October 30, 2017

CHAMPION—October 30, 2017


Amazing horseshoe situation in Champion.

The mulberry tree down by the road is blunted by the trimming for the electric right-of-way. The birds like it for its fruit and the wide leaves provide shelter. Those leaves darkened with the frost until the morning sunlight moved across the valley floor and lit them up. They all let go at once and floated down in a hasty pile leaving the trunk a stark, abrupt alteration to the landscape. It is an annual happening. Expected changes can still seem sudden in Champion.

“Gallivantin Galveston Gal” is a Gene Autry song much appreciated by a regular Champion visitor who has a birthday on November 4th. That is also the special day for Skyline sixth grader, Hailey Hall. Champion granddaughter, Emerson Rose enjoys her birthday on the 5th. A sweet smiling, ever pleasant Vanzatiana has the 6th, and Wayne Wiseman and Skyline 4th grader, Mason Solomon, both celebrate on the 7th. Lizzie’s granddad over in Champion South will be getting better acquainted with his eighth decade on the 8th. The 9th is for Skyline 5th grader, Justin Borders. Each of these birthday celebrants probably has a favorite song apart from the routine one, but that one is still good.

Frosty conditions over the week end did not chill the numerous Halloween parties in the area. It must have been pretty exciting over in Vanzant. The internet was full of pictures of warmly costumed children and a report of car damage to shrubbery. The bush is reported to be “now teetering at about a 75 degree angle.” There was relief that the hurricane resistant gate post was spared and there was reference to a “grasshopper episode at the Amos place.” Mystery goes with the holiday. Extortion is another aspect of the observation—trick or treat.

Tim Tamburrino of the Midwest Bluegrass Directory was at Clark’s Eatery on Tuesday with Sara and his camera. He gets around to jams all around the area and generously posts videos on the internet. On Sunday he posted that he was at Mercy Hospital in Springfield getting ready for a bypass procedure. His many friends and fans send their best wishes for a speedy recovery. He does a lot for bluegrass. Clark sisters, Paisley and Brooklyn, met him and had their picture taken. They sang “Jesus Loves Me” and “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.” It is beautiful to see children loving music. They will enjoy lifelong benefits. Zoey and Alex, down in Texas, had their piano, guitar, and violin recitals on Sunday; a great experience for their granddad to witness, and the internet blossomed with the videos. There is now a piano in young Chase’s house and it is likely there will be lessons on-going there. Music is a critical part of childhood development and a great stress reliever for young and old. Cervantes said, “He who sings scares away his woes.”

The Great American Pastime is another timely diversion from the perpetual kerfuffle of political absurdity. (86-45) Old folks remember baseball on the radio with names like Sandy Koufax, Whitey Ford, Hank Aaron and Ted Williams. Red Barber was one of those great announcers that could paint a picture that you could see in your mind’s eye. “It’s a high fly out to center field. It’s going….going….gone!” It was exciting in a different way from today. Now there are cameras that show every conceivable angle of every play. The tension is palpable. The visible jubilance of players and fans as a run is scored is something that does not happen in the lives of every day folks. Certainly we have fun and experience joy, but rarely do we leap up in the air and gallop about yelling with complete abandon. The camaraderie and affection of the players for each other is unlike what most of us are accustomed to in our daily lives. The back slapping alone would tax our endurance. Meanwhile there is the entertainment of critiquing facial hair, haircuts, chewing and bubble blowing techniques, and spitting distances. Ten innings in six hours on Sunday exhausted people sitting at home watching—the fifth game of the series.

Week end temperatures were down to as low as 18 degrees by some thermometers. Summer gardens are definitely over for the year. There are green tomatoes ripening on counters and that dish that Ethel of Omo talks about, The Last of the Garden, is bubbling on area stoves. A great bowl of chili is to be had on Saturday, November 4th, at the Eastern Douglas County Volunteer Fire Department chili supper and auction over at the Vanzant Community Building. It kicks off at 5p.m. and is always one of the excellent events of the year. Steve Moody will be providing his famous pulled pork. Proceeds will go toward purchasing new turn-out gear for the volunteer fire fighters. Our little rural fire departments are part of what makes this a great place to live.

The Champion Horseshoe Pitch has seen some exciting action recently. On Wednesday players came into the Historic Emporium looking for someone to witness the phenomena when each of the competitors had his horseshoe leaning on the post. It was a first time event. Look for pictures on line at www.championnews.us. There are ten years of archives there to give you the flavor of the place. Weather will have a lot to do with the outside action there from now on. A checker set is available inside near the stove for anyone who thinks he can beat The General. He could use some practice if he is going to go up against the reigning Douglas County Checker Champion. His school chum, Sharon Sanders, has issued the challenge and will be ready for a match any Saturday (between 10:00 a.m. and 2 p.m.) at the Douglas County Museum in Ava. Come down to the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek to play checkers or to enjoy a friendly conversation with your neighbors. Talk about history, or sports. Spin yarns. Learn something. Teach something. Get together and decide if you think the tax cut proposal is really going to be good for folks here in Booger County, almost all of whom are not millionaires. You can sing that song, “Once I lived the life of a millionaire, spending my money. I didn’t care. I carried my friends out for a real good time…” to Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Paisley and Brooklyn at the Clark’s Eaterie Bluegrass Jam.

October 23, 2017

CHAMPION—October 23, 2017


Deer are on the move in Champion and all around the country.

By way of connection with a great friend of The Champion News, J. C. Owsley, the pleasant acquaintance with poet, Frank Martin, has been made. One of his latest gems is called, “By and By.” “In clouds far off to the west/Nature is beating her breast/She is eyeing our sky/ Which means by and by/ She plans to disturb our rest.” Saturday night to Sunday morning found thunder rolling and lightning flashing, but not too much in the way of rain. Though it came down hard and fast, there was not much in the bucket when the storm passed. It was drizzly all day Sunday and hopes are that every drop soaked in for the benefit of the water table and a little insurance against brush fires. Fall arrived overnight. Deer are on the move and drivers are urged to be alert. Fog rising from valley floors on Monday morning softens the landscape in an ethereal way and adds to the danger for early travelers. Every season is beautiful in Champion.

Birthday celebrations are some of the best fun that some people have. Some people do not like anything about birthdays, but children of all ages do. Here are some upcoming birthdays of friends and family in the area: Haylee Surface, Skyline 3rd grader, October 22; Roger Miller, gifted song writer, October 25, 1936-1992; Brad Oglesby, Harley Krider, Shala Clark all on October 26; Nicholas Georges, Skyline 1st grader, October 28; Champions Royce Henson and Connie Lansdown, October 30; Cheyne Hall–Skyline 8th grader, Ms. Curtis–Skyline Superintendent, and Felipe Heston–Austenite, all celebrate on October 31. Happy Birthday everyone and “Boo!” to you Halloweenies.

Riders getting ready to take off out of Champion on Bud Hutchison’s Fall Trail Ride. [enlarge]

Bud Hutchison’s Fall Trail Ride was another galloping success. Bud was not in the lead this year. He had been a little under the weather and, though he was on the mend, he sat this one out and passed leadership to Andrew Harden. The thirteen riders started out around ten on Wednesday morning and made their loop around Fox Creek Road and the hinterlands of Denlow, up around the Shannon Ranch and back through Drury to Champion. They came ambling in in a bunch about three in the afternoon ready for ice cream. The riders were Jeff Alcorn on Lace, Cody Alcorn on Lilly, Nancy Perriman on Ginger, Melissa Harrington on Katy, Hershel Letsinger on Duke, Calvin Chambers on Summer, Andrew Harden on Cloud, Shirley Emerson on Buddy, Bill Winkelman on Cookie, Don Hamby on Domino, Cindy Hufham on Dolly, Carmen Watchinsky on Blue and Terry Redman on Danny Boy. The general assessment of the ride was that it was without any troublesome incident and pleasant in the extreme.

Friends and neighbors whiled away the hours out on the wide veranda waiting for the riders to return. Fellow correspondent, Ella Mae Daugherty, came over from Gentryville with Paul Uhlman to enjoy the non-participating part of Bud’s Trail Ride. She has written articles for The Herald over the years and has many friends in the area. She said that maybe Paul would bring her back to Champion sometime and Champions hope he will. Paul does not ride much anymore, neither does Cowboy Jack, still they enjoy meeting up with their friends and being around the livestock. Neighborhood children filled in the waiting time with singing. Young Chase Cauthron and Krider sisters, Taegan and Luxe, encouraged The General to sing funny songs. His version of the ABC song particularly pleases them when he sings, “J, I, b, r, d, u, p, f.” and the like. It is a joy to see young children with a love for music. A pair of charming young ladies, Brooklyn and Paisley, sat in with the jammers at Clark’s Eatery on Tuesday evening. They sang “You Are My Sunshine” and they really lit up the place. Lynette Cantrell remarked that the omelet they serve there was also very tasty. It is a great kindness that the folks at Clark’s are willing to open their banquet room to keep Lynette’s acoustic jammers off the street and out of the cold. They can be found there from 6:00 to 8:00 every Tuesday. The Vanzant jam drew a big crowd on Thursday. They start out with pot luck at 6:00 and music from 7:00 to 9:00. It has been going on for some while now and is the high point of the week for many people.

Don Hamby’s Domino smiling for the camera. [enlarge]

Last week it took too many words (670) to say: 1. The new tax proposal will benefit 4.59% of the population of Missouri. The rest of us will pay for it in diminished services and benefits. 2. What some see as disrespect for the Nation others see as the Nation’s disrespect for its people? 3. American Citizens in Puerto Rico are suffering. That only took 52 words.

Halloween is one of the world’s oldest holidays. It is celebrated in Mexico and other Latin American countries as the Day of the Dead as a way to honor deceased loved ones and ancestors. In Scotland the origins of Halloween can be traced back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (summer’s end). The Celtic year was determined by the growing seasons and Samhain marked the end of summer and the harvest, and the beginning of the dark cold winter. The festival symbolized the boundary between the world of the living and the world of the dead. There are torch light processionals and rituals connected with this celebration. Trick-or-treating is a custom in this part of the world, though people deep in the country rarely have a goblin threatening at the door. Terri Ryan says that Thursday will be a half day of school at Skyline and the day for wearing Halloween costumes. (There will be no school Friday to allow for parent/teacher conferences.) The halls of our wonderful little rural school will be full of super heroes and princesses, nurses, hunters and farmers and space men and women. There may be some animals represented among the costumes—cats and squirrels. James Whitcomb Riley wrote the best poem for Halloween. It is called “Little Orphant Annie” and the last verse is: “When the night is dark and scary, and the moon is full and creatures are a flying and the wind goes Whooooooo, you better mind your parents and your teachers fond and dear and cherish them that loves ya, and dry the orphans’ tears and help the poor and needy ones that cluster all about, or the goblins will get ya if ya don watch out!!” Unafraid of goblins, the neighborhood is in good spirits with the rain, the coming of fall and bountiful harvests. Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!

The trail riders came back into the Square in a bunch on Wednesday afternoon.

October 16, 2017

CHAMPION—October 16, 2017


After the rain Champion has that bright clean look of fall about it.

On the way to Champion Sunday morning, just before getting to the pavement, there was a puddle! An unmeasured amount of rain had fallen during the night and soaked instantly into the thirsty ground. There was enough rainfall at Champion’s open door to make a pretty puddle about a foot wide and two feet long and so shallow that it was gone before nightfall. The dust is settled for the nonce and the countryside has a bright clean autumn look about it. A stroll about the grounds on such a day is a real pleasure. One Old Champion suggests that if you are out and about, best pay good eye service to the ground. If a bird song grabs you ear or the blue sky draws your gaze, best stop in your tracks and stand still to do your observing. When the ground is as dry as it has been, it can be as slick as ice in spots and, if you live around walnut trees, the many chances to roll an ankle and take a tumble are scattered all over the yard. Old folks particularly need to pay attention to where their feet are. Life can change dramatically in less than a second. Of course that has always been true, but young folks bounce better.

Carson Cline has his birthday on October 18th. He was in Champion together with Drayson and their Mom for some wonderful family functions and fun over the week end—a gaggle of cousins to please a smiling Champion grandmother. The lovely blonde motorcyclist on the top of the hill over there on WW Highway celebrates on Carson’s birthday too. Skyline pre-kindergarten student Wyatt Shannon has his birthday on the 19th and Cyanna Davis, seventh grader, has hers on the 20th, as does Carson’s grandpa Marty. The 21st is a big day for Zoey’s grannie, for a Texan named Cidney, and a sweet guy named Randy. It was also the birthday of Champion Anna Henson who has long been gone from the neighborhood but is still fondly remembered by many. Donna Moskaly has the 22nd for her celebration and the 24th will be the day Taegan and Luxe sing, “Happy Birthday, dear Mommy!” Happy birthday to you all!

Who has a television that they do not watch too much? There are a lot of options available these days and it is easy to let it take up too much time. By the time the news is over in the evening with reports of natural disasters, political turmoil, worldwide chaos, bad behavior by individuals and so much suffering across the planet, some are thinking like Luke, “…and being in agony, he prayed more earnestly.” This may be the age of earnestness. People are outraged by the perceived disrespect for the government and its symbols while others are outraged that government has such harsh disrespect for some of its people. The score is 86 to 45. Every kerfuffle has two sides and everyone has an opinion. There is a beautiful young woman who shows up several times a day in the programming of all the local television stations. We do not know her name but she looks like a Nancy. Nancy has shoulder length red hair and a pretty symmetrical face and a nice voice–just the kind of girl you would like your daughter to be or for your son to marry. She looks right at us and says, “People are sick of politics. I am too, but fixing our tax system isn’t about politics. It means that the wealthy, the powerful, the well-connected will stop benefiting from a rigged system. It means everyday Americans will have more to spend on what’s important to them.” She has a calm, pleasant demeanor and speaks with an air of conviction that tells you she is earnest. That particular earnestness was purchased with a flat rate for making the ‘spot’ and then a residual every time it is broadcast. In another video, our girl, the talented, beautiful actress, with long blonde hair this time, extols the virtue of some litigators who pursue financial vengeance against the malfeasance of pharmaceutical companies on behalf of sufferers. Nancy has residuals coming in from a number of places and you know she must be making a good living. Chances are pretty good that she is not making a good enough living to really benefit from this particular Tax Plan Proposal. In contrast to the script she recites so convincingly, even a superficial study of the proposal reveals that the cuts will benefit the wealthiest of the wealthy like Charles and David Koch who fund the outfit called Americans for Prosperity. It is one of the most influential American conservative organizations and the very outfit that paid our Nancy. If she is a self-employed actress, she would be advised to be putting something aside in addition to paying her FICA taxes, because this proposal could clearly have some long range ramifications for Social Security. The enormous tax relief for the billionaire brothers, Chuck and Dave, and folks like them will remove $3,000,000,000,000.00 to $7,000,000,000,000.00 (3 to 7 trillion dollars) from the tax revenue over the coming decade. What that means for everyday Americans is even less support for education, infrastructure, health and safety and all the benefits of being a proud citizen of the Great Nation—clean air, safe food, aid in the time of distress, etc. All the machinations of the new tax plan proposal are complicated and couched in legal language that is difficult to decipher, so busy everyday folks are not digging into it too deeply which is fine with Chuck and Dave. It would be nice if Nancy could explain the flip side in that easy pleasant way she has. Her kinfolks probably smile every time they see her on TV. They know, as we all do, that she is an actress, not an economist, and is just saying what she is hopefully being paid well to say. When we get rich, perhaps we will employ Nancy to say, “Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!” Meanwhile, in Puerto Rico there is suffering by American citizens that does not seem to titillate the media or the government. It is an embarrassment—a disgrace—reference Ephesians 6:12.

Should a person wander unconnected into this part of the world, he or she might acknowledge having fallen into a sweet spot—with jam every day of the week. When Lynette Cantrell’s acoustic jam on the square in Mountain Grove needed a home out of the elements, the folks at Clark’s Eatery on the South Side of the Square opened their banquet room for the musicians—every Tuesday from 6 to 8 p.m. Lynette had a cold and could not attend the first evening, but here were a dozen or more musicians there and a lively couple of hours of music ensued. Acoustic musicians are welcome as are folks who just like to hear a good eclectic jam. Come down to the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek for good conversations about music or any other subject. Elmer is fond of Earnest Tub. He may have sung, “Farther along, we’ll know all about it. Farther along we’ll understand why. Cheer up, my brother. Live in the sunshine. We’ll understand it all by and by” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

A dozen musicians showed up for Lynette Cantrell’s first acoustic jam at Clark’s Eatery on the South Side of the Square in Mountain Grove on Tuesday Night.  Everyone welcome from 6 to 8 p.m.  Bring your acoustic instruments or just your enjoyment.

October 12, 2017

The Pioneer Heritage Festival 2017


A couple of well heeled cowboys were the smiling greeters at The Pioneer Heritage Festival.

Festival tents seen from the highway.

Louise the Potter in her period costume strolled the grounds.

Bow making captured the interest of young people at the festival.

Mary Lou Price was resplendant in her hoop skirt at the festival.

There was plenty of good food to be had at The Pioneer Heritage Festival.  The Prominent Champion said he was on the creek bank all night catching that fish.

October 9, 2017

CHAMPION—October 9, 2017


The Pioneer Heritage Festival of the Ozarks looks like it is off to a splendid beginning.  More than a thousand people attended the first annual two day affair and organizers are pleased with the outcome.  Plans are already underway for next year.  People came from far and wide—from Silver Dollar City and the Queen City—from Champion and all over the place.  Royce and Jody Henson were out from Springfield on Saturday.  They find a way to all the excitement in the area.  Ava’s Mayor David Norman won the rifle raffle and Ron Hardesty won Butch Stone’s beautiful handmade bow and arrows.  The music and food were great.  It was a treat to see those flint-nappers and other demonstrators sharing their crafts and skills.  There were some well-heeled cowboys there, some frontiersmen, and ladies in the elegant dress of an earlier day.  The ax throwing venue was particularly enticing to young folks.  The excellent facilities there at Chapel Grove are tailor made for this kind of happening and the new festival will take a welcome place on the area’s annual social calendar.  Congratulations to all you hard working people for an event well done.  Among the upcoming dates of interest and importance on that calendar will be the Eastern Douglas County Volunteer Fire Department’s Annual Chili Supper and Auction on November 4th.  Year around, there are opportunities to participate in our communities to help make them the kind of places where we all feel lucky to live.  Champion!

Young Chase Cauthron lives in downtown Champion with his mom and dad.  He was lucky last week to have his grandmother, Starla Yekel, visiting from Cody Wyoming.  She was lucky enough to be in Champion on Wednesday when Chase led the band in “The ABC Song,” “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “Row Your Boat.”  He has a nice ukulele which he plays left handed.  His grandmother was suitably impressed.  Johnny and Lori Cox came all the way from the remote exurbs of Kansas City so that Johnny could sit in on this jam.  He played “Proud Mary,” “Hobo Bill,” and “Folsom Prison Blues.”  They also came to the Vanzant Jam on Thursday and made some new friends.  Johnny is one of those distant cousins of The General, so he has a predetermined foothold in the community.  The practice he did on the wide veranda on Wednesday paid off and he was in fine form for Vanzant  Lynette Cantrell also came Thursday night and made the announcement that due to the coming cold weather and darkness, the Monday night Jam on the Square in Mountain Grove will be changed to Tuesday night at Clark’s Eatery on the south side of the Square.  The time will still be from 6 to 8 pm.  The nice folks at Clark’s will make the banquet room available for acoustic jammers every Tuesday.  “Put another nickel in, in the nickelodeon.  All I want is loving you and music, music, music.”

The Inuit people live in the Artic regions of Greenland, the United States and Canada.  These people are said to be incredible weather forecasters.  It was reported that they have issued a warning to NASA that the earthquakes and the changes in climate are not caused by global warming.  They claim that the Earth has “wobbled” or shifted, and that their sky has changed.  Certainly many people feel that things worldwide have changed and gone awry, particularly so here in the United States.  People wonder if we all believe in freedom, in freedom of speech, in peace and compassion, honor and service, how can we be in this untenable disarray nationally?  How did it happen that our military industrial money media security complex has more sway than the wishes of the people for peace and security?  An article written by Neal Gabler, a noted American journalist and historian, was shared by Bill Moyers at ‘Moyers and Company’ on the internet.  In it he states that rural votes are worth more than urban votes; white votes are worth more than minority votes; rich and middle-class votes are worth more than poor votes; old voters are worth more than young voters; single-issue voters are worth more than general interest voters; Republican primary voters are worth more than other voters; an oligarch’s vote is worth that of tens of millions of ordinary voters.  Gabler has reasons and statistics to back up these statements.  There is a big move on currently for open primaries, which would give voters more choice.  There are Supreme Court cases being adjudicated over gerrymandering.  Voter identification requirements are working more in the area of voter suppression than inclusion.  When fewer than half eligible voters vote, little wonder things get a little “wobbly.”  Some have suggested making Election Day a National holiday as a way to increase voter turnout.  We cannot make it mandatory to vote, after all, this is a free country, but making it more difficult does not seem like the ‘American way.’  It is funny how things can be presented to us as if they are good for us.  Are there more than half a dozen people in Douglas County who will benefit by the tax cuts currently being considered?  Will the rest of us pay for those tax cuts in reduced services and benefits?  Will public education foot the bill?  It has been suggested that if our elected representatives were to wear uniforms like the professional race car drivers 86 45, with all their sponsors emblazoned on their backs and sleeves, perhaps we could tell whose interest they really serve.

The waning gibbous moon seen through fog makes fall seem more upon us.  The rapid passage of time is evident as Pete and Bonnie Mullens celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary last week.  They will tell you that the years have flown by like the seasons.  The first frost of the autumn is generally figured to be somewhere between October 11th and 20th in this part of Missouri.  Those house plants that have been enjoying the great out of doors will need to be brought in.  Some gardens are still producing in spite of a lack of rain.  They are about ready to be cleaned up and put to bed for the winter with a nice blanket of manure and leaves.  Spinach and kale might have time to make before it gets too cold, though it has been pointed out by more than one Old Champion that just a little bit of olive oil in your kale makes it easier to scrape off your plate into the compost.  Then there is the firewood.  There is plenty to do.  Figure out what needs to be done next and get busy.  If you feel like you are overworked, go lol away some time in front of your computer at www.championnews.us and see how things have gone on in one of the world’s truly beautiful places over the last decade.  Or come down to the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek and see for yourself while you chill out for a spell amid pleasant company.  You can consult with your neighbors and compare your progress.  Chances are pretty good that you will be ready for what comes your way in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


October 2, 2017

CHAMPION—October 2, 2017


Clouds sailing over Champion.

Much will be written about the tragic event in Los Vegas. It touches all of us in some way. Outpourings of love and compassion may be joined by a genuine effort to make this mass shooting be the last one. The 250 Lakota massacred at Wounded Knee are scarcely remembered in history. We hope this, the worst mass shooting since 1890, will be remembered. It will take great minds to find a preventive remedy. Where are those minds? Who are they?

The Douglas County Health Department will have twenty free flu shots to give on a first come, first serve basis at the Skyline School on Friday, October 6th from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Elisabeth is the nurse who is visiting Champion and Skyline these days. She is pleasant and professional and the whole program of the DCHD is a valuable amenity for the area. The area will be full people on Saturday and Sunday for the Pioneer Heritage Festival of the Ozarks. It will be held at Chapel Grove on Highway 14 just west of Bryant Creek. It looks like it is going to be a great event and that the weather will be perfect for it. There will be lots of music, food, and demonstrations of all sorts. Dale and Betty Thomas can attest to the amount of hard work required to make a festival like this happen. This is a new happening and hopes are that it will be as long lasting and successful as the one that inspired it.

Draven Koepke is a 7th grade student at Skyline School. His birthday is on the 9th of October. Madeline Ward was born on October 10th, 2006. The driver of that red 1960-something GTO who sashays through the square with a belt squealing has a birthday on the 11th. Janet Chapin and Evelyn Wood both celebrate on October 12th, which used to be known as Columbus Day. (These days Columbus Day is celebrated on the second Monday of October, which makes it October 9th this year. Many people are now celebrating it as Indigenous People’s Day in order to promote an accurate telling of the United States’ history and to commemorate the resilience of its original inhabitants against European settlers.) Cathie Baldwin has her birthday on the 13th. Eva Clark, Jillian Hall, Twyla Friloux and Leslie Krider all celebrate on the 14th. The 15th is for Joe Moskaly and for Skyline 1st grader Keedien Curtis. There was a great picture of Pete and Bonnie Mullens on the internet on Sunday morning. Pete is celebrating his 90th birthday and his friends and family are celebrating him. Birthdays are our chance to acknowledge those special people in our lives though they are special every day of the year. Happy days to all you Champions!

The purpose of Constitution Week, which just passed, (Sept. 17-23) is to emphasize citizens’ responsibilities for protecting and defending the Constitution and to inform people that it is the basis for America’s great heritage and the foundation of our way of life. The observance also carries encouragement for the study of the historical events which led to its framing in 1787. The late Molly Ivins said, “I’d rather see someone burn the flag and wrap themselves in the Constitution than to burn the Constitution and wrap themselves in the flag.” Dale Earnhardt Jr. quoted John Kennedy saying, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” Everyone has a right to peacefully protest. (Refer to the history that resulted in the framing of the Constitution.) We are a Nation founded by protesters. It turns out that the football player who started the kneeling during the National Anthem first started just sitting down for it. A well-known rival player, who was also a Veteran of one of our current military conflicts, wrote to him and said that, as a Veteran, he was offended by the guy sitting down during the Anthem. He was polite in his statement and received a polite response which generated a face to face meeting between the two. The upshot of it was that the Veteran told the protester that at a military funeral the flag of the deceased is folded thirteen times and then presented to the next of kin from a kneeling position. He suggested that kneeling was a way for the protester to honor the Veterans and the flag and still exercise his right to bring attention to the injustice of unarmed people routinely being killed by police. Agree or disagree with his protest, but figure that the presidential feud with the NFL most likely goes back to a billion dollar lawsuit which he won back in 1986. He sued for more than a billion, but was only awarded $1.00. By the time the Supreme Court ruled on it a few years later, he had accrued interest that brought the sum up to $3.87. The whole kerfuffle looks like a grudge—a way to punish the NFL—86-45. It seems inappropriate for the ‘leader’ of the Nation to be swearing on television. All of the attention to this matter is a diversionary tactic and takes up a lot of energy that could be spent helping American citizens in dire need and other important issues pertinent to the wellbeing of the people.

The many fall festivals around the country get folks out in the beautiful weather and meeting up with friends and neighbors. Musicians have been having a wonderful time at all the area bluegrass gatherings. It was great to see several of them back at Vanzant Thursday. There are more places for them to go in the weeks ahead, so the home folks will be glad for them to be having fun and glad when they come home. One imagines that the whole country may be steeped in the richness of live local music, though it may not be so. Around these parts we can sing, “The hills are alive with the sound of music….” even if that may not be the genre of choice.

When a few clouds act like they might sail over Champion, some people hang laundry on the line and wash their cars just hoping that the theory of positive and negative jinxing will take hold. We could certainly use some rain. Colorful fall foliage may not be in the offing this year. Fall gardens are suffering for lack of rain though gardeners are out there every morning with the hose. It seems that a tea cup of rain does more good than a gallon of well water. Things could be better here, but no one will complain considering the hardships that weather, fire, and seismic activity have brought to so many Americans and others around the world. We are indeed grateful for our blessings and sympathetic to those suffering hardships. They number in the millions. Come down to the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek and you will be in one of the world’s most beautiful and fortunate places. “The night was dark and stormy, the air was full of sleet. The old man stepped out in the yard and his shoes were full of feet. Oh! It ain’t a gonna rain no more, no more. It ain’t a gonna rain no more…” but optimists hope that it will soon in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Champions are hoping for rain.