February 26, 2018

CHAMPION—February 26, 2018


The New East Champion Fox Creek Bridge after its first significant submerging.

Was ever a week so beautifully begun?  It was an exceptionally sunny Sunday after so many monotonous dreary drenching days–dull and dank.  The landscape was washed and bright with sunlight dancing on every still pond, puddle and flowing stream.  The inconvenience of having to go the long way around instead of over the low water crossing was mitigated by clean distant vistas and burgeoning daffodils.  A bucket over in east-Champion, a mile from the square, registered six inches on Saturday afternoon.  We think the drought is over.  Certainly the New East Champion Fox Creek Bridge has enjoyed its first substantial submerging.  Farmers endure hardships connected with weather that others of us are spared.  By Monday some of those farmers were out burning brush, clearing fence rows and doing farm chores in the sunshine.

The date for the Second Annual Champion Spring Fling has yet to be set though several inquiries have been made.  Stay tuned for an update when one becomes available.  The Prominent Champion Girlfriend says that she will make the announcement as soon as Spring officially arrives.  That will be March 20th or very soon thereafter.  The General has already started the ball rolling for the annual Denlow/Fairview school reunion.  It is to be May 26, 2018, Memorial Day weekend, at the Denlow Church and Cemetery.  There will be a big pot-luck (side dishes and desserts requested) around noon and then a program and auction of donated items at 2 p.m.  The General says, “Anyone with or without talent may bring a musical instrument or [any who] can sing/partially carry a tune are encouraged to join the sensational Fox Creek Renegade Musical…” something or other.  He goes on and on, warning of unknown out of state visitors and extending the invitation to come early and stay late.  It is a great place to renew old friendships and to look over old ancestral haunts.  Hopes are that Pete and Bonnie Mullins will make it down from Wichita this year.  They always make it a sweeter affair.  It is almost three months away, but early planning makes for a successful event and it can be said that The General is on top of it.

March birthdays make for good celebrations as the gloom of winter seems to be behind us and everything is greening and growing.  Mrs. Barker who teaches at the Skyline School has her birthday on the 3rd of March.  Bridge aficionado, Linda, up in Norwood enjoys her birthday on the 5th.  Krenna Long lives further up the road north of Norwood and enjoys that day as well.  Rylee Sartor is a third grade student who will party on the 6th.  Bailey is a little girl who lives in Portland, Oregon and has Douglas County grandparents who have a chicken named Violet.  She and Violet are fast friends, though they do not get to see each other very often.  Bailey and family friend, Kay Dennis, both celebrate on the 9th.  Mrs. Vivod, first grade teacher at Skyline will have her celebration on the 10th.  Birthdays are a fine time to tell family and friends that they are loved and appreciated.  A sweet little fellow named Simon, who will be two years old in June, was the hit of a birthday party on Sunday.  The party was for a 70 year old fellow, but Simon was the star attraction, just being funny, sweet, and loveable.  In just 68 years he will be 70.  That will be the year 2086.  It seems like a long way off, but looking backwards, 68 years has flown by.  The weeks fly by.  Word comes from Ms. Helen at Skyline that the Douglas County Nurse will be at the school on the 13th rather than the 6th, since the school will be closed for Spring Break at that time.  Nurse Tina will be there doing blood pressure and other health screenings for the community.  We live in a nice place.

Kaitlyn McConnell’s Ozarks Alive program, “Preserving Old Time Music” over at the Historium in Gainesville Saturday was fine entertainment for those who could attend as well as for those who enjoyed it live-streamed over the internet.  It is splendid that new technology is helping us stay connected with some of the great old stuff.  Local longtime musicians shared stories and tunes including “Rabbit in the Pea Patch” and “The Home Brew Rag.”  Noel Scott, Alvie Dooms, David Scrivner, J.R. Johnston, H. K. Slivey and Glen Dale Robertson scrubbed off “The Irish Cobbler,” “Black Mountain Rag,” and “Statler’s Reel” while a few took to the dance floor for the pure joy of it.  Old melodies change through the generations but the appreciation the musicians have for their peers and predecessors is a constant.  More than one reference was made to Kenny Bushong who passed away recently.  Music is a rich community in this part of the world.

It will soon be time for Lem and Ned to come ambling up the driveway looking to see if they can be of any help.  In these days of almost endless discontent, it is indeed pleasant to have thoughtful, energetic young folks on the place.  They have been around and have developed what some folks consider a broad world-view–a Weltanschauung.  They can help to break our filter bubble and put us in the situation of seeing what other people think is true.  It is kind of staggering sometimes.  “Congratulations to any who can change their minds when presented with information that contradicts their beliefs.”  That is one of the “Lofty Thoughts” sent in this week to champion@championnews.us   Another comes in the form of a quote from Frederick Douglass who said, “They that can, may; I cannot.  The time for such argument is passed.  At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument is needed.  O! had I the ability, and could reach the nation’s ear, I would, today, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke.”  He was a Republican.  He passed away in 1895.  Democrat, Stephen A. Douglas, for whom Douglas County was named when it was officially organized in 1856, passed away in 1861.  Over the years the political parties have switched ideologies and there is, at this moment, enough vitriol being poured into the Nation’s ear to plow a whole section if we could distill it for use in tractors.  Warming weather excites gardeners.  Those many past dry days would have been an excellent time to get plenty of manure on the soil that has been overworked and undernourished for years.  Now it is nice and wet—both the garden and the manure.  A guy named David Mallett wrote “The Garden Song.”  “Inch by inch, row by row Gonna make this garden grow Gonna mulch it deep and low Gonna make it fertile ground” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Champion after the rain.

February 19, 2018

CHAMPION—February 19, 2018


Champion Backyard Birds

On a Saturday morning foray out into the big world an Old Champion paused to appreciate some pretty puddles along the way pondering the past dry months and remembering the floods of last Spring.  On that warm day in February when the dog was looking for the shade, the Surprise Lilies and the Snow Drops were peeping up along with some Jonquils and other bulbous beauties.  Spring is knocking on Champion’s door.  Hello!

A grateful accident victim contacted The Champion News to find out how to send money to the Skyline Volunteer Fire Department.  He had taken a serious fall, was hurt and in a great deal of pain.  His wife was not able to get him into a vehicle to take him to the emergency room.  She called her emergency number (Douglas County Sheriff’s Office–683-1020) and a couple of first responders from the SVFD were soon on the scene.  They handled the situation with calm confidence and in a short while the injured man was transported by ambulance to Springfield.  He is home recovering now and is appreciative of the efficiency of the well trained fire fighters/first responders.  He was told to send his money to Skyline VFD, Rt. 72 Box 254, Norwood, MO 65717.  Skyline first responders recently used their Jaws of Life tool to free a young Drury man from a wrecked truck over near Sweden.  They are volunteers, willing to drop what they are doing to come to the aid of their neighbors.  The dues that the fire district membership pay do not nearly cover the cost of operating these vital public services, so any time there is a fund raiser, go and have some fun while supporting the organization.  Participate.  It is acceptable to express gratitude with money any time.  It is also meaningful to those volunteers to be recognized and valued.

The Winter Olympics have been a marvelous diversion from domestic turmoil.  Beautiful young athletes doing incredible feats of skill, strength, speed and daring lift our spirits and make us again feel that there are lofty ambitions and honorable people all over the world.  For people who have been feeling like the Nation is somewhere between 1928 and 1929 and on the upstream side of Niagara Falls, the distraction is more than welcome.  Television likely is a bigger part of the lives of many than is healthy.  Those athletes did not get where they are by sitting around being entertained, lulled, informed, inflamed, soothed and marketed.  Selecting wisely among the available viewing choices is a challenge for Champions.

Skyline School students are looking forward to Spring Break.  That will happen from March 5th through the 9th.  Actually counting week-ends, they will be free from the 3rd through the 11th!  That could be counted as nine days—certainly enough time to go see Grandma!  Mindy Johnson from over at the Douglas County Herald is sending in her box tops to help Skyline raise funds through the Box Tops for Education program.  Most General Mills products have official coupons printed on them that are worth $.10 each.  One old Campion is amazed at how many Best Choice products she uses—yogurt, cottage cheese, butter, napkins, snack bags, all kinds of canned vegetables.  The part of the label to save is the part with the bar code.  Save a bunch of them and drop them off at the school or mail them the way Mindy did to Skyline R2 School—Box Tops, Rt. 72 Box 486, Norwood, MO 65717.

Jeffery Goss Jr. from over near Gainesville sent some flyers to be posted locally concerning a conference to be held March 8-9 at the West Plains Civic Center called “Bringing Back the American small Farm.”  Featured speakers will be Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm, Hank Will of Mother Earth News and GRIT Magazine and Patrick Byers, MU Extension Horticulturalist.  For more information go to www.AmericanSmallFarm.com or call 417-293-0590.  Jeffrey said that he saw that the Health Department is offering screenings at various rural locations including Redbud store.  He wants to know if it is still open “(Not Redbank, mind you, but Redbud.)”  The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 is the address to respond to Jeffrey’s inquiry.  This week the “Lofty Thoughts” mail included a quote from Major General Smedley D. Butler of the U.S. Marine Corps, a two time winner of The Congressional Medal of Honor, who said in 1935, “War is a racket.  It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious.  It is the only one international in scope.  It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.  A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to be to the majority of people.  Only a small ‘inside’ group knows what it is really about.  It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the very many.  Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.”  Another thought was attributed to the actor and great dancer, Christopher Walken, who was reported to have said, “If you know how quickly people forget the dead, you will stop living to impress people.”

Vanzant Bluegrass Jammers were not providentially hindered from their Thursday gathering.  The pot luck supper (6 p.m. every Thursday) was bountiful and the music (7 to 9) was excellent with twenty musicians from far and wide participating.  Music has such healing properties.  It lifts our spirits when we are down and sooths us in sorrow.  It gladdens our hearts and carries us away from our difficulties.  An old World War I song goes, “…What’s the use in worrying?  It never was worthwhile so, pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and smile, smile, smile!”

Tina, our Douglas County Health Department nurse, will be in Champion for her monthly fourth Tuesday visit on the 27th.  She will be at Henson’s Store until 11:00 a.m. doing blood pressure and blood sugar checks.  This time she hopes to have the cholesterol machine and other testing equipment.  Champions feel fortunate to be well cared for.  It is a treat to be on the wide, wild wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek.  Last Wednesday’s Valentine party was a sweet success.  Friends gathered to enjoy cookies, cupcakes, lasagna and good conversation.  Many comments heard around the ancient wood stove are prefaced with, “Now this is not for publication…” and then they go on telling stories about things that happened around here long ago and sometimes not so long ago.  Of course, the Historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square is open every day (except for Sundays and Monday afternoons for restocking) so there is ample opportunity for folks from out in the big world to amble by for fellowship, victuals, chicken feed, nostalgia and enlightenment.  “On the sunny side of the mountain where the wild red roses grow” in Champion!  Looking on the Bright Side!


February 12, 2018

CHAMPION—February 12, 2018


The wild vicissitudes of weather drive many current conversations.  Old Champions, opting for prudence, decided to enjoy the warm comfort of their little country home rather than going to a movie matinee.  Many who had to be out during these tricky road conditions found difficulties along the way.  Car crashes and slips and falls take their tolls—more expensive than movie tickets.  The actor, Wes Studi, is playing Chief Yellow Hawk in the film ‘Hostiles.’  Christian Bale plays Captain J.J. Blocker.  They say that the film presents an authentic portrait of the native peoples living in the 1890s.  A review from the Billings Gazette says, “….former rivals are forced to work together to survive, eventually transition their relationship from hate to respect and ultimately acceptance and love.”  The writer encourages us to see this movie and to go with an open mind and open heart.  That kind of encouragement can be applied to all manner of social, cultural, and political situations.  Icy conditions outside made the week-end a great time for enjoying the Winter Olympics on television and for watching the birds at the feeders in the yard.  The birds entertain all year, but when it is so bleak, gray and cold outside, their beauty is more evident and glorious by contrast.  The contrast and competition among the world’s athletes is also a thing of beauty.  Not only are these young people physically beautiful, but the attitudes and gratitude they all seem to exhibit gives a positive spin to tumultuous and troubling world affairs.  It is nice to see these wholesome young Champions behaving well.  The feats they exhibit are astounding.  We are amazed that such antics are possible.  There is danger inherent in most all of the events and more danger as overly inspired Old Champions go gliding across the kitchen floor, arms extended, head thrown back as the music swells.

The Champion News mailbox (TCN, Rt. 72, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717) received good mail this week.  Jody Henson wrote that Royce had hip surgery on December 13th–their 59th wedding anniversary.  He is busy doing physical therapy and pleased to be ‘homebound’ with Jody.  They are staying home to avoid the contagious diseases going around, but Jody says, “We will survive and God is Good!”  Friends will be looking for them at the Champion Spring Fling when the date is set for that sterling event.  North Texas Hillbillies, Suzie and Wes Freeman, say the weather has not been bad there.  Wes has planted seven rows of onions and has two more bunches to plant.  Suzie brags on him and his wooden truck replicas.  He has now produced 110 models in all colors.  She said they were married November 23, 1965 in Mountain Grove.  The Champion News had erroneously credited them with fifty-five years of marriage when, in fact, it has only been fifty-two years (and almost three months now).  They have happy years ahead of them.  There were also several pieces submitted to “Lofty Thoughts” at champion@championnews.us.  One suggests that the five kinds of people who will help us the most in life are the inspired, the passionate, the motivated, the grateful and the open-minded.  A more somber note came with a quote from the Artist Formerly Known as Prince (Prince Rogers Nelson), “ A two party system, the lesser of two dangers, the illusion of choice.  A veiled form of fascism where nothing really changes and you never had a voice.”  Another quotes Frank Zappa who said, “Music is always a commentary on society.”  He also said, “There are more love songs than anything else.  If songs could make you do something, we’d all love one another.”

Birthdays!  How often we think of dear Ruby Proctor with her sweet smile and generous heart!  She was born right in Champion and always loved the place and its people.  Her birthday was on the 19th of February.  Her sons, Pete and Frankie, celebrate on the 18th and the 29th.  Joanna Bell was born February 21, 1969.  Carson and Drayson will find out their Mother was born on February 23, 1983.  Ella Mae, who believes in Chem-trails, shares her birthday with the Indian Swede who believes in growing things and the beauty of rocks and feathers.  That is the 24th.  Jack Masters, great grand-son of Uncle Al Masters, will enjoy his birthday on the 27th.  He is a linebacker already awarded a college football scholarship.  He will finish his senior year at McCallum High School this spring.  Enjoy your special days and as many others as you can.  Time is filled with swift transitions.

Tim Tamburrino and Sara were at the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam on Thursday evening.  They really get around.  He established the Midwest Bluegrass Directory in 2012.  He says, “I believe we need to PRESERVE AND PROMOTE this music for future Generations.”  He has 1,534 people following his internet post of scheduled events and featured musicians.  That quadruple by-pass that he had last October does not seem to have slowed him down.  You will recognize him when you see him—a big man in a big white hat, a nice smile through a white beard, a pretty red shirt, a turquoise bolo tie and a camera on a tripod.  He and Sara are doing a good job of preserving and promoting.  A YouTube video appeared on the internet of Kenny Bushong at the McClurg Jam playing an old time fiddle tune.  The video was published in 2012 by folks at the Myerstown Family Farm who said, “He always says, ‘Well it wasn’t much but I put out all I had.’”  He passed away on Thursday, the 8th.  Those who had a chance to hear him play and to be acquainted with him knew him to be a real gentleman—a Champion.  He will be much missed on the Bright Side.


February 5, 2018

CHAMPION—February 5, 2018


A Champion Blizzard on Sunday afternoon.

The Groundhog’s prediction played out significantly on Sunday with blizzard-like conditions in the afternoon.  Six more weeks of winter will be just the right amount and then glorious Spring will be upon Champion again and the tribulations of late frosts and heavy rains or no rains will be the concerns of that season.  For now the Internet will be covered with snow pictures.  Certainly there will be some good ones at www.championnews.us.  There a person can also find all the news that does not appear in print on paper, in the original text, going back eleven years.  Road conditions are the current news together with the big pile up out on I-44 Sunday evening and the many other accidents all around the area.  Hopes are that all the injured and inconvenienced people will find comfort and safety and whatever they need.  The weather turned out to be more dangerous than people expected.  Champions stay home if they can and take special precautions if they must be out.  Skyline R2 School was closed because of road conditions.  Additionally, seasonal sickness has been going through the student body, so a school closing is a chance for staff to continue their on-going program of sanitizing.  Champions appreciate our wonderful little rural school and all those dedicated people who keep it going.

Sharon Sanders, reigning Douglas County Checker Champion and curator of the Douglas County Museum, has just celebrated a birthday.  Melissa Lilly Masters, Navy Veteran and Champion niece has her birthday on the 6th, and Cowboy Jack revels on the 7th.  He continues to keep his hat out of the creek.  Zoey Louise and Alexandra Jean can sing, “Happy birthday, dear Mom,” on the 8th.  Skyline first grade student Aidan Acree celebrates on the 8th.  Clare Shannon Johnson parties on the 13th and was seen congratulating her friend Debbie Newlyn on-line on her own recent birthday.  The 13th is the birthday of Skyline fifth grader Joshua Garner.  Miss Shelby Ward was born on Valentine’s Day.  She has Champion grandparents who live off in Salem but come home often.  Skyline fourth grader, Madison Bradshaw was born the 16th of February.  Trish Davis is a recent twins-grannie.  Her birthday is on the 17th.  That day is also for Linda Clark, a triplets-grannie.  All you Champions, curators, students, teachers, Veterans, nieces, parents, grandchildren and grandparents can be delighted because your friends and families love and admire you.  Enjoy it.

Imagine what a stranger might think upon entering your home for the first time.  When his or her attention moves from your welcoming smile, what does the stranger register about you and your place?  A well-appointed space with gleaming surfaces and elegant minimalism can still feel quite home-like.  It does not need to be like an upscale hotel lobby.  Just add some favorite family photos, a special painting by a granddaughter, curiosities and gifts from friends for your collections, your collections, and plants.  Plants always give vibrancy to a space.  So much for the elegant minimalism.  Once a Champion gave a birthday gift to her husband with the following note:  “Happy birthday, Darling!  Here is a gift for you that no amount of stuff can replace.  It is your own clean, flat, empty space.”  (Except for the note.)  There are volumes written about clutter, poems about clutter, web-sites full of quotes about clutter.  The word ‘clutter’ is even heavy—too many t’s.  A neighbor helping another neighbor with some projects assigned most all of her precious stuff with the term ‘junk’ and suggested it should all be eighty-sixed (thrown out).  She was appalled.  Value seems to be a subjective term.  It is not possible to look at a person and to know all that has occurred in that person’s life that causes him to be the way he is.  Judgment is a tricky proposition.  It comes back to Rabby Burns saying, “Oh, would some Power give us the gift To see ourselves as others see us!  It would from many a blunder free us, And foolish notion.”  There is also a growing realization that the generation to come is not interested in the vast majority of the ‘crap’ they are destined to inherit.  A cold, windy day might be a good one to go through that filing cabinet drawer that has not been opened in fifteen years.  Imagine the treasures!

Quotes supplied this week to the “Lofty Thoughts” section of The Champion News champion@championnews.us include Abraham Lincoln’s, “We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the Courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who would pervert the Constitution.”  Herman Melville’s “Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.”  Mahatma Gandhi’s “… Seven sins are:  wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, religion without sacrifice, politics without principal.”

Double fiddles are a double delight and so it was on Thursday at the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam when Roger Williams joined Jerry Wagner and the bunch in the circle making and enjoying the music and the fellowship.  The potluck supper starts at six and by seven the music is on.  It goes around the circle until nine, though often enough, a duo or trio will carry on for a while and it is hard to walk out the door with such good stuff going on.  Almost any night of the week there is a jam going on around here somewhere with great live music.  Valentine’s Day is coming up and love songs will be the mode o day.  Jewelry, flowers and candy, poetry and promises, good deeds and favors all count, but for romance, there is nothing like a good love song.  “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” “Waltz Across Texas With You,” “I Love You Because,” “I Love You Just The Way You Are,” and a new old favorite, “That’s How Much I Love You.”  Eddy Arnold sings, “Now if you were a horsefly and I an old gray mare, I’d stand and let you bite me and never move a hair.  I’d stand and let you bite me and never move a hair, ‘cause that’s how much I love you, Baby.  That’s how much I love you.”  Valentine’s Day is on Wednesday this year.  That makes it all the more special in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Sometimes a trio lingers a while.  Here is Dave Medlock, Travis Hathaway, and Roger Williams.