June 26, 2017

CHAMPION—June 26, 2017


The Millpond is a favorite haunt for Champions and their summer visitors.

“Summer time and the living is easy” in Champion.  Well, it may not be easy, but it is certainly pleasant.  Though these are being spectacular days, there is always plenty of work to do for people who live in the country.  Yard work and gardening keep old timers and retirees busy while they watch real farmers, young ones and old ones, doing all that their profession requires of them–milking, haying, planting, brush hogging, and myriad other things including keeping the equipment in order and the animals healthy.  Those fine gentlemen from the Drury Road Shed are out in the elements all day getting our roads and bridges back together after the flood.  That is certainly hard work.  Then, there are the other heroes, our teachers and school staff.  They get some well-deserved time off during the summer, though there is summer school and a great deal of preparation for starting the next term.  Certified Reading Specialist and Librarian, Terri Ryan, might be getting to do some fishing.  Lannie Hinote may well be vacationing in the area from her teaching job in Alaska.  Visitors from all parts of the country have been coming to Champion to visit family and to revel in, if for only a little while, the life we fortunates are privileged to enjoy year round.

Skyline second grade student, Jasmine Hutson will have her birthday on the July 2nd, as will bus driver, Paul Kennedy.  Patrick Vincent will be in the eighth grade had his birthday is on the 3rd.  We all celebrate the birthday of the Nation on July 4th.  The 5th is the birthday of the Dalai Lama and Virginia Canada.  Walter Darrell Haden’s birthday was July 6th, 1931.  He was a very interesting person and a great encourager of The Champion News.  He passed away in 2014, and what the author of “All the Late News from the Court House” might make of today’s scandals would surely be entertaining and informative.  Champion great grandson Kruz Kuzt has his birthday on the 7th.  Happy Birthday to all those we can celebrate today and all those who we remember for the way they have touched us.  Huzzah!  Meanwhile, Terri Ryan says, “Skyline Community, please mark your calendars and help spread the word!  We are having an electronics recycling pick up on August 1 (Tuesday) about 10 a.m.  Items can be brought on Monday, July 31st if necessary.  Anything that plugs in is free, except televisions and you have to pay $10 fee for those.  This is a great recycling opportunity.”

The 25th and 26th of June are days celebrated by the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho for their overwhelming victory in the battle of Greasy Grass which occurred along the Little Bighorn River in eastern Montana Territory in 1876.  By the time Yellow Hair was losing his campaign, many of the ancestors of current Champions were in the process of homesteading in these parts.  Families like the Stones, the Hensons, the Hicks, Upshaws, Hutchisons, Kriders, Sutherlands, and Kellers, Cooleys, Johnstons, Dooms and you know who all you are.  While your folks were claiming their land and developing it, The Great Sioux War was going on out west.  Just imagine if Yellow Hair had had a great para-military private security force like Tigerswan at his disposal!  All those pesky indigenous people would have been exterminated or dispersed and today’s aggravating protests about eminent domain for private gain would not be a problem in North Dakota, or in Pennsylvania, Iowa, New York, Nebraska, and any number of other places.  In Orwell’s Newspeak it would be ‘doubleplusgood’ for corporate interests.  Most Orwellian is the notion that many states are now considering bills to make protesting a felony, all of which smacks of irony on the eve of our celebration of The Declaration of Independence, which is a most profound protest document.  Happy Birthday, America!

Correspondence to champion@championnews.us:  “I heard from a friend a long time ago (she is gone now) that the Missouri Conservation Department would not allow for the killing of copperheads because they viewed them as beneficial.  Having said that, she then reported on the numerous suicides (presumably of snakes) at her home.”  The correspondent indicated that she watched a copperhead commit suicide via lawn mower just the other day.  Reports of that nature are not unusual any day of the week this time of the year at the Historic Emporium over on the North side of the Square in Downtown Champion.  Hovey e-mails that he is thinking about coming in October when the foliage changes.  “I would like to walk the Bryant Creek nature trail, if it has not been washed out.”  Regular summertime visitors from Texas like to go to the Millpond.  They have been doing it for many years and consider it one of the highlights of their holiday.  They arrived on Friday in the late morning in time for a wade in the wonderfully cold water and a pleasant picnic before the thundering and sprinkling started.  They said it was as beautiful as they remembered.  Locals who had not been out there since before the flood were pleased that the route they took was passable, if a rough one, and were impressed with the obvious work that the road crews had done to make it that way.  The creek is still flowing right along over the rock formations under the tall cliffs.  The ‘beach’ is wider now and it is not so far across to the other side.  The new configuration will likely be a surprise to the many who will attend The Old Tree Hugger’s Jamboree.  They will come from near and far to enjoy their annual visit with each other in the splendor of this setting.

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow,” said Audrey Hepburn.  An Old Champion recently thought to augment her straw bale garden with a fish emulsion treatment.  She put half a cup of the stinky stuff in the bottom of her bucket and almost had the four gallons of water to dilute it added in when she saw that bucket was split along the side about two inches from the bottom and leaking fast.  It was a race to distribute the solution without wasting much of it.  She started over with another bucket only to find a hole in it near the bottom.  She had to scramble again but was able to complete her task, if not in the calm and orderly fashion she had planned.  All done, she sang Hank Williams version of, “My bucket’s got a hole in it!” on her way to the dump to get rid of the offending vessels.  It is exciting to see the first color starting out in the tomato patch.  Vanzant’s lovely chanteuse, Ruth Collins, has already had a couple of ripe ones on her table.  Perhaps she will learn that wonderful song that says, “There’s just two things that money can’t buy and that’s true love and home grown tomatoes.”  Sing whatever song you like out on the wide veranda overlooking Auld Fox Creek.  You can be melodious in one of the world’s truly beautiful places—Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!

Chillin’ in Millpond

June 19, 2017

CHAMPION—June 19, 2017


A Champion tree frog pauses in the kitchen on his way outside after spending the winter inside.

Our “paterfamilias”—who is that?  Why, that is our dear old dad.  He is the Champion being celebrated from coast to coat and stem to stern the whole wide world around.  While it may be that every one of them is not the poster dad for perfection, the outpouring of love, affection, appreciation and awe still filled up the phone lines and mailboxes.  Some offspring stood on the front porch with grins on their faces and presents in their hands.  A Hawaiian shirt, new bar-b-que tools, a certificate for a weekly visit from a grounds-keeping crew, keys to a 1957 Thunderbird—any of those things would make a nice gift.  The examples set by the old guys are the ones being taken up by young fathers, and as a consequence, there are some splendid children being raised.  For those who just have the memory of the man now, he has taken on a reputation of having been wise and infallible and funny, loving, generous and steadfast—a Champion for sure.  Thanks for everything, Dad.

I.P. Henson had a pet black snake that curled up in the rock garden near where he liked to sit.  The story was passed down to his great granddaughter who still maintains the rock garden but has no genuine affection for any of the local reptiles including especially those that like baby chickens.  Snake stories were part of the conversation at the Wednesday gathering at the Historic Emporium on the South side of the Square.  Some folks are of the “kill every snake you see” philosophy.  Others ascribe to the “live and let live” credo, citing examples of black snakes and rat snakes that eat rats and rabbits.  Copperheads also eat rodents and cicadas, and king snakes kill copperheads.  There is a kind of ammunition called ‘snake shot’ and there are any number of methods of doing away with the critters, though it is suggested that the Missouri Department of Conservation frowns on the practice.

Visitors to Champion on Wednesday will be celebrating the Summer Solstice.  Thereafter the days will be getting shorter and the nights will be getting longer.  This celestial occurrence is observed and celebrated by many different cultures around the globe.  Most of those festivities probably include music, food, and fellowship, just like we do here in the Ozarks.  June is also the big month for wedding anniversaries.  Reba and Don Bishop just celebrated their fiftieth and Ethel and Bob Leach had an even bigger one.  “They’re playing our song” is likely being said many times as spring morphs into summer.  Congratulations to all you who have stuck it out through thick and thin—for better or worse—like true Champions.

A female hummingbird in for a morning drink.

Hovey Henson writes that his hummingbird feeder down in Texas is not seeing any action.  Folks up in this part of the country are also reporting fewer humming birds than usual.  It may be that most of them are nesting at this time and that the new clutch will be out buzzing around soon.  Nature holds plenty of excitement.  One Old Champion couple had a tree frog that wintered over in their plant room.  It would sometimes respond to the phone ringing or to the tuning of the mandolin.  The old lady was out on Thursday evening and the old man thought he heard the frog in the kitchen, though it could just as easily have been his tinnitus.  On Friday morning, however, he put up the oatmeal and was about ready to break the eggs into the skillet when he discovered the beautiful little tree frog sitting in his copper clad egg pan (as seen on TV).  It took some doing but the couple finally escorted the little fellow out into the lovely outside which he had not seen since last fall.  Most likely he found friends out there.  Friends are looking forward to seeing Hovey and Dawn and their whole bunch at the Champion School Reunion this fall—the Saturday before Labor Day.

Walter Leland Cronkite Jr. was born in St. Joseph, Missouri in 1916.  His first job was as a cub reporter for the Kansas City Times.  He was a war correspondent during World War II and reported on the Nuremburg Trials, the Viet Nam War, the assignation of President Kennedy, the resignation of President Nixon and every other important thing that happened before he retired in 1981.  In 1982, he wrote a preface for a new edition of Orwell’s famous book, “1984,” first published in 1949.  He referenced the term ‘Newspeak’ saying we hear it in every use of language to manipulate, deceive or to cover harsh realities with the soft snow of euphemism.  Every time a political leader expects or demands that we believe the absurd, we experience the mental process Orwell called ‘doublethink.’  Cronkite said, “We recognize, however dimly, that greater efficiency, ease, and security may come at a substantial price in freedom, that law and order can be a doublethink version of oppression, that individual liberties surrendered for whatever good reason are freedom lost.”  Cronkite passed away in 2009.  It would be interesting to know just what ‘the most trusted man in America’ would have to say about what is happening these days when government has hired military mercenaries to attack American citizens on their own land at the behest of private industry, when the federal government, as well as our own state government, is awash in scandal and the standing of the Nation in the world community is at an all-time low.  He might well have shaken his head in disbelief today when he said, “And that’s the way it is.”

The way it is in Champion is just fine.  Gardens are in and beautiful.  Come on down to the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek where old friends and new ones amble up on to the spacious veranda and sit a spell to visit.  They say when it’s all said and done there is more said than done, but praises are still being sung for the efforts of the Eastern Douglas County Road Maintenance Men as they work to repair roads and bridges damaged in the recent flood.  Bingo parlor envy is being aroused in connection with the new Vanzatian edifice.  Haymakers are “gettin’ ‘er done, sis.”  Music is in the air and the new acoustic jam at the Senior Center in Cabool on Monday nights is getting some great reviews.  Everyone is welcome.  Contact Lynette Cantrell at 417-260-1050 for additional information.  Contact The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 for any reason or look us up at www.championnews.us to see a solid decade of this kind of stuff, some old and new photographs and to hear some wonderful local music.  Frances Banks frequents the bluegrass jam at Vanzant and shared the May, 1982, edition of “Country Song Round Up” with a friend there.  It contains one of her favorite songs which she hopes to hear one of these Thursdays.  It is Don Williams’s song, “Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good.  I’m feeling empty and misunderstood.  I should be thankful, Lord, I know I should, but, Lord, I hope this day is good.”  It will be for sure if you are in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


June 12, 2017



Summertime flowers are making Champion even more beautiful.

Hey! Haymakers are making hay like Champions!  All over the area, from here to yonder, there are beautiful fields just mowed and baled producing record amounts of hay.  Of course, some fields are not producing because of damage caused by the flood, but those that are producing really are.  These days it is big round bales bucked with tractor forks, but many know about bucking those square bales from the old days.  Ruth Fish Collins said that her son could buck a thousand bales a day.  It was just the kind of hard work that robust young country fellows were accustomed to doing back then.  Technological advancements in haymaking have made it so that today, even at an advanced age, The General is able to participate in the agrarian activities that result in the hay getting put up in addition to the validation of having the appearance of having worked hard.  It is a win-win situation—while the sun shines on the Bright Side and elsewhere in the area.  Meanwhile, summer wild flowers in their vigor and profusion have replaced the delicate posies of spring.  Daises, sunflowers, Queen Anne’s Lace, chicory, primroses, butterfly weed, Echinacea, the little pink shy plant and the orange day lilies and so many that we do not know the names of grace our country lanes and fill us with appreciation for the beauty of the place we live.  Time marches on in Champion.

All the birthday Buzz started on the 11th with the special day of Grandpa Woods who is best known for the beauty of his granddaughters and his devotion to them.  Artist and philosopher who spent some formative years in Champion, Joshua Cohen, has a birthday on June 19th.  Daniel Parkes was in the 4th grade at Skyline last year.  He is moving on to the 5th grade and his big day is also the 19th.  Tyler Cark was born June, 20, 1988.  Linda K. Watts has her birthday on the 21st—the first day of summer.  Her Tennessee sons are now both high school graduates with exciting lives ahead of them.  Sierra Parsons out in Portland also celebrates on the solstice.  Her grandparents keep an amazing garden and interesting chickens over west of Ava.  Elisabeth Warren was warned, nevertheless she persisted.  Her birthday is on the 22nd as is that of Ms. Cinita Brown.  Alyssa Strong was in the 8th grade at Skyline last year and now will be a high school freshman somewhere.  Congratulations.  Her birthday is on the 23rd.  The 24th belongs to Easton Shannon who will be a first grader in the fall.  The 25th belongs to Jonny Rainbow of Tar Button Road and velvet voiced Sherry Bennett of bass fiddle fame.  Devin Scot will be in the 6th grade.  His birthday is on the 26th.  The 29th is for David Fulk who will be in the fifth grade in the fall.  It is also the special day of Mrs. Eva Powell.  Her Champion friends miss seeing her in the neighborhood.  Esther Wrinkles was born June 28, 1917.  She passed away in 2013, but the centenary of her birth has her in Champion thoughts as she often is.  She liked to play ‘skip-bo’ with her family.  She loved music, cooking, quilting, her church, her fire department, politics, her many friends, and her big loving family.  All you celebrants past and present know that you have friends and family who think you are top notch Champions.  Happy birthday.

Our kids know they are cared about.  Terry Ryan shares the post, “No matter how much pedagogy we know, no matter how many degrees we have, unless our students know that we care, they will not learn from us.”  That is a sentiment that is reflected in Ms. Ryan’s attitude and commitment to our precious country children and our wonderful little rural school.  Sonja Hodges was at Skyline on the first Tuesday of June doing blood pressure screenings.  (Nannette Hirsch is off on an adventure, but will be back for Champions at the Historic Emporium on the last Tuesday of the month.)  Sonja filled in for Nannette and also happened to be there for the first day of summer school and the ribbon cutting and dedication of the new playground equipment that is called Monkey Junction.  Superintendent Jeannie Curtis did the ribbon cutting and officiated at the ceremony.  She shares Ms. Ryan’s philosophy and has for some time now put her good efforts into making Skyline the excellent little school it is.  The new equipment consists of a couple of slides and some climbing components.  The apparatus came through a Healthy Schools—Healthy Community grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health and the Douglas County Health Department.  The Ava Middle School and the Plainview School have also been recipients of this grant.  Sonja has been with the DCH for eleven years now and has had a hand in many good works.  One of those is the paved walking trail that winds along the edge of the woods and over to the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department picnic grounds.  It is a delightful stroll.  Four times around makes a mile. People like Terri Ryan, Jeannie Curtis and Sonja Hodges make us grateful for their good energy and dedication.

Legend has it that Garryowen was an Irish drinking song that came to the attention of General George Armstrong Custer via a trooper who was under the influence of spirits.  The tune is lively and accentuates the cadence of marching horses and was adopted as the regimental song of the 7th Calvary soon after Custer arrived at Fort Riley, Kansas to take over command of the regiment.  It was the song that followed the column into history.  These days another Yellow Hair seems to be headed for a historic cataclysm.  Like Custer, he is both loved and reviled.  The fact that Custer came in last in his class at West point did not hinder his rise up the ranks of the U.S. Army.  There seem to be many similarities and the song is still lilting and lively, reminding us that things can change dramatically in a short period of time.  Over at the Vanzant Community Building, for example a new structure has sprung up in the past week.  It looks like it will be the new bingo parlor that will be the big attraction at the Vanzant Picnic.  New bingo parlors seem to be all the rage in the east end of Douglas County.

Haymaking duties reduced the Wednesday turn out at the Historic Emporium, though several regular visitors made solid appearances.  Next week there will likely be stories shared about the snakes that are disturbed by haymaking and those that are just out and about this time of the year because it is their nature.  This week the excitement on the wide veranda was a controversy between brothers with differing opinions about who wrote the song, “Satisfied Mind.”  It looks like the dispute is not the first one the brothers have had between them and while the authorship is important, the gist of the song is one of those life lessons.  It seems that “money cannot buy back your youth when you are old, or a friend when you are lonely or a love that has grown cold.”  The beautiful full Strawberry Moon on Friday was enough to put sweet satisfied smiles on the faces of local romantics whose love is still warm in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Black snakes are just out and about this time of the year in Champion.

June 5, 2017

CHAMPION—June 5, 2017


New windows going into the old Champion School.

The years are passing quickly.  The Denlow/Fairview School Reunion has come and gone again.  Attendance was down a little this year due to threatening weather and conflicting events, but those who made it out had a great time.  There was a little music before lunch and a lot of visiting.  It turned out to be a lovely day after all.  The pot luck luncheon was a genuine feast.  Shirley Brixey is a Denlow School alumnus.  Her son Ed Williams and his wife Sonja provided fish, chicken and hushpuppies that were a great hit.  That hushpuppy receipt is one that every cook in attendance would be glad to have.  After lunch Pete Proctor led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance and presented a short program dedicated to the Veterans.  Laverne and Jessie Mae Miller were not able to attend this year.  They had appointments to keep.  Laverne’s auctioneering skills were much missed, but Pete and The General did the best they could.  Margie Carr, an Upshaw cousin from Washington State, wound up with framed photographs of two big Denlow attractions and a complete set of Champion post cards.  Ray Hicks was down from Bluegrass, Iowa, and took home with him a big bluebird house.  Well, the actual house was not that big, but it was on a tall post with a welcome sign attached to it.  He said they have bluebirds up in Iowa too.  Ray also said that he reads The Champion News, but he does not recognize the people mentioned there any more.  Family and friends were sorry that Pete and Bonnie Mullens did not make it to the reunion this year.  I guess Ray knows them.  We miss the old timers too, those exciting personalities who are just the previous generations of young vital people living here.  Ray’s dear sister, Ruby Proctor, and her life-long friend, Esther Keller Wrinkles, and all their friends, family and acquaintances are the sweet legacy of the place.  These days old folks often visit Denlow and Champion with their individual sets of memories of the good old days.  Once Esther said that Champion was not anything like it used to be, that it had really gone down.  The folks who live here now, young and old people and people from elsewhere, love the place even as she did always.  “Time is filled with swift transitions!”

Alumni attending the 2017 Denlow/Fairview School Reunion: Robert Upshaw, Johnny Cox, Shirley Brixey,
Fred Follis, Kaye Upshaw Johnston, Dean Brixey, Kenneth Anderson.

Veterans attending the 2017 Denlow/Fairview School Reunion: Margie Carr, Robert Upshaw, Dailey Upshaw,
Jaes Garrett, Fred Follis, Frankie Proctor, Dean Brixey, Paul Upshaw, Pete Proctor.

Birthday celebrations begin with Kaitlyn McConnell on the 6th of June.  She is a lovely lover of the Ozarks and a frequenter of Champion and Douglas County.  The next day, the 7th, belongs to Wayne Sutherland who was 85 in 2015 and was hob knobbing with friends on the North Side of the Square back in May when we had our Spring Fling.  Destiny Jeffery was an 8th grader at Skyline last year.  She shares Mr. Sutherland’s birthday.  Jacob Shannon will be in the second grade in the fall.  His birthday is on June 10th.  Isabel Creed and Wyatt Hicks will both be in the 7th grade in the fall.  Her birthday is on the 12th and his will be on the 13th.  Zackary Coon’s birthday is on the 15th.  He shares the day with Ava’s sweet Janice Lorain.  Champion grandson, Foster Wiseman, has his big day on the 16th.  So, congratulations all you birthday Champions!  Know that your friends and families all love you and are glad you are in their lives for another year.  Vanzantians sang that special song to a dazzling personality on Thursday.  Her birthday had been the previous Friday and she sparkled with happy contentment and let her vivacious laugher loose on the crowd.  To have had yet another birthday is dazzling, indeed.

Lannie Hinote is on her way home from Alaska.  She passed some beautiful waterfalls in Canada, got her picture taken with a moose, saw a family of bears walk by her camper and entered the United States of America again at Roosville, Montana.  She will have stories to tell and her family is looking forward to her arrival.  On Sunday evening she posted a video from Yellowstone.  She said, “Old Faithful did not disappoint.”  Adventure comes in different ways.  On Wednesday music minded loiterers were loitering on the wide veranda when Mr. Joseph Bullfer pulled up in his 1923 Ford touring car.  What a beauty!  He knows the provenance of the vehicle since it was new—who owned it and for how long—what they paid for it—how long it set up—why it was sold.  The man he bought it from sold it because his wife would not let the grandchildren ride in it with no seat belts.  The car has a three pedal system of stopping and going that would take some getting used to.  He had some mechanical difficulties not long after he left the Square, but it was observed that ere long he had competent help and after some while was on his way again.  It was a real treat to see.  Other sights to see on the Square include the new windows in the Champion Church of Christ which started out as the Champion School.  Alumni in distant places will be pleased to see how the old building is being sustained.

Here’s Jonnie!

Ethel of Omo inquires about Jonnie from time to time.  Jonnie is the Boxer/Beagle mix that came to Champion old folks back in February.  She has been a real gift to them with her affection and her antics.  She showed up on the scene, emaciated and anxious.  It took some coaxing and food to get her comfortable, but now she is part of the family.  She had obviously had puppies at a very young age and was in that condition again.  The vet said she was probably two years old or younger.  She has had her operation now and has a loving home, but it was just good luck that she found an accepting place.  The Ava Area Animal Welfare League has a spay/neuter program that is dedicated to preventing the kind of abuse that Jonnie suffered.  They are going to be part of the Citywide Yard Sale in Ava on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday June 8th-10th.  Their part of the sale will be at 109 N. Jefferson.  It is the white building on the west side of Jefferson, across from Givan’s Furniture.  There will good stuff there donated by friends, neighbors and businesses who appreciate the efforts of the Animal Welfare League and their good ethical work.

“Ethics,” there is that word again.  How does it happen that a Nation whose very genesis comes from protesting the unfairness of a government can somehow now consider legislation around the country making protesting a felony?  The private security firm, TigerSwan, retained by Energy Transfer Partners, coordinated with local, state, and federal law enforcement to undermine the protest movement of the Dakota Access Pipeline while it sought to portray the wronged Native, First Nation, peoples as a jihadist insurgency.  As the white people of Nebraska stand up to the Keystone Pipeline, will there be yet another Ethical Waiver that will allow them to be called terrorists when they try to protect their land?  Ethics turns out to be a conundrum to some.

On the Bright Side, if you are looking for the names of your contemporaries in The Champion News, you might spin a yarn at champion@championnews.us or to The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  We kind of know the story about when Bud Hutchison was run over, and the one about when Mr. Hatfield wrestled the bear on the dance floor out over Fox Creek.  Then there was the time Ferlie Lambert blasted a humming bird with his 12 gauge because it would not share.  Cletus Upshaw knew stories and had an easy way of sharing them.  Come down to the wooly old banks of Auld Fox Creek and tell your stories.  “Tell me why the stars do shine.  Tell me why the ivy twines.  Tell me why the skies are blue…” In Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Joseph Bullfer touring through Champion in his 1923 Ford.