June 25, 2018

CHAMPION—June 25, 2018


A few days of cooler temperatures and much needed rain has done wonders for gardens and gardeners.  It is a relief to have some respite from the heat though Champions are apprised that it will return if not with a vengeance, certainly with vigor.  Inside plans for those days include deferred house work, correspondence, crafts, music and daydreaming.

Someone in the audience said, “I don’t think I would like to be thirty again.”  That person may have found that it is pleasant, after all, to be older.  It is an arguable point, but kind of pleasant to think that some are enjoying the aging process.  The reflection was sparked by the revelation that Sherry Bennett would celebrate a birthday on Monday.  The General took it upon himself to lead that special song.  Later on he did a bang up job of “Down Yonder.”  It was a nice beginning for a good evening at the Vanzant Jam, particularly with the presence of a couple of young fellows.  It is reaffirming to have talented young people interested in the ‘old’ stuff and willing to carry it on authentically.  Thanks, Bo and Elias!  Old and new, music is a connection.  A favorite red head sings a fairly new song with the refrain:  “And if they found the fountain of youth, I wouldn’t drink a drop and that’s the truth.  Funny how it feels I’m just getting to my best years yet.  The older I get.”


J.C. Owsley, a staunch supporter of The Champion News, sends in a photo of an item that has come into his possession.  He does not say where it came from or how much it might weigh, just that it is about 20 inches long and the tines measure about 3 inches.  He is optimistic that its utility will be revealed by the panel of experts routinely gathering in the Meeting Room at the Historic Emporium on any Wednesday.  (A wild guess is that it is some black smith tool.)  Champions are optimistic that he may make a surprise visit just to lighten the mood and amp up the intellect.  The Bright Side could be brighter.

The Skyline Volunteer Fire Department Annual Picnic will be August 10 and 11 this year.  It speaks to the rapid passage of time.  Esther Wrinkles, who was one of the originators of the organization, often said that she wished the August election came after the picnic so that the politicians would have the opportunity to address constituents and would, therefore, wind up contributing substantially.  Esther was community minded and a regular poll worker.  It would be interesting to hear her ‘take’ on the wording of Proposition A, a referendum ordered by petition.  See if you can figure out exactly what the question might be and what it might mean.  As it will appear on the ballot:  “Do the people of the state of Missouri want to adopt Senate Bill 19 (“Right-to-Work”) as passed by the general assembly in 2017 which prohibits as a condition of employment the forced membership in a labor organization (union) or forced payments of dues in full or pro-rata (fair-share); make any activity which violates employees’ rights illegal and ineffective; allow legal remedies for anyone injured as a result of another person violating or threatening to violate employees’ rights; and which shall not apply to union agreements entered into before the effective date of Senate Bill 19?  State and local government entities expect no costs or savings.”  Esther was an outspoken conservative and an astute observer.  She would see right through this thing.  We miss her keen insight, her coconut cream pies, her good humor, and her kind heart dedicated to family and community.  Her birthday was June 28, 1917.  A Champion!

“Mid Continent Nail laid off 60 of its 500 employees last week,” George Skarich, the company’s executive vice president for sales, said Thursday.  “Another 200 layoffs could come in the next two weeks.”  Tariffs placed on imported steel and aluminum products are cited as the cause.  There are about 15 nail companies left in the United States and Mid Continent makes 50 percent of the nails produced in America.  All of Mid Continent’s nail manufacturing in the U.S. takes place in Poplar Bluff, Missouri.  The far reaching ramifications of their random acts may not be apparent or of concern to powerful people who may never have had to work for a living.  Harley Davidson jobs are being lost up in Wisconsin as a result of trade disputes.

Champion’s first ripe tomatoes.

The First Ripe Tomato in Champion Contest has been won by Deward’s lovely granddaughter.  In years past the winning tomato had to be brought to the Recreation of the Historic Emporium and there shared with whoever was present.  Go to www.championnews.us to see previous tomato contest winners.  These days, a photograph on line from a reliable source is sufficient.  Neighbor Smith suggests the tomatoes need to be examined for authenticity, though that examination might be the end of the tomatoes.  The winning gardener also keeps a flock of beautiful chickens of which she is very fond.  The story of The Little Red Hen offers a moralistic tale of the importance of hard work and the shame, as well as consequences of laziness.  The story has a new twist that is likely to be entertaining to many.  “And who will disinvite the lying bigot?”  “I will!” said The Little Red Hen.

The champion@championnews.us mailbox has been busy this week.  From a reader in Pennsylvania,  “When we hate the opponents of justice and mercy, we create a bond between ourselves the wrongdoing they perpetrate.  We must rise up within our righteous anger and behave like civilized humans.  This is nearly an impossible feat, but we are here to do the impossible.  There is no other way to defeat the darkness than to shine a light.”  A guy named Quaker Jo said, “Anything you allow your government to do to other people, they will eventually be able to do to you.”  Another warns that while the big circus is going on, behind the scenes every aspect of government that works for the benefit of the population is being dismantled.  In her first year as Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos has proposed drastic cuts to funding for public schools and gutted protections for survivors of campus sexual assault.  Another, defending herself from being ridiculed as a ‘liberal,’ writes, “Every child of God should have a liberal heart.  You must be very generous in giving as you have been blessed by the Almighty God.  When you sow into the lives of others, your soul shall be made fat with pleasure from God and will also be enriched with more grace.”  The best we can do is to stay informed and to exercise our voting franchise.  Meanwhile, civil discourse with people who believe the complete opposite thing is still possible.  We can disagree without being disagreeable.  Rudy Valley sang, “Keep a little song handy wherever you go and nothing can ever go wrong.  Keep a little song handy and sure as you know the sunshine will follow along” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


June 18, 2018

CHAMPION–June 18, 2018


Jonnie’s First Day at Mill Pond

”Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer…”  Here they are in Champion!  We have reached the season long before the Summer Solstice.  That will be here on Thursday night, which, they say (whoever they are) will be the coolest day of the week—just in the low 80s.  Lovely.  Until then, our days will be getting longer.  Here in Missouri our longest day will be 14 hours, 52 minutes and four seconds long.  Over in Edinburgh, Scotland, the day will last 17 hours, thirty six minutes and 41 seconds, roughly two and a half hours longer than our day here in the warm, humid Ozarks.  Champions there will holiday at Portobello Beach enjoying the soft whisper of the waves rolling in as they have forever and as they will continue long after we are gone–kind of comforting.  Old timers here will be out early getting the heavy work done.  They lollygag during the middle of the day doing an exercise called “pre-covering.”  That is resting up for the work ahead.  They may get down to the creek just to sit with their feet in the cool water.  Evening chores include a little bit of watering and light duty puttering in the garden.  They say, (them again) that if you see a pretty garden, there is someone in it.  Haymaking has kept some Wednesday regulars away from their Champion recreation.  Alas!  Others may be absent as they prefer not to have to defend their opinions concerning the world situation.  It is awkward.  The horseshoe pitch gets a lot of action these days.  The mutually recognized strength and skill of the competitors, together with their inherent good nature, has, so far, kept the competition friendly, at least overtly.  No raised voices from the pitch have made it into the cool atmosphere of the meeting room and wagering has not yet become any kind of problem.

Meetings have been underway for some while now in preparation for the second annual Pioneer Heritage Festival.  Details are being worked out concerning the music, the food, the vendors, the demonstrations, a talent show, various contests, and all the logistics for what will be an exciting event on October 6th and 7th this year.  It will be held at Chapel Grove out on beautiful Highway 14 just east of Bryant Creek.  The organizers have a great Face Book page called Pioneer Heritage Festival of the Ozarks where you can find out all kinds of information about the happening and see some great pictures and stories from last year.  The thoughtful planning going on now will result in good family fun this fall.

Summer school will soon be over.  Kids will be loose on the countryside for the summer time fun that occupies so much of what we recall as having been some of the best times of our youth.  Teachers and staff will get a little break, but the full time process of educating our precious children is ongoing.  Higher learning has been linked to things like democracy, equality, deductive reasoning—good things.  Efforts to defund public education and to delegitimize higher education promote the notion of a population easily managed.  Champions, disinclined to be managed, stand behind our vital little rural school as it turns out tomorrow’s solid citizens.  Go, Tigers!  There is a garage sale being planned for the end of the summer.  Stay tuned to TCN for more details.

Some of the Hopper Family cooling off at the Mill Pond.

Conversations among friends meeting at the Mill Pond to while away a hot afternoon covered a lot of subjects.  The following research was the result of some of those exchanges:  The difference between an immigrant and a refugee is that the immigrant has the choice.  The refugee is seeking refuge and cannot go back to the place he fled.  “We must always take sides.  Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.  Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”  This is a quote from a Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech made in 1986 by Elie Wiesel, noted Holocaust survivor and an award winning novelist, journalist, and human rights activist.  The world population is currently reported to be 7,632,819,325.  It grows by many more human beings every second.  A hundred million people are homeless worldwide.  There are 65.6 million forcibly displaced persons across the world.  Sources for these numbers are readily available.  The math works out to say that for about every 7,600 people in the world, there are about 166 who are in desperate need of some kind of help—about 8 people out of every 360.  If the unfortunate people were dispersed evenly across the globe, Douglas County would have about 300 distressed people in dire need.  This is a part of the world where we help our neighbors.  The Statistical Atlas shows that there are 780 people on food stamps in Douglas County.  We have a history of caring for each other and an infrastructure set up to do that.  Champions know that fortunes shift and change.  We do not judge those in less desirable circumstances because we could well be there ourselves tomorrow.

Joseph Goebbels, on the other side of the Holocaust said, “Make the lie big, keep it simple, keep saying it and eventually they will believe.”  “A lie told once remains a lie, but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth.”

The Vanzant Bluegrass Jam goes on at the Vanzant Community Building every Thursday.  A fine pot-luck supper at 6 o’clock is followed by two great hours of music starting at 7.  There were nine guitars, three banjos, three mandolins, one bass and one fiddle last week.  Everyone is welcome and everyone with an acoustic instrument or a voice is welcome to join in the music.  Sometimes the whole crowd will sing along and those moments are wonderful.  Friends and neighbors get the chance to share the week’s happenings, garden reports, and reminiscences.

A note comes to champion@championnews.us from a distant reader.  She says, “My father passed away at 73—much too soon.  I never heard him say a cruel thing.  I never knew of him lie or lift a hand in anger.  I never knew of him to be unkind to anyone, to consider himself better than anyone or to behave in any way contrary to his idea of decency.  He was self-effacing, generous, and full of compassion, music, and laughter.  He loved his family and told us so.  We miss him every day.“  Fathers the country over were accorded well-deserved attention and accolades on Sunday.  Their examples of steadfastness, responsibility and good behavior stand us in good stead today.  Thanks, Dad.  “In a vine covered shack in the mountains, bravely fighting the battle of time, is a dear one who’s weathered my sorrows.  Tis that silver haired daddy of mine.” Champion!  Looking on the Bright Side!

Champion Wildflowers

June 11, 2018



Acadian Village, Lafayette, LA

Recently a Champion was down by the Eaton Cemetery over south-southeast of Gentryville. They are doing some road work in the area and the ground is soft. He reported seeing bear tracks, six inches wide and two inches deep into the soil. It was estimated that the bear must have weighed four or five hundred pounds. The observer has been back several times lately but has not seen the bear or more tracks. Someone over in the neighborhood of Vanzant saw a bear crossing the road. One remembers when a bear spent the afternoon in a tree in front of Ester Wrinkles’ house. From Brushy Knob to Champion there have been bear sightings over the years. Missouri Department of Conservation has a bear tracking program. Its aim is to reduce conflicts between bears and humans and to encourage the expansion of suitable habitats to prevent the bear population from dwindling again to the low levels of the 1940s.

Sad news has come of the passing of Shayne A. Upshaw. He lived up in Idaho and was a nephew and cousin of many of the Upshaws who live in this part of the world. He was described as being much like his father, Wayne, who passed away a few years ago–fun loving and willing to share the fun. Champions extend their sympathies. Joy Ann Coonts Firrell spoke of the recent passing of J.T. Shelton: “He was loved by so many! His loyalty to his parents was priceless. He was a huge help to his mom, Aunt Irene, after his dad, Tolbert, passed away. He and his wife Betty never missed decorating graves at New Hope. You could always find them there on Decoration Day! I’ve never seen JT without Betty or Betty without JT.” Saturday friends and family gathered at New Hope to celebrate JT and Betty.

A Champion Whatsit

A regular Wednesday visitor to Champion brought in an interesting item in for identification. After some examination, it was determined to be a buggy hub tool. It would have been used on the nuts that hold the wheel on the hub. A Johnny-Come-Lately said, “Oh! I know exactly what that is.” He proceeded to turn it about and to pronounce that it was a dental tool for a horse. Alvin Barnhart came in looking for The General, who was off hauling hay (not bucking hay, but just driving a truck). Alvin wanted to let him know that the Class Breakfast for the Mountain Grove High School Class of 1959 will be held at the Freewill Baptist Church on June 30th at 8:30 that morning. This last piece of information has been officially declared to be some ‘real’ news.

June 6th was David Medlock’s birthday. He may or may not have had the birthday song sung to him at the Vanzant jam. Perhaps he picked it himself on his old banjo. Wayne Sutherland was 85 in 2015 on June 7th, so he must be getting ‘up there’ now. It is a cinch that he was celebrated. Janice Loraine has her day on the 15th and Foster Wiseman’s is on the 16th. Joshua Cohen, who used to spend a lot of time in Champion, now lives up in Hamburg, PA. His birthday is on the 19th. Tyler Clark celebrates on the 20th. Linda K. Watts and Sierra Parsons both have birthdays on the 21st. That is supposed to be the first day of summer, but it is already here in force. America’s great hope and adamant defender, Senator Elizabeth Warren, shares her birthday with historian, Cinita Brown, on the 22nd. Skyline birthdays are: Mr. Bridget, nurse and clerk—June 5; Adrianna Fulmer, 6th grade—June 7; Jacob Shannon, 3rd grade—June 10; Meguell Townsend, 7th grade—June 11; Isabelle Creed, 8th grade—June 12; Wyatt Hicks, 8th grade—June 15; Zachary Coon, 7th grade—June 15; Daniel Parkes, 6th grade—June 19; Easton Shannon 2nd grade—June 24; Kash Hurt, prekindergarten—June 24. Summer school is going on at Skyline and students are getting educated while they are enjoying their beautiful youth in a glorious part of the world in a vital, important, little rural school—a National Treasure.

Zack and Jill

There is nothing like taking a few days away from home to make it glorious to come back. There is excitement and adventure on never-before traveled roads, but relief and comfort at arriving home again. Everything is greener yet and things are blooming that were not just a few days ago. It is a glorious early summer, if warm. Some are complaining, but Champions do not listen. Some Old Champions met up with granddaughters on a trip to Lafayette, Louisiana for a family wedding. While it is not that far away, approximately 580 miles, it is a very different part of the world. Great ancient live oak trees provide deep shade and incredible Cajun food tempts every palate. Granddaughters, also far from home, had the chance to go on a swamp tour where they learned about wetland birds and alligators. It is one of those memories that will endure. They may now have alligators and marriage tied together in their imaginations. To have family drawn together for a joyful occasion is a precious gift. People came from all over the country to witness families merging in marriage. Hearing those vows spoken in solemn sincerity reminded old married people of their own ceremony. Dwight and Ruth Collins have just had a big anniversary. June is a big time for anniversaries. Kay and Shannon Alexander are celebrating an anniversary on the 12th of June, as are another couple of Old Champions. There are ups and downs in life and in relationships. It is encouraging to see young people optimistic for a lifetime of sharing come what may. These are some troubling and uncertain times for many. Anxiety is rife across all political and social spectra. To have some optimism delivered in such a sweet, genuine and loving way is restorative. By the time the celebration was over, everyone was exhausted from the joy tears and laughter. Thank you notes will be going out to the bride and groom for bringing the bunch together to share the happiness. Their song: “I see trees of green, red roses too. I see them bloom for me and you. And I think to myself, what a wonderful world!” Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


June 4, 2018

CHAMPION—June 4, 2018


Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea)

The spring flowers blooming along the roadsides earlier in the year were mostly purple.  Today there are white ones and yellow ones along the edges of expansive mowed fields.  The tall waving grasses are now bundled up in great round bales and the country side hums with hay making equipment.  Farmers do what has to be done when it has to be done.  That makes it a demanding profession. & Along C Highway north of Champion purple coneflowers, Echinacea, is blooming profusely.  It is glorious to look at and it is said to have medicinal properties.

Black-eyed Susan

Ashley Meiss is a 31 year old combat Veteran of Iraq who has been missing from her Ogden, Kansas home near Wichita since the middle of May.  She has PTSD.  Anyone with information about her is asked to call the Riley County Police Department at (785) 537-2112.  The Eastern Douglas County Volunteer Fire Department shared a video on line that says that June 1st is the beginning of PTSD Awareness Month.  It is reported that 20% of firefighters and paramedics suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.  They join many of our returning military Veterans and a host of civilians, maybe friends, neighbors, or family, who have had an emotional shock following a stressful event or a physical injury.  Psychological trauma is often the result of an overwhelming amount of stress that exceeds one’s ability to cope.  So, at least during the month of June, as we observe people acting ‘badly’ we might think to ourselves there must be some reason for this kind of behavior.  Perhaps a kind word in lieu of harsh judgement would make everyone feel better.  Being kind feels as good a having kindness shown to us when we need it.  It seems that many people are feeling defensive and anxious these days–from politics, fear, illness, grief, trauma or unknown reasons.  It is good that firefighters and first responders are aware of the dangers to themselves because of the nature of their work and, hopefully, they have the training to recognize the symptoms of PTSD in those whom they are there to help and protect.  Out here in rural America we rely on the generous nature of these volunteers who give their time and energy to serve as fire fighters and first responders.  Thanks, folks.  Angie Keller posted pictures of the EDCVFD yard sale/swap meet/farmers market held over the weekend.  She said, “We had a great time, and visited with a lots of nice folks.  Thank you for your continued support.  We are blessed with a wonderful community!”

Looking back to June of 2008, Champion was wound up in great excitement for the coming wedding of Staci Krider and Dustin Cline.  They will have their tenth anniversary on June 14th.  Back then the concern was that a certain uncle might show up in a kilt with an accordion.  Then there was an uncle from Illinois who attested to having had a long, successful marriage (to lovely Barbara) on account of having worn white socks to his own wedding.  He allowed that the socks must figure prominently in all the wedding photos for them to have the desired effect.  The pictures of their day on the website at www.championnews.us do not show Dustin in white socks, but he wore a bright pink tie.  The tenth anniversary is considered to be one of the first marital milestones.  Traditional gifts for the occasion are tin and aluminum, also diamonds.  Tin and aluminum are significant for their flexibility, a major requirement in a lasting marriage.  Diamonds are for beauty and strength.  The couple lives in Tennessee now where they are raising Drayson and Carson.  Their Champion grandmother gets over to see the little boys often and the family makes it back here as often as they can.  On these nice warm days it is pleasant to sit out on the veranda remembering good times with young friends and hoping that they know that special song made popular in these parts by a favorite fiddler:  “I wouldn’t change you if I could.  I love you as you are.  You’re all that I would wish for if I wished upon a star.  An angel sent from heaven, you’re everything that’s good.  You’re perfect just the way you are.  I wouldn’t change you if I could!”  Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Champion Hay