August 14, 2017

CHAMPION—August 14, 2017


2017 Skyline VFD Picnic

While it looked a little threatening, dismal, dreary and drizzly on Friday evening, the Skyline VFD Picnic took off and wound up being a delightful event.  Friday was also the forty-fifth wedding anniversary of Darrell and Barbara Cooper and the whole crowd wished the happy couple well.  Well-wishing and fellowshipping was the overriding factor both nights.  Pleasant temperatures and no threat of bad weather boosted Saturday’s attendance, which one knowledgeable spokeswoman figured was easily a thousand.  David Richardson, in addition to his other many talents, turned out to be an efficient and entertaining master of ceremonies as he kept the audience laughing and things moving right along.  He and Brenda Coffman Massey are often seen behind about every good work in the area.  Brenda flipped burgers on the grill and flashed her sunny smile at anyone who suggested she might be working hard.  They are not the only ones (Teresa Wrinkles and others) whose good energies benefit the rest of us.  We have the good fortune to live in a place where community matters and the effort it takes to keep it that way is happily extended by the core group of neighbors upon whom we have all come to depend.  A stranger to these parts from the big city said he had never seen anything like this—no security details needed—people of all ages having a good time and enjoying each other.  The flag ceremony particularly impressed him.  Everyone was quiet and respectful.  “Awesome,” he said, together with a whole lot of other things.  Skyline School’s teacher, Carolyn Willhite, was the winner of the fire pit and lawn chairs.  She has a nice spot for it on her place and her friends are pleased for her to have won.  The 50-50 drawing was won by Jeanuine Burch, but there was no report as to the amount of the cash pay-out.  Here is hoping it was a bundle!  The year will go by quickly and we will get to do it all again if we are lucky.  Look at this week to see pictures of your friends and neighbors having fun on Saturday night.  The camera battery became exhausted before the whole enjoyable affair was documented, so you will just have to rely on your memories or your vivid imaginations for your favorite images.  If you took some good shots you would like to share, send them to

Elizabeth Johnston and Roger Lawrence had
a good time.

Mrs. Willhite might consider the grand picnic prize as part of her birthday celebration.  That will be on August 23rd.  Lauren Collins is a prekindergarten student at Skyline and her birthday is the 25th of August.  Teahna Oglesby has her birthday on the 22nd, and the next day is her nephew, Drayson Cline’s day, and the next one belongs to another nephew, Dakota Watts, and the next one to Aunt Barbara Krider and the next one to Aunt Rita Krider on the 26th.  Those are not all the August birthdays for this family and it is party time from Missouri to Illinois, to Tennessee.  Champions cheer for your birthdays!

Sally Prock always enjoys the picnic.

The Perseid Meteor Shower was to be at its peak on August 12 into the 13th and it is reckoned that there was a real show somewhere up above the thin veil of clouds over the Skyline Picnic.  In places where the skies were clear, observers surely enjoyed the vision of many wish laden shooting stars though the bright moon may have obscured it to some degree.  The astronomical spectacle of the total solar eclipse (The Great American Eclipse) will soon be upon us—August 21st.  Here in Champion the best information available says that we will experience our version of the event to about 95.91% coverage of the sun.  It will begin at 11:44.24 am and reach its maximum at 1:13.21 pm and end at 2:41:03 for a total of 2 hours, 56 minutes, and 39 seconds of unusual sky.  It is the first time in 148 years that the sky has looked like this.  The next time will be in 2024.  There are instructions on line for building a pinhole camera to view the eclipse.  There are also special glasses available for sale in town.  Some use the glass of a welding helmet to protect their eyes.  However you go about it, learn how to be safe and to take care of your precious eyesight.

Alvin and Beverly Barnhart with their son.

Visiting family, the picnic, the eclipse, the garden, canning and yard work all do a good job of keeping us away from the news.  While some are of the opinion that we have an obligation to stay informed, there is some relief to be ignorant of the current situation.  It seems that we see a cruel, frightening upheaval all over the world.  Some of our anxiousness may be connected with the enormous amount of news, information and opinion that is available these days or with the jangling of jingoism that keeps our eyes off what really may be important and who knows what that is?  “Silence is complicity,” they say, but who are they?  Whatever ‘side’ you happen to be on, remember that it takes two wings for the bird to fly.  Once our beliefs are established in us we are not likely to change even in the face of fact or truth.  There is good and bad in every outfit.  We Champions just figure that we know how to behave and we wished to Heaven that everybody else did.

Darrell and Barbara Cooper celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary at the picnic.

Travis Hathaway will be pleased to know that his version of “Jimmy Brown the Newsboy” was the hit of the Skyline VFD Picnic cake walk.  Travis is often at the Vanzant Jam.  Last Thursday several musicians who come infrequently joined with all the regulars and the music circle swelled to more than 20.  In the audience Granddad Webber had daughters, sons in law and grandchildren in from both sides of the continent with him.  Lynette Cantrell with her marvelous mandolin was also there, just having celebrated her own birthday.  Everyone reported that her first Monday Night Acoustic Jam on the Mountain Grove Square had been a great success.  Everyone is welcome to bring your acoustic instrument and join in or just come to listen.  It starts at 6:30 and goes on until 8:30 every Monday evening.  By the time cold weather gets here she expects that she will have found a free indoor venue.

The mild weather we are experiencing is unusual for this time of the year and no one is complaining.  When we enjoy our measure of health, our precious family, our dear friends, our comfort in our idyllic environment and measure it against the circumstances of the great majority of the people living in the world today, we find ourselves to be fortunate indeed.  Come down to the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek to enjoy one of the world’s truly beautiful places.  Sit a spell and visit or share some old song that makes you feel like you are at home where you belong or like things are going to be OK because there is enough good around to share.  ”There’s a dark and a dreary side of life.  There’s a bright and a sunny side too.  Though we meet with the darkness and strife, the sunny side we also may view” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Playing for the picnickers, the group known as “Music 30.”

August 7, 2017

CHAMPION—August 7, 2017


The lawn chairs and fire pit offered by the Skyline VFD are on display at
Henson’s Grocery and Gas until the picnic starts on Friday.

Someone asks, “Will there be those excellent, mouth-watering catfish fillets at the Skyline VFD Picnic this year?” The answer is, “Yes, indeed!” Additionally there will be those curly potatoes and all the picnic fare including the pies and cobblers generously donated by the Skyline Fire District membership. There will be games and free prizes and the music, music, music. There will also be the chance to connect with friends and neighbors you have not seen since the last picnic. This year the grand prize will be a fire pit and a pair of stylish, comfortable lawn chairs, which will look good on some lucky winner’s patio. Volunteers are working hard to make it a nice experience for everyone in the community and the community responds bigheartedly to support the vital organization that protects our property and our lives. Those volunteer fire fighters are all first responders who know how to get us out of a wrecked car or how to administer CPR if we need it.

August birthdays to celebrate include Champion grandson Seamus Heffern on the 2nd and Lavonne Carter on the 6th. Kalyssa’s old Dad celebrates on the 8th. Three Skyline second grade students have birthdays in early August: Caleb Harden on the 5th, Jaycee Hall on the 10th, and Cryslynn Bradshaw on the 12th. Kids with summertime birthdays might miss out on parties with their classmates, but they enjoy their birthdays nonetheless. School will be starting up again soon and with it will come renewed friendships, new friendships and all the excitement of learning that the teachers and staff of this vital little rural school work so hard to make possible. They are Champions every one!

Lynette’ Cantrell’s wonderful acoustic jam has been relocated to the square in Mountain Grove. It happens on Monday evenings starting at 6:30. Everyone is welcome to come and bring your acoustic instruments or just come to hear your friends and neighbors sing. Bring your lawn chairs and your music appreciation. The Thursday jam at Vanzant was another lovely evening. The pot luck is always terrific and the circle of musicians changes from week to week but every time it is great. It is a rare set of words that Dean Upshaw does not know and it is always a treat to see people in the audience singing along.

The big wolf spider does not concern the Champion hummingbirds swarming after the rain.

The July 24th edition of The Champion News reported that the Missouri State Checker Champion was Vernon Douser, when, in fact, his name was Vernon Dowsey. His nickname was Skillet. He was a dairy farmer who lived south of Mountain Grove and came to state wide checker fame in the 1950s. The checkerboard is ready in the reading room at the recreation of the Historic Emporium. The proprietor keeps it up on a shelf so that youngsters too young to play the game do not scatter or eat the checkers. Brave folks are welcome to give the game a try. If there are spectators, you can be sure they will be quiet so as not to break your concentration. Sharon Sanders is ready and waiting to take on all challengers at the Douglas County Museum in Ava any Saturday between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.

Many Champions are old enough to remember the lovely Swedish actress, Ingrid Bergman, in that great film Casablanca. She was born in 1915 and had many great roles in the movies including one with Charles Boyer, where his character set out to destroy her perception of reality. He used persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction and lying to sow seeds of doubt to make her question her own memory, perception and sanity. This behavior is known as ‘gaslighting’ after the name of that 1944 movie. Sometimes lately it seems the world has been turned upside down and the whole nature of truth is in question. For example, one rambling neighbor suggests that Communists and liberals do not allow God. Who knows what Communists believe? It does turn out, however, that the biggest liberal of them all was a Jewish carpenter who ministered to the poor, the sick and suffering. His philosophy was based on compassion, equality, inclusion, forgiveness, tolerance, peace and, most importantly, love. Liberals generally support ideas such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, free markets, civil rights, democratic societies, secular governments, gender equality and international cooperation. That people are so contentious with each other these days is more than a little troubling. Folks get worked up easily in these unsettling circumstances. When the dust settles, we will all still be neighbors and, hopefully, friends. One Old Champion says she wants a liberal piece of pie, not some conservative little sliver of ‘I Wish I Had More Pie’ pie. Bob Dylan’s song ‘Country Pie’ says, “Raspberry, strawberry, lemon and lime/What do I care/ Blueberry, apple, cherry, pumpkin and plum /Call me for dinner/ Honey, I’ll be there!” Founding Father, President John Adams, said, “Government is instituted for the common good: for the protection, safety, prosperity and happiness of the people; and not for the profit, honor, or private interests of any one man, family, or class of men.” While we do not know what his favorite pie might have been, the honorable President Adams has certainly given us something to chew on.

The solar eclipse is getting a lot of attention, as well it should. It is being called the Great American Eclipse. There will not be another like it until July 2nd, 2019, and they say it will be visible in the South in North America, in much of South America and the Pacific. There are plenty of interesting things going on in the heavens. The biggest meteor shower of the year will be Saturday the 12th of August. Pause on your way home from the picnic to look up into the sky. You are likely to be rewarded with the vision of many shooting starts. Make your best wishes. When the eclipse comes around, be sure you have protective glasses. They are available in stores already. The rain and cooler weather has been refreshing after what seemed like a long episode of hot and dry. The week ahead looks favorable for getting some things done in the cool and Volunteers are optimistic that the picnic will be a great success.

A nice article on the internet describes how actor Bill Murray recently had problems with his rental car while passing through West Plains. A number of people came to his aid in a short time and what seemed to impress him the most was that they did not recognize him and were just genuinely helpful, friendly people. In an interview on the radio (wrpm33) he said, “I’m telling you, these people in West Plains are the real deal. I’m going to move there after I retire.” It is to be noted that the radio station posts a disclaimer: “Most of the articles on are works of fantasy or satire and are not true. This website is meant for entertainment purposes only.” Still, it was a nice story. A Champion abroad is working up the tune “Accentuate the Positive” to add to his repertory. He will do it in the key of D most likely. Whatever key is most comfortable for you, feel free to belt it out while you are on the wide veranda overlooking Auld Fox Creek and one of the world’s truly beautiful spots. “You’ve got to spread joy up to the maximum/ Bring gloom down to the minimum/ Have faith or pandemonium’s/ Li’ble to walk upon the scene” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side! See you at the picnic!

Champion mud puddles are a welcome sight after a long dry spell.