June 27, 2016

June 27, 2016

CHAMPION—June 27, 2016

The Bee Tree, Valentine’s Day 2015

The Bee Tree, June 27th 2016

        Sunday afternoon an old Champion, headed to the Village, approached the slab over Clever Creek and observed that there was a couple standing in the creek.  The woman was giving the man a haircut standing there in the cold water.  Their car was parked on the edge of the road and there was plenty of room to get around them, but about that time a full grown skunk came running down the road toward the creek.  The couple did not see the skunk and the Champion was so excited that she kept adjusting her side mirror rather than opening her window.  By the time she had her window down in order to alert the couple to the presence of the skunk, the critter had headed off into the brush on the south east side of the creek.  It unusual to see a skunk out in the daylight and, while it is advisable to avoid a skunk any time you can, particularly do so if it is behaving in any odd way such as staggering or being aggressive.  Skunks are susceptible to rabies.  Alert the Conservation Department, the sheriff or the Douglas County Health department if you see a skunk that you think might be rabid.

        Nanette Hirsch is the Douglas County Health Department nurse who comes to Champion on the last Tuesday of each month to do blood pressure checks and other health screening.  She is also at the Skyline School on the first Tuesday of each month from 8:30 to 10:30.  That will be Tuesday, July 5th for local residents who wish to take advantage of this real service to the community.  Lives have been saved.

        The Behemoth Bee Tree over on the South Side of the Square is beginning to look like it will survive.  This is its second summer after the February, 2015 pruning that rendered it a 35 foot tall stump.  The bee inhabitants seem to be thriving and hopes are that the little green brush pile at the top of the stump will flourish.  It will be some time before it provides the shade again for the Champion School Reunion.  “Champion School Memories” was published by a Prominent Champion back in 1985.  From the chapter on school history, “The school tax levy during the 1890s was usually around forty cents per one hundred dollar valuation.  The total assessed valuation of taxable property in the district in 1892 was $9,124.00.  The total taxes on one hundred sixty acres would be about two dollars.”  The Champion School was consolidated with other area schools back in the mid-1950s into the Skyline R2 School.  An effort to raise the current tax levy by $0.48 will be on the ballot in the August 2nd election.  That will bring the total levy per hundred dollar valuation up to $3.43 which is the magic number that will make our wonderful rural school eligible for matching funds from the State of Missouri, while still being the lowest tax levy in the State.  Enrollment has decreased in recent years, but the cost of operating the school has not reduced.  “School days, school days, good old golden rule days!  Reading and writing and rithmetic taught to the tune of the hickory stick.”  Those nostalgic sentiments could well be translated into support.  SOS!  Save Our School!  Skyline bus driver, Paul Kennedy has a birthday on July 7th.  Seventh grader Patrick Vincent will celebrate on the 3rd.  Then the whole Nation will celebrate on the 4th.  There will be bar-b-que, fireworks, watermelons and creeks full of people having a good time.  Huzza!  America!

        Champion gardens are looking good, particularly after a good rain.  That is when, according to some, the weeds just want to jump up into your hands.  Champion the Wonder Horse was a Tennessee walking horse and the on-screen companion of singing cowboy, Gene Autry, in 79 films between 1935 and 1952.  The horse lived to be 47 years old.  One of the Wednesday sages brought a replica of his famous pistol bridal for community inspection.  It is a shiny silver thing and sparked recollections of the singing cowboy.  “I’m back in the saddle again, out where a friend is a friend!”  That was his theme song.  Dave, sometimes referred to as Jim or Bob, over at the Thursday Vanzant jam was struggling for words to that song the other night.  Perhaps he will have it worked up for the next jam.  He likes Gene Autry better than Roy Rogers, and endeavors to adhere to Autry’s “Cowboy Code” which said, “He must not take unfair advantage of an enemy.  He must never go back on his word.  He must always tell the truth.  He must be gentle with children, the elderly and animals.  He must not possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas.  He must help people in distress.  He must be a good worker.  He must respect women, parents and his nation’s laws.  He must neither drink nor smoke.  He must be a patriot.”  The Cowboy Code could be applied to current times, particularly relating to politics and world conditions, with good effect—a Champion code.

        The swift passage of time is on the minds of some Champions reminding them that the year is half gone and soon it will be Christmas again.  “It’s a Wonderful Life” is one of those Christmas movies that have scenes that are poignant any time of the year.  Some of the life lessons that can be gleaned from this nostalgic 1946 film are:  Your life has purpose.  Keeping up with the Joneses is for saps.  Bad guys do not always get punished.  Do not hire someone just because he is family.  Appreciate how blessed you already are.  Marry the right person.  Deliver a good toast:  “Bread, that this house may never know hunger.  Salt, that life may always have flavor.  And wine, that joy and prosperity may reign forever.”  Recently a scene from the movie was played out in real life.  George Bailey shook hands with Mr. Potter and then recoiled, wiping his hand off on his coat in revulsion as if to erase the event.  Anyone can have a momentary lapse in judgement.  “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,” said Robert Kennedy.  These old movies seem to reinforce that image.  Champions prove that the past can be venerated, fictional or not, even as they strive toward making the present better for themselves and for future generations.  Come down to the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek for a vision of the Behemoth Bee Tree and for a progressive breath of fresh air in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


June 20, 2016

June 20, 2016

CHAMPION—June 20, 2016

Cold Springs Road with flowers on either side

        Summer is in full swing in Champion, having arrived well in advance of the designated calendar date.  The Summer Solstice, decorated with the full Strawberry Moon, makes for exciting days for Champions who still pay attention to those things.  Father’s Day came with phone calls, cards, e-mail and facebook greetings, bar-b-que and funny gifts.  “And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon.  Little boy blue and the man on the moon.”  The lyrics from a song by Harry Chapin tell the story of a busy father with little time for his son and the son who grew up to have little time for his father.  It is a sad song that, fortunately, rarely applies to our Champion fathers.  Those fortunate enough to have fathers living yet have good examples of hard work, dedication, good habits and humor.  Remembering the old guy while he is still around is a gift for both father and child.  Fathers gone a long time or just recently departed are held close in memory for the good times–Champions.

        Jenna and Jacob Brixey are having good times.  They went to three fairs this year with nine calves, winning lots of blue ribbons.  Jacob won Grand Champion bull calf at the Wright County Junior Fair and Jenna was Grand Champion heifer calf.  Jacob thought it was the coolest thing to sleep on a cot under the stars.  Photographs provided by their Mother show Jenna and Jacob resting, if not sleeping, on the calves—great scrapbook pictures.

Jenna and Jacob at the Fair

        Up in Chicago, a baby named Waylon Stanley was born on the birthday of his great Uncle Josh on the 19th.  Congratulations all around, dear Rachael!  Linda K. Watts and Sierra Parsons share their birthdays with the Summer Solstice on the 21st.  The 22nd is a day to recognize two dynamic ladies–Elizabeth Warren and Cinita Brown.  Skyline 8th grade student, Alyssa Strong, celebrates on the 23rd and kindergarten student, Easton Shannon, on the 24th.  The 25th will find Johnny Rainbow, Wapaho Dude, partying in bear country and Sherry Bennet having a musical celebration.  Esther Wrinkles would have celebrated on the 28th.  She is a much missed member of the Skyline VFD and good friend.  The 29th belongs to Eva Powell.  She made a Sunday trip back to Champion for the first time since she moved up to Marshfield.  It was a joy to see her.  (Mrs. Eva Powell, Marshfield Care Center D-2, 800 South White Oak St., Marshfield, MO 65706).  Radio personality and country gentleman, Butch Kara, also celebrates on the 29th.  He probably celebrates all the time.  Happy Birthday to all of you June bugs and Champions.

        Betty and Dale Thomas were once again the first ones in the door at the Second Skyline VFD Fish Fry.  Dale says, “Get it done and go home.”  Betty says he always likes to be early.  It is a family dynamic.  There was a slow but steady stream of stalwart regular supporters of the little rural volunteer fire department.  Keith and Sue Yeager, up from Texas with family and friends, were some of the last to arrive and seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves.  It was a great meal and a good time for friends and neighbors to sit and visit.  One of the topics of conversation was the school tax levy that will come up on the August 2nd ballot.  There are a few folks who say they are all for the children, but do not want to vote for the levy without knowing exactly how the money will be spent.  School board members say it will go into the general fund.  The State does not fully fund the school and with its reduced enrollment over the past ten years there is a shortfall in funding.  Superintendent Curtis says that once the budget is balanced they can address pressing needs.  Maintenance on aging school busses amounted to $15,000.00 last year.  Safety and security updates, technology, chairs and desks are all priorities as well as being able to split class rooms so that two grades will not have to share the same teacher.  Not everyone has a child in school, but everyone benefits from an educated population.  Skyline is the smallest school in the county and it has been serving the area beautifully since the mid-1950s.  This small tax levy will only affect people in the school district and may well make the difference in the survivability of the school.  School is so often the very heart of a community.  Bless our heart.

        The longest day of the year and a full moon, with all that entails, brought an unexpected visitor knocking at the door looking for a drink of water.  Cookie Miesen-Platz was on a vagabond journey on foot up Cold Springs Road.  She had waded creeks and kept in the middle of the road, through flowers on either hand, hoping to avoid the prodigious poison ivy. She does not believe in drinking out of plastic bottles and has a beef with the Nestle Company over essentially stealing water from fragile aquifers here in the US and issues of child slavery in a number of countries in both hemispheres.  She has no reservation about asking personal questions and does not seem to know that in this part of the world politics is seldom discussed among strangers.  She sat on the porch with her glass of water and talked.  “I think nothing as it appears now will be reality when it is all said and done.”  She said that she thought that an arrangement had been made between the Clinton family and Mr. Trump that he would act as a ‘stalking horse’ and then they would just buy him off altogether.  She thinks the Grand Old Party will find a way to relieve itself of him and will then enlist Paul Ryan as the candidate.  He is young, handsome, ‘humble’ and embodies all the hyper-conservative values that scare the daylights out of moderate people–scarier even than Trump “… because,” she says, “by comparison he seems so reasonable.”  She also thinks that Senator Sanders will emerge the victor from the Democratic convention and the ultimate race will be between him and Paul Ryan.  Time will tell if her predictions are right.  Remember, if it turns out that way, you heard it first from The Champion News as told by Cookie Miesen-Platz, a wayfaring stranger.  She left with a fruit jar of water and a plan to turn onto Fox Creek Road and walk all the way to Denlow.  It was not clear where her starting point had been, but she left heads spinning in her wake.

        A sign up in the Vanzant Community Center says there will be no music there on July 7th.  The General explained that the Vanzant Picnic starts the next night so the facility will be in the midst of getting ready.  That is always a sterling event.  It is the first of the local picnics and all the others strive to be that good.  There will be music there on the 23rd and the 30th–pot luck at six then music until nine.  There was a little music on the wide veranda of the Historic Emporium last week.  It may happen again.  They will sing, “Keep on the Sunny Side, always on the sunny side, keep on the sunny side of life.  It will help us every day, it will brighten all the way if we keep on the sunny side of life” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


June 13, 2016

June 13, 2016

CHAMPION—June 13, 2016

Champion Skies

        An exciting thunderstorm on Sunday afternoon launched an exciting week ahead.  Champions were on the ball last week accomplishing a great deal of hay making.  They can rest this week amid daily threats of rain while they update, maintain and repair their equipment for the next wonderful hay making opportunity.  They will have a little opportunity to relax, but will be ever vigilant for conditions to be just right again.  It is the very definition of equipoise.  Equipoise–one of those beautiful words that makes a person think of horses, even though it has nothing to do with horses.  It means equilibrium, counterbalance, and the state of being both relaxed and ready.  Champion!

        Buzz Woods just celebrated a birthday.  Good manners prevent asking how old he is, but he can hardly be very old because he has that persistent youthful smile.  He knows he is a lucky man.  Skyline student Zachary Coon has his birthday on the 15th together with Ava’s sterling citizen, Janice Loraine.  Foster Wiseman celebrates on the 16th.  He was splashing in Clever Creek on Friday.  Daniel Parks will be in the 4th grade at Skyline.  His birthday is on the 19th.  Accomplished artist and artisan, Joshua Cohen, also celebrates on the 19h up in Reading, PA.  Tyler Clark was born June 20, 1988.  According to Larry Lorenzoni, “Birthdays are good for you.  Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest.”  So, many happy returns, you Champions!  Gardeners generally live a long time.  They must be old, because you see them out in their gardens all stooped over pulling weeds after a good rain.  They say that is when the weeds almost jump up into their hands.  When you see a beautiful garden, there is generally somebody in it.  The almanac at www.championnews.us says the 17th through the 19th will be poor days for planting, but good days to prune in order to discourage growth.  It is suggested to cut hay or do general farm work.  After that the 20th and 21st will be good days to plant late beets, potatoes, onions and other root crops.  Prune on those days to encourage growth.  Champions are great encouragers of all types of growth.

Clever Creek full of Kriders!

        Regular Wednesday visitors to Champion were treated to a barrage of seldom seen Kriders–Harley and Barbara, Donald and Rita, Vivian Krider Floyd with her son, Larry, and daughter-in-law, Gayla.  Breauna and Luxe were there together with young Chase and his folks, new neighbors in Champion Heights.  It was a nice crowd.  Reba Bishop came with her husband, Don, and that is always pleasant.  Some people would rather not have their picture taken or their name mentioned in the paper for reasons of personal shyness or purposes of evasion.  The General was there with his sister, a Champion Krider.  Larry Dooms, Wes Lambert and others made it a large, interesting gathering full of nostalgia and convivial visiting.  It turns out that Donald Krider is a fiddler.  He plays in a group that entertains at nursing homes and senior centers up in their neighborhood in Illinois.  He likes to tell little jokes between songs like, “Do you know anything about Eskimos?  They are God’s frozen people.”  He is looking forward to playing with Foster on mandolin and Dillon on banjo.  What a musical bunch.

The bright lights of Vanzant were outshown by these smiles.
Thomas being held by Dad, next to Granddad and Mom.

        Six month old Thomas Jarnagin came all the way from Oregon to attend the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam last week.  His folks, Elizabeth and Todd Jarnagin, brought him down to get him acquainted with his Granddad, John Weber.  There was a lot of sweetness going on.  Thomas was wearing his overalls and charming everybody in sight.  He seemed to very much like the music, especially when his Dad took his turn in the musical rotation.  You Are My Sunshine, and King of the Road were a couple of his tunes.  Todd says that he finds himself playing and singing more since Thomas arrived on the scene—always a good sign.

        The Skyline School will be the site of the second Skyline VFD Fish Fry on Saturday.  From 4 to 8 p.m.  They will be serving up fried catfish or chicken tenders with all the fixings.  It is a bargain of a meal and a chance to support the fire department at a time when it can really use some support.  You can meet up with friends and eat in, or take your dinner home.  The excursion out to Skyline from any direction will be a lovely one.  The roadsides are covered with wild flowers of many varieties.  Purple coneflowers are striking to see in mass.  Those nice folks over on Teeter Creek make good medicines out of our native plants.  Echinacea is the coneflower and many are familiar with its support for the immune system.  A tincture of turmeric is proving to be effective as an anti-inflammatory.  Look up www.teetercreekherbs.com to find out more about the useful plants of our glorious Ozarks.  Meanwhile, neighbors from Teeter Creek are joining with friends and family of Josh Bradley up in Springfield for a fund raising benefit to help Josh with the enormous expenses connected with fighting malignant melanoma.  He starts his treatment this week.  Hopefully the benefit will have been a great success, but for those who could not attend and would like to help, an account has been set up at the Town and Country Bank in Ava in the name of Josh Bradley or Trish Davis to accept donations.  Josh is a young family man—a husband, a father, a son.  Neighbors helping neighbors is precious activity.

        Tragic events over the week end have many families impacted and many hearts broken over the loss of loved ones and over loss of a feeling of safety and security.  The best and worst of American spirit and attitudes will doubtlessly be on display.  Noam Chomsky says, “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”  The inevitable spewing forth of hate and bigotry borne of fear and ignorance will wash through the media and across the pages of our newspapers even in, or perhaps especially in, rural Missouri.  Extremism on both ends of religion and/or politics is fraught with threat and danger.  It is as if to say right out loud, “If you don’t love God or each other the way I do, I will kill you.”  How loving is that?  Is that a mote in your eye or a log?  “I dream of a world where the truth is what shapes people’s politics rather than politics shaping what people think is true.”  Neil DeGrasse Tyson said that.  “Music imprints itself in the brain deeper than any other human experience….Music brings back the feeling of life when nothing else can.”  Dr. Oliver Sacks said that.  “Jumpin’ Bill Carlisle (Hot Shot Elmer) said, “When you’re living in the country everybody is your neighbor.  On this one thing you can rely.  They will all come to see you and they’ll never ever leave you, saying, ‘Ya’ll come to see us by and by.’  Ya’ll come” to Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


June 6, 2016

June 6, 2016

CHAMPION—June 6, 2016

Clever Creek rushing deep…

        The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain.  In Booger County it falls harum-sacrum.  Folks over on the west side of the county are having to water their gardens, and some in the central part are saturated.  Seriously large hail hit Champion South with a vengeance recently, while four marble sized pieces bounced harmlessly a mile north of the City Center.  A look at A Champion Farmer’s Almanac at www.championnews.us will reveal that from the 12th of the month through the 16th, grains, flowers, seedbeds, leafy vegetables and all above ground crops planted now will do well.  It is a Champion time of the year!

Bingo Parlor ready for an update.

        The Skyline VFD fish fry was an unqualified success on Saturday, even in competition with the Douglas County Fair and celebrations going on in Denlow.  The sun came out after a lot of rain and it was a relief to get out in the beautiful afternoon and evening to a great dinner.  Dale and Betty Thomas were some of the first to arrive.  They are already getting ready for the Pioneer Descendants Gathering in October.  They were joined by friends and family for some good visiting over dinner.  Quite a few took advantage of the ‘take out’ service and were able to enjoy a lovely meal at home without a lot of dishes to do.  Generous portions of good food, fish or chicken, and all the fixings, made the contribution to the volunteer fire department seem like a bargain.  They plan another such event on June 18th.  Everyone is welcome and proceeds will be used toward the maintenance of VFD equipment and facilities.  Generosity is a hallmark of this part of the country.  Dr. Kay Talley, a recent arrival from California, who lives over in Vanzant now, found out about the fish fry while enjoying the Denlow School Reunion last week.  She is such a fan of Volunteer Fire Departments that she made a donation in advance.  She will make it out to one of these dinners soon to get acquainted with more of the community—a welcome addition.

        A young fellow named Josh Bradley, step-son of Bobby Davis (RD) and son of Trish Davis is fighting malignant melanoma.  Cancer is a fight that many of us know all too well.  At the very least, Josh faces chemotherapy, radiation treatments, and much travel and time off work.  He is going to Texas on the 13th to start treatment at M.D. Anderson.  Friends are sponsoring a “9 Pin No-Tap Benefit Tournament” for him that evening at the Springfield Lanes.  Call Jim Blair (417-459-5061) or Cindy Blair (417-459-5060) for details or to contribute items for the drawings which already include weekend getaways and bowling balls.  An account has also been set up at the Town and Country Bank in Ava in the name of Josh Bradley or Trish Davis to accept donations to help with expenses for this young family man—a husband, father, son.

        Sara Hardin, newly elected member of the Skyline R-ll School Board, and Skyline alumnus, was at the fish fry at the school Saturday providing information about the proposed school district tax levy coming up on the August 2, 2016 ballot.  The current levy is $2.9503 per $100.00 in assessed value.  With the increase to $3.43, and the matching funds that the State will then provide, the total revenue added to the school will be approximately $64,600.  That will go a long way toward the busses, safety updates, technology, chairs and desks and other necessities that our endangered little rural school needs.  “Only an educated and informed people will be a free people,” said John Kennedy.  It is to the advantage of everyone in the school district, whether or not they have children in school, to keep the little institution thriving.  The loyalty of alumni like Ms. Hardin will sustain the community well into the future.

        More little Dutch Bantam chickens were to be the gift for the archeologist to the west of Ava.  He celebrated three quarters of a century of living on the June 2nd.   Wayne Sutherland was 85 on June 7, 2015.  He has recently been honored by the Older Iron Club in Cabool.  These are Skyline student with birthdays in June:  Jacob Shannon, 1st grade, the 10th,  Meguell Townsend, 5th grader, on the 11th, Wyatt Hicks, 6th grader, on the 13th,  Zachary Coon, 5th grader on the 15th, and Sirinity Townsend, 4th grader, on the 16th.  In Ava, Janice Lorain has a birthday on June 15th and Foster Wiseman, Champion grandson, celebrates on the 16th.  Gifts, cards, songs and cake make for happy birthdays.  Being remembered is the best.

Denlow Alumni
Fairview Alumni
Lavern and Jessie May Miller celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary and her 90th birthday!

        The Fairview/Denlow School Reunion was another splendid affair.  Pete Proctor took over the master of ceremonies duties from The General and so a great deal of silliness was avoided, but there was still enough.  Cathie Alsup Reilly was able to make it over from Kentucky after all.  She had been having transmission troubles in her car, which was only going in reverse, so when she decided at the last minute that she could come to the reunion, her husband, Mickey, agreed to bring her in his truck rather than see her take off going backwards.  They made a fast trip of it and seemed to have a good time.  Later Cathie posted on-line an amazing description of the flood of 1876, which makes a very interesting read.  Laverne and Jessie May Miller were in celebration mode.  They have just completed 70 (seventy) years of married life and Jessie May’s 90th birthday.  Wayne Coats came up from Arkansas to act as auctioneer this year, and while he did a passable job and had a lot of fun at it, it was agreed by all that he could take lessons from Laverne.    Photographs were taken of the students who attended each school.  Some attended both.  Gracie Smith Hicks is reported to be the last surviving Denlow teacher.  She lives up in Oregon now.  Most of the people who attend this reunion did not actually go to either of these little schools.  The alumni are just willing to share their get together with friends and family and neighbors.

        Charlie Lambert was in Champion on Wednesday.  He attended the Wednesday morning jam at the barber shop in Ava and then made it out to his old stomping grounds.  It is 110 miles for him to make the trip now days and his friends here are happy to see him.  He stays busy with his grandchildren and all the things that people who are old enough to be grandparents do.  He said that he has not been playing music as much as he did when he lived around Champion and that it is easy to fall out of practice.  He and Lonnie Krider, Whitey Upshaw, Wayne Anderson, and others used to ‘tear it up’ around these parts on a regular basis.  Music is a great tonic, especially for those playing.  “Musician, heal thyself!”  The paraphrased admonition is directed to some favorite players who are being absent from local jams these days.  None of them are old enough to remember Rudy Valley singing, “Keep a little song handy where ever you go, and nothing can ever go wrong.  Keep a little song handy and sure as you know, the sunshine will follow along.  Any little single jingle is welcome when you mingle in any single throng, so keep a little song handy where ever you go and nothing can ever go wrong” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!