April 16, 2018

CHAMPION—April 16, 2018

The amount of rain that fell on Champion and the surrounding area on Friday night ranged from well under three inches to well over.   It was measured in peach cans, soup cans and buckets, both galvanized and plastic, and while totals varied widely over short distances, most agree it mostly came down all at once.  Those handsome gentlemen on the Douglas County road maintenance crews will have their work cut out for them for a while.  It will not hurt a thing if you give them a smile and a wave when you see them out working.  They probably would not mind having some cookies.  Guess how many miles of gravel roads wander through Bugger County.  Send those guesses to champion@championnews.us  or to The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO  65717.  The New East Champion Fox Creek Bridge survived its second serious seasonal submerging and was dry by Sunday afternoon.   By Monday morning several significant road wash outs had been repaired thanks to those gallant, good looking, hard working men from the Drury Shed–Champions!

Skyline R2 School teacher, Terri Ryan said, “Wow!  Our first Fun Run went well.  There were 39 runners.  We really send a heartfelt thank you to the Skyline Volunteer Fire Department, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department and the Wright County Sheriff’s Department for your help and support!  The Skyline Wellness Committee, PPP and PTO did a great job with the event and (we) look forward to another next year.”  Levi Hicks won first place with a time of 23:39.  Andrew Harden was in second place with a time of 23:45 and Rowdy Woods had a time of 24:33 for third place.  Five kilometers might not seem so long if it were all flat land, but that stretch of C Highway going south from 76 Highway is quite up and down, steep and winding.  It took the last person to cross the finish line twice as long as the first person, but some Old Champions figure it would take three or four times as long for them to do it.  Congratulations to all you who gave it your best efforts—winners every one.  Jordon Ellingsworth is a winner because he is a first grade student at Skyline.  His birthday is on the23rd of April.  Shelby Wilson celebrates on the 24th.  She is a fourth grade student in our vibrant little country school.

Bud Hutchison’s Spring Trail Ride has been scheduled for May 16th.  That is a Wednesday.  The Champion Spring Fling is going to be Saturday, May 5th, Cinco de Mayo, and some were hoping the two events might coincide this year.  Andrew Harden said they might think about having an additional ride just to arrive in style at the Second Annual Champion Spring Fling!  He has a new horse he wants to take out and around and his daughter is riding as well, so it is a chance for an outing together.  There is a great picture of Bud and his bunch on the steps of the Historic Emporium.  Find it in the archives, May 22, 2017, at www.championnews.us  Go to the May 8, 2017, posting to see a few pictures from the First Fling.  It was a birthday celebration for the then Prominent Champion Girlfriend who was born in January but likes to wear her flip-flops to her party.  The fun will get started about 11:00 a.m. (May 5th) and go on through the afternoon.  Bring your lawn chairs and, musicians, bring your instruments.  David Richardson is assigned the duty of bringing a cupcake to the birthday gal.  She made the assignment by proxy and he has accepted the challenge.   Maybe he will come on a motorcycle with a cupcake and his ukulele.  One never knows about him, but we do know this will be a sweet community gathering and everyone is welcome.

Friends have been missing Ruth Collins and her velvet voice over at the Vanzant Jam.  The word is she has been ailing but that she is improving.  It will be a sweet Thursday when she is back again sharing her wonderful ballads and “Beulah Land.”   Linda Collins took a fall the other day and will be spending time at West View in West Plains.  Candi Bartsch will be looking in on her for the rest of us and helping her to recover.  Linda’s smile is one of those that can light up a place like a sunny day. It will be good for everyone when they are back enjoying the music and the fellowship.  Frances Banks thoughtfully loaned a wonderful anthology of ”Folk Songs of North America” to The Champion News and in so doing has caused there to be a great deal of deferred housework and other maintenance.   Six hundred, twenty three pages of music education will take a while to process.  Alan Lomax told some good stories.

Optimists believe that this little bit of hard weather will be the end of dreary winter for the season.  The first Champion hummingbird was spotted on the13th.  Soon his whole family will be depleting the sugar stores of enablers and admirers across the country.  The birds have come from far away—welcome little Mexican immigrants, together with those Monarch Butterflies– no existential crisis with these lovely critters.  (An Old Champion had ‘existential crisis’ explained to her as when a person starts to question her entire existence –does being alive even have a point?  When the world seems upside down and the whole nature of truth routinely obscured and obfuscated, one might question, “Am I crazy or is it the world?”  What we know for sure is that everything living will die.  While here, it is worth the trouble to make the most of it.)    Mr. Too-Blessed-To-Be-Stressed and Kathy are looking for a home here about.  He wants a fishing hole and does not want to move away too far.   “The boll-weevil is just a little black bug, come from Mexico they say.  Come all the way to Texas just looking for a place to stay—just looking for a home, just looking for a home.”  Some people experienced severe storm damage up north of Norwood on Friday night.  There was news of a serious car accident out on 95 Highway over the week end and a report of an accident that may cost a young family man his mobility.  We will hope for the best for all of those suffering setbacks and difficulties, keeping in mind that we can rarely tell just by looking what someone may be enduring.  Come down to the broad banks of Auld Fox Creek and sit out on the wide veranda at the Historic Emporium over on the North Side of the Square to discuss compassion, existentialism or music or just to enjoy the view.  “I am a pilgrim and a stranger traveling through this wearisome land and I’ve got a home in that yonder city” and in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!




April 9, 2018

CHAMPION—April 9,2018


Friends gather at Topaz to celebrate Paul Clark

A little sleet and snow Sunday morning hopefully ended the hard part of winter.  Sunny, warm days in the forecast with possible light frosts next weekend have gardeners ready to start ‘hardening off’ those seedlings and landscapers are getting equipment ready for another season.  The luscious greens in our rolling hills and pastures are deepening by the day.  See some of the beautiful place at www.championnews.us.

Mark Clark and Joy Ward

Fifty or so of Paul Clark’s friends gathered at Topaz on Saturday to commemorate his life and to share their stories of him over the years.  It was just the kind of get together that he would have loved.  The afternoon was chilly, but there was good food, old friends seldom seen, and lots of laughter and music.  Paul’s brother, Mark, and Mark’s wife, Joy Ward, were down from Des Moines.  Members of the Chapin family performed several songs and Mark and Joy on guitar and violin sang one of his favorites in rich harmony and then played a deep, soulful rendition of the “Westphalia Waltz.”  It was a fitting send-off for a genuinely pleasant man.

Margie Carr, way out West, has big Upshaw/Denlow connections and a birthday on April 7th.  She is a Veteran and had her picture taken with all the Denlow veterans at the Denlow School Reunion last year.  That will be May 26th this year.  Maybe she will be there again.  Banjo playing, high-lonesome singing grandson of Lonnie Krider, Dillon Watts, over in Tennessee will have his birthday on the 12th of April.  He will be 19.  When he was 2 or 3, he was on stage with his Grandad at the Skyline VFD Picnic singing, “I’ll Fly Away.”  It seems like just the other day.  Mary Goolsby’s own Studebaker Bob Berry celebrates on the 14th.  It is a real treat to have them back in the neighborhood.  They bring fun with them.  In addition to being Income Tax Day, the 15th is a big day for lots of people.  Dustin Kline, Champion son-in-law, shares his birthday with Champion Aunt Vivian Floyd who lives up in Rogersville.  George G. Jones, over in Stockton, celebrates that day as do Skyline third grader Wyatt Lakey and seventh grade student, Justin Graham.  Olivia Trigg Mastin, caught one of the biggest crawdads ever caught at the Mill Pond a few years back.  Her birthday is on the 16th.  Dave Thompson used to frequent the Vanzant Jam singing, “Oh! Lost River now I’m coming back to the pot belly stove where the firewood’s all stacked.”  His birthday is the 17th.  Sweet Myrtle Harris will be 89 years old on the 19th of April.  Her many friends hope to see her at the Jam again soon.

The internet was full of good news on Monday morning.  After 42 years, Herbie Johnston is retiring from the first job he ever had.  (TCN believes this is accurate information.)  Dozens of friends, family and former co-workers have congratulated him–some saying they will miss him, all wishing him good luck and encouraging him to enjoy retirement.  Musicians and music lovers all around the area are saying, “Woo hoo!” and “Yee jaw!”  Local jams are about to enjoy an infusion of more sweet fiddling.  Herbie knows all the old songs and can keep even the loosest bunch of players in time chopping with his bow.  Champion!

Harley and Barbara were down from Elmwood (Peoria) for a few days to enjoy some good family visiting.  They made their fond farewells at the Historic Emporium before heading back to their busy lives of bus driving and golfing.  Barbara accused Dailey Upshaw of having cheated in a Scrabble game as she was going out the door and called for a rematch.  About that time another scrabble player came in the door and one of several sisters at the table said, “You better hurry if you want to get anything said.”  Laughter is a Champion commodity.  Emma Dooms is from Horseshoe Bend, Idaho, Arizona and other places.  She likened the Wednesday gathering to those they enjoy in exciting places called the Grub Steak and the Long Branch back in Idaho.  They will be around these parts for a spell.  Emma and her sister-in-law and her sister-in-law’s sister were cooking up a junking adventure.  They figure to leave the men folks at home as a way to insure they will enjoy themselves.  It sounds like fun.  Share what you figure to be fun at champion@championnews.us or down on the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek in person.  Pretty soon it will be warm enough to sit out on the wide veranda to revel in the splendor of one of the world’s truly beautiful places.

Champion Groundhog!

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?  Woodchucks are also known as whistle-pigs, land-beavers, and groundhogs.  They are the largest species in the squirrel family, weighing 6 to 12 pounds, and are good climbers and swimmers.  They are fond of dandelions and other flowers as well as almost any kind of garden produce–beans and peas especially.  Out and about early of a morning or late in the evening, they will eat about a third of their weight every day.  For the holes they dig in the yard and the damage they cause in the garden, some Old Champions are of a mind to kill them.  The resident fiercesome watchdog and cuddle–bunny, Jonnie (daughter of the roving boxer Tank [RIP] and some attractive beagle), however, does not cotton to gunfire, so Old Champions are throwing rocks and yelling, “Root hog or die!”  That expression goes way back, well before 1834, they say, and it commonly is used as an expression for self-reliance.  It also shows up in a wonderful book loaned to TCN by Frances Banks.  “The Folk Songs of North America” was published in 1960 by Alan Lomax.  There are more than three hundred songs going back to old colonial times—all with words and music.  Melodies and guitar chords were transcribed by Peggy Seeger and there are one hundred piano arrangements by Matyas Seiber and Don Banks.  Is this Don Banks kin to Frances?  Inquiries will be made.  The song, “Root Hog or Die” in this anthology is about “a lonely bull whacker out on the Red Cloud Line” and the gist of it seems to be either pitch into the job or take the consequences.  We may not be crossing the Great Plains in an ox-drawn covered wagon spurred on by a blacksnake whip and six cornered oaths, but it seems the road ahead in 2018 is fraught with peril.  The best we can do is to listen up, stand up, sturdy up and Vote.  It is root hog or die in Champion!—Looking on the Bright Side!


April 2, 2018

CHAMPION—April 2, 2018


Champion Spring Turkeys

Champion goldfinches have put on summer yellows to rival daffodils for brilliance. Clever Creek and Fox Creek are running high and fast. Elderberries are leafing out. Redbuds are about to bloom and lilacs and dogwoods are swelling. More hard freezes are in the forecast. Some intrepid foragers have found a few mushrooms already. Turkey gobblers strut their stuff in open fields in the morning sun when it is sunny and in the morning drizzle when it is doing that—all to impress those attractive hens. (Spring Turkey Season runs from April 16th to May 6th.) Feeders for the first hummingbird scouts of the season are going up this week. All of this is to say that things are moving along normally. We know what to expect, just not exactly when to expect the various surges of the season. The average last date of frost hereabouts is said to be April 15th and the last day of recorded frost on May 10th. That may be wrong. Every family and neighborhood has its own lore, its own story of just when and how things happen, one of the precious things about family in ancestral haunts. Some are fortunate to live among them and have dinner with them every Sunday and to have swarms of grandkids making mischief and being wonderful company any day of the week as a welcome relief to parents. But, even when family is at a distance and seldom seen, we follow Johnny Cash and ”keep the ends out for the ties that bind” because family is the best thing around. We also have dear friends, glorious nature, music and chocolate—and myriad other things about which to be grateful in Champion and everywhere.

Forrest Johnson celebrates his birthday on April 2nd. He is one of the Howdy Boys, Rattlesnake Slim, traveling with the Boy Howdy Troupe. Any time he spends with his Champion family throws the old folks ahead in their garden work and their deeply deferred maintenance and fills their evenings with music, feasting and merriment. Bud Hutchison will have his birthday on April 8th. Wilma will probably have some kind of enjoyable shindig for him and his Champion friends will be looking forward to having him and his bunch amble through on his annual Spring Trail Ride. Back in the fall Andrew Hardin stood in for Bud on his Fall Trail Ride. Hershel Letsinger, Jeff Alcorn, and Gary Braden were on that ramble and hopefully they and others will be back with Bud this Spring.

Champion Morels

The Skyline Fun Run will start at 8:00 A.M. on Saturday the 14th. It may be that the Prominent Champion Couple will be there in their matching Skyline Fun Run t-shirts, smiling and strolling hand in hand for five kilometers. The event is being hosted by the Skyline Wellness Committee to benefit Practical Parenting Partnership which does a lot of good work to support the school. It is nice to see people paying attention to health and wellness in the community. It will be a good chance to look in on the new raised garden beds going up on the school grounds. If you need more information about the Skyline Fun Run, contact Helen or Bridget at 417-683-4874. See you there! According to the Missouri Association of School Administrators more than 59% of K-12 public education funding comes from local sources in Missouri. Nationally, the average is approximately 37%. Missouri’s local districts are providing nearly 22% more funding than the national average. The new austerity in the state and federal budgets for public education is another blow to the common good. Until such time as administrations and/or consciousness change in Jefferson City and Washington, D.C., the well-being of our wonderful little rural school is largely in our hands. If you think you do not have a dog in this fight just because you do not have children in school, think again. These youngsters are going to be running things soon. They say that an uneducated population is much easier to control than one where critical thinking is encouraged. If you just clip those ‘Best Choice’ and ‘Always Save’ barcodes and bring them to the school or to the Historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square in Downtown Champion, you will be doing something real to help.

What comes to mind if someone says they had a ‘one night stand’? Musicians and thespians might say it was a non-recurring musical or theatrical performance. Most frequently the phrase is thought of as describing a very brief romantic encounter. However, when a very mature person brags that he had a one night stand, he is most likely saying that he only had to get up one time during the night. This is a good example of how perspective can vary broadly on any given subject and how it can change over time. Maturity is a subjective term that relies on expectation and age. Just because a person is old does not mean that he is mature. One might look around to find any number of such examples from the rank suburbs of Wasola to the denizens of Denlow. Often these old timers figure that being mature puts a person out of the business of having fun. “It’s no fun getting old,” you hear it said. In an effort to shift his perspective, the Prominent Citizen gets an annual note that says, “Remember, if you act like you are having a good time, pretty soon you will forget that you are acting, and you will really be having a good time.”

Friends will gather at the Topaz Mill on Saturday, April 7, (4:00 P.M.) to say goodbye to Paul Clark, who passed away in February. He moved here from Iowa in 1971, and worked for Ozark Action from 1977 to 2011. He helped many local people. An accomplished musician, piano and guitar, he loved the classical composers and the blues. There is a story told about his childhood piano teacher who discovered, after several years of lessons, that Paul was playing everything by ear. He had a great many friends, a great laugh and could take a story the long way around. He liked Lightning Hopkins who sang, “Trouble in mind, I’m blue, but I won’t be blue always. The sun’s gonna shine in my back door someday”… in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!