February 27, 2017

CHAMPION—February 27, 2017


Daffodils drooping a little after a couple of nights of hard frost will recover and will be resiliently holding on to their role as the first and brightest harbinger of spring.  To call the weather unsettled or unusual is just to concede that the new normal is odd.  Meanwhile, some young housewife’s garden of the 1920s survives when every trace of the house is gone, the property has changed hands a dozen times and her grandchildren have become old people living in cities.  The anonymous lady, in her youth and energy, planted a few bulbs.  Her mother-in-law shared some peonies.  Lilies and iris were traded with friends.  She surely raised mustard and turnips while she was doing the laundry on the rub board, milking, churning, canning and quilting.  Her flowers survive, wild along the road side, and she is a sweet, distant ephemeral memory in Champion.

Some peaceful little spot of farm land in southern Idaho near the Utah border was the sight of the Battle of Bear River on January 29, 1863.  Perhaps because it occurred while the Civil War was raging in the east, or because it is embarrassing, history seems to have paid little attention to it.  Archeologists surveying the area along the Bear River say there are compelling signs that it is the site of an event whose gruesomeness is matched only by its obscurity.  It was the largest single massacre of Native Americans in U.S. history–The Bear River Massacre.  Too bad those Shoshone did not have the world wide web looking after them at their winter camp the way the Standing Rock Oglala Sioux have.  The Sioux have still been ravaged, robbed, and wronged, but at least they have not been slaughtered by the hundreds.  Rubber bullets, mace, pepper spray, sound cannons, attack dogs, arrests, strip searches and confinement in dog kennels have been the tools used by the corporate purchased police against peaceful, prayerful people, journalists and observers.  The great relief when the National Guard was called in was soon dispelled when the water protectors realized the Guard was there on the side of the pipeline purveyors.  Many American Military Veterans joined the camp to protect the elders and the internet watched it every day.  The national news media had its attention diverted elsewhere while indigenous peoples and environmentalists around the world engaged.  Because people are watching, there has been no “Standing Rock Massacre,” but the Black Snake Crawls on.  The struggle is not over.  It is reported that as a result of public pressure, the Bavarian owned public bank, Bayern LB, will divest $120 million from the Dakota Access Pipeline.  They say, “Wasser ist Leben—Water is Life.”  What seems most tragic here is that the market for this expensive, nasty oil will likely be short lived.  Even if good fortune prevails and a spill does not contaminate the water supply of millions of people downstream with toxins, it will likely be abandoned eventually and all of this suffering will have been for naught.

Thursday’s Vanzant Bluegrass Jam carried on a little longer than usual and it carried on without mention of Ruth Fish Collins’ birthday which occurred the very next day.  This beautiful redhead has a wonderful velvet voice and a soulful repertoire.  Happy Birthday, dear Ruth!  Shaelyn Sarginson is an eighth grade student at Skyline School.  Her birthday is March 3rd.  She shares the date with Mrs. Barker there at the school, and second grader, Rylee Sartor, will celebrate on the 6th  Linda Hetherington and Krenna Long, both up Norwood way, celebrate their special day on the 5th.  Linda is in the middle of big time bridge tournaments and Krenna is likely just keeping up with her Billy—her Sweet William.

“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed.  Everything else is public relations,” said Eric Blair, writing as George Orwell.  By Mr. Orwell’s standard, “All the Late News from the Courthouse” definitely falls under the scope of journalism.  The song, written by Walter Darrell Haden back 1971, accurately (“very blunt and very briefly”) described the political condition of Ava in those days.  It did not get much local play at the time.  There has recently been a resurgence of interest in the song.  Sally Brown Taylor was looking for a copy of the lyrics.  She said, “My dad taught Darrell at Silver Shade and Darrell was gracious to keep in touch through the years.  My dad was Lyle Brown.  He also taught Bob Holt.  What a privilege.”  She later messaged to The Champion News Facebook page that a Haden relative had shared a photo of his hand written lyrics.  Gary Hutchison, over in Dunn, shared a copy of the song that had been transferred from a 45 rpm record to a CD.  The 45 was recorded October 25, 1971, by Darrell Hayden and The Courthouse Gang at Hilton Studio in East Nashville, Tennessee and released in late January, 1972 by State Fair Records of Nashville.  Look at www.championnews.us to see the hand written lyrics.  Professor Haden was a great friend of The Champion News and wrote many post cards with positive critiques and great encouragement.  Get some postcards of criticism or encouragement written to your elected officials at the following addresses:  Roy Blunt at 260 Russell Senate Office Bldg., Washington, D. C. 20510, to Claire McCaskill at 730 Hart Senate Office Bldg., Washington, D.C. 20510, or at her District Office 324 Park Central W, Ste. 101, Springfield 65806, and to Jason Smith at 118 HOB, Washington, D.C. 20515 or at his District Offices 35 Ct Square, Ste. 300, West Plains, 65775.  A member of Jason Smith’s staff will be at the Chamber of Commerce Office in Ava from 1 to 2 pm on March 2nd.  That is just off of 5 Highway by the Cox Health Clinic.  “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.”  Voltaire said that sometime in the 1730s.

“Sit down and tell me a big one,” said Ronnie Medlock to The General on Wednesday at the Historic Emporium.  Ronnie gets back to the area every now and again just to stay in touch and he most likely got an ear full as he and The General spent quite some time visiting.  Modeen McGowin also made an appearance and caught up with some of her local friends from years gone by.  Carson and Drayson Cline are in the neighborhood from Tennessee for a few days.  They will join Chase and Luxe to make a very active younger set looking up to the older grandchildren–Taegan, Foster and Kalyssa.  Grandmothers are often some of the most happy people in the world.  More happiness comes to some Old Champions who have been adopted by a stray dog.  It would seem that Tank, the big (90 lbs.) Boxer up on Highway WW, may have made the acquaintance of a local Beagle sometime before his operation.  Young Johnnie may well be the result of that tryst.  She is a long legged, big footed individual with some very hound dog qualities.  She has had her operation and is learning from her new family not to chase cars and how to howl.  “Some friends of mine ask me to go out on a hunting spree, ‘cause there ‘ain’t a hound dog in this state that can hold a light to me.  I ate three bones for dinner today, then tried to tree a ‘coon.  You’ve got me chasin’ rabbits, scratcin’ fleas and howlin’ at the moon…” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


All the Late News from the Courthouse


Click on an image to enlarge it.


February 20, 2017

February 20, 2017

CHAMPION—February 20, 2017—President’s Day


Wild Turkeys on President’s Day

Until the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1971, George Washington’s birthday was always celebrated on February 22nd.  Then it became known as President’s Day and is popularly viewed as a day to celebrate all U.S. presidents past and present.  The President’s office number is (202) 456-1111 or (202) 456-1414 but there is currently no one answering there, so if you want to communicate with your President write to him at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, D.C. 20500.  Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th U.S. President from 1901 to 1909, leader of the Republican party, said, “…To announce that there must be not criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but it is morally treasonable to the American public…” The positive aspects of the current situation are significant, i. e:  We have unprecedented levels of ongoing civic engagement.  Millions of Americans now know who their state and federal representatives are without having to google.  The Postal Service is enjoying the influx cash due to stamps purchased by millions of people for letter and postcard campaigns.  Millions of Americans now know how to call their elected officials and know exactly what to say to be effective.  Many people are now correctly spelling words like emoluments and cognitive dissonance.  Everyone knows more about legislation, branches of power and how checks and balances work.  Write to Roy Blunt at 260 Russell Senate Office Bldg., Washington, D. C. 20510, to Claire McCaskill at 730 Hart Senate Office Bldg., Washington, D.C. 20510, or at her District Office 324 Park Central W, Ste. 101, Springfield 65806, and to Jason Smith at 118 HOB, Washington, D.C. 20515 or at his District Offices 35 Ct Square, Ste. 300, West Plains, 65775.  A member of Jason Smith’s staff will be at the Chamber of Commerce Office in Ava from 1 to 2 pm on March 2nd.   That is just off of 5 Highway by the Cox Health Clinic. This person is coming to hear your voice.  We can complain or celebrate what is happening.  It is wonderful to have a voice.

Meanwhile local birthdays include those of a lovely Champion lady now in Tennessee–the Mom of Drayson and Carson who are Champion grandchildren.  She was born in 1983 on February 23rd.  On that day in 1945 a special Tar Button black bear siting grandmother of twins and others was born.  The big green thumbed Swedish Indian of Highway C celebrates on the 24th.  Jack Masters down in Austin has a birthday on the 27th and Frankie Proctor would have his birthday on the 29th if there were to be such a date this year.  He might have to wait.  Probably he has had to wait before.  He must be very young.

News from Skyline gleaned off the wonderful internet includes the information that Vanessa Shannon brought sheep to school to help the preschoolers remember the letter S.  Mrs. Coonts and Mrs. Barker took a group of middle school students, who had made positive choices all week, to a nursing home in Mtn. Grove to visit and deliver homemade cards to residents.  It was a part of the Random Acts of Kindness Week.  Terri Ryan wrote, “I wish more people would attend board meetings to better understand where we are.  Seven board members sat there desperately trying to find a way to get us buses (used) to replace those we have.  Unfortunately, with the amount we have and transportation funds being cut, even the cheapest option seems out of reach.  We’ve already spent $15,000 repairing our old buses and we have one bus that they no longer make the parts.  I live in our district, hate paying more property taxes, but our family voted to increase ours, because I have ridden the buses.  Please, folks, get involved.  Come to the meetings and help us.”  She received a response from a friend who said, “I understand people not wanting to pay more taxes, but this is our children’s safety we are talking about when it comes to the buses.  We need good safe transportation that isn’t going to break down with our kids.  Everyone around here has a hard time with money, but the extra taxes would benefit our kids and that should be what is most important.”  Another says, “I have relatives that are older and on fixed incomes that make a point to show up to vote no on every school tax increase.  Because it’s not uncommon, they assume that it will be for something like a larger gym, but for small schools like ours, it’s for necessities.  We voted yes because we knew how badly we needed to replace the buses.”  Governor Greitens (573) 751-3222 is the guy to talk to relating to public school transportation funding.  More news is that there is still time to get in on the drawing for the great Hoyt Ignite bow that is being offered by the Norwood Archery Club to help them raise money to go the state championship tournament.  The drawing will be on February 25th.  Tickets are available from Mrs. Sartor at the Skyline School.

There must have been 10 guitars, 4 mandolins, two fiddles, 1 banjo, 2 harmonicas, 1 ukulele, and 1 bass fiddle at the Vanzant bluegrass jam on Thursday night.  Additionally, there were several folks who just love to sing and they were given the opportunity to do just that with some good back up that they probably do not get routinely.  Amateur musicians and singers will generally agree that when they are by themselves, in the car or in the shower, they are just great.  In the presence of ‘real’ musicians and an audience of music appreciators their confidence may flag a little, but music is healing and sustaining and the Vanzantians do not judge harshly.  They “Keep on the Sunnyside of Life.”

Down on the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek folks gather any day of the week to swap yarns and enjoy their neighbors.  There was a big gathering on Wednesday.  Young Chase led the Veranda Band for a few tunes while the hob knobbing was going on inside.  Kaitlyn McConnell stopped in on Saturday.  She had been over to Gentryville to get acquainted with that neighborhood and to enjoy the artwork.  At Champion she learned about the Blue Man, a reported sheep thief, and about the time a mushroom fell over and blocked the road just east of the store.  She met Cowboy Jack and heard about when he borrowed a log chain from a neighbor lady to handle his mushroom harvest.  She also submitted a written request to interview a famous local flintknapper, which the Prominent Citizen agreed to deliver that very afternoon.  It is a bustling place, an exciting place, beautiful place—where country roads meet the pavement and where, “though we meet with the darkness and strife, the sunny side we also may view” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


February 13, 2017

February 13, 2017

CHAMPION—February 13, 2017



        Champions are pleased to live in a part of the world where there are still wild bears and the sighting of a majestic bald eagle is not a rare event.  The Missouri Department of Conservation has a GPS Tracking Study going on to keep track of the black bears in the area.  They say that they have collars on about a third of the local bears and that a person can go the MDC website to see where they have been and where they are going.  Things are getting warm so they may be waking up.  Be careful out in the woods.  The buzzards are back in force and eagles are soaring yet, so look up and be glad to be in one of the world’s wonderful wild places.

        “Old Indiana” was the first song of the night at the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam on Thursday.  Jerry Wagner kicked things off and then David Richardson sang, “Country Roads.”  The music went around and around the circle–the songs accompanied by eight guitars, two banjos, two fiddles, two mandolins, one harmonica, one bass fiddle and one ukulele.  As it does every Thursday, the evening started at 6:00 with a great pot-luck supper and, then music and visiting.  The crowd joined in to sing, “Stay All Night, Stay a Little Longer,” but at 9:00 the good byes began, the instruments were boxed up, and the parking lot emptied.  Friends and family still miss Russell and Sue Upshaw who had a big part in keeping the music going after the previous venue closed.  They still have some stalwart representatives there every Thursday.

        Someone from Jason Smith’s office is going to be in Ava on March 2nd from 1 to 2 p.m. to give area residents a chance to get their concerns directly to the Congressman.  This will happen at the Chamber of Commerce Office, which is at 810 SW 13th Avenue.  For those unfamiliar with Ava’s streets, it is out on the east side of Highway 5 by the Cox Health Center, south of the intersection with Y Highway and north of the 4 way stop at the intersection of Highway 5 and Highway 76.  The 2010 census reported that there were 749,444 people in the 30 counties of the 8th Congressional District of Missouri.  There may be more than that now and there are more than a few concerns for Congress to look at.  Some are:  Protecting and expanding our access to affordable healthcare;  Strengthening our public school systems;  Expanding and safeguarding Social Security and Medicare;  Saving our environment from corporate polluters;  Preserving our retirement savings from Wall Street bankers, and you probably have more.  Mr. Smith and his 434 fellow congressmen have a lot to consider.  His constituents are grateful to have the chance to speak with a person in person to address their worries.  By the very nature of democracy, all our elected representatives are obligated to act in our best interests.  Contact your President at The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500, or by phone at (202) 456-1111 or (202) 456-1414, Governor Greitens (573) 751-3222, Roy Blunt (202) 224-5721, Claire McCaskill (202) 224-6154, Billy Long (202) 225-6536.  Paul Ryan does not answer his phone so write to him at 700 St. Laurence Ave., Janesville, WI 53545.  If you cannot get out to see Jason Smith’s staff member at the Ava Chamber of Commerce at 1 p.m. Thursday, March 2nd, call his office at (202) 225-4404.  Hooray for a participatory democracy!  Some ladies participating are calling themselves “The PerSisters.”

        Mary Beth’s lovely daughter Claire had a birthday on the 13th.  Trish Davis and Linda Clark have the same birthday—February 17th.  Pete Proctor will be having birthday cake on the 18th.  His dear Mother, the late Ruby Proctor, had the 19th as her special day.  She went to school in Champion, raised her children here and made friends who miss her still.  Bells ring to celebrate charming Joanna on the 21st.  Your Champion friends and families remember you and wish you all happiness as you start another trip around the sun.

        Just a few miles north east of where Suzie and Wes Freeman live in McKinney, Texas is a little community called Blue Ridge.  The community may have been named by some pioneer lonesome for Kentucky.  It is currently a mess because on January 30th the Seaway Pipeline spewed out 14,000 barrels of oil, about 600,000 gallons, when a subcontractor hit the pipeline with a tractor during a road widening project.  This is the second spill from this pipeline in the last year.  Studies from Auburn University indicate that the oil is not the only hazard of pipeline spills.  “When tar sand is exposed to the air, the harmful chemicals that are added as diluents evaporate into the air forming heavy toxic clouds close to ground level.”  Crude oil contains more than 1,000 chemicals hazardous to humans, such as the carcinogen benzene.  It is the reason that the Standing Rock Sioux have fought against the DAPL since last spring.  The Blue Ridge pipeline trails along a major highway in Texas, the DAPL is set to go under Lake Oahe, which provides water to Standing Rock and to millions of people down the Missouri River.  The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration states that since 1997, more than 11,000 pipeline oil spills have occurred with 324 human deaths, more than 1,300 injuries for a cost of more than $7 billion dollars.  After the recent Executive Order accelerating the construction of this pipeline and the Keystone, many Veterans of the Vietnam War and the current wars in the Middle East are joining in again with the water protectors at Standing Rock.  They say they will form a protecting barrier around the peaceful protesters threatened on their own land by the privatized and militarized police. These are exciting times for Suzie and Wes, hillbillies in Texas, and for the whole country.

        “There comes a day in February when a dog will look for the shade.”  That was one of Lonnie Krider’s sayings and Saturday was one of those days.  Daffodils are starting to emerge on south slopes and gardeners in low elevations are struggling not to get ahead of themselves.  As lovely as it is to see things swelling and getting ready to bud out, there will likely be another hard freeze before, and perhaps after, March 20th, which the Prominent Champion Girlfriend heralds as, “Spring! Spring! Spring!”  She and other Sweethearts were probably busy early in the week, making those special valentines, cooking breakfast and working toward getting a long list of honey-dos done.  Candy, flowers and jewelry are nice, but smiles across the dinner table say all those sweet things and more that generally go without saying.  It is nice to have a sweetheart.  “Keep the love light glowing…” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


February 6, 2017

February 6, 2017

CHAMPION—February 6, 2017


        Groundhog Day came and went in Champion under a gray and gloomy sky where no shadow was cast by anything, animate or inanimate, ground hog or hound dog.  The Pennsylvania woodchuck saw his shadow.  The Champion whistle pig did not.  The upshot of it all is that our northern friends and family will have to endure six more weeks of winter, while we will be enjoying an early spring.  Groundhog Day was also the 62nd wedding anniversary of a special couple transplanted here from Louisiana twenty years ago.  They are fractious pair but still together, i.e., “I’d have divorced him years ago, but I didn’t want to make him that happy.”

J.R. Johnston–a Bluegrass Pioneer

        A beautiful plaque lettered in gold says, “The Missouri Bluegrass Preservation Association would like to recognize J.R. Johnston on this day, January 28, 2017 as a Pioneer of Missouri Bluegrass Music.  With passion, dedication, hard work, and perseverance; your musical contributions have left a priceless mark on the Missouri Bluegrass world, helping forge a music relatively unique to The Show Me State.  Without this elite First Generation of Bluegrass Pioneers, the State of Missouri would not have our treasured music.  We humbly present this Pioneer Award as a token of our gratitude, whereas, you are a vital part of Missouri History.  A Tree cannot stand without its roots, and Missouri Bluegrass Music has impeccably strong roots because of J.R. Johnston.”  The Vanzant Bluegrass jam had a chance to examine the trophy and to enjoy, as always having J.R. in the circle.  A pleasanter fellow you will never meet.

        Accolades were planned for The General at a local Superbowl Soirée but he did not show up and neither did he bring his poetry book, which is thought to contain his original works, probably in free verse, since it is not likely he would have spent money on it.  Some special birthdays coming up are those of Cowboy Jack on the 7th (keep your hat out of the creek), and the lovely Sarah Rucker on the 8th, the day shared with Skyline kindergarten student Aidan Acree.  Joshua Garner is a 4th grader who has his birthday on the 13th.  Shelby Ward’s birthday is on Valentine’s Day.  Acclaimed American author, John Trudell was born February 15, 1946.  Skyline 3rd grader, Madison Bradshaw, celebrates on the 16th.  Champions wish all their friends, family and neighbors a happy day whether or not they are celebrating.

        Terri Ryan says that many Skyline archers go on to join the Norwood Archery Team.  The Norwood team is raising money to go to the state championship tournament.  They will have a drawing for a Hoyt Ignite bow including a pin sight, 4 arrow quiver, whisker biscuit, stabilizer and 4 arrows.  The drawing will be on February 25th.  Anyone interested in this exciting bow and the chance to help local archers can contact Mrs. Sartor at the Skyline School or any of the Norwood or Skyline archers.

        John Prine wrote a song about his grandpa.  He said, “Grandpa was a carpenter.  He built houses, stores, and banks.  He chain smoked Camel cigarettes and hammered nails in planks.  He would level on the level, shave even every door and he voted for Eisenhower because Lincoln won the war.”  Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”  King Richard III said, “We like to think of our enemies as worse than they are.”  He also said, “…death, desolation, ruin and decay!”  He was kind of a negative guy.  Political philosophies are a dime a dozen.  If you have a dime to spare, you can contact your democratically elected government representatives and explain your point of view:  The White House (202) 456-1111 or (202) 456-1414, Governor Greitens (573) 751-3222, Roy Blunt (202) 224-5721, Claire McCaskill (202) 224-6154, Billy Long (202) 225-6536, Jason Smith (202) 225-4404 and Paul Ryan, by mail, 700 St. Laurence Ave., Janesville, WI 53545.

        A friend of a friend, who lives up in Springfield, made a trip back around Christmas to North Dakota.  He missed his weekly bridge game to take food supplies to some of the people cooking for the 2,600 or so people who are engaged in defending their property and resources against corporate interests.  He and his companions were caught in a terrible blizzard on the way and were finally able to take refuge in a primitive fishing camp for the worst of it.  They had adequate clothing for the temperatures but still found it to be a strenuous and difficult trip.  They delivered the food and were able to make it home safely, but this fellow says the next time he goes to Standing Rock it will be in August.  The Black Snake and the aggressive force behind it may still be a threat to the people there in August.  John Trudell said, “No matter what they ever do to us, we must always act for the love of our people and the earth.  We must not react out of hatred against those who have no sense.”

Future Champion Snowdrops

       Some old Champions look out their windows to see dandelion flowers amid the green stuff close to the ground and some emerging bulbs that look like they will be Snowdrops.  With the prospect of an early spring, or at least a mild end to winter, some are thinking to go ahead and plant some spinach and lettuce.  They might have a little make-shift row cover or protection ready in case of a hard freeze.  Champions over west of Ava had good luck doing that last year and were able to enjoy greens not-from-the-grocery-store much earlier than the rest of us.  What a pleasure it is to have home grown food.  It is more than a pleasure to have dear friends willing to share their expertise and bounty.  For planting times, some people go absolutely and without fail by the signs according to the almanac, while others go by when they have their soil ready and seed on hand and the time and energy to get it done.  For a look at ten years of ‘getting it done’ go to www.championnews.us.  Send your examples of how you got it done or plan to get it done, when you get around to it, to The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or to champion@championnews.us.  Plant your feet out on the wide veranda at the Historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square to view an example of one of the world’s truly beautiful places—Champion!  Looking on the Bright Side!