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.