December 11, 2017

CHAMPION—December 11, 2017


The north side bridgework progressing.

Over 100 people attended the hearing last Tuesday evening at the Ava Community Center on the future of the Bryant Creek State Park.  Most favored keeping the park as a “wild” area, without much development.  It was reported that this meeting drew a larger crowd than the initial meeting in Branson earlier in the year.  There were a number of people from the Park Service there, as well as Forest Rangers in full uniform, a representative of the Department of Natural Resources, and State officials–Lyle Rowland (our representative) and Mike Cunningham (our senator).  If you wanted to go to the meeting and could not attend, or if you just want to learn more about the 2,917 acre park with its old-growth oak and pine forests and nearly two miles of bluffs along Bryant Creek, go to the Missouri State Park website at  There is a place there to add your ideas and your comments.  To participate, click on “Your Input on New State Parks.”

The chief meteorologist at the Vanzant Weather Burro (not Bureau) is predicting an extremely cold winter.  On Friday he reported seeing a caterpillar wearing a hooded sweatshirt and ear muffs.  A distant relative has wooly worms so fuzzy their feet don’t touch the ground and they just roll around in the breeze.  We have breeze but no rain.  Rain might be waiting for the East Champion Fox Creek Bridge to be finished.  The cold may hamper the progress, but the current, clear progress with no rain in the forecast for the next couple of weeks, may well “git ‘er done, Sis,” and then we can all wash our trucks.  A note from the Missouri Department of Conservation concerning the dry weather and fire danger recommends that landowners make a defensible space of 30 feet around homes and structures where fuels and vegetation are treated, cleared or reduced in order to slow the spread of a wildfire.  The defensible area also provides firefighters room to maneuver as they make a stand against fire.  Champions are grateful to live in such a beautiful part of the world and grateful for friends and neighbors who volunteer as fire fighters to protect our homes and lives.

Destiny Surface, a 5th grade student at Skyline R2 School, shares her birthday on the 20th with Rachel Prock, a kindergarten student there, also with sweet Mary Goolsby who attends the Vanzant jam regularly.  The 21st is a special day for Chris Dailey, Archie’s girl.  It also marks the day when a favorite fiddler will enter his 9th decade.  He and Lena have been married sixty years.  They will be the same age until May.  The 22nd is for very young Oliver Cohen’s Dad.  Chase Cauthron, a prekindergarten student at Skyline, has the same birthday as his dear old Dad, and as Butch Stone and as Sharon Sikes.  These birthdays, Chanukah and Christmas altogether make for a festive season.  There are parties and gatherings and music jams going on all over the place.  Christmas lists include the latest gadgets for some, bling for others, necessities for modest folks and, among all, the hope of health and happiness for all ourselves and all our precious dear ones.  Peace on Earth and good will toward men is a Champion wish.

Again the first Christmas card of the season came from the Freemans, Wesley and Karen.  Karen hand-makes cards and writes they are still kicking in Texas and celebrated their 52nd anniversary November 23rd.  Karen’s sister, Daisey Delgado, lost almost everything she had in Hurricane Harvey—personal things, house, furniture, motorcycles and trucks, but still she is grateful.  This was the costliest tropical cyclone on record, inflicting nearly $200 billion in damage, primarily from widespread flooding in the Houston metropolitan area.  That was just back in August.  Time flies and they will be a long time recovering.  Another card comes from J.C. Owsley up Cross Timbers way.  He grew up (way up) over near Crystal Lake.  He encourages:  “Thank you for adding sunshine via The Champion News on-line.”  Friends like to see his photographs taken from behind the ears of a big white borrowed mule or one of his handsome saddle horses.  Maybe he will make it back for one of Bud Hutchison’s trail rides next year.  Bonnie and Pete Mullins, living in Douglas, Kansas now, also get news at and say in their card they are looking forward to having Christmas with their son and his wife.  We are hoping to see them next Denlow School Reunion.  They did not make it this last time and were much missed.  They have until May to get ready.  Merry Christmas back at all you lovely folks.

Watching the news and sitting around the table visiting with friends and family about the current state of affairs, the question comes up, “How it is that good people, with each of the opposing political points of view, wonder how so many are under such strong delusion to believe a lie?” 86 45.  We are reminded that it takes both wings for the Eagle to fly.

Show and Tell at the Wednesday Champion Soiree is more interesting as time goes by.  Among all the things that have been brought to share, the best of all (according to one) was a mandolin banjo.  The guy that owns it does not play it.  He bought it (cheap) years ago and only recently paid $20.00 to a local luthier to have it restrung.  It is a lovely little thing and it languishes on a shelf, not played, while the guy collects other items that he values more.  Hopes are that he will bring it back to the Historic Emporium again soon for a communal musical.  Carnegie Hall held a hootenanny organized by Pete Seeger back in 1962.  Robert Zimmerman performed a song that lasted ten minutes.  It starts out, “Oh, where have you been My blue-eyed son?  And where have you been my darling young one?”  And goes on to say, “I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountain/ I’ve walked and I crawled on six crooked highways, I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests” and winds up “It’s a Hard Rain’s A-gonna Fall” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

The wormhole.

December 4, 2017

CHAMPION—December 4, 2017


Work progresses on the East Champion Fox Creek Bridge.

With the specter of Christmas looming large, Champions are still reveling in the memories of a lovely Thanksgiving.  After the feasting an Old Champion Uncle shared the accomplishments of his niece, Kelly Cox.  She is the creator of The Original Fare, a PBS Food program where she “hunts, forages, and farms her way across the globe to search for the best ingredients our planet has to offer.”  She has Missouri roots and a perspective on food that is eye-opening.  Look for it at and be prepared for some real adventures and surprises.  Another of Kelly Cox’s Champion Uncles reports that hearings are underway and a decision will be made soon about whether to keep or sell the Bryant Creek State Park, one of Missouri’s newest.  It is a beautiful and diverse property in eastern Douglas County.  He says, “It’s a jewel of the Ozarks, and one of the most rugged landscapes in the state.”  Another Old Champion Uncle enjoyed the return engagement of Boy Howdy and the Howdy Boys featuring Rattlesnake Slim and Frankie Midnight.  They played the Friday night soirée including some familiar pieces like “The Old Home Place” which has the refrain, “Why did I leave the plow in the field and look for a job in the town?”  They also shared some eclectic Bulgarian and Albanian tunes, enthralling family, friends and neighbors.  Among myriad reasons to be Thankful are Old Champion Uncles.  Kaitlyn McConnell is off in Ireland and posted a picture on the internet of musicians in a pub playing with the same enthusiasm (and some of the same tunes) as those folks at the McClurg jam.  It is a small and beautifully melodic world.

People with birthdays in December sometimes feel disadvantaged, having been given money for their birthday with the expectation that they spend it on Christmas gifts for others.  That wonderful feeling of giving might compensate for not having a real birthday.  (Perhaps they should choose a random day earlier in the year and just lie about it being their birthday.  It is a standard joke that people lie about their age anyway.)  Film maker Zack Godshall of Baton Rouge, Louisiana shares his birthday on the 6th of December with a talented local Mr. Bell.  Noam Chomsky was born December 7, 1928.  On the 8th another talented man–jeweler, woodworker, designer and cook celebrates on a creek bank with a lovebird named Trixie and a splendid spouse.  The 9th belongs to Skyline R2 School bookkeeper, Mrs. Karen.  That is also the day to celebrate Kaye Johnston’s sweetheart.  The 11th is for Bailey’s mom up in Portland, Oregon.  Danielle Gorham is an 8th grade student at Skyline.  Her birthday is on the 12th.  The 13th is for Kennedy Hinote, a Skyline kindergarten student, and for Richard Green down in the Magic Rio Grande Valley.  The 14th belongs to Zac Alexander’s dear old dad, for the much-missed comrade, Judy Ing, and for Spike Jones, who could gargle an aria with the best of them.  Amanda Mastin up at the Honky Tonk Clothier in Springfield celebrates on the 16th, as does big time movie producer Jesse Ing out in Hollywood.  Happy birthday all you people and get ready for a Merry Christmas.  No lie–it is going to be a Champion Christmas!

The fascinating full super moon shining out there helps to light up the many deer who decide to cross the highways and country lanes in front of oncoming vehicles.  Daytime drivers along C Highway, and doubtlessly other routes, see the deer on the side of the road that were unsuccessful in their crossings.  Dented fenders, hoods and worse show up in local body shops.  The fact that it gets dark earlier these days does not keep people from having to go out at night to do things.  Champions just start early and drive carefully.

Work continues on the East Champion Fox Creek Bridge.  As of Thursday the tinhorn was in place and a great deal of chat was arranged in such a way to allow for a good concrete pour.  It will be exciting to get back that way to see what the fine fellows of Douglas County have wrought.  If the draught continues there will hardly be a need for bridges anywhere.  Dean Brixey was in the neighborhood Wednesday.  He may know when it might have been this dry in the past—maybe in the 1950’s.  It is a gift that ‘old timers’ (sorry, Dean) are willing to share their history and experiences in the place we enjoy so much today.  He may well have come down to the Historic Emporium to get some of those beautiful Champion Christmas Cards or just on the hopes of running into old friends there.  If you cannot make it over to the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek, look at for some vicarious enjoyment of one of the world’s truly beautiful places.

Paul Harvey said, “In times like these it helps to recall there have always been times like these.”  Will Rogers said, “The money was all appropriated for the top in the hopes that it would trickle down to the needy.  Mr. Hoover didn’t know that money trickled up.  Give it to the people at the bottom and the people at the top will have it before night, anyhow.  But it will at least have passed through the poor fellow’s hands.”  Another Old Champion recalls a similar quote from an earlier century:  “If you feed your horse enough oats, some will pass through to feed the sparrow.”  A song cheering the NRA (National Recovery Act—not the National Rifle Association) appears in an anthology of music called “Boom, Bust, and the New Deal.”  “There’s a new day in view.  There is gold in the blue.  There is hope in the hearts of men.  (86 45)  From the plain to the hill, from the farm to the mill, for the road is open again” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

More progress…