March 26, 2018

CHAMPION—March 26, 2018


Orville’s Barn

It is a fine sight to see an old home place being rejuvenated.  The spot that had once been the home of Orville and Ruth Hicks has changed hands a number of times since they departed.  At some point the house burned, leaving steps, the well, some old out buildings, an enormous forsythia, and a carpet of daffodils.  The new owners were delighted with the unexpected flowers and are most interested in the history of the place.  (Herbert and Ida Hutchison deeded it to Joe Hicks in 1935.)  It will take some while for the New Champions to become permanent residents.  Their neighbors are looking forward to getting acquainted with them.  Over the years the beautiful old barn that was Orville’s has slowly decayed.  Now buzzards roost there and there is a patch of sky where there used to be roof.  Maybe there is help for it yet. Someone said that one of the Sutherlands helped Orville build the barn.  Any information or anecdotes about these folks and the place will be appreciated.  Address them to or to TCN Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.

Skyline third grade student, J.P. Rhodes, always has a special and cool birthday, April 1st.  This year, in addition to April-Fool’s Day his birthday will also be Easter Sunday!  Miranda Cannucci will celebrate her birthday on April 3rd.  She is a fifth grade student.  Second grade’s Larissa Pendergrass has her birthday on April 6th.  Champions wish all you dynamic young Skyline students the very happiest of birthdays!  Old timers looking back on their elementary school days get a charge out of seeing this wonderful little rural school in operation.  It has only a few more students now than Denlow had at its high point.  A photograph from 1912 shows 68 students and two teachers.  Denlow and five other school districts consolidated into Skyline in 1955.  Eventually there were a dozen or so little school districts involved.  It must have been an exciting time.  One student, later of the Mountain Grove Class of 1964, said that Skyline had the first indoor plumbing she had ever seen.

The Skyline Wellness Committee is hosting the Skyline Fun Run on Saturday, April 14th.  The General was almost willing to accept the challenge but he saw on the flyer that check-in time is 7:30 A. M. and the race starts at 8:00 a.m.  (The hour is not commensurate with his lifestyle.)  In addition to promoting health and wellness in our community, the event will benefit the Practical Parenting Partnership (the PPP) which does many good things to support the school.  To register for the Fun Run, contact Helen or Bridget at 417-683-4874 by April 11th.  There will be medals awarded and free snacks and water and the good feeling of being part of a thriving community.  Teacher Terri Ryan reports that the kids had a good time at the Branson archery tournament.  She said there were 3000 archers competing over the two days and they were the best in the state.  The four Skyline students who qualified this year were Levi and Wyatt Hicks, Grace Crawford, and Cyanna Davis.  Champions all!

Coddiwomple is a new word for The Champion News.  It means to travel in a purposeful manner toward a vague destination.  That may be what the folks are doing when they take the garbage from your can or your dumpster and find a secluded back road to go through it.  A commercial refuse company spokesman said this is a new occurrence in this area.  Rural residents are reminded to segregate any personal information—anything with banking, credit card, or health information, etc.  Those things need to be shredded or burned or otherwise dealt with in a secure manner.  Your bank has good information about protecting yourself from identity theft.  As for the litter resulting from this kind of shenanigan, if it makes your eye sore, just pick it up.  Meanwhile, gardeners are on a Coddiwomple getting ready for a fruitful season.  Skip and Ina from over near Gainesville have shared some cucumber seeds.  They are regulars at the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam and shared cucumbers way into the fall last year.  The cukes were wonderful—small seeds, crisp, bright flesh, thin skinned and good keepers.  Skip says for best pollination, plant at least three plants to the hill.  It is a little early to plant them, but there is plenty of time to transfer some of that good old stuff the cows, chickens, donkeys, and horses make out of the hay and grain they eat.  ‘Old’ is the optimum word.  Not only does the fresh stuff stink, but it burns tender vegetation.  Work the old stuff well into the soil.  The almanacs say the next good days for planting will be the 30th for crops that bear their yield above the ground and the 31st for root crops.  Old Champions who sat around watching “Gunsmoke” all winter and then jumped up to do a little something with the shovel and the rake have creaking joints and sore muscles.  They need a more leisurely Coddiwomple.

Our freedoms to peaceably assemble and to petition the government for redress of grievances are also part of the guarantees afforded by our glorious democracy.  As the next generations of voters engage, hopefully, they will revitalize the process of governance, currently in disarray.  National Vietnam War Veterans Day, Thursday, March 29 gives us a chance to acknowledge our Vietnam Veterans and their sacrifices.  There are still hard feelings between some Veterans who served and anti-war protesters who did not.  Emotional divides are powerful ones.  Courage is described as not being fearless, but acting even though you are afraid.  Generation Z kids, Veterans and Baby-Boomers have more in common than might be apparent.  They all sing, “…God shed His grace on thee and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea” with equal fervor.

Ease on down to the wide, wild wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek for an opportunity to peaceably assemble with neighbors and friends.  Discuss current events or history, music, literature, or gardening.  Whatever the topic of conversation, look up and around to see that you are in one of the world’s truly beautiful places.  Up on the ridges fruit trees are beginning to bloom.  The Prominent Champion girlfriend is too young to remember Pat Boone who sang, “April love is for the very young/ Every star’s a wishing star that shines for you/ April love is all the seven wonders/ One little kiss can tell you this is true.”  She probably knows more current love songs and she recently revealed that the Second Annual Champion Spring Fling which celebrates her birthday will be on May 5th in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Spring approaches Champion… [enlarge]

March 19, 2018

CHAMPION—March 19, 2018


Daffodil Dog

Looking back at the archives from a year ago shows that some things were a little farther ahead.  The Bradford pear was blooming by March 6th.  On the 13th of March there was snow on the daffodils.  Looking farther back to 2015, there were dire predictions that have indeed come to fruition.  Would it not be nice if we could project ourselves forward to see the consequences of our actions today?  If that were possible, would we then be willing to listen to our returning selves when we say, “Proceed with caution.”  Caution has been thrown to the wind.  Some disparage the usefulness of history, but surely the account of these days will read like Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky met the Three Stooges and hilarity ensued.  Or like a besotted Charles Dickens lamenting today’s unbridled selfishness and contempt for the common good.  The March 23, 2015 edition of The Champion News references Romans 5: “Tribulation works patience and patience, experience and experience, hope.”  Another quote from that edition: “If you were a dainty dish of sweet cream butter and I were a fancy filigreed silver butter knife, I’d smear you all over these hills, just like the daffodils.”  People with grandchildren down in Texas can soon hope to be getting pictures of the little darlings in fields of bluebonnets.  Those fields will look like they were spread with blueberry jam.  When those pictures do not come, some Old Champions are content to settle for pictures of dogs in daffodils.

Good things are going on at Skyline R2 School.  New raised garden beds are going up around the green-house area.  Students are learning to grow food—a great program.  Douglas County Health Department Nurse, Elizabeth, was there Tuesday doing free blood pressure checks for area residents.  She also spent time with the youngest students on her monthly visit, this time teaching about poison awareness.  Despite best efforts, sometimes poisonings can happen.  The nurse says if you suspect a poisoning do not wait for symptoms to appear.  Call the Poison Control Center right away!  1-800-222-1222.  On the 27th of March, Skyline third grade teacher Mrs. Downs will have her birthday.  Bus Driver Mr. Ted, also celebrates that day.  Prekindergarten students Brailynn Cumby and Tucker Johnson have their birthdays on the 28th and the 30th.  We wish Happy Birthday to our great Skyline students and staff.  Happy birthday wishes also go out to Jack Masters, a senior line-backer at McCallum High School in Austin, Texas.  He was born on March 27, 2000.  Uncle Al Masters was his great grandfather.  Bobbie Nicholson is a talented Scot singer songwriter.  “It Wasne Me” is one of his great pieces.  His birthday is on the 29th of March and the fair Morag Edward celebrates on the 31st.  If she follows suggestions, she will have been celebrating since the 15th.  Next Tuesday will be the 27th–the last Tuesday of the month the Douglas County Health Department nurse will be at Champion doing the blood pressure checks and other health screenings from 9 to 11 a.m.   Bad weather kept her (Nurse Tina) away last month, but she is back on schedule now providing a valuable service for the community.

Just as a good point of information, if you are going over to the Vanzant Jam of a Thursday evening and intending to play “Oh! Danny Boy,” the standard key for that tune is C.  It is always a pleasant evening with good food (potluck at 6), good music (7-9), and pleasant visiting with friends and neighbors.  The other evening Sherry Bennett said that Sharry Lovan had asked about when the Champion Spring Fling was going to occur.  The Prominent Champion Girlfriend has promised an announcement once Spring has officially arrived.  Last year it was on May 6th—a Saturday and a lovely event.  All kinds of events are being scheduled.  Bud Hutchison will have his Spring Trail Ride from Champion to somewhere and back sometime in May and the Ozarks Older Iron Club will be having its Spring Show on May 11th.  It will happen over in Cabool—a great place to bring the family to enjoy some old time stuff.  There will be an antique tractor show and tractor pull along with gas engines and all kinds of antique equipment displays.  Tell us about your favorite special events by email at or snail mail to The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.

A woman who moved to this part of the world a few years ago from a big city remarked that she had been surprised and saddened to see how often she saw litter along the roads.  She said, “I wanted to say, ‘Don’t you people know what you have here?  This is a beautiful part of the world.’”  If while going down our beautiful country lanes, you are offended by litter, do yourself a favor.  Stop and pick it up.  The feeling of doing something good washes away the aggravation of seeing what careless, thoughtless people do.  It turns out that people are more likely to litter in an area where litter is already present.  It may be that a gentle word in some nonjudgmental tone might encourage an habitual litterer to stop.  Kindness is a more effective communicator than harsh rebuke.  People who throw beer cans and bottles out on the road one at a time are doing so so as not to have ‘empties’ in their vehicle.  Be careful of people’s feelings and be careful picking up their trash as the weather warms up.  It is always a good idea to have a pair of gloves in your car or truck anyway.  You probably have an extra Wal-Mart bag around and if not, you can probably find one along the road somewhere.  Wasps and ants may occupy cans and you never know when you will run into a copperhead in the springtime.

What better harbinger of Spring than an early morning yard full of robins?  When these migratory songbirds are feeding in flocks, they are vigilant, watching other birds for reactions to predators such as hawks, cats, and snakes.  They are some of the first birds to sing at dawn, and their song consists of several discrete units that are repeated.  The Missouri Department of Conservation says they are a cherished symbol of springtime and their value to the human spirit is reflected in poetry and song.  “He rocks in the treetops all day long/ Hoppin’ and a-boppin’ and singing his song/ All the little birds on Jaybird Street/ Love to hear the robin go tweet-tweet-tweet” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


March 12, 2018

CHAMPION—March 12, 2018


A Champion Spring Deer

On March 20th our sun, well, everybody’s sun, will sit directly over the equator, so day and night all over the world will be of equal length–nice to remember we share commonalities with all the other people in the world.  In the Northern Hemisphere it marks the beginning of that special season.  Alfred Lord Tennyson said, “In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.”  So does the fancy of many of our woodland critters—raccoons, skunks, turkeys, cats and dogs and who knows what all (?) are on the prowl.  Herds of deer graze in fields along our country lanes and prudent drivers keep a keen eye out for wildlife day or night.  The Prominent Champion Girlfriend had a run-in with a deer a while back up on WW from which she happily walked away.  Now she is ready for a colorful pedicure and her flip flops.  Her Champion friends are looking for a date for her Spring Fling.

Skyline School’s sixth grade student, Myla Sarginson, shares her birthday with prekindergarten student, Justin Pendergrass, on the 18th of March.  Though he may well celebrate every day there in Edinburgh, the 23rd is the official birthday of Mr. Gordon Reynolds, a great patron of Scott’s music and a fine musician himself.  That is also the special day for one of Mrs. Eva Powell’s sons, one of The General’s fair daughters (Elva), Reba’s sweetheart (Don) and the Wapaho Dude’s darling (Judie).  Happy days to all you fine Champions—enjoy every day as if it were your birthday.

Elmer Banks was chosen from among all the people across the country with his particular heart condition to undergo an experimental surgery to improve the quality of their lives.  Sixty-five world renowned surgeons and nurses crowded the room to participate and observe the procedure.  That was Tuesday.  He came home Wednesday and Thursday drove over to the Historic Emporium.  He was there again on Saturday afternoon talking about having fed cows and pitched hay and any number of other things that another person with those kinds of incisions might think about putting off for a couple of weeks, as the medical professionals recommend.  He says that other than being cold all the time he feels just fine.  There was a great get-well card circulating for him—seems a moot point since he is back in his regular routine already.  What a Champion!

Elmer is a prime example of the fact that you cannot look at a person and know what all they have been through.  He has two sets of batteries in his chest, but you would not know it just meeting him on the street.  By the time a person is grown, he or she may well have experienced grief, heart-aches and disappointments, car crashes, tornadoes and lightning strikes, violence and betrayal, or the horrors of war.  Things add up.  Just one of those things or a combination of those things can add up to post traumatic stress disorder—PTSD.  We have become aware of the condition because of the condition of many of our returning Veterans, but it turns out that anybody can suffer with the debilitating malady.  It can manifest itself in many ways, so, once again, we are admonished to reserve judgement when someone behaves badly or disproportionate to the occasion.  Empathy and compassion take more effort than sanctimonious derision.

Gardeners are spreading that good stuff around.  It makes the soil rich and fertile and beautiful.  They have difficulty this time of the year.  It is hard to wait.  Tantalizing seed catalogues and warm afternoons tempt them to jump the gun.  According to some, the official last day for a frost in Champion is May 10th!  Two long months!  The Mother Earth News says that onions, peas, and spinach can be planted as soon as the soil can be worked.  Some folks like to get their potatoes planted by St. Patrick’s Day.  Window sills bristle with little plants waiting to be hardened off and planted in the garden.  Blum’s Farmer’s and Planter’s Almanac for 2018 says that the 19-21, 24, 25, and 30 will be good days to plant crops that yield above the ground and the 31st for below the ground crops.  Get in out of the cold wind to talk gardening with your neighbors over on the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek.  A spot near the ancient wood stove in the meeting room of the Re-creation of the Historic Emporium is the perfect place for the casual interlocutor.  ‘Interlocutor’ is a new word supplied by an avid reader of The Champion News who complained that he had not had to go to the dictionary lately.  It means conversationalist.  Share your big words or garden advice at or in person in the heart of Champion on the North Side of the Square.

Saint Patrick’s Day commemorates the death of the man on March 17, in about the year 460 A.D.  A research fellow at Cambridge University, Dr. Roy Flechner, says that the accepted story that Patrick was kidnapped from Britain, forced to work as a slave, but managed to escape and reclaim his status, is likely to be fiction.  “The traditional legend was instigated by Patrick himself in the letters he wrote, because this is how he wanted to be remembered.”  His family were tax collectors for the Romans, a very dangerous job during that era.  Rather than take up the profession, and fearing for his life, he fled to Ireland.  The researcher believes that he bought slaves in England and then used them to trade when he moved to Ireland.  The new version of Saint Patrick’s life as a slave-trader is certainly controversial, but now controversy in every arena seems to be the mode-o-day.  The take-away and comfort lies in the assurance that eventually the truth will come out, though hopes are that today’s Machiavellian machinations will not take 1558 years to be undone.  Meanwhile, enjoy your shamrocks, your four leaf clover, your green beverages and your favorite song…”When Irish eyes are smiling /Sure, it is like a morning spring /In the lilt of Irish laughter /You can hear the angels sing” in Champion—looking on the Bright Side!


March 5, 2018

CHAMPION—March 5, 2018


William Wordsworth’s lyric poem “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” ends with these two lines:  “And then my heart with pleasure fills and dances with the daffodils!” Look for the whole poem in this week’s post at  Deep sighs are heaved at the thought of Spring, as time springs forward (on the 11th) to greet it.  There may be winter days yet, but they will be fewer and then will be gone.  Champions cherish waning winter for the purpose of resting up in advance of the hard work to come and for finishing those inside projects that were begun last fall.  Wet, dreary days give some old timers the chance to pull those dusty guitars out from under the bed to tune them up.  There were some seldom seen musicians at the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam on Thursday night.  The music circle is different every time, but the fellowship is always lovely and the pot luck (at 6pm) is always a feast.  An Old Champion, coming home that night saw a beaver—a beaver!  The large broad-tailed rodent climbed up the concrete on the north side of the New East Champion Fox Creek Bridge just as the headlights lit it up.  He took his time ambling across the bridge and down the south side where he slipped into the swift downstream water.  Spring!  One time a Prominent Champion was on his way home from Mountain Grove when he saw a monkey in the road, so seeing a beaver is not that big a deal.

Frances and Wayne Sutherland

Frances and Wayne Sutherland have just celebrated 68 years of marriage.  Anyone who has ever been married knows that is a big deal.  They took their mothers (Elsie Doane Cooley and Minne Schuette Sutherland) with them down to Mountain Home, Arkansas to sign permission since they were under age–17 and 19.  It seems those youngsters have made a go of it.  Congratulations.  Birthdays are a big deal.  Dennis Shumate of Backyard Bluegrass fame had one on the 3rd of March.  He was playing at The Star Theatre in Willow Springs that evening and probably had a good time.  Skyline School’s lovely music and art teacher, Mrs. Casper, celebrates on the 12th.  She orchestrates great holiday programs for the student body to perform and the art on display down the hallways shows how she guides and inspires them toward their own creativity.  Brava!  Willow Townsend is just getting stated at Skyline.  She is a kindergarten student with a birthday on March 15th.  That is the special day for Jacob Masters and his distant cousin, 30 years his senior, now luxuriating in the Port of Leith, and Ursula Donnelly, a lively Irish lass and mother of Dimitri.  The 16th is a Friday, so school will be in session and Mrs. Helen can hear “Happy Birthday!” from students and staff all day.  Some Champions will be stopping by the school to drop off their Box Tops for Education and lots of Best Choice UPC barcodes cut out of labels on English muffins, butter, napkins, sandwich bags, canned vegetables and many other common products that we use all the time.  Those little things translate to money for the wonderful little school that is shaping the citizens who will be in charge of us when we get old….really old.  They can use all the help they can get.

A local luthier and famous-on-two-continents musician was visiting in Champion on Wednesday and entered into a conversation with The General.  They were laughing still about an incident that occurred in 1954.  The much loved and missed Champion, Cletus Upshaw, and Jimmy Hopper had put two sticks of dynamite in Uncle Isle Upshaw’s outhouse.  (The General figured half a stick would have been sufficient.)  Cletus was said to have watched from a distance and reported a great light and then “everything was gone.”  The musician said, “It was all light and no smell.”  The dynamite likely came from a local iron mine.  There was also a story in which a hard twisted old gal played a part.  The story fades from memory but the term “hard twisted” is one of those Ozark expressions that speaks to the nature of the area.  Maybe the lady was fractious and/or just plain spoken.  It is not necessarily an insult, but clearly a revealing description.  The conversation came around to current affairs and the reprise of the old adage:  “the rich get rich and the poor get children.”  A recent study showed there are more poor people now than fifty years ago.  In 1968, 15% of children were in poverty in the United States.  That number is now 21%.  Some Champions who lived through the Great Depression say they did not really think of themselves as poor because everyone they knew lived just like they did.  Circumstances can throw even a prudent, responsible person into dire straits with little warning.  Vulnerability is one of the universal commonalities of all people regardless of resources.  To extend a hand to those less fortunate without judgement is a common tenet of most religions.  Among the “Lofty Thoughts” mail this week at is this note:  “Never have I had so much respect for the Office of the President of the United States.  Who knew that it could come to this?  It is truly amazing.”  That could be taken in any number of ways.

When asked how much rain had fallen one reported that he had a five gallon bucket full.  He did not remember when he put it out—maybe in December—but it was full to overflowing.  When the freeze threat is over, rain gages will come out for precise measurements.  Until then odd buckets and peach cans will have to do.  One realizes that using a finger to measure displaces water and renders an inaccurate reading….up to my second knuckle.  A charming Champion came into the Historic Emporium the other day for a deserved rest and sat down beside the Prominent Champion.  “I have a burning question.”  She has been cleaning fence rows and wondering if it is safe to burn.  Though we have had good rain recently, the wind dries things out quickly– Woods and grass are tinder.  The Skyline Volunteer Fire Department assisted the Eastern Douglas County VFD on Saturday as they contained a fire that burned nine acres.  The fire endangered three house, two garages, and two barns over in Vanzant on Highway 95 near W and CR 240.  Good neighbors want everyone to be safe and greatly hope not to impact others with carelessness.  More than one trash fire has spread unexpectedly this time of the year.  The winds are sometimes sudden, fierce, and changeable.  In 1935, Ruth Etting recorded a swinging tune:  “March winds and April showers make way for sweet May flowers, and then from June, a moon and you….Ooh, March winds and April showers Make way for happy hours…” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!