The hill was alive with the sound of laughter, visiting, and picking on Saturday.  Old friends and new ones gathered in the shade of the big oak tree and strolled about the grounds visiting and enjoying an excellent fish fry and a beautiful spring day.  It was the Second Annual Champion Spring Fling.  People came from all over—from Ava, Mountain Grove, Norwood, Dora, Vanzant, Almartha, Drury, Forsythe, Springfield, Idaho and France, as well as a number of other places.  David Richardson made his eloquent formal congratulatory presentation of a buttercream iced cupcake (with sprinkles) to the Champion Birthday Celebrant, who graciously accepted it, remarking that it having been flipped upside down and the frosting a mess made it all the more special.  She is a special person who brings a lot of fun to Champion.  Her many friends appreciate her having organized this wonderful event.  Elizabeth Heffern’s grandparents were at the Fling.  Elizabeth’s birthday is the 15th of May, the same as Linda Cooley who lives just across Auld Fox Creek from Champion.  A couple of the Dooms brothers were there.  Alvie will have his birthday on the 16th, maybe his 88th or so.  (Dovie had her day on the second.)  One of an Old Champion’s favorite sons, father of Zoey and Alex, also celebrates on the 16th.  Waylon’s Mom, up in Chicago, has the 18th for her birth anniversary, the day also for remembering Exer Hector Masters, gone from us now these 42 years, and still missed every day.  With Mother’s Day approaching, Champions say, “Love her while you have her with you.”  Phone lines will be busy all over the country Sunday, but you can call the old girl any day.  Kay Scrivner enjoyed the afternoon in Champion with her son, David.  Thanks to Laine Sutherland, Champions get to see David on Tuesdays when she publishes posts of the McClurg Jam on the internet.  Thank you, Laine!  It was a treat to have him playing his wonderful fiddle live in Champion along with Sherry Bennett, David Richardson, Alvie Dooms, J.R. Johnston, David Medlock, Candy Bartsch, The General, and others.  Good food, good music, good friends and good weather all made it a perfect day.

Orioles lingered longer in the neighborhood on their way north this year and in greater numbers than Champions can remember.  Rose-breasted grosbeaks and Indigo buntings add color and hummingbirds swarm the feeders.  Hovey Henson wrote to The Champion News to say that the Champion hummingbird flew past 3731 Brookfield and did not stop.  He has never seen a hummingbird at his feeder there in Houston, Texas, though his daughter, Melanie, lives forty miles west and she has them.  Hovey will be back in the neighborhood for his 60th high school reunion in July and can enjoy all the beauty of his old home place then.  Just now little cabins and spacious country homes have disappeared into the forests again.  In ten days the hillsides have gone from gray and brown to every tender shade of green and the woods have closed in with just enough open to dazzle gawkers with the dogwoods.  Do-gooders picking up a piece of litter here and there along a country lane get to enjoy a quiet moment to soak in the calmness and to feel good about themselves as they help to keep our neighborhoods clean. A couple of conservative Republican law-makers from up around St. Joseph have put together the Clean Missouri Initiative.  It is still in the petition stage but could be on the ballot in November.  Among other things, it would to eliminate almost all lobbyist gifts, lower campaign contributions and require legislative records be open to the public.  State Rep. Galen Higdon said that state government is ‘pay to play’ and that he has been asked in the past to pay in order to get a seat on a committee.  He also said that his constituents were 60% against the “Right to Work” initiative, “So, I had to vote ‘no’.  Then I got a phone call telling me that ‘for $35,000, you (should) change your vote,’ and that’s just wrong.”  Higdon said he is still researching the Clean Missouri Initiative but believes it would be good for the state.  Just imagine a government as clean as Champion, free of unbridled selfishness and contempt for the common good!  Some Old Geezers discuss philosophy out on the wide veranda at the Recreation of the Historic Emporium, sitting in the shade, gazing out over the Square at the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek.  Others just gripe about having to mow already.  Some of them are talking about fishing these days and gardeners just go on and on as if talking about it would get the weeds pulled out of the bean rows.  Address your philosophical comments, observations on any subject, or questions to  Go to if you would like to peruse the archives and the many photographs of the Bright Side or if you would like to catch content that does not make it into the newspaper.  An avid on-line reader with a slow internet says he is willing to watch “the spinning blue doughnut of patience” as long as it takes.  Champion!

It is Teacher and Staff Appreciation Week at our Skyline R2 School.  The hard work and dedication that keeps this vital little rural school up and operating is considerable.  Students will present their music program at 7:00 P.M. on Thursday, May 10th.  The last day of school will be May 18th.  Even if you do not have children or grandchildren in school, the chance to see these youngsters working together in one of Ms. Casper’s great programs is a treat.  In addition to learning music and elocution, they are learning how to follow directions and to cooperate with their classmates to produce something enjoyable for everyone.  Soon enough they will be in charge of everything.  The swift passage of time is a recurring theme as we remember our own long ago school days.  The 32nd Annual Denlow/Fairgrove Reunion will be on May 26th this year.  The General says that there will be music in the pavilion about 11:00 and, “Anyone that would like to join in with the musical group will certainly be welcomed.  Several relatives from out of state are planning to attend, of which some have not been here in several years.”  Classes were last held in Denlow in November of 1955, but ask any of those at the reunion if it does not seem like just yesterday.  “As the life of a flower, as a breath or a sigh, so the years roll away…” Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!