day on the 11th.  She lives out in Portland, Oregon with Sierra and Bailey, whose grandparents are homesteaders over on the west side of Ava.  There are a slew of lawyers, barristers, counselors, advocates, defenders, prosecutors and magistrates who share birthdays on the 10th or the 11th…notable folks on opposite and similar sides…all very what you call ‘civil.’  Things are getting pretty exciting for the young folks at Skyline R2 School as they endeavor to add their names to the seasonal “nice” list.  Devin Burdette and Tevin Burdette are in the first and second grades there and their birthdays are on 12-12.   The next day is written on the calendar 12-13-14.  It is the birthday of Richard Green.  As a youth, he served an extended stretch of time in Viet Nam in what was known as The Brown River Navy.  An article from the September, 1969, issue of “Stars and Stripes” says, “Nearly any day will find the three-year veteran of Navy service somewhere along the 25 miles of the meandering Vam Co Dong, 25 miles west of Saigon, which his division covers with visual recon missions, blocking stations, troop lifts and the like.  It is a job that has taken Green through more than 25 fire fights.  A job he says is often “boring as hell except for brief stretches when it is more exciting than anyone cares for.”  The anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor has Veterans much in the thoughts of Champions.  Men and women serving in uniform in dangerous places around the world and those who have served have Love and Gratitude due them from a Grateful Nation.

        Our favorite Dr. Schmeckle, while trading affectionate jibes with, Mr. Chide, happened to let loose of a piece of interesting information about the only time in history when the continental United States suffered an aerial bombardment in wartime.  It happened on September 9, 1942, on Mount Emily, near Brookings, Oregon, when a Japanese floatplane, piloted by Nobuo Fujita, launched from a submarine, was loaded with incendiary bombs and sent to start massive fires in the dense forests of the Pacific Northwest.  The attack caused only minor damage.  Dr. Schmeckle says they did not account for the annual rainfall in their target area.  Fujita came back to Brookings in 1962, and presented the town with his family’s 400-year-old samurai sword in friendship.  Seventy-three years later Pearl Harbor is still a tender spot for both sides.  Dr. Schmeckle lived in Japan for a number of years and can attest to the sincerity of the Fujita apology.  Thanks for the insight, Doc.

        The Skyline Archery Team competed in a tournament in Rogersville on Saturday against some big schools from Arkansas and Missouri.  Lannie Hinote says, “Congratulations to Cheyenne for placing 3rd, Dylan for placing 4th, and Morgan for placing 5th, and Levi for placing 8th, and super proud of the entire team for placing 4th over-all against some really tough competition.”  Champions all!

        Instead of enjoying the sweet story of “It’s a Wonderful Life” on T.V. Saturday night of how Clarence got his wings, and how George Bailey gets a second chance to live and learns that Bedford Falls was much the better place for his having lived there, Ms. Anne Thrope writes in to The Champion News to say, “Potter did not give back the $8,000.00!  It is emblematic of everything that is messed up in the country today.  The government has been loaning money to the big national banks at less than one percent interest with the intention that the banks will lend money to people who will spend it in order to stimulate the economy.  Instead, the banks have been buying treasury notes from the government that pay more than one percent and pocketing the difference while executives are enjoying bigger bonuses than ever.  It is as crooked as it gets, there is no oversight, and that is why the economy is being so slow to recover.  It’s just crazy.”  This lady may have been raised a pessimisterian, but she makes her point.

        Wednesday found the same rowdy crowd around the old wood stove in the Recreation of the Historic Emporium over on the North Side of the Square.  Philosophy, history, local genealogy, jokes, recipes, tall tales and pertinent observations were bandied about.  Come down to the woolier than ever banks of Old Fox Creek and do some bandying of your own.  Share your thoughts about anything in person or at  If you have a voice like Jim Reeves, you can sing “Welcome to my world.  Won’t you come on in?  Miracles, I guess, still happen now and then”…in Champion!  Looking on the Bright Side!


December 1, 2014

December 1, 2014

CHAMPION—December 1, 2014

        Champions have pushed themselves back from the table, draped their arms across their protruding bread baskets and smiled contented smiles that speak to more than the deliciousness of the food so lovingly prepared in all its bounty.  Family and friends shared their appreciation of each other with their histories, triumphs and failures, daydreams, plans, misconceptions, surprise revelations, games, laughter and music.  Those missing from the table, recently and long-gone, were honored with remembrance and those things that call for gratitude were called up again and again.  Follow that with a few days in a row of beautiful weather perfect for a walk in the woods or some chores in preparation for colder days ahead and that is a Champion Thanksgiving.

        The internet has been full to bursting with fine filial feeling for family and friends and photos to prove it.  Everyone is smiling and that takes the edge off the anxiety of the news of an ever more tumultuous and contentious outside world fraught with danger and uncertainty.  More and more Champions find themselves grateful for their relative isolation.  Hard work helps.  Harley is home for a few days doing some work on the place, replacing a water line.  It is good to see him around the Square.  His singing voice has changed from tenor/alto to a very competent bass, but he is still singing.  He hopes he will climb back up the scale in tone and volume and his friends always hope he gets just what he wants.  This waterline he is working on is on the place where Clifford and Esther Wrinkles lived for many years.  Larry Wrinkles grew up right there across the road from Henson’s Grocery and Gas.  He and Harley and Don (Punk) Hicks were a dynamic acapella trio.  Arthur Porter, their teacher, took them all over this part of the country to sing.  The blending of their voices was said to have been inspired.  They could bring tears with their harmonies.  Harley is home fixing the water line, Punk is presumably wandering around out West somewhere, and Larry is struggling with ill health and currently in Mercy Hospital in Springfield.  He has the prayers and good thoughts of all his Champion friends, hoping for a good and speedy recovery.

        J.C. Owsley writes that this year’s contribution to The Champion News “is given in memory of my professor, academic advisor, and friend Dr. Ralph C. Dobbs, who had deep ties to Fox Creek.”  Cathie Alsup Reilly contributes for Cletis Upshaw.  Owsley, Dobbs, Reilly, Upshaw, Wrinkles, Hicks, Porter, Krider, Hutchison, Johnston, Brixey, Coonts, Smith, Southerland and more, plus a whole passel of newcomers (grandparents not born here) contribute to the charming make up of “The Bright Side.”  Other neighborhoods have their supporters.  The General of Vanzant just posted a picture of the Denlow School Graduates of 1947-1948.  There are some fine looking folks there.  The General is not pictured.

        Special people have birthdays.  The generous and charming Bobette Spivey has hers on December 5th and Ed Bell, multitalented rock and roll cowboy, on the 6th.   Skyline School’s smiling bus maintenance man, Paul Boyd, enjoys the 7th.  The fun loving, multifaceted Chris Tharp celebrates on December 8th.  Richard Johnston, grandfather of Madelyn and Shelby Ward, will observe his birthday on December 9th, as will Skyline nurse/clerk, Mrs. Karen.  Together with Mrs. Karen, the Douglas County Health Department continues the blood pressure screening there at the school on the first Tuesday of each month.  It sets a good example for the children to see people taking an active part in maintaining their own good health.  Angela Souder, the DCHD nurse who visits Champion at the Restoration of the Historic Emporium on the last Tuesday of each month, was credited for probably having saved the life of an old Champion recently. “You need to see your doctor as soon as possible,” she said.  It was a good call.  In addition to blood pressure checks, body mass index readings, and lung age analysis, she plans to make a blood sugar test available every three months.  It is a significant service to the community and Angela reports that the number of people taking advantage of the opportunity is steadily increasing.  Champion!

        Champions are looking for that ad in the paper from Shelter Insurance that will mark the arrival of the planting guide that is so specialized for this area.  Plans are to incorporate it into Linda’s regular monthly almanac on the website, which is currently a combination of Blum’s Farmer’s and Planter’s Almanac and Ramon’s Brownie Calendar.  Perhaps next year it will be called Linda and Rick’s Almanac, since Rick DeGraffenreid with the Shelter folks, will help to make it happen.  Click on the link at the top of the page that says “Linda’s Almanac” and find that “This is the month to rest up for busier times ahead and to make plans for the year’s operations.  Draw out a plan for your garden, order catalogues and select varieties.  Get your equipment in shape.  As days permit, clean up your garden area.  Spread manure and phosphate aids such as bone meal, wood ashes and fish wastes on garden areas, even on top of the snow.  Start onion seeds indoors late this month.  Keep bird feeders filled with seeds, bread crumbs and related foods.  For something bright, try forcing into bloom cuttings from flowering wood plants such as forsythia, flowering quince and crabapple.  Bring inside and place in water.”  Not everyone is wise to the virtue of planting by the signs.  Decrying the practice as “pure hokum,” a recent Champion guest, Professor Hiram P. Schmeckle, was impressed by the clean country air and fascinated by the nocturnal activities of the creatures inhabiting the creek near where he was staying, but otherwise a skeptic.  He is a city slicker, moreover a most stylistically promiscuous ambassador of all city slickery, and while he is an excellent cook, he is a relative neophyte when it comes to country living.  Dr. Schmeckle and Mr. Chide (Snide) spent many hours wrangling husbandry (animal, plant and female), history, philosophy, and about anything that did not include music.  On that they agree and found much good and pleasant to share.

        The broad and bonnie banks of Old Fox Creek are the setting for one of the world’s truly beautiful places.  The Recreation of the historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square, the little church nestled under the ancient walnut trees, the meeting of country lanes at the foot of lovely wooded hills all combine to define tranquility.  Bring your own definition and share it around the old wood stove that has warmed the spot for generations.  If there is a song that makes you feel warm when you are cold, please share it at or TCN, Rt. 72, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  “I really can’t stay.”  “Baby, it’s cold outside.”  “I’ve got to go away.” “Baby, it’s cold outside” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!