July 31, 2017

CHAMPION—July 31, 2017


A long lovely road to Champion.

The swift passage of time is illustrated as open enrollment at the Skyline R2 School will be on August 2nd and 3rd, 2017 from 8:00a.m to 3:00 p.m.  Any new students or new preschool students will need to fill out enrollment papers.  If you have any new neighbors please let them know about these dates.  More important dates to keep in mind are August 11 and 12.  That will be the time for the Annual Skyline VFD Picnic.  Reports are that the Holt Picnic was another great success.  The General reports:  “The hamburgers, pies, and music, and all the games—plus the weather was wonderful making both evenings very pleasant.”  These summer picnics are the summertime equivalent of Christmas in these parts.  Sure, they are fund raisers for their various good causes, but they are also opportunities to get acquainted with your neighbors, to see old friends you only see at these events.  Community is a Champion commodity.

It was already hot late last Tuesday morning when Lem and Ned made their re-acquaintance with some Old Champions.  The pair came ambling up the drive way waving their hats and grinning.  It was a fine reunion.  Lem had the shoulder strap twisted on his bib overalls.  Ned said that kept him safe from getting hit by lightning.  They were most pleased to have made it back to Booger County for Turnip Day.  “On the 25th of July, sow your turnips, wet or dry!”  They headed right on out into the garden.  The plot was overgrown.  They began to pull the tall weeds and to beat the soil out of the roots against the sides of their brogans.  They went hard at it and made some good progress.  Directly, they stepped into the shade for a dipper of water and Lem said, “Ned if we start getting ready to plant our turnips on Turnip Day, reckon what Old Mr. Fortiefive will do on Lame Duck Day?” [July 28, 2017]  “Well, Lemuel, I reckon he ought to goose step hisself off for a spell and find him a wide stump to sit on and cogitate.  He’s got some serious deep reckoning to do, but he don’t seem apt for it.  Now, you and me go around planting turnips all over the country, because we like them and they are good food and easy to grow, and our friends don’t care how many turnips we plant or where we plant them, but what if we was sowing tares—bitter sneezeweed, pig weed, musk thistles, stinging nettle, cockleburs, burdock and dandelions?  The missus wouldn’t in no way be accommodating to let us work up her garden spots and do all those little chores the mister don’t want to do.  No. There’d be no dippers of cool water and no gooseberry pies, and no turnips.”  Back out in the weeds once more, Lem asked, “Ned, reckon he knows the difference between tares and turnips?”  “It’s a quandary for sure.  He is a naturally mendacious critter.  We don’t seem to have any kind of functioning democracy at the moment, but they say it takes character to stand up to the rigors of indolence, so most likely we’ll be all right.”  A gooseberry pie can buy a lot of hard work and perceptive philosophy if you have friends like Lem and Ned.  They seem to agree with their host that things are a mess on the federal level, that it seems that every cabinet appointment has been chosen to destroy anything of human significance in that part of the government, that the parts of the structure that are beneficial to human beings and to future generations are being systematically dismantled, and with very little attention.  Still, Ned reckons we will be OK.

In the champion@championnews.us mailbox:  “We are Russ and Teryl Penner and we were in Alberta visiting our son Max and our beautiful daughter-in-law Camilla.  Max’s Vanzant friends will be happy to know he’s thriving under single payer health care.  They took us fishing on Lesser Slave Lake where Teryl caught the biggest fish on the smallest rod.  Beautiful country and friendly people.  We enjoy The Champion News.”  It was nice of the Penners to share their Canadian adventure.  It turns out that friendly people find friendly people wherever they go and the biggest fish is always good.  It will also be nice if America gets some form of single payer health care when the dust settles.  There is plenty of settling that needs doing.  Some particular worrisome things these days have to do with the examples being set for children.  Parents need to continue their efforts to foster the civilizing emotions in their children—empathy, self-control, morality and realistic self-regard.  It is a natural parenting tool to point out when things are wrong, so Champion parents also put good effort into recognizing when things are good.  “If you have a warm heart and you care for others you’ll be happy and the community in which you live will be happier too,” said the Dahli Lama.  Another lovely message comes from the fair Morag Edward in Edinburgh.  “A juvenile sparrow is hanging out with me today.  When the rain escalates to monsoon level, he comes indoors, all muddy feet and rat feathers, then when it stops he hops out into the honeysuckle and delicately sips rainwater off each leaf.”  How splendid it is to get good mail.

In what year were you born?  How old are you going to be at the end of this year?  Those are some nosy questions, but Elmer says that if you add your birth year and your age together the answer will be 2017.  He always has something interesting to report.  A couple of those handsome and athletic young men from the White River Valley Electric Cooperative happened to be in the neighborhood for lunch on Wednesday.  They had come from a job over west of Highway C, where they had come upon a big black bear, or rather, the bear had come upon them.  He was right out in the middle of the road and an ominous fellow.  The linemen got their work done and skedaddled.  They took their lunch out on the wide veranda and listened to the music for a little while.  This time of the year a walnut can let go of the tree unexpectedly onto a tin roof with a “Bang!”  A person in deep concentration can jump out of her skin at the sudden impact and an observer such as one of those young gentlemen can get a kick out of how high.

Butterflies and beer cans are some of the colorful things along the roadsides and creek beds in the area.  Of course, somebody who has consumed four or five cans of beer probably does not want to have the empties in his vehicle when he is out on the pavement and is likely to be stopped by the constabulary.  He might be considered to be considerate when he leaves them all in a dry creek bed right by the road so that an environmentalist could easily collect them.  Butterflies get collected as well, but mostly just their digital images (not on film any more).  See what you can see on your way to the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek.  “I see skies of blue and clouds of white, The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night, And I think to myself what a wonderful world” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

More colorful than beer cans–Champion butterflies!

July 24, 2017

CHAMPION—July 24, 2017


Champion cattle looking for a cool spot.

Lost and found, a dear friend went for a walk in the woods and forgot to come home. She has a chronic neurodegenerative disease that causes memory loss and other cognitive issues that interfere with her daily life. She also has an army of people who love and care for her. It was a relief when she was found safe and an inspiration to see the community rally to find her. www.alz.org is a link to the Alzheimer’s Association where a great deal of important information on the disease can be found, together with resources including a 24/7 helpline at 1-800-272-3900.

There is a Cree Indian proverb that says, “Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.” Recently, the Louisiana State Board of Private Security Examiners rebuffed the North Carolina company known as TigerSwan, citing a legal complaint filed by a similar North Dakota agency charging that the outfit operated in that state without legal permission. It also operated in concert with government to terrorize peaceful American citizens protesting eminent domain for the private gain of corporations in extractive industries. Some of those citizens are still incarcerated after months with no adjudication. A rare positive note in the struggles of Native Americans and other private land owners against corporate interests concerns the Blackfeet Tribe. A majority of tribal members approved the Blackfeet Water Compact and Blackfeet Water Rights Settlement Act with Montana and the federal government. It was four decades in the making and confirms the Tribe’s water quantity and rights, the Tribe’s jurisdiction and its authority to manage those rights on the reservation. Montana’s legislature ratified it in 2009, Congress approved the bill, and it was signed by the President in early January 2017. Good hopes are that the governments of Montana and the United States of America will break with history and honor the treaty. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “As individuals we can influence our government at every level. But we must accept this responsibility. We must know what we think and speak out, even at the risk of unpopularity. In the final analysis, a democratic government represents the sum total of the courage and the integrity of its individuals.” It is the antidote to a kakistocracy. Look that one up. Meanwhile, a Seneca quote is, “While we wait for life, life passes.”

On July 18th Joy Ann Coonts Firrell said to Inez Proctor Davis, “Happy Birthday today sweet, dear Inez! Hope your day is full of family and friends and fun along with cake and ice cream.” The sincere wish accompanied the picture of a cake blazing with fire. “You can still eat the corner pieces if you hurry and blow real hard!” Inez is first cousin to Joy Ann’s grandpa, William Roosevelt Shelton. Lots of people got a kick out of the birthday greeting including Bonnie Brixie Mullens, Cheyenne Alsup-Sermon, and Kristi Towe. Skyline School student birthdays are: Jude Hicks, 1st grade, July 14; A.J. Frey, kindergarten, July 18; Mr. Prock, July 20; Mrs. Gunter, July 23; Grace Crawford, 7th grade, July 25; Jaci Borders, 3rd grade, July 27; Teegan Cannucci, 4th grade, July 27; Mrs. Sartor, July 29, and Eugene Elliot, kindergarten, July 30. One of Vanzant’s favorite singers, the lovely Roberta, has her birthday on the 28th. She sings Ghost Riders in the Sky in such a way that even the most reserved audience member catches herself singing, “Whoopee kia yea! Whoopee kia yo-oo!” Champion’s wonderful mail carrier, the lovely and intrepid Karen Ross, celebrates on the 29th. She delivers. Happy birthday to all of you fine folks, your families and friends love you and want you to know that they think you are all Champions.

You Champions and Skyline folks are reminded that there is an electronics recycling pick up at the Skyline School scheduled for Tuesday, August 1st at 10:00 a.m. Anyone can bring items up to the school the day before. Let them know if you need to bring your things that Monday. The number at the school is 417-683-4874. They will take anything that plugs in. There is a $10.00 fee for recycling televisions, otherwise it is free of charge to get rid of all the electric and electronic things that no longer work or are now obsolete.

Sharon Sanders, who operates the Douglas County Museum, shows off the original checker board from the basement of the Douglas County Court House. It is a handsome, if rustic, homemade affair with a glass cover that will allow it to stand much use yet. There is a table in the kitchen room of the museum where she invites any who think they can beat her at the game to come and give it a try any Saturday between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00.m. She is the official Douglas County Checker Champion. This challenge is likely to be taken up by her old school chum, The General himself. As a teenager, want to hang out in the Mountain Grove pool halls, he once found himself in a situation where he was the only available opponent of an expert. He played until another experienced player arrived and, upon gracefully relinquishing his chair, the expert complimented him, saying, “You play a fair game.” His hero is Vernon Douser, who grew up south of Mountain Grove and became the Missouri State Checker Champion. The current 3-Move State Champion of Missouri is a guy named George Cook. The GAYP State Champion is Wilma Wolverton who is also listed as the Ladies GAYP National Tournament Champion according to the American Checker Federation. The term GAYP is a mystery to a checker neophyte, so if you know what it means, share the information at champion@championnews.us. It is too hot for horseshoes these days, so look for the checker board in the meeting room at the Historic Emporium over on the North Side of the Square in Downtown Champion. One is reminded of the rivalry between Doc Adams and Festus Hagen on Gunsmoke.

There will be a lot of good food and good music at the Holt 4-H picnic on Friday and Saturday, the 28th and 29th of July. Thereafter, the Skyline Picnic will be on August 11th and 12th. These community picnics give us the opportunity to see people that we rarely see and to participate in supporting vital community entities. 4-H Clubs offer hands-on learning and education programs for kids building skills like responsibility, resiliency and hard work, helping them to succeed in life—head, heart, hands, and health in a lucky 4 leaf clover. The Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department is there to protect our property and our lives. Volunteers are to be commended for their selfless service.

This long stretch of hot weather has cows looking for the cool in local ponds that are fast drying up. The checker board awaits in the cool comfortable confines of Henson’s Downtown G & G. Sit a spell and visit or read the local papers in the reading room. Cardinals are popular in this part of the world for reasons of baseball and the beauty of the bird. They have been seen carefully harvesting a green tomato horn worm and other insects. Buffy St. Marie sings, “Red Bird, Red Bird, what makes your head so red?” “I been picking your corn so darn long, it’s a wonder I ain’t dead, dead. It’s a wonder I ain’t dead” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Champion Cardinal on insect patrol.

July 17, 2017

CHAMPION–July 17, 2017


Miss Khylee May Sanders shared her music on the wide veranda in Historic Downtown Champion on Wednesday.

A good measurable inch of rain fell on Champion on Friday evening just before sunset.  It was a gift to gardens and to the old folks tending them.  The days ahead look hot and dry, so the gardeners will be up and out early to get the heavy work done.  As to the green tomato hornworm, it is suggested that as much of the damaged plant as possible be removed when the culprit is discovered so that any new damage is immediately obvious.  Any fruit that has had a bite taken out of it can be turned into fried green tomatoes which go good in a summertime lunch.  Squash blossoms are also edible and quite tasty.  Find recipes on line where you can also learn about the male and female flowers and about how to deal with those pesky squash bugs.  If you see a pretty garden, there is generally someone in it, except during the heat of the day in the steamy Ozarks.

Skyline School’s own Ms. Helen kindly shares student birthdays with The Champion News, however a glitch in the Microsoft Windows 10 update obliterated the email that contained those for the months of June and July.  It will show up again and those youngsters will eventually get their names in the paper.  Meanwhile, Champion grandson, Ethan Alexander and his Uncle Zee both celebrate on July 19th.  Young Thomas Journagin’s grandpa will have a birthday on the 25th of July.  Thomas and his cousins and their folks will be coming from coast to coast to visit their Grandpa Webber in early August and the fun will be all over the place.  Ms. Helen also reminds folks in the area that the date for the electronics recycling pick up will be August 1st at 10 a.m. at the school.  Things can be dropped off on Monday if necessary.  They will take anything that plugs in–computer, lamp, toaster, hair dryer, whatever.  The only fee is for televisions–$10.00.  It is a great opportunity to get rid of some of the stuff that no longer works and clutters up our lives and, at the same time, keep some bad stuff out of the landfills.

Miss Khylee May Sanders, who will be four years old in August, came to Champion with her grandparents, Jack and Sherry Lovan, for the Wednesday festivities.  She brought her blue mermaid guitar, which she plays left handed, and started the music off on the porch with “I’m in the Lord’s Army.”  She has a nice voice just like her young talented grandmother, who shared some great songs.  Ere long a car with Illinois plates pulled up.  Soon the lady commenced to taking photographs and the gentleman climbed to the top of the wide staircase and turned to look out across the Square.  After the fashion of the folks in Dogpatch, a local stepped up to ask if he was a tourist (a ‘tourrister’ in the parlance of Little Abner).  He allowed as how he was indeed a tourist and that he and his family were visiting from Illinois looking for the Bright Side.  A. Lee Unger has kinfolks over in Red Bank just north of Good Hope and on the occasion of visiting his sister some while back happened upon a copy of The Douglas County Herald.  He found it charmingly provincial and subscribed and, in so doing, became an aficionado of The Champion News.  His entourage that day included his wife, Glenda the photographer, their son who had traveled with them from Illinois and their niece from Red Bank.  They joined in on several gospel songs and made a fine chorus until they were accosted by the maundering purveyor of hot air just talking to hear his head rattle.  They seemed to have a good time anyway.  Mr. Unger was pleased to meet The General who acquiesced to posing for their picture together.  He was also happy to learn about the website at www.championnews.us where he can read the complete and unedited version of all the articles going back for ten solid years.  He will find lots of pictures and music there too.  It is nice to make new friends.

Champion Squash Blossom Beauty

The Unger family joined the Vanzant Community for their bluegrass jam on Thursday and enjoyed a great evening of music.  Banjo Dave Medlock reckons that he is a regular over there now and that is good news.  It was good to see and hear the Wagner fiddle again and to have Mr. Johnston back after their adventures up at Starvy Creek.  Lynette Cantrell also came with her beautiful mandolin and filled in rich melody.  She played “Home Sweet Home” and made everyone happy and grateful.  Lynette runs the Acoustic Jam over at the Cabool Senior Center on Monday nights from 6:30 to 8:30.  Everyone is welcome to bring their instruments and sit in, or just to listen.  Music has health benefits in physical mental, emotional and social ways.  It reduces stress and anxiety and may help with pain relief. Studies show that it may improve immune functioning and may aid memory.  It also is a big help with exercise, if it is only patting your foot.  “Put your little foot, put your little foot, put your little foot right there….”

The Douglas County Historical Society is looking for stories of Women of Douglas County that made a lasting impression on you.  They want to know about everyday women who made a difference in your life. It can be about someone in the past or present time.  They say email your story to eddie037@centurytel.net or mail it to Douglas County Historical Society P.O. Box 986 Ava, Missouri 65608.  The deadline to turn your story in is October 15, 2017.  They want a picture, her name, her husband and children and parents and why she is special to you.  Your stories will be printed in the Winter 2017 Journal.  If you have not been to the Douglas County Museum lately, you have a real treat in store.  There are 14 rooms of displays and a good family research library.  The museum got its start in 1988 and has been growing and improving since that time.  Everything in the building has something to do with Douglas County and it is open every Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  They will have an open house and quilt show on August 19th.  If you would like to enter your quilt, call 683-2776 or 683-2536 for details.  Other exciting local events include the 4-H Picnic over on EE Highway on July 28th and 29th and the Skyline VFD Picnic on August 11th and 12th.

The last Tuesday of the month will be July 25th.  A nurse from the Douglas County Health Department will be at Henson’s Grocery and Gas starting at 9 in the morning to do blood pressure screenings.  Sweet Nannette Hirsh has retired and will be missed, but her friends here wish her good luck and look forward to meeting a new friend.  During these hot days ahead it will be an ideal time to spend some time at your favorite swimming hole or on the wide, wild and wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek in the cool meeting room in the Recreation of the Historic Emporium over on the North Side of the Square.  Stay cool and hydrated.  “We’re having a heat wave, a tropical heat wave.  The temperature is rising.  It isn’t surprising.  She certainly can can-can…” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


July 10, 2017

CHAMPION–July 10, 2017


So much of gardening is just observation.  One day the tomato plants look great.  The next morning the tops of some are just sticks up there flapping in the breeze and, after a long while in the sun, the culprit is discovered.  Green tomato hornworms not only suck, they devour.  Vigilance is the gardener’s watch word.  The other words are, “You sorry outfit…” and the like and worse.  The Prominent Champion Girlfriend posts on the internet:  “Your mind is a garden.  Your thoughts are the seeds.  You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.”  Yeah, yeah, it is always good to be around positive Champions.

Mistakes get made sometimes and sometimes it is not a real bad thing.  For example, Jacob Shannon, Isabel Creed, Wyatt Hicks and Zachary Coon are all Skyline School Students who have birthdays in June.  They were celebrated back in June and again, by mistake, in July and their names are now in the paper for the third time.  Meanwhile, second grade student, Jasmine Hutson, shares her birthday on the 2nd with bus driver Paul Kennedy.  Eight grader Patrick Vincent celebrates on the 3rd.  July 6th was the birthday of the late Walter Darrell Hayden who wrote “All the Late News from the Court House” and “The Headless Cobbler of Smallette Cave.”  He was an Ava native, an English professor at the University of Tennessee and a great supporter and encourager of The Champion News.  The 6th is also the special day For Connie Brown’s father, Robert Brown, who was seen whooping it up over at the Vanzant Picnic on both Friday and Saturday.  The 6th was also the 82nd birthday of the Dalai Lama who is the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism and the Tibetan people.  He has been in exile from Tibet since 1959 after a failed uprising against the oppressive Chinese occupation of more than 50 years now.  He is the highest-profile global advocate for Tibet and a highly respected religious and moral leader.  Tibet is still struggling for its freedom from its enormous aggressive occupying neighbor.  The 10th is the birthday of KZ88.1’s Myron Jackson.  He invites everyone to the community radio station’s summer concert & barbecue on Saturday, July15.  It will be at the Yellow House Community Arts Center in West Plains from 3 to 7 pm.  In addition to barbeque and all the fixings, there will be music by Van Colbert on the banjo and Gordon and Mark Johnson of the Ozark Hellbenders.  The Renee Woods Jazz Trio will also perform, so it sounds like it will be a good time.

Good times are the order of the day all around the area.  The Vanzant Picnic was a sterling success even though Steve Moody had a toothache on Saturday.  (Hopefully, by Monday he will have found a dentist to intercede with his pain.)  Meanwhile he cooked a lot of wonderful pulled pork and kept his composure as he emceed the music and festivities with good humor.  Hanna Kelly, Republican representative of Missouri’s 141 District, had a good time at the picnic Saturday.  She visited with the guys at the American Legion booth and with many of her constituents through the course of the evening.  She is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Agriculture Education and has a number of other interests and responsibilities as she is working for the folks in her district.  She reported that her granddad, Garnet Kelly, who is now 92 years old, is in a rehabilitation hospital in Springfield.  She says that when her grandmother is not able to see him in person, they Facetime on the computer every day.  The weather cooperated for the picnic, missing Friday’s thunderstorms, which loomed perilously close.  The brilliant sun shine stoked significant heat both days until the clouds rolled in on Friday and the sun finally set on Saturday.  The big moon added to the beauty of the evening.  This was the first big event of the summer social season in this area.  The Up and At ‘Em, 4-H Holt Picnic will be on July 28th and 29th.  That is always a great time for a great cause.  “SAVE THE DATE,” in all capital letters for emphasis, refers to The Skyline picnic which will be August 11th & 12th this year and locals are getting excited about it.  There is a lot of work associated with these annual events and community minded people go out of their way to make it good for everyone.  “I’ll be seeing you in all the old familiar places” ready to have fun and to support our great community and the fine little volunteer fire department that protects our lives and property.

Residents in Skyline Community and surrounding areas are being asked to mark your calendars and help spread the word about the electronics recycling pick up on August 1 (Tuesday) about 10 a.m.  Items can be brought to the school on Monday, July 31st if necessary.  Anything that plugs in is free, except televisions and you have to pay a $10 for fee those.  This is a great recycling opportunity.  It is also one of those civic activities that is good for the environment and good for that concept of clutter control.

Snail mail from Eva Lois Henson Phillips:  “I enjoyed the News of Champion.  I hardly know any names there [now].  I remember ‘Old Dads’, as the Henson kids called I.P. Henson, and his rock garden.  It is just outside the kitchen door.  That was his favorite place to sit and tell tales.  [A] black snake was always in our hen house where the eggs were to be harvested at night–my job…We plan to come to Champion School in September.”  That will be the Saturday before Labor Day, September 2nd for the Champion School Reunion.  Eva goes on to say, “July 2nd will be our 57th wedding anniversary.  We have two sons, Barry and Bill….So glad the old school building is getting new windows.”  Eva and Harold and the family will be glad to see that the old school has had a good pressure washing and has every appearance of being well maintained.  All you old folks who are missing familiar names in the paper can do what Eva did and send a note to The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or an email to champion@championnews.us.  Come down to the wide, wild wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek in person and spin your yarns or make your inquiries.

Appreciating something being well maintained, 39th President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn celebrated 71 years of marriage on July 7th.  He is not viewed particularly well in these parts in spite of having served a term in the presidency without a hint of personal scandal and he continues into his 90s working on the behalf of the least fortunate people in the country.  In recent days dishonest, arrogant, cruel, delusional, greedy, vulgar, obnoxious and bullying behavior is being exemplified for our children.  Walter Shaub has just resigned as head of the government ethics office.  He said he did not think there was anything further that he could do.  He was charged with “protecting the principle that public service is a public trust, requiring employees to place loyalty to the Constitution, the laws, and ethical principles above private gain.”  On Friday night Sherry Lovin sang the National Anthem in such a clear, melodious voice and in just the right key.  “Oh! Say does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave?”  Yes it does—in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Champions enjoy the annual Vanzant Picnic.

July 3, 2017

CHAMPION—July 3, 2017


A Cowpoke’s Birthday

“May your horse never stumble; may your cinch never break; may your belly never grumble; may your heart never ache.” Such is the cowboy’s birthday wish to his compadres and to all his folks. Such like is also the wish of the great grateful citizenry and lovers of The United States of America on the occasion of our 241st birthday. Huzzah! Giggle-box Susan Dempsey celebrated her day on July 2nd. She puts good energy into reawakening the life-giving power of joy through laughter and play. She and her volunteer group of gigglers spend time with the children at Mercy Children’s Hospital and with seniors and people at risk. They improve lives. Second grade Skyline student, Jacob Shannon, has his big day on the 10th. Seventh graders, Isabel Creed and Wyatt Hicks, have their great days on the 12th and the 13th. The 13th is also the birthday of Champion great niece and Austinite, Sophia Zappler, who will be 15 on the 13th. Zachary Coon will be a 6th grader at Skyline and has his birthday on the 15th. July is an exciting time of the year and everybody gets to join in with the National Birthday Celebration with birthday cakes, picnics, fireworks, watermelons and swimming holes. Happy Birthday, dear America! Happy birthday to us!

The 30th annual Starvy Creek Bluegrass Festival was augmented by a few of the regulars from the Vanzant Jam last Thursday. Doubtlessly they had a wonderful time over the weekend. Meanwhile, the Thursday jam was augmented by some infrequent, but much welcome musicians, so, as usual, a good time was had by all. The General, officiating before the pot luck had begun, informed the crowd that there will be no jam on the 6th of July because the facility will be being prepared for the annual Vanzant Picnic, which will happen on the 7th and the 8th. This will be one of the first local community picnics of the summer social season. There will be music, great food, games (bingo in the spiffy new bingo parlor). Proceeds will benefit the Vanzant Community Building and grounds which is the venue for benefits and all kinds of good works in the area. The regular jam will resume on the 13th. Meanwhile the all Acoustic Jam at the Cabool Senior Center will be on schedule 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on the 10th. It is getting great reviews. Fiddler, Candi Bartch, says it is a nice place to have a jam…very relaxed and friendly. Everyone is welcome every Monday night.

A Sunday drive to visit old friends brought Champions up on the ridges and dazzled them with great distant vistas. To get to those high ridge roads they started out on country lanes in some places roofed over, tunnel like, with dense foliage. Black-eyed Susans, Queen Anne’s lace, blue chicory, orange butterfly weed, mullein, banks of elderberry flowers, walnut sprouts, golden sumac, the glorious musk thistle and many other blooming things grace the sides of all the roads, gravel and paved. There is not too much red to be seen along the roadsides this time of the year other than green blackberries and the occasional Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket. From here to there, passing the old home place of friends, now gone, brings a rush of memories. On a splendid summer Sunday, it is a gift to reunite with dear old friends and to make new ones. Young Bailey has made her trip back to the country from Portland, Oregon to visit with her chicken friend, Violet, as well as with her grandparents.

The idea of a TigerSwan brings to mind a mythical beast, some chimera, with an odd combination of body parts. It is actually a private security company that provides Department of Defense compliant, military-grade data and human intelligence to manage risks. The company is part of a fusion of private security, public law enforcement and corporate money in the fight over eminent domain issues across the country particularly related to the extraction industries. It is troubling to think that some company with a profile like that of the infamous Blackwater, employed in the Middle East, is working against individual property owners here in the United States. Corporate profit has usurped individual freedom. It is all very mob like. Alfonso Capone (1899-1947) was a mobster who was active in Chicago politics. He had a seven year reign as crime boss and pulled all kinds of dirty stunts like murder, extortion, kidnapping, robbery and more. His collusion with local politics came to an end about the time of the St. Valentine’s Massacre when there was finally public outcry. After that he became Public Enemy Number 1. He had a number of nicknames, including Scarface, Big Al and Big Boy. He was ultimately brought down by the Internal Revenue Service. The Supreme Court ruled that illegally earned income was subject to income tax. Big time crooks and flim-flam men ought to be paying attention to history, as should we all. It is as if a current Big Boy has caused our horse to stumble, our cinch to break, our belly to grumble with revulsion and our hearts to ache for the safety and sanctity of our Nation. We have survived many perilous fights and we will surely get through these days with our stripes and bright stars intact.

Local history is getting the spotlight through a new on-line group started by Champion friend, Kaitlyn McConnell. It is Ozarks alive: Folklore and History. It is a public group that offers an opportunity to share information, histories and photos and to make inquires about things you have always wanted to know about the area. The group is new but there are already 247 people in it. Some of the first photos posted have teams and wagons on ferries and several serious looking people around a moonshine still. Spend a little time out of the heat on the wide veranda at the Historic Emporium with neighbors for an opportunity to learn about the daring exploits of earlier generations in these parts. Songs have been written about some of them, though it is said that surviving descendants would prefer those songs not to be made public. An old friend from Rock and Roll Creek some distance west of Champion recently mentioned a tune called, among other things, “The Missouri Dog Song.” It is probably familiar to many in these parts. “Every time I go to town, the boys keep kicking my dog around. Makes no difference iffin he’s a hound, you gotta quit kicking my dog around.” It is considered unacceptable behavior by the dog lovers in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Champions slow down to enjoy the flowers along the roadways.  It is a good thing.