November 30, 2015

November 30, 2015

CHAMPION—November 30, 2015

The ceremonial sumptuous annual feasts of gratitude and great fellowship of family and friends has been accomplished again for another year.  The everyday wonderful food and precious fellowship will go on as it does day in and day out all year long over here on the Bright Side.

Thanksgiving preempted the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam last week.  As the weekly session resumes this Thursday, it will be much changed by the absence of Norris Woods.  His sudden passing is a loss for the whole community.  The last jam before Thanksgiving was a lovely one.  The room was full to capacity with many musicians, elbow to elbow in a great circle—fifteen or more of them—with Norris and his easy smile beaming out over the whole room.  The music was sublime.  If there had to be a last one for this good-natured gentleman, this one was ideal.  It is sweet and sad.  This time of year, when it gets dark so early, by six o’clock on Thursdays, when the pot luck supper is about on the table, the Vanzant Community Building is lit up in a glittering invitation that can be seen from a distance; up several roads, across open fields, doubtlessly from space, and surely from heaven.  Bring a dish.  Bring your instruments and your fine voice.  Or just bring your love of music and appreciation of this lovely community.  Champion has the best neighbors.  The Champion News has a facebook page and on it is a video made by the Midwest Bluegrass Directory.  It is nine minutes of a jam that occurred on July 26, 2013.  See the man with the banjo and the smile.

Ms. Helen Batten, the secretary at Skyline R2 School, kindly shares the birthdays of the Skyline students and staff with The Champion News.  December starts off with Michael Hall, a prekindergarten student, and his birthday on the 5th.  Paul Boyd keeps the school running as the maintenance man and has his birthday on the 7th.  Ms. Karen, Skyline’s Nurse, celebrates on the 9th.  Other people celebrating these days include inveterate peacenik, Bobette Spivey, whose birthday is on the 5th.  She is Hanna’s grandmother and Hanna shot her first deer this year.  Her grandparents are grinning about it, because Hanna loves deer meat.  Biblical scholar, Ed Bell, who herds cattle, builds houses and plays music, celebrates on the 6th, as does an award winning film maker, Zak Godshall, who teaches film at Louisiana State University and keeps close company with a stunning bright star of a Champion great niece.  Chris Tharp, an innovative artist, philosopher, builder and great cook, has his day on the 8th.  Richard Johnston, who grew up over on Fox Creek and successfully wooed one of the Upshaw sisters, started celebrating the 9th of December as his birthday in 1955.  He is a metallurgical specialist and all around nice guy.  The world is full of people—going on seven billion now.  It is a joy to acknowledge the lives of some of the good ones by celebrating their birthdays.  Champions wish you all happy days, you fine folks!

Depending upon where a person looks, he can find anything he wants to hear about anything.  The Champion News has gleaned several uplifting quotes this week.  Tommy Lee Jones said, “Kindness and politeness are not overrated.  They’re underused.”  Gandhi said, “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.”  “Fear does not prevent death, it prevents life,” said Naguib Mahfouz.  Abraham Lincoln said, “America will never be destroyed from the outside.  If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”  That was a simplification of a speech he made titled, “The Perpetuation of our Political Institutions.”  A presidential candidate assassinated in 1968, said, “There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks.  They fear the future, mistrust the present, and invoke the security of a comfortable past, which in fact, never existed.”  He also said, “When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, they (you) also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies.  We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of all.  We must admit in ourselves that our own children’s future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others.  We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled nor enriched by hatred or revenge.”  Nelson Mandela said, “We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.”

Those quotes are helpful in mitigating some of the anxiety perpetuated by fear mongers that suggest that the military leadership is being manipulated to allow fascists regimes to overtake the nation, that our Second Amendment rights are in jeopardy, or any number of other fear laden scenarios manufactured by outfits like “Before It’s News.”  BIN started out to be a citizen journalism outfit; however, sadly it was hijacked by conspiracy theorists and is now an outlet for an ‘unabashedly unhinged’ take on word events and religious prophesy.  They make their money advertising survivalist supplies.  Anyway, it is almost funny that the very folks who are so fearful of the notions of Alinsky’s ‘Rules for Radicals’ have absolutely, perhaps knowingly, embraced them and disseminated them.  Those rules, simply put are:  if people separate themselves into groups that dislike each other and fear each other, then they are more easily manipulated.  The best hope for a good outcome lies in taking action.  Register to vote.  Inform yourself.   Participate in determining your future.  “Let mutual love continue.  Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it,” said Paul to the Hebrews.  Respectfully, these are opinions and suggestions of The Champion News.  Take it for what it is worth.

The Recreation of the Historic Emporium over on the North Side of the Square in Downtown Champion is situated on the broad avenue named Lonnie Krider Memorial Drive.  His birthday was December 4th, and he was another kind man who made great music and loved his neighbors.  The Wednesday meeting last week included some interesting stories, some well-maintained antique firearms for examination, some well received cookies, bandaged knuckles and someone telling Elmer, “You stink!”  That was just because he had managed to soak himself with gasoline at the pump.  He came in anyway and sat down and stunk up the place.  His friends suggested that he go change, that he might get high smelling the gas, that his skin might get burned, that he might catch on fire.  But he sat and visited and had his lunch.  Several hours later, people stopping in were still acutely aware of the odor of gas in the meeting room.  Next Wednesday may tell the tale.  Come down to the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek to tell your tale or tell it to TCN, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or  Here is a tale that Norris told.  “Life is like a mountain railway, with an engineer that’s brave.  We must make this run successful from the cradle to the grave.  Heed the curves and watch the tunnels.  Never falter, never fail.  Keep your hands upon the throttle and your eye upon the rail.”  That is good advice for Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!


November 23, 2015

November 23, 2015

CHAMPION—November 23, 2015

The Bright Side from the east…

Over the river and through the woods, Champions are gathering for feasts of Gratitude.  Blessings are being counted, observations made about the year just passed and the one ahead.  Optimism struggles but still is the main sentiment of the season.  Champion!

Reports from over in Salem, Missouri indicate that Dean Brixey had a great birthday on the 18th. Elva Ragland enjoyed her birthday Thursday.  Her friends at the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam sang that song to her.  It was a big crowd and she beamed her sweet smile.  That was the 19th which is also the birthday of Julie January Ring.  The 23rd is the special day for Grandmother Sue at the bottom of the hill.  Sixth grader, Levi Hicks, celebrates on the 25th and Faith Crawford, a third grader, will share her birthday on the 26th with Lannie Hinote, up in Alaska.  Lannie posted a solid white picture on the internet the other day and said, “On the Yukon River–next week I plan to cross the entire river.  Seven degree weather should assure it is frozen enough.”  She is having fun.  Meanwhile, back at Skyline, first grade student, Billy Strong, has his birthday on the 29th and fifth grader, Jhonn Rhodes celebrates on the 30th along with second grader Lane Watkins.  Thanksgiving will make these celebrations extra special!

Diane Wilbanks has extra turnips which she has magnanimously shared with her Champion friends and the free box of them by the front door of the Historic Emporium is being dipped into by patrons on their way out the door.  It is nice to have a few turnips and very nice not to have too many.  Diane’s favorite way to cook them is to fry them in bacon grease.  When they are just about done, she sprinkles a little brown sugar on them and puts the lid back on for a little while.  Send your favorite turnip recipe to The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or to  Lem and Ned are sure to write in and all the recipes will be included on the website at  At the Wednesday get together, before the turnips arrived on Friday, several of the older gents regaled each other with the antics and attitudes of their various grandchildren.  It is a precious sight to see these wizened and grizzled fellows twinkling and smiling over their stories of the dear children, when so often their talk is of guns, hunting, trucks, chain saws, and axel grease.  Wayne Anderson would have been the gent bragging about great grandchildren.  Linda Clark posts from time to time pictures of the triplets on line.  They are adorable and growing fast.  Champion grandsons, Drayson and Carson Cline, were in the neighborhood over the week end.  It is sure that they keep their Mother busy.  They are growing like weeds.  The swift passage of time rears its head again!

This week is given over to gratitude.  Champions are grateful for family and friends and good neighbors.  We are grateful for all the diverse and interesting paths and circumstances that have allowed us all to live in this beautiful part of the world.  There is gratitude for the wood in the shed, the propane in the tank, the canned goods in the pantry, the deer in the freezer and the dinner on the table.  Appreciation of the good fortune that has made it all possible is what the holiday is about now.  The actual events of the first ‘Thanksgiving’ are long lost from memory and trivialized and sanitized by well-meaning purveyors of history who were creating a celebration for the pride of the Nation.  There may be some documents that describe exactly how it all happened, but what is known for sure is that there were people living over on the East coast when some people from elsewhere came.  They came because it was intolerable to stay where they were and there was hope for a better life in the new world.  It was not without difficulty that the newcomers occupied the land and made it their own.  Those people who were living here already have been given reason to regret their hospitality as the tribes have been decimated and even now their scant remaining lands stay under constant threat from politicians, foreign mining interests, pipelines, and dam projects that benefit others.  Little wonder, so many are so fearful of newcomers.  There appears to be a great deal of money to be made in propagating fear, more than just money—power.  Look to see who is trying to scare you before you become afraid.

Champions’ gratitude extends to their personal good fortune, to the measure of health and opportunity that they have been afforded.  This is not an easy place in the world to make one’s way.  Jobs are scarce.  Food is expensive.  “Use it up and wear it out, make do or do without” is an old saying that has been bandied about lately in casual conversations (by the ladies on Wednesday) and on the internet in the form of a photograph of a finely worked sampler.  It rings true.  If any area of the country knows about living close to the bone, it is the Ozarks.  On the nighttime map of the Earth made from satellites, this area is one of the darkest, meaning least populated.  The lights of St. Louis and Kansas City are dazzling and it is easy to find Springfield, but out there to the east and south it gets pretty dark.  Longtime residents will report that there are lots more porchlights than in years past, but the demographic has changed from a concentration of big farming families to a big scattering of retirees.  Our farming families are still here keeping things going the way they have for generations.  Champions say, “Thank a Farmer!”  A couple of years ago Wayne Anderson was feeling bad about asking his son-in-law to help with the wood.  He was reminded of opportunities he had had, as a younger person, to help some old guy and he agreed that it had made him feel good.  It is hard to accept help when you have always been able to do for yourself.  It is hard to admit we are getting old.  Old people are learning that it is a gift to young people to allow them to lend a hand.  Hardly does a person anywhere in the world feel better than when he is helping a neighbor.  The world is in upheaval and many are unexpectedly finding themselves in need of help.  It is beautiful to see who is unafraid to give comfort.  Often it is those with the least who share the most.  It is an honor to live in a state whose governor will not be pressured by fearful people to deny sanctuary to those in distress.  Gratitude is rife in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

The Bright Side from the west…

November 16, 2015

November 16, 2015

CHAMPION—November 16, 2015

        The time changed. The seasons changed.  Weather is changing.  Much changes in Champion and much stays sweetly the same.  Melancholy comes with some of these changes, with the dripping and the chill.  The Bright Side sometime sighs in order to acknowledge sadness—loss.  It is a given that the older people get, the more people they will have known who have passed on out of this life.  Grief eventually changes to some form of celebration in the memory of the life shared–culminating in a soft smile.  Parisians in the City of Light will find their peace as will the families of the Russian citizens recently killed, and all those in Beirut and Baghdad taken by terrorists.  Earthquakes in Japan and Mexico have shaken those places and illness takes loved ones in every place.  Recent loss or loss from the near or distant past is still loss.  Rose Kennedy who lost three sons—one to war and two to assassination—said, “It has been said ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree.  The wounds remain.  In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens.  But it is never gone.”  Champions find their own ways to resolve their grief and move on eventually to those soft smiles.

        Angela Souder has moved on—just to another assignment with the Douglas County Health Department.  Her replacement in Champion on the last Tuesday of each month is a lovely lady named Rebecca Turcott.  She will be doing blood pressure screenings at Henson’s Grocery and Gas on the North Side of the Square from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. on the 24th.  It will be nice to get acquainted with her and to take advantage of this good service to the community.

        Linda is being honored as the Grand Marshall of the Norwood Christmas Parade.  That will occur on Saturday, the 21st.  Look for the details in the paper.  The town is recognizing her many years of operating a prosperous business in Norwood.  Her granddaughter will be visiting from college in Columbia and Linda hopes she will ride the float with her and toss Mardi Gras beads to the crowd.  It will be a fitting way to say goodbye, though Linda is not going anywhere any time soon—except maybe to a bridge game.  She was the big winner at the Fortnight Bridge game on the last odd day of the century.  It was Friday, 11/13/15.  She walked away with the grand prize money and a bonus for having made a ‘slam’ bid by her Champion partner.  Champion wound up in second place, but with two such bonuses which amounted to a cool three bucks.

        Do deer see orange?  It seems odd to wear all that camouflage and then put on an orange vest and hat.  Scientists studying the configuration of the deer’s eyes figure that they are essentially color blind…at least to red and orange.  Those hats and vest are really to protect hunters from each other.  The camaraderie of the deer camp with the feasting and storytelling sets the scene for a successful hunt.  “Sharing the harvest” is quite a wonderful concept that stirs up all kinds of appreciation and gratitude.  Champions will hope for a safe season for all the hunters.  The Notes from Hunter Creek article had some most interesting information last week about deer behavior and hunter behavior.  The parade of early morning sight seers creeping slowly along the country lanes lets residents know that they are living in a beautiful place.  Henson’s Grocery and Gas opens up at 8:30 and is a swell place to get a hot cup of coffee, a little pecan pie or some cheese and crackers.  Hunters get a Champion welcome.

        On Wednesdays various loafers and some hard-working people, who carve out a spot on their Wednesday calendars, congregate in the meeting room at the Historic Emporium for a gab fest and a show and tell.  Sometimes there are exotic fire arms, odd tools or strange steam contraptions that sit on your wood stove.  It is always most interesting.  E.B. came with two beautiful roosters in cages last week.  He intended to give them away to a certain fellow, but the fellow had not shown up.  Ethel and Deward’s granddaughter, Jeannie, stepped out to get a good look at the birds when along came another Champion joining them in their inquisitiveness.  Each of the birds was in a small cage in the back of the little Kabuto machine.  The recent arrival pulled out her camera and snapped a couple of pictures of the bright plumage.  She stepped back to get a picture of her friends with the birds, but each of her friends stepped back at the same instant, and then another step backwards and another.  It was a funny moment.  Some who attend these meetings from time to time hope that the ‘show and tell’ might include some unusual or interesting musical instruments.  Perhaps General Tin Knocker will show up with his cello made from a tin can.  (It takes a washtub to make a bass fiddle.)  There are pictures of him playing his homemade instrument with some musicians at the Skyline Picnic in August of 2009.  Go to and look in the right hand column under Champion Neighbors to see ‘Generally Speaking’ and there will be the pictures to delight your curiosity.  He makes the coffee at Vanzant on Thursday evenings for the Bluegrass Jam which is probably how that banjo player can pick so fast.  This Thursday will be the 19th and that is Elva Ragland’s birthday.  She frequently comes to the jam, so she will be having an especially good time as her friends wish her a happy day and many more.

        A study has recently shown that emotions can harm your body.  It says anger weakens your liver; grief weakens your lungs; worry weakens your stomach; stress weakens your heart and brain; fear weakens your kidneys.  Love, however, brings in peace and harmony and strengthens your mind and body.  Laughter reduces stress.  Smiles spread happiness.  Spread some of your happiness around down on the wild, wide, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek.  Enjoy the vista of the single sentinel of a Bee Tree over on the South Side of the Square.  Dreary weather, distressing world events, and personal loss may have us all in the mood for the comfort of an old sad song.  One of the sweetest of these is The Mom and Dad Waltz.  “I’d walk for miles, cry or smile for my Mommy and Daddy.  I want them to know I love them so.  In my heart joy tears start because I’m happy” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


November 9, 2015

November 9, 2015

CHAMPION—November 9, 2015

A Champion Fall

        It is timely to have the dust washed out of rain gauges and a definitive frost that says, at last, the seasons have changed.  Nature alters familiar scenes suddenly sometimes to make them appear new, as if being seen for the first time.  Autumn colors fade fast.  Brilliance, in its scarcity, is all the more visible.  Champion is indeed a colorful place, if mostly bronze, brown and beige now against the evergreens but just for a while.  Stars are showing up in bedroom windows again, and big nests in high trees are becoming noticeable as are many homes, now revealed after their summer seclusion.

        “They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old; Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.  At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them.”  Veterans’ Day is dedicated to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice at the behest of their country.  In America it is officially celebrated on the 11th, but the Love and Gratitude due all those who have served and those who serve still is a year round debt.

        Backyard Bluegrass gleaned hearty applause and multiple Facebook ‘likes’ as a result of their performance at the Eastern Douglas County chili supper and auction on Saturday night.  It was an affair initiated by the Missouri Department of Conservation to honor the fire district for having achieved “Firewise Communities USA” status.  The food was good—heartburn chili at its best and Steve Moody’s pulled pork, plus membership supplied deserts.  Music is a solid tie for the great sense of community that frequently shows up at the Vanzant Community Building—particularly this music.  Esther Wrinkles would have loved it.  She was a big fan of D.J. from the time he was very young and of all things bluegrass.  Myrtle Harris was there Saturday night.  She loves the music and, just as Esther did, claims to have the greatest neighbors in the world.  Congratulations to the firefighters for their accolades and to the people of eastern Douglas county for such essential support for a vital organization.

        Foster and Kalyssa spent Sunday with their grandparents Wayne and Bernice Wiseman.  Wayne just had his 82nd birthday on Saturday.  With those grandchildren around he is sure to have had a great day.  Chuck Barns, Linda’s dad, is remembered on his birthday, November 11th.  Sherman Hall is an eighth grade student at Skyline with a birthday on the 12th.  Madelyn Vivod is a kindergarten student there.  She shares her birthday on the 13th with the dazzling Jill Sterling of Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Rich Heffern, a Champion living in Waldo, has his birthday on the 15th and forth grader, Raven Hull, celebrates on the 16th.  Kindergarten student, Caleb Barker, will be partying on the 17th.  He has grandparents who know how to have fun at a kindergarten party.

        Up in Mountain Village, Alaska on the banks of the Yukon River Lannie Hinote is experiencing the aurora borealis and snow over ice that makes the four-wheeler a challenge.  Soon there will be enough show for the snowmobiles to operate and life will be moving along a little faster for her.  What an adventure she is having and how generous she is to share it with us in the lower 48.

Cody Alan Humphries

        The Wednesday meeting at the Historic Emporium was a pleasant one.  Bob was congratulated on his birthday and Ethel, referring to Elmer’s story last week, remarked that there is a colony of white squirrels up around Marionville.  The National Geographic did a piece on them a few years ago.  It seems that they were already in the country when it was first being settled by immigrants before the Civil War.  At the time the article was written, there were about three hundred white squirrels living in the area.  Marionville traffic laws give them the right of way.  They have black eyes and are part of the Eastern gray squirrel family, just white.  There is a colony on the grounds of the Texas Capital and in other places around the country.  National Geographic was recently purchased by Rupert Murdock.  Champions will hope for the best and will look forward to being featured again someday in a new release of “America’s Hidden Corners.”  Meanwhile, some of the discussion included alter egos of country music singers.  Ferlin Husky was known as Tex Terry, Terry Preston and as Simon Crum when he comically impersonated other singers of the day.  Hank Williams Sr. recorded frequently as Luke the Drifter.  Hank Wilson, country singer, was known more widely as rock and roller Leon Russel.  Elmer Banks talked about his grandson, Cody Alan Humphries, who passed away recently over in Tennessee.  He was only twenty-five years old and for the past ten years had been battling a serious illness resulting from a bone marrow transplant.  He was brave and uncomplaining through his struggles.  Elmer said that he learned a great deal about the young man at his memorial.  His short life had been full of service to others in many ways.  A math whiz, he volunteered in the math lab at Volunteer State Community College where he tutored and encouraged numerous other students.  He loved music and is said to have always found the good in people—the kind of person that makes others glad they knew him. He sounds like a real Champion.

        Chris Hays says, “Here is a cardinal rule in American politics, one that we ignore all the time:  Do not elect people to run a government who demonstrate a fundamental contempt for what government does.”  Another guy, John Fugelsang, said, “America—where some Americans love America so much they’ll hate other Americans for not loving America in the exact same way.”  In some places Veterans have a hard time voting because their VA identification is not deemed sufficient.  In some places women are having a hard time voting because the name on their birth certificate does not match the name on their voter registration because they have married and taken their husband’s name.  In both cases, it takes trips to the court house and money to get it straightened out and that is a “poll tax” if ever there was one.  Anyone who conspires to deter any eligible voter from voting is an enemy of democracy.

        Friday will be the last odd day this century.  That is to say, the date will be written 11/13/15.  There will not be another odd day on the calendar until 1/3/2105, but chances are few celebrating Friday will be around for the next one.  Come down to the wide, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek on Friday or any day to exhibit your oddness.  Describe it in pros or poetry at or by snail mail to The Champion News, Rt.72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  A very good looking man, an actor, comedian, guitarist, singer, songwriter and wonderfully odd fellow, Ferlin Husky, was born in Flat River, Missouri in 1925.  He wrote, “On the wings of a snow white dove, He sends His pure, sweet love, a sign from above” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


November 2, 2015

November 2, 2015

CHAMPION—November 2, 2015

”….where leaf strewn country lanes meet the shiny pavement”

        A cold, wet Halloween with dense fog gave way to sunshine and mild temperatures for All Saints Day.  It all seems just right in Champion, particularly with such a glorious win by the Kansas City Royals in the World Series Sunday night.  Local rumors say the team was inspired by General Fast Pitch and it is said that radar picked up the spontaneous fireworks displays in Kansas City.

        Mrs. Beeler is the physical education teacher and counselor at Skyline School.  She has her birthday on November 3rd.  Hailey Hall is a fourth grade student at Skyline who celebrates on the 4th.  Bob Leach also celebrates on the 4th.  That will be a Wednesday, so chances are he will be with Ethel, among his friends around one of the tables at the Recreation of the Historic Emporium in downtown Champion that day.  Emerson Rose Ogelsby has her birthday on the 5th.  She has a Champion grandmother and had her picture taken with the First Ripe Tomato in Champion back in 2010, when she was 2 years old.  Mason Solomon is in the second grade.  His birthday is November 7th.  He shares his day with Sharon Upshaw.  Sharon is known as the most patient woman in Eastern Douglas County—maybe in all of Douglas County.  Old Grandfather Weltanschauung—proud grandfather of Seamus, Lizzie and Zack is dallying yet in his late 60’s as of the 8th.  Third grade student, J.D. Borders will celebrate on the 9th.  Some thought growing old would take longer.  Some are not fond of birthdays because they are shy and do not want attention, or because they do not like to be reminded that they are aging or that they never feel that they are adequately appreciated.  Many, however, are quite fond of their own birthdays and those are the ones celebrated here.  Happy days, you Champion people!

An albino squirrel.

        One of the regulars around the tables on Wednesdays in Champion is a certain gentleman who happened to have recently seen a white ground hog.  It was in a roadway and could easily have been run over, but the gentleman, though no fan of groundhogs, thought better of it and concluded that more people would have the chance to see it if it remained alive.  Actually, he thought that he might never see another one.  It was the first one he had ever seen.  That sparked a story by Elmer Banks.  Elmer and his friend, the late Larry Casey, were out together one day when they saw a snow white squirrel.  Larry said he ought to kill it.  Elmer asked, “Why?” Larry said that when you tell people you saw such a thing they never believe you.  Elmer talked him out of killing it and they went on.  Some while afterwards they were together at Plummers Junction back when the café was still open.  Larry was talking to friends, telling them about having seen this albino squirrel.  When there was doubt about the truth of the story, Larry said, “Ask Elmer.  He saw it too.”  Elmer said, “I didn’t see anything like that.”  Elmer said that Larry was so mad at him that he was not sure he would have a ride home.  The humor of the situation temporarily escaped Larry.  He was a winner of the First Ripe Tomato in Champion Contest back in 2009, and also brought to some in the community the appreciation of the purple hulled pea.

        Lannie Hinote is enjoying her new life in Alaska.  She lives down on the delta of the Yukon River just before it flows into the Bering Sea.  She says it will not be long until the river is completely frozen and they will be able to travel across it.  It looks like she has fallen into a nice bunch of people in her new situation and those people have had a Champion fall in among them.

        Foster is taking mandolin lessons.  He has just had one lesson and already knows two songs.  He is excited to be learning and looks forward to getting together with his banjo playing cousin, Dylan Watts, one of these days.  His great uncle Fast Pitch, a self-taught guitar player, was pleased to hear that Foster has taken up an instrument.  Kalyssa thinks she will be a fiddler.  She has a favorite cousin who plays the fiddle.  There is a family bluegrass band right there!  They may well be featured at the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam one day.  It happens every Thursday at the Vanzant Community Building, with a pot-luck dinner at 6:30 and then the music.  Bring your sweet potato pie and your ax and sit in.  They will let just about anybody play and it is a sweet thing to be welcomed by such a talented and generous group of people.  Norris Woods is one of the anchors of the weekly get-together.  He said that he has been reading The Champion News for years and has never seen his name once.  He must have not read it on January 12, 2015, or March 3, 2014, or August 12, 2013, or May 25, 2013, or February 18, 2013, or March 1, 2010, or September 28, 2009.  There are more references to the smiling banjo man.  Look in the search box below the archives at and see that it is true.  Those archives go back to 2006.

        Karry Davis, Douglas County Clerk, kindly mailed out new Voter Identification Cards to Champions and to the other residence of Douglas County.  While there is nothing on the ballot to decide this November, important votes will be coming up and participating in the process is the only way to improve it.  An ornery provocateur from the county to the south has said on more than one occasion, “This country has went downhill ever since they gave women the vote.”  Of course, he is only saying that to pick a fight because he is scrappy and fractious by nature.  Women were not ‘given’ the right to vote.  They fought for it—a bloody, brutal, long-lasting fight.  It is a hard won privilege—a right.  Next Wednesday will be Veterans’ Day.  At the same time some politicians are bragging about their concern for the families of Veterans, they are legislating against programs that could go a measure toward meeting the promises made when the brave young people enlisted.  Read, think, and talk to friends and to people you do not know as a way to inform yourself and then cast your precious ballot every chance you get.

        Come enjoy these perfect days out on the spacious veranda at the Restoration of the Historic Emporium nestled snugly at the bottom of several autumn painted hills where leaf strewn country lanes meet the shiny pavement on the broad bonnie banks of Auld Fox Creek under the wise gaze of the Behemoth Bee Tree.  Gaze on the upward path of Lonnie Krider Memorial Avenue and hear the Battle Hymn of the Republic resounding, “His truth goes marching in!” in Champion –Looking on the Bright Side!