August 13, 2018

CHAMPION–August 13, 2018


One driving by the Skyline VFD Picnic grounds on Sunday afternoon could hardly discern that anything had happened there at all.  Everything is tidy and back to rights, thanks to the efforts of hardworking volunteers.  It was a beautiful picnic.  A few sprinkles on Friday night scarcely made a difference and Saturday night was warm and wonderful with a huge crowd.  The music, the food, the prizes and games were all that we have grown to expect from this great event.  New to the picnic this year was a five car barrel train pulled by a Farmall Cub tractor.  It rolled around the grounds all night carrying kids of all ages.  Friday evening Brenda Coffman Massey tried it on for size and had to be prized out of a barrel and pulled to her feet by a brave young fire fighter.  She was seen riding again Saturday night, apparently having learned how to get out without assistance.  Brenda knows how to have fun and how to spread it around for every good cause.  The Prominent Champion took the last tour of the evening, relaxing after all his hard work.  The best thing about the picnic is having the chance to get together with friends and neighbors, many of whom we only see at this event.  The community comes together to support the rural fire department that is vital for the safety of our property and our lives and the fire department hosts this gathering in support of the community.  It is a symbiotic relationship—win-win.

Darrell and Barbara Cooper celebrated their wedding anniversary at the picnic again.  This year was their 46th.  They had a good time and are planning a Wednesday trip to Champion one of these days when their schedule opens up.  Barbara looks very much like her sweet mother and Darrell said she is just like Ruby, ready to go to the picnic at 3:00.  The crowd sang that happy birthday song to Dean Upshaw again.  His birthday is the 13th of August.  He and his brothers are always some of the first to arrive.  They set up their chairs to get a good view of the stage, but not too far from the concession stand.  Andrew Hardin worked the P.A. system.  He reported that Bud Hutchison’s Memorial Trail Ride will start at the Fox Trotters Showgrounds on September 3rd at 10:00 a.m.  This is a National Trail Ride.  Andrew said that Bud’s Champion Ride will take place toward the end of September.  He also said that he is glad to know that Wilma is getting out and about and that she has become a regular attendee at the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam.  He knows that music is as good for us as a good horse.

The Champion School Reunion will be on September 1st, the Saturday before Labor Day.  Nostalgia will rule as old school chums and their descendants gather together once more.  They will come from far and wide:  from Texas, Arkansas, and maybe Kansas, from Springfield and other places at the end of the great Champion Diaspora.  They will bring pot luck dishes for a lunch (dinner) on the grounds and their lawn chairs to sit around and visit with one another, hopefully in the shade or at least on a mild afternoon.  The Walk of Ages may take place in some permutation depending on the descendants of Ezra and Sylvia Henson.  As the new year has begun for Skyline R2 School students, parents and grandparents are highly aware of the many benefits of our little rural school.  It is one of the last such schools in the county.  Our students will be coming together in future decades to remember this wonderful time in their lives.  Though the world has changed a great deal since the Champion School was consolidated into Skyline, the children are the same—hungry for knowledge and the skills they will need for success in this age.  Although many area residents do not have children or grandchildren in school here, they recognize that the future is in the hands of these young people.  All of society benefits from a well-educated population and the community only stands to gain by supporting our little school, its teachers and staff.  Champions all!

On September 2nd Vernon Upshaw’s family will be throwing a party to celebrate his 80th birthday.  It will take place at the Vanzant Community Building from 2:00 p.m. until 4:00.  His younger brother says that everyone will be welcome.  Perhaps he will provide his famous peanut butter ice cream along with the fun.  This is a busy time of the year.  The Wall That Heals is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial replica and mobile education center.  It will be on display at the Fox Trotters’ facility from September 20-23.  This is a great opportunity to learn about a time that is so important to a great many Americans.  Thereafter, in early October, the Pioneer Heritage Festival of the Ozarks will take place over at Chapel Grove.  There will be lots of good news about that as time draws nigh. This is a dynamic, happening part of the world.

Friends gathered on Saturday afternoon to celebrate the life of Ronnie Yocum who passed away in early February this year.  He did a lot of interesting living in 64 years and gathered many friends along the way.  Those who became acquainted with him when he married Janice Lorrain in 2013 were sorry not to have known him longer and better.  We knew that if he was OK with Janice, he was an OK kind of guy.  He was into gardening, flying model airplanes and working on the cabin with Janice.  Many public buildings in Ava have examples of his fine photography and graphic design skills in posters celebrating our pioneer heritage.  He used black and white photos from the Historic Society as well as many of his own shots to remind us of our local past.  The community will long and well remember him.  Friends had stories to share—the kind of gathering he would have liked.

The mailbox at received a couple of interesting notes this week.  One responding to an earlier article concerning the nature of truth quoted Abraham Lincoln who said all that the South wanted the North to do was to “Cease to call slavery wrong and join us in calling it right.”  Another wrote in with the advice:  “If you never heal from what hurt you…you’ll bleed on people who didn’t cut you.”  It is something to ponder.  There are reports that the weather has moderated to some degree in the west which is helping firefighters to make progress on controlling some of the devastating fires still burning there.  While we have experienced some discomfort here this summer due to the hot, dry conditions, we are acutely aware of our good fortune over all.  All across the country and all across the world there are people in much less desirable circumstances.  An appropriate song for this situation is “Count your many blessings, name them one by one…” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


August 6, 2018

CHAMPION—August 6, 2018


Pausing for a photo, a hawk on the way to Champion.

Fires in the West and floods in the East make Champions glad to be Middle-Americans.  There is plenty room for gratitude.  Many are suffering across the country.  We are at about the midpoint of summer and it has turned hot and dry.  There are precautions to take in hot weather just as there are in winter.  It is a good idea to have a hat in the car or a parasol in case you have to walk.  Cell phones are good things if there is a signal.  It is good to carry water with you, but not to leave it in a hot car.  It is still green in Champion but the swirls of golden walnut leaves twirling down remind us summer is a swift season.

Deer are out in numbers.  On the way to Champion from any direction at any time of the day young deer can be seen browsing along the roadsides.  They are beautiful to see and their numbers make venison aficionados optimistic for a full freezer this fall.  Rabbits are frequently in the road in certain locations.  The presence of hawks keeps them undercover in other areas.  Monday morning a small hawk was spotted in the road.  He paused to have his picture taken and then flew up into a tree for another pose.  A few days ago friends over north of Brushy Knob took pictures with their game camera of the bear who comes to their apple tree every year.  He is getting to be a big fellow.  Champion wildlife makes this a great place to live.

Caught on a game camera north of Brushy Knob.

By the time this is in ink the primary election will have taken place and the votes will have been counted.  The FCC Fairness Doctrine lasted from 1949 until 1987 when President Reagan made his judgment on the matter.  The gist of the doctrine was to afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views on issues of public importance.  Certainly it would have been a good thing to have had some clear conversation about “Right to Work.”  Each side had figures and anecdotal evidence to support its point of view, though one side was significantly more elucidated around here.  Go to for alternate views, to add your two cents in the comment section, and to enjoy views of Champion with its School Reunions and Spring Flings.  Share anything you like at or by the excellent US Postal Service at The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  Recently a supporter of The Champion News wrote in to explain the RICO Act.  RICO is the abbreviation for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization.  RICO crimes include money laundering, extortion, gambling, murder, bribery, securities fraud, dealing in obscene material, drug trafficking and embezzlement.  “That’s how we got Al Capone,” the note said, but research shows that it was tax evasion that brought the mob boss down.

Out on the wide veranda of the Recreation of the Historic Emporium a number of locals were discussing hay.  They looked up at the field to the north and talked about how Larry Wrinkles had complained that the field was all up hill.  Several of them were very familiar with that field.  These fellows are old enough to remember bucking hay at a penny a bale.  The Prominent Champion said that he and Lonnie Krider had hauled more than a thousand bales out of a field over by Gentryville and stacked it in the barn.  He made $50.00 and thought he was rich.  They speculated that there is probably not a young man in the country who would buck hay today for any amount of money and would likely not bend over to pick up a penny.  MODOT workers spent a leisurely lunch break out on the veranda.  They have been doing some nice work in the area.  One old Champion told them how much she likes the white lines along the edge of the road.  It is a good reference particularly as you meet someone who takes his half out of the middle.  They said that those folks who drive down the middle probably pay higher taxes for their road use.

School will be starting soon and teachers and staff are already getting ready for the arrival of our wonderful student body.  Skyline School students with birthdays in August include third graders Caleb Harden, on the 5th; Jaycee Hall, on the 10th, Cryslynn Bradshaw on the 12th.  John Brown is in the second grade.  His birthday is on August 15th.  Gina Hollingshad celebrates her birthday on August 6th.  She has a beautiful voice and plays a variety of instruments.  The 6th is also the special day for Lavon Carter over in Ava with her lovely smile.  The 7th is for Bobby Three-Sticks.  He is a Vietnam Veteran with a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart among other commendations.  He is currently waging warfare against egregious venality and his Champion friends commend him for his sterling effort and wish him all success.   At 50 now, a Wiseman claims to be the New Kid on the Block, as he considers he is now on the young end of old. Dean Upshaw knows all the words to all the songs that get sung at the Vanzant Jam.  His birthday is on the 13th.  His friends will be sure he gets celebrated Thursday evening.  David Richardson was there last week talking about a band due to play at the Skyline VFD Picnic on the 10th and 11th.  The name of the group is “Just a Few.”  David is a funny guy and a great musical performer.  He can be seen at any good cause anywhere in the area, particularly if there is music attached.

There will be great music attached to the Skyline VFD Picnic–the last of the summer picnics—the grand finale.  The weather will be perfect. Volunteers have been getting things ready for the fun.  This year the big prize is a 30 inch gas (propane) smoker.  It is a Masterbuilt Signature Series by John McLemores.  It features four big shelves and push button ignition. It will be a fine addition to a lucky person’s patio.  Local merchants, who had already been approached for donations by any number of organizations, continue to share valuable items and services for door prizes.  Last year a visiting cousin said that he could hardly believe that an event such as this could be held without armed security.  He is from a big city and folks around here who met him are uniformly glad that he went back there or anywhere.  Just like the old boy says, “Everybody’s got to be somewhere.” You are likely to run into people you have not seen since the picnic last year.  Bring your lawn chairs. The Skyline VFD membership will be making cakes for the cake walk and pies for the concession stand.  Perhaps David will sing, “I don’t need much, that ain’t no lie.  Ain’t running any race.  Just give me my country pie.  I won’t throw it up in anybody’s face!” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Champion Wildlife!