September 26, 2016

September 26, 2016

CHAMPION—September 26, 2016


        The wagon train wandered through on schedule putting us in mind of bygone days.  With it came nostalgia for a time many do not remember and a somber thought that the day will come when even nostalgia will dissolve.  The Cantrells of Mansfield, Wilbanks of Vera Cruz, Sanders of Macomb and McIntosh of Norwood and their passengers were all looking forward to ice cream in Champion and were not disappointed.  Spectators came from Salem, Cross Timbers, Tennessee, Vanzant, Marshfield, and from every corner of Champion.  They took pictures and fed carrots to the mules and visited with the travelers.  At find pictures of the wagon train going back to 2008.  The train itself goes back many decades.  Ninety-one year old wagon master Clifton Luna had hoped to be able to make the trip this year and his friends were disappointed for him and for themselves that he could not.  It is not an inexpensive pastime and it is labor intensive so their numbers are dwindling, still it is a delight for those along the trail to see them pass by.  Ken Felts and Randal Barnett from Pocahontas, Arkansas camped out in their wagons in Champion Saturday night on their way back home.


        Wagon train spectators enjoyed a pleasant time out under the oak trees at the foot of Lonnie Krider Memorial Drive and up on the wide veranda of the Historic Emporium where the left and right political wings met, interacted and proved that respect and tolerance still fly in Champion.  From the homeland of George Orwell, a fan of The Champion News writes, “that righteous vengeful anger we feel when we are violated, and bereft…that same righteous vengeful anger in the hearts of others… is the greatest enemy…..the only real enemy…clever people manipulate us.”  Practitioners of divisive fearmongering in this land must be waiting for clever people to show up.  Another reader writes in with information about The Golden Rule which she says is a fairly uniform component of many of the world’s major religions.  She cites the following:  “Buddhism—Hurt not others with that which pains yourself.  Christianity—Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  Hinduism—Treat others as you would yourself be treated.  Islam—Do unto all men as you would wish to have done unto you.  Judaism—What you yourself hate, do to no man.  Native American—Live in harmony, for we are all related.  Sacred Earth—Do as you will, as long as you harm no one.”

Diane and Jerry Wilbanks and Mr. Schmoody

        Good news comes from North Dakota where the Standing Rock people have received semi-truck loads of firewood from other tribes in the north east as they prepare for a long winter protecting their land and water.  Meanwhile the Virginia Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal from an Augusta County landowner addressing the issue of private property rights in relation to construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  It is another example of eminent domain for private gain and of people standing up for themselves against powerful corporate interests.  Some say that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Kaitlyn McConnel

        Kaitlyn McConnell is from over around Niangua, but lives in Springfield these days.  Back in 2015 she launched a facebook page called Ozarks Alive (  She posts great pictures and videos celebrating the people, the history and the culture of the Ozarks.  She visited Champion on Saturday where she was impressed to find such a thriving community out in the middle of nowhere.  She took pictures and asked questions and met a number of people as they went about their business.  She was going to stop by later in the day to see the camping Gee Haw folks and was going to check out the Tri-Unity Healing Arts Gathering going on at Chapel Grove on her way to the Ava Historical Society Quit Show in Ava.  She is a busy young woman and her new Champion friends are looking forward to getting better acquainted.

        October first is the birthday of a number of Champions, among them Skyline students, Lydia Harden in the 3rd grade, and prekindergarten student Myson Loveless, and Myson’s teacher, Mrs. Brixey.  Pete Mullens celebrates that day too.  He lives over in Kansas, but has sweet ties to Denlow and Champion.  “Remember; if you ‘act’ like you are having a good time, pretty soon you will forget that you are acting and you will really be having a good time!”  That advice goes annually to a Prominent Champion.  William Tucker Clark was born October 2, 2015.  Mahatma Gandhi was born October 2, 1869.  He said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”  “The weak can never forgive.  Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”  “Live as if you were to die tomorrow; learn as if you were to live forever.”  Tucker’s old granddad probably has some wisdom to share and celebrates his own birthday on the 3rd.  Skyline 4th grade student, Malachi Johnson, shares his birthday on the 4th with twins who attended Skyline back in the late 1950’s!  The General’s little sisters still have a good relationship with their brother.  He must have been nice to them when they were little—a lesson for little boys today.  Champion!

        The 15th annual and very last Pioneer Descendants Gathering will happen on October 1st and 2nd.  There will be much to see including friends and neighbors who definitely do not want to miss this last great event.  Exhibits and demonstrations of the 1860-1960 era will include flint knapping, blacksmithing, rail splitting, molasses cooking, soap making and much more.  There will be live music by local bands.  The advertisements say to bring lawn chairs.  There will be plenty of good food and the opportunity to thank Betty and Dale Thomas who have kept this excellent event going all these years honoring the descendants of Tom Brown and John Burden.

        The 25th annual fall bluegrass festival at Starvy Creek was reported to have been a great success.  Friday’s show was a little abbreviated because of the rain but Saturday made up for it with perfect weather and amazing bluegrass shows according to local musicians who say that there are all night jam sessions every night of the festival.  They had a chance to catch up on their sleep before the jam at Vanzant on Thursday, but several of them were still off Hooting and Hollering and enjoying similar happenings around the area.  Music is a natural healer.  Plato said, “Music is a moral law.  It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.”  Rudy Valley said, “Keep a little song handy wherever you go and nothing can ever go wrong” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


September 19, 2016

September 18, 2016

CHAMPION—September 18, 2016


Clever Creek was wide and wild on Sunday!

        Birthdays are a big deal in Champion.  Dustin Johnson is a seventh grade student at Skyline School and has a birthday on September 25th.  That is on Sunday.  Monday will be a holiday for students, not because of Dustin’s birthday, but so the teachers can have a meeting that will help them be even more effective in their important work.  Louise Hutchison, who was no stranger to Skyline, and a couple of lovely Texas girls, granddaughter, Zoey Louise, and great niece, Penelope, share the 21st as their birthday, which is also just when summer ends.  “Searching for Booger County’s” Sandy Ray Chapin’s birthday is in the autumn.  He will be 70 on the 24th.  Graeme Laird over in Scotland was 42 in 2013 on September 26th.  Cathie Alsup Reilly celebrates on the 27th.  She is a Kentucky Wonder with close ties to Denlow and brightens up the place mightily on her too infrequent visits.   Magnate Becky Heston in Texas has her birthday on the 29th but was celebrating on the Full Moon at the COTA World Cup Enduro Races enjoying 180 mph Lamborghini, Porsche, Ferrari, and Audi.  “Oh! My!” she said.  Author, Wolf DeVoon, may celebrate on the 30th, if that is his real birthday.  Real or not, enjoy it all.  For you people it is just another birthday.  For the rest of us it is a celebration of when the world got you Champions.

Lannie Hinote’s smile is almost
as big as her fish!

        From The Champion News September 18, 2006:  “Donald Krider is about to have a birthday.  He was born in 1927, but nobody seems to know how old he is.  He lives in Illinois and is the older brother of Vivian, Harley, and Lonnie.  He keeps busy, they say, playing bluegrass music and singing for the senior citizens in his home town.”  Donald and Rita were in Champion in the early spring.  He had a joke to tell about Eskimos who, he said, are God’s frozen people.  Friends will ask Lannie Hinote about that.  She is teaching again up in Mountain Village, Alaska.  She was home for the summer, but she is back in Alaska teaching and coaching volleyball and having great adventures.  Her friends and family know her to be a world traveler, a sports aficionada and an avid fisherwoman.  She has helped and inspired many people in this part of the world and is still at it.  Some of us are living vicariously through you, Lannie, but we are warmer.  Have fun.

        Champions are grateful for the rain, but last Wednesday the rain came so fast and hard that loafers out on the wide veranda at the Historic Emporium first thought it was hail.  “Hail?  No!” The General exclaimed as he stepped out into it to roll up his truck windows.  He strolled casually across the square, secured his windows and returned without having become wet.  It was a meteorological anomaly to defy experts, perhaps even to mystify favorite weather woman, Abbey Dyer.  The hopes of daydreamers have been dashed as the climate queen is now sporting a very sparkly ring on her left hand.  Fans were concerned earlier in the year when she had what appeared to have been a cast on that arm.  She has apparently recovered, but heartbroken hillbilly boys may not.  Alas!  Excuses were made and accepted for recent absences at the Wednesday confab.  It will be an exciting Wednesday coming up, particularly since the next day will be Thursday and the Wagon Train will be rolling through town.  They start their journey on Monday and hopes are that the big rains will be over before they get on the muddy trail.

        The happy birthday song came out for Elmer Banks at the Vanzant Jam on Thursday.  A card was passed around at the Champion store and someone said, “Hey! You made it another year, you ornery man!  Enjoy it all!”  A number of the regular musicians were at Starvy Creek enjoying the bluegrass festival there.  It will be interesting to hear their stories.  Hopefully the bad weather passed them by….and it is sure they had a wonderful time.  The Full Moon was all over them out in their camp ground….the Harvest Moon at that.  The General said there was going to be an eclipse as well.  He knows so much.

        The Water Protection folks out in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois are all making some progress toward getting the attention of the general public for the purpose of protecting the big aquafers from big oil and while they are at it, protecting the sovereignty of indigenous peoples.  As support builds for the movement from over a hundred Native American tribes, from First Nations around the world, and from organizations, cities, and businesses, it is exciting to see, even if it is difficult to see.  Television coverage has been minimal.  Journalists are being arrested along with activists.  One is kind of reminded of the 1970s.  People who grew up in this part of the world love their plentiful, natural, wild water and are aware that it is an exceptional resource.  It is one of the main reasons people have moved here from all over.  As oil becomes more scarce, it also becomes more dirty.  It is a fact of fracking, tar sands production, etc.  Even Mayflower, Arkansas, a quiet little town of 2,234 people, mostly white and Republican has not recovered or been compensated for the 2013 oil spill there.  It is a volatile issue.  Those four billion dollars dedicated to the pipeline by the Texans could as easily be spent on wind generators providing thousands of jobs for what old time ranchers called, “a good windmill man.”  It is all perspective.  We need gas in our rigs to drive down to Champion to meet up with the wagon train.  They will be there on Thursday early mid-day with all the perspective they bring.

        A Champion reported the other day that while he had been waiting in line for his sandwich at a restaurant in town, he met neighbors who introduced him to some of friends who happened to have just returned from a political rally in Springfield.  They had been whipped into frenzy and were looking for someone, anyone with opposing views that they could annihilate with their new found zeal.  At the hint that the Champion may have had a different viewpoint, they became belligerent and abusive.  It was embarrassing but mostly sad to be attacked by strangers.  There are fifty or so days to go before the National election.  Tolerance and respect for each other do not need to be lost in the race.  On November 9th we will all still be neighbors, and hopefully friends.  People can believe with equal fervor opposite things and still be civil to each other.

        Stories of tolerance, forbearance, compassion, heartbreak, romance and adventure are welcome at The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  Request the complete unabridged news there or find it in the Reading Room in Henson’s Downtown G & G on the North Side of the Square, or at where there will be pictures of the West Plains Wagon Club when they come ambling into town on Thursday…about noon…just moseying on in…wagons swaying…leather squeaking…harness rattling…horses neighing…mules braying…gravel crunching under wheels.  “Rollin over prairie where there ain’t no grass/ Rollin over mountains where there ain’t no pass/ Sittin on a board, eyein the weather/ Prayin to the Lord we stay together/ Side by side on the Wagon Train.”  Friends and neighbors will be there to greet them.  Welcome to Champion!  Looking on the Bright Side!


September 12, 2016

September 12, 2016

CHAMPION—September 12, 2016

From high atop Mt. Champion the Champion School Reunion spread out on the old school grounds.

        As promised, The Champion School Reunion was a great affair.  Last year there had been eighteen students in attendance.  This year there were twenty eight students.  Students and all, there were almost sixty people young and old milling about under the bee tree that used to be first base.  Hoovie made the whole “Walk of Ages” from Cold Springs to Champion (starting an hour early), and Royce and party made a fine showing of walking the greatest part of the hilly trek to arrive at the great gathering which was replete  with food, fellowship, reminiscences, reconnections, revelations, a few melodies and optimism for another a year hence.  Some of these folks represent 90 years of optimism.  Carry on!  The bee tree seemed vacant during the reunion, but by the following Sunday there were several bee sightings.  Reunions and renewals are Champion.  Bonnie Mullins said that she and Pete made their trip to Missouri for the Brixey reunion.  They had a beautiful day though they missed many who could not come, but the cooking was good with “Ed’s good fish, chicken, fries and hush puppies and Kaye Johnston’s good peach cobbler.”  She thanked Sonja, Ed, Zack and Allison Williams for hosting.

        The turnout for the benefit at Vanzant for Shirley (Coffman) Driskell was remarkable.  Had not a nickel been raised, the outpouring of support and affection for the lady would have been inspiring.  It would seem that quite a few nickels were raised in addition to spirits and hopefully enough to be of significant support during a difficult time for a much appreciated neighbor.

        Champion Birthdays to celebrate are Tanna Krider Wiseman on the13th of September, Frances Sutherland and Konrad Zappler on the 14th.  Elmer Banks on the 15th and that will be a significant amount of celebrating.  It has probably already started and will go on for some while.  Stay tuned.  Grandparents Day at Skyline School on Friday was a great success.  Grandparents arrived at the school at 1:30 and enjoyed an afternoon with some of their favorite young people in their lovely little rural school.  The youngsters had a fine music program to share with some of their favorite old people.  Everyone left smiling.

        Sometime things work out for the best or at least work out.  It was reported in The Champion News on June 8, 2015, via a letter from Ms. Aynne Thrope concerning the “continuing genocide of indigenous peoples”.  She was appalled that Apache holy land might have been given away by Congress to a mining company owned by Australia and Britain which would have,  had they had been able to get their hands on it, made an open pit, thousand foot deep mine.  The National Park Service under Presidential leadership has recently made a strong statement with defense of Apache religion and the environment and blocked the sale.  Perspective is a gift.  The source of this good news is the internet and so it may just be a piece of wishful thinking.  It is hard to imagine that any politician could arrange a shady deal to plunder a Christian or Jewish religious site, but maybe it is different with indigenous people.  Maybe it is true that the sale has been blocked.  The Standing Rock water protectors have finally made a little mainstream media news.  That is good.  We progress.  Champion!  “What is needed now, more than ever, is leadership that steers us away from fear and fosters greater confidence in the inherent goodness and ingenuity of humanity.”  Those are the words of a living former President.  The views expressed here are the author’s alone and are presented to offer a variety of perspective.

        “Rolling, rolling, rolling!  Keep them wagons rolling, Rawhide!”  That song may be a little mixed up, (“though the streams are swollen, keep them doggies rolling”) but the West Plains Wagon Club and the Arkansas Gee Haw outfit are sure to roll into Champion just shy of noon on the 22nd.  They welcome visitors and gawkers.  The General has pledged to help with a musical rendition of “Mule Train” if it would be deemed appropriate and would not spook the livestock.  The committee is out on that.

        The committee conducted an examination of the mayoral entity on the wide veranda of the Historic Emporium on Labor Day to determine the suitability of his continued service.  While it is true that he mostly failed the test, it is also true that there is no big line of folks ready to take on the awesome responsibilities of the position with all its glamor and high profile.  The nature of the quiz was such that the official was clearly given a hint as to what is expected during the coming year.  Improvement is always welcome.

        If you have ideas for improvement, news, histories, stories, observations, corrections or suggestions, email them to or snail mail them to TCN, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  Recently, Suzie Freeman (a hillbilly at heart, living down in McKinney, TX) sent pictures of the Brushy Knob School, grades 1-8, in 1950 and another of the school in 1910, when it seemed to have been a much larger institution.  Examine those pictures down at Henson’s Grocery and Gas on the North Side of the Square in Downtown Champion.  The school looked to be a nice brick building.  It will be interesting to know if anyone can locate the site now.  While attendance was down at last Wednesday’s Salon in the meeting room at the Historic Emporium, it was still most pleasant.  Explanations for absenteeism will be weighed next time.  Though the Starvy Creek Bluegrass Festival and the Hootin and Hollerin doings might have an effect on the attendance at the Thursday night Vanzant jam, it is still likely to be a good time with pot luck at six and music thereafter until nine.

        As the anniversary of the September 11th attacks has passed and the acknowledgement of those nearly three thousand lives lost that day, it merits acknowledgement that 6,828 American soldiers have perished in Iraq and Afghanistan since then.  There are a million American Veterans who have been wounded.  The entire region there is in shambles now and the whole world is less safe than it once was.  Laying blame does not repair anything.  Learning who profits from this kind of horrible conflagration might be a step in the direction that leads to peace.  “There will be Peace in the Valley for me someday.  There will be Peace in the Valley for me, Oh! Lord I pray.  There’ll be no sadness, no sorrow, no trouble for me”…in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


September 9, 2016

2016 Champion School Reunion



Seated: Tommy Sutherland, Wayne Sutherland, Royce Henson, J.R. Johnston, Delmar Dooms, Ethel (LuAllen) Anderson, Elsie Curtis.

Standing: Billy Joe Lambert, Larry Wrinkles, Benton Hutchison, Glenna (Lambert) Henson, Doug Hutchison, Vivian (Krider) Floyd, Irene (Keller) Dooms, Connie Hicks, Frances (Cooley)Sutherland, Modean (Dooms) McGownan, Kenneth Henson, Wes Lambert, Harley Krider, Eva (Henson) Phillips, Lonnie Curtis, Alvie Dooms, Darrell Hutchison, Robert Brown, Ivel Brown, Lee Brown, Charles Lambert.

Not pictured: Paul Brown


September 3, 2016

September 2, 2016

CHAMPION—September 2, 2016


Champion School Reunion 2015
Seated left to right: Wayne Sutherland, Vivian Krider Floyd, Irene Keller Dooms, Royce Henson, Ethel Luellen Anderson, Elsie Hick Curtis.  Standing left to right: Jerry Smith, Benton Hutchison, Frances Cooley Sutherland, Kenneth Henson, J.R. Johnston, Doug Hutchison, Eva Lois Henson Phillips, Wes Lambert, Modeen Dooms McGowan, Alvie Dooms, Elvie Hancock Ragland and Darrell Hutchison.

        All you great appreciators of Champion and all things Champion, you will have to wait a week for reports of the Champion School Reunion.  Always on the Saturday before Labor Day, it is shaping up to be another sterling event, Hoovey Henson made a surprise appearance at the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam on Thursday and allows that he will be making the ‘Walk of Ages’ starting at Cold Springs at nine on Saturday morning.  There will be support vehicles with water and he said that Royce would be in a rocking chair on the back of a pick-up.  Hoovey may be making that up.  Pete Proctor, according to The General, wants to join the parade (or amble), but Pete reports having trouble with a knee.  It is figured that the Henson Party will carry on and just meet up with Pete at the dinner table.  Hopes are that someone has filled them in on the precarious situation at the second low water crossing.  Ah!  They are tough, resourceful folks.  They will make it.  Stay tuned.  These community gatherings are part of what makes this a great place to live and worth a long walk to get there.

        There may be several birthdays celebrated at the reunion on Saturday.  Betty Thomas, Larry Wrinkles, and Wilma Hutchison all mark September first as their birth anniversary.  Phoebe Johnston Ward celebrates on the third and her Uncle Vernon and her cousin Dailey Upshaw celebrate on the fourth.  Perhaps someone will organize a happy birthday song for them on Saturday.  Music on the wide veranda a couple of Wednesdays ago was responsible for causing a couple of Champion farmers to shirk their chores for a few minutes as guitars were passed around.  “Oh, I haven’t played in ten years,” says one who then proceeds to play the daylights out of a borrowed guitar, and a mandolin and a banjo.  It is amazing how many people in this part of the world ‘used to play’ and how much they still remember.  Someone quoted a recent article in the AARP magazine that touts music as a great healer, a comforter, an analgesic, and a mental stimulator that helps stave off dementia.  Not everyone is old enough to get that magazine, of course, but they take the word of their elders that the article seems to be well researched and factual.

        As Hoovey and party take their stroll down Cold Springs Road to the south on Saturday they will likely be traveling down the middle of the road so as to avoid the poison ivy and other lush growth along the edges.  The Jewel Weed will be blooming big time at the spring crossings and along the creek where it stays wet.  The Teeter Creek Herb folks had a good facebook article about Skullcap last week.  It is a member of the mint family and was used to treat nervous disorders.  The article says that large stemmed varieties of Skullcap are sometimes gathered for the market and reports that for a long time Germander, a plant with liver toxins, was gathered and sold as Skullcap.  There is “…a good case for knowing and trusting your source of herbs, and the admitted importance of some of the guidelines now in place to regulate the identification and quality of herbs in the industry.”  Bob Liebert, founder of Teeter Creek Herbs, will give a talk on Medicinal and Edible Herbs, with a focus on Ozark regional herbs and herb lore, at the Springfield, Mo. Nature Center (4601 Nature Center Way) on Tuesday September 13th, with one class at 5 PM and another at 6:30 the same evening.  They will be getting out around the Nature Center grounds for some plant viewing.  They do require you to call in and register.  Liebert says, “Call earlier rather than later—417-883-4237.”


        The West Plains Wagon Club and the Gee and Haw folks from Arkansas will be making their trek through Champion on September 22nd this year.  They start out of a Monday in West Plains and by Friday are a hundred miles down the road in Mansfield.  From there they go different ways.  Some go home and some just keep going.  They generally arrive in Champion on Thursday just shy of noon and rest up for an hour or so before heading north up Cold Springs Road.  They are pleased to be met by the community and are willing to have their interesting rigs and beautiful animals inspected.  The wagon train is an annual reminder to folks along the trail that our past is full of competent, thoughtful, hardworking, inventive people full of curiosity and determination.  “There’s some cotton, thread and needles/for the folks a way out yonder/a shovel for a miner/who left his home to wander/some rheumatism pills/for the settlers in the hills/ Git along mule, git along.”  J.C. Owsley, a Champion friend from over at Jordan aspires to see the wagon train and might join up with it east of Champion and escort it a way.  He is always a welcome site.  Maybe he will be on a black gelding, a good “old man’s” horse or on a flashy pait that is a road eating traveler.  He recently said, “An old friend of mine once raffled off a dead horse and I asked him if it made anyone mad.  He said, ‘only the guy who won so I just gave him back his money.’”  J.C. was here a while back on a big white mule, Dot.  They cut quite a figure.

        Figure Dale and Betty Thomas will be at the Champion School Reunion.  It will not be long before their Pioneer Descendants’ Gathering over on Bryant Creek at the Edge of the World.  Yates is the place.  That will be Saturday and Sunday the 1st and 2nd of October.  There is rumor that this may be the last one of these beautiful events.  It is chance to become immersed for a while in that recent but historic past of just a few generations ago.  Times may have been simpler then, but the work was definitely harder.  There may have been less time for mischief.  Of course, mischief makers always find the time.  Not mischief makers, but doers of good works are Debbie Stone (679-3845) and Debbie Shannon (948-2116)  who are putting together a benefit for Sharon (Coffman) Driskell at the Vanzant Community Building on Saturday the 10th of September, starting at 6:00 p.m. with dinner, music and an auction at 7:00.  It will be a great time for a great cause.  The purpose of the benefit is to help with travel expenses for cancer treatment in Texas.  If you cannot make it to the benefit but would like to help out with a donation use this address:  Brenda Coffman Massey, HC 73 box 185b Drury, Mo 65638.  Good works.

        More good works come In a letter of support to the brave indigenous environmental defenders at Standing Rock from neighbors to the south in Ecuador:  “Dear Brothers and Sisters in the North, We send you a fraternal greeting of solidarity for all that you are living and experiencing as a result of the exploitation of the extractive industries on your territories, especially to our Sioux allies who are defending the Missouri River.  We identify with your struggle to keep it in the ground in defense of Mother Earth and all creation.  From the Amazon, we stand with you as Indigenous Peoples, as guardians of our living forests and planet. Patricia Gualinga. Leader of the Kichwa Indigenous People of Sarayaku”  In a tumultuous world it is good to know that good works are universal and areespecially good in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!