July 16, 2018

CHAMPION—July 16, 2018


The Vanzant Picnic got off to a good start Friday.

The Champion News subscribes to an email from Merriam-Webster called Word of the Day. On July 2nd the word was ‘canicular.’ It means of or relating to the period between early July and early September when hot weather occurs in the northern hemisphere. The canicular season has been tempered by sudden showers. One visited the Vanzant Picnic on Saturday evening. The Prominent Champion Girlfriend, ring-toss volunteer said, “It was a loving feeling having the rain come down and people still wanting to play the game, and, yep, we let them. We stopped playing when the lightning came and the picnic was called off at 9 PM. I was wishing for nice slow, steady rain overnight and cooler temperatures.” The heat did not appreciably impact the fun quotient at the picnic on Friday either. Pete (Lyman) Proctor was there with the American Legion Post 30. They presented the Colors at the singing of the National Anthem. Pete asked that all the Veterans in the crowd raise their hands. It is inspiring to see how many of our friends and neighbors have stepped up to serve. He said, “Thank you for your service and welcome home.” There was a great deal of welcoming as old friends reunited to catch up on their news, to issue their health reports, and to compare the merits and talents of their respective grandchildren. Teresa Wrinkles had help in the bingo parlor and did a lively business. Brenda Coffman Massey kept her great smile beaming from behind the steaming funnel cake cauldron. All the hardworking volunteers seemed to be having as much fun as the rest of us. With the good food, great music and all the drawings and games, these picnics are canicular high spots.

Sweethearts, Savanna and Travis

Elizabeth Bock and River Stillwood whooping it up.

Dean knows all the words to all the songs!

Gardeners are pleased with the little pop-up showers when they linger a little while over the summer crops. It is preferable that they come with not too much wind, as it is a chore to stand the corn back up and it beginning to ear. Those luscious early crop cucumbers are about over now and little replacement plants are ready to go in the ground. There are a number of crops that can be planted in late July that will have time to yield. Look on the seed packet to see how many days to maturity and decide. It seems that the garden produces more than food. There is some comfort that goes along with the exercise. In times such as these it is pleasant to be doing some simple, basic chores. It is quiet except for the raucous song birds early in the morning.

Ruth Fish Collins and granddaughters

Good news comes from Elmwood, Illinois. Native Champion, Harley Krider, is home from a hospital stay where he had an overhaul on his heart. Reports are that he is making a good recovery. He is receiving calls and restoring his sense of humor. Champion neighbor, Cathy Odneal is also home again after a similar journey. She was in St. Louis at the Barnes hospital for a fancy procedure. She says that not moving around for a few days in a row really takes a toll on a person’s strength. Her friends know that she will do all the hard work it will take get strong again. Their Champion friends and family wish them good luck in their healing processes. They have good support systems and Cathy was quick to say the Barnes nurses and staff were all wonderful to her. Everyone has or knows someone who has significant health issues. It is part of that phenomenon known as the ‘swift passage of time.’ Good luck to all of us. Tina is one of the nurses who work for the Douglas County Health Department. She will be in Champion from 8:30 to 10:30 Friday morning, July 27th doing blood pressure checks and blood sugar tests. She will be there the last Friday of every month. It is a great service to the community—helping us take care of our health. Champion!

The General said, “Everybody had a good time at the 2018 Vanzant Picnic, but some may not remember.”

A person can go on-line or stop at the court house to see a sample ballot for the August 7th primary elections. It is good to have the chance to read those propositions in advance. They are often written in such a way as to make you think you are voting one way when, in fact, you may be voting against your real choice. It is a privilege to vote—to participate in our democracy. Opinions are like ‘noses,’ they say, everybody has one. Back in 1987, President Ronald Regan spoke about the Fairness Doctrine of 1949, which required the nation’s radio and television stations to “afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views on issues of public importance.” He said, “This type of content-based regulation by the federal government is, in my judgement, antagonistic to the freedom of expression guaranteed by the First Amendment.” Now days, an Old Champion woman, who has for decades been apt to spit on her own kitchen floor at the very mention of his name, finds him almost reasonable. His repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, however, has put us in the awkward position of being bombarded by bias. It is reminiscent of the stark description of cult brainwashing. We cherry pick information to support our preconceived versions of “truth.” When it comes right down to it, my prejudices are better than your prejudices.

Bristow, Oklahoma’s Tom Paxton wrote the song “My Dog’s Bigger Than Your Dog.” He was a fan of Woody Guthrie, who wrote many good songs that seem applicable today. Woody died in 1967. On the 50th anniversary of his passing his daughter, Nora Guthrie, said she had been surrounded by her father’s songs for her entire life. She listed a few of the teachings that his songs have imparted: “We belong to the family of man. We are against racial injustices. We are against social injustices. We are against greed. Fight fascism. We support and respect the workers in the world who built this world, and everyone has or should have, a good job of work to do. Learn history. Children are to be respected, and adults could learn a lot from children. True love makes you want to be a better person. True love makes you want to jump up in the morning and do something good. Each person is unique and each individual has something wonderful to offer. Our religion is so big that no one is excluded from it, and no one can get out of it! Learn as much as you can about the world. Give as much as you can to others.” Nora says the list goes on. The song that comes first to mind when we think of Woody Guthrie is “This Land is Your Land.” The last verse says, “In the squares of the city—In the shadow of the steeple—Near the relief office—I see my people –And some are grumblin’ and some are wonderin’—If this land’s still made for you and me.” Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Picnic Fun
Front row smiling:  Linda Clark, Barbara Anderson, Kenneth Anderson
Behind them…Upshaw brothers David, Dean, and Dailey

July 9, 2018

CHAMPION—July 9, 2018


Felix Parsons at 6 months.

It was a grand birthday celebration for the Nation last week. The crowd swelled to near fifty over at the Brush Creek Farm where The General cranked home-made ice-cream until everyone had his fill. Birthdays which have slipped by The Champion News include that of Beverly Barnhart, who celebrated with Alvin on July 2nd. That was also the birthday of Skyline 3rd grade student, Jasmine Hutson. Virginia Canada, who now lives closer to us up in Columbia had her special day on the 5th. The Dalai Lama was seen on-line celebrating his birthday with Willie Nelson on the 6th. Janet Burns was probably partying that day as well. Young Felix Parsons was six months old on the 6th. He weighs over 17 pounds now and is one of those very young people who seem to have the wisdom of all the ages in his eyes. Walter Darrell Haden was born July 6, 1931. He passed away in 2014, and his friends wonder just what kind of song he would be able to write today, considering that his tune, “All the Late News From the Courthouse,” created such a stir in Ava that it was banned from the radio back in the day. Kruz Kutz has a great grandmother who lives on Cold Springs Road. His birthday is the 7th of July. That happy birthday song resounded at the Vanzant Jam on Thursday for JoAnn Newberry, celebrating on the 9th. Skyline kindergarten student, Bentlee Seaborn has a birthday on the 10th and second grader, Jude Hicks will have his birthday on Bastille Day, July 14th. Down in Texas, the fair Sophia Zappler will be 16 on the 13th. Your Champion friends and family wish all of you a Happy Birthday and a great year ahead.

Lucas on the keyboard.

Some thought that the Starvy Creek Bluegrass Festival would decimate the music circle at Vanzant Thursday, but it proved not to be the case. While a number of regulars were absent, newcomers and musicians, seldom seen, filled in the ring nicely. A ten year old keyboard player named Lucas from Chandler, Arizona was a big hit. He is the grandson of J.P. and Rosa Roy of Drury. He played a lively and complicated piece on his Yamaha electric keyboard which impressed even the most accomplished musicians in the house. Young Thomas Jarnagin had a busy day and was passed out cold in his Mother’s arms until his Dad, Todd, sang, “You are My Sunshine.” That woke him up, but before long the two year old was ready for bed and called it an early night. His Granddad enjoyed the visit. He had been looking forward to it for a long time and will fairly well tell you that Thomas is the world’s best grandson. Dwayne Collins was pretty happy to be in the presence of his twin granddaughters. They will be in the neighborhood for a few weeks, making the whole place prettier. They love to hear their beautiful Grandmother sing. It is most encouraging to see young people enjoying and participating in the traditional music of this part of the world. Talented young folks like Dave Bean, Bo Parker, Elias ‘Banjo,’ and Darrius of Cabool, all of whom played that night, will carry it forward and keep the music going. Good cooks and good neighbors will keep the potluck supper going as well as the fellowship.

Young Thomas in his Mother’s arms.

Good news comes from Barb Krider up in Elmwood, Illinois: “Harley had a great day yesterday. Tubes out. Walking and talking. Much more alert. Can talk on the phone and appreciate visitors.” Friends and family in Champion who have been following his progress are all encouraged. Barbara might get some well-deserved rest now. Encouragement is being applied to Cathy Odneal as well. She is off to Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis for some sophisticated heart surgery on Tuesday. Her community will give her time to recuperate, but will be looking forward to seeing her at the jam in a couple of weeks or as soon as possible. She will miss the Vanzant Picnic this year, happening Friday and Saturday, the 13th and 14th. It is always a lovely affair. Preparations for it are well underway. Those of us who just attend these great country funfairs may not be alert to the planning and hard work that goes into making them happen. There will be music, good food, games, and the chance to see all those people you only see at these events. It is a win-win situation. The spiffy new bingo parlor is sure to get some good use. Thanks to all the community minded volunteers there is fun to be had!

On a hot, sunny afternoon, Jonnie, the fierce yard dog, barked up a stranger who had come with an invitation to attend a movie up at the Springfield Expo Center. “The story of Jonah—A Lesson in Courage and Mercy” surely is an exciting tale. After three days in the belly of the great fish, our hero hit the ground running to Nineveh, where he did a bang up job of doing the work he had tried unsuccessfully to avoid. In conversation with the stranger, it was agreed that it might be timely to have a school of those great fishes to swallow up the whole of today’s regime for long enough to have those politicians once again enthusiastic and repurposed. When spit out upon Freedom’s Shores up there on the Potomac, they would all leap headlong, fervently resolved to represent the best interest of all the electorate. What a fantasy! They say the Book of Jonah highlights the sometimes unstable relationship between two religious needs: comfort and truth. These days we have the odd phenomena of the interchangeability of opposites. We think truth is verifiable. It makes us uncomfortable to think it mutable or subjective. If these kinds of thoughts give you a headache, go out into the garden. Tomatoes are beginning to ripen. Potatoes are coming out of the ground. Kitchens are overflowing with peppers, cucumbers, and squash from the early gardens. Later gardens will be producing when the early ones are played out. A few drops of rain from time to time help, but there is still watering and weeding to do. Out there, alone early in the morning when it is nice and quiet, sing “Sleepy-eyed John he stole a goose. The goose flopped but she didn’t get loose. Said John to the goose, ‘If you don’t be still, I’ll miss my supper down at Candy Hill.’” Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

A sudden, summer Sunday shower in Champion!

July 2, 2018

CHAMPION—June 29, 2018


All roads lead to Champion!

The first chirp of the katydid was heard Thursday evening over in Champion East. They say that the first hard freeze will, therefore, be four months hence on October 28th. Champions have known of a first frost as early as September 27th. On these scorching days, it is hard to think about a hard freeze. We still have the 4th of July, the Squires Picnic, the Up and At It Holt Picnic, the Vanzant Picnic, the Skyline VFD Picnic and any number of other things to do before then, including the Champion School Reunion and the Second Annual Pioneer Heritage Festival of the Ozarks on October 6th and 7th. The swift passage of time mixed with summertime fun makes it all seem like a whirr. Over in Edinburgh, Scotland residents were sweltering as the temperature climbed to an all-time high of 77 degrees. It is all relative. A relative over there was said to have become so warm that he took off his hat.

Good news comes from Kriders up in Illinois. Brothers Harley and Donald have both been hospitalized with heart troubles and, as of Friday, they are both stable and improving. Barbara says that the thoughts and prayers helped. Their friends and families back in Champion are glad to hear it, and, as always, hope for the best.

Thursday’s Jam at Vanzant was another lovely evening. The music was enjoyable and the gathering of families and friends and neighbors enjoyed a delicious pot-luck supper and a good time visiting with each other. Kenneth and Barbara Anderson are being regular attendees now that they are home for good. They sat with Bob Berry and Mary Goolsby for supper and much laughter was heard coming from that table. Bob and Mary are busy showing Bob’s beautiful old cars at the various car shows in the area. It turns out that retired people can wind up being more active than when they were working for a living. Many of the musicians will be absent next week as they will be off at the 33rd Annual Starvy Creek Bluegrass Festival. It is near Conway, about 50 miles north of Champion. It runs from the 5th to the 7th, but campers like to get up there early with their RV’s and settle in for the fun. It will be hot, so one in the know says she thinks they will jam all night and sleep during the day. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, The General will hopefully reprise his splendid rendition of “Under the Double Eagle.” Last week it was erroneously reported as having been “Down Yonder.” His repertory is more expansive than one might think as he freely admits to listening to music from France, Italy, Mexico, Spain, Greece, Turkey and other places. For familial harmony he keeps his accordion and his banjos in a separate building there at the family compound. There is a joke going around that says perfect pitch is when you throw a banjo into an accordion. A sense of humor is a valuable commodity in these worrisome times.

The photograph of the mystery item submitted for identification by Jordan’s own J.C. Owsley was examined carefully by a number of knowledgeable individuals on Wednesday in the meeting room at the Historic Emporium. Much as had been speculated, it was deemed to be a black smith’s tool designed for handling hot things. While none had seen anything exactly like it, it was similar enough to things they had seen to make the judgement. The combined knowledge of the Champion Panel of Experts is unfathomable!

Kenneth (Hovie) Henson and Dawn have driven the 700 miles it takes to get from Houston to Mountain Grove in order to attend the Alumni festivities associated with having graduated from high school there a long, long, long time ago. Alvin Barnhart had leaked the information that the Alumni Breakfast would be held Saturday the 30th and Hovie got wind of it all the way down in Texas. He said he read it in The Champion News and he also expressed curiosity and amusement that people back here in the hills know about Edmund Burke and Machiavelli. He lollygagged around in Champion on Friday enjoying the memories of the old store in the comfort of the Reconstruction of the Historic Emporium. He had stories to tell about Ed Henson and his own dad, Ezra Henson. They were both named Henson, but were not known to be related. He visited the folks who own his old home place now and had stories to tell about digging the 18 inch deep ditch for the water line from the spring, 450 feet up the hill, all the way down to the spring house. He said a lot of that digging was through rock. Hovie and Dawn will have a nice few days ahead of them with all the renewing of auld acquaintances at the school gatherings and then a get together in Springfield with Royce and Jody. Harold and Eva Henson Phillips will meet up with them there for a family to-do on the Fourth of July. Family! Huzza!

In 1776, the Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as a new nation and were no longer a part of the British Empire. All manner of fireworks, parades, family gatherings, bar-b-ques, picnics, and swimming hole adventures will commemorate Independence Day. It would be interesting to be a fly on the wall of all these gatherings just to see how people are feeling about The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave these days. Quotes from those politicians Hovie mentioned might be food for thought at this time. Niccolo Machiavelli was a senior official in the Florentine Republic. He died at age 52 in 1527. He said, “The promise given was a necessity of the past: the word broken is a necessity of the present.“ He also said, “Never attempt to win by force what can be won by deception.” Edmund Burke was an Anglo-Irish statesman born in Dublin. He died in 1797 at age 68. He said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” He also said, “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.” Back here in the hills we have the internet, though it is slow by comparison to much of the rest of the country. We also have books and wise people. A neighbor did recently say, “The vacuity stuns at times.” Still, we can research for ourselves and learn things like other verses to our patriotic songs: “Oh beautiful for heroes proved/In liberating strife/Who more than self, our country loved/And mercy more than life/ America, America may God thy gold refine/ Till all success be nobleness/ And ev’ry gain divine.” Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!

Champion Road Rabbits