November 26, 2018

CHAMPION—November 26, 2018


“Thank God for dirty dishes.  They have a tale to tell.  While others may go hungry, we’re eating very well.  With home, health, and happiness, I shouldn’t want to fuss.  By the stack of evidence, God’s been very good to us.”  The wooden plaque hanging on one Old Champion’s kitchen wall, came off her Mother’s kitchen wall, and had been a gift to her from her own Mother.  Gratitude flows down the generations just as spring water flows down the hill into the Champion’s dishpan.  As “We Gather Together” full of gratitude, we cannot help but be mindful of those less fortunate the whole world round.  There is nothing like a little empathy and compassion to slather us all with humility, like turkey giblet gravy on cornbread dressing.

Champion has been overrun by Tennessee boys again–Drayson, Carson, Dakota, and Dillion joined locals, Foster, Kalyssa, Chase, Teagan and Lux to make the holiday week end with riotous good fun.  They, together with their parents, grandparents, a great-grandmother, many aunts and uncles and cousins, close and distant, congregated in great numbers for the purpose of keeping tight those family ties that bind–the great Upshaw-Krider consortium—an inspiring thing to witness.  Similar scenarios played out all over the country.  The Old Tree Huggers’ Thanksgiving Jamboree took place down on Teeter Creek this year, complete with multi-generational descendants, destined to be Old Tree Huggers themselves as time goes by.  Zack, Seamus, and Elizabeth (Lizzy) were with their grandmother on Thanksgiving.  The next day was her birthday.  She planned to do nothing to celebrate.  In a few years she will have a milestone birthday and maybe will be up for a big party.  Hanukkah 2018 will begin in the evening of Sunday, December 2nd, and end in the evening of Monday, December 10th.  It is a nice long holiday to celebrate the liberation of Jerusalem from the occupation of Antiochus IV, king of the Seleucid Empire in 165 BCE.  Traditions have evolved over these 2183 years.  Research this story to your heart’s delight.  Light some candles and be grateful.  We might also commemorate the Sand Creek Massacre of November 29, 1864, another interesting and relevant research project.

Skyline School will be hosting an Archery Tournament on Saturday, December 8th.  The arrows start flying about 9 in the morning and the tournament will go on until 2 or 3 in the afternoon.  Ms. Curtis says that the Skyline students will shoot about 1 o’clock.  Spectators are welcome to spend the whole day or just an hour or so.  There will be a concession stand and the great opportunity to see some skillful young people doing their best.  We are truly fortunate to have this great little rural school in our area.  This will be a fine opportunity to bring those Box Tops for Education and the Best Choice and Always Save labels.  They are redeemable for cash that the school can use for its unmet needs.  Faith Crawford, a 6th grade student at Skyline, shares her birthday with Lannie Hinote, a former teacher at Skyline who now teaches up in Yukon Village, Alaska, and with young Thomas Jarnagin, who will be 3 years old.  He lives up in the Pacific Northwest with his parents, but makes it down to Drury every summer to visit his grandad, John Webber.  Their birthday is on the 26th.  Carolyn Nunn Harvey, sister of three charming Upshaw brothers, enjoys her birthday on the 27th.  It happens that Thanksgiving falls on her birthday some years.  That was the case with Uncle Al Masters.  He always loved having pumpkin pie on his birthday, sometimes decorated with a turkey.  Billy Strong is a 4th grade student.  His birthday is on the 29th.  Jhonn Rhodes, in the 8th grade, and Lane Watkins, a 5th grade student, both celebrate their birthday on November 30th.  Children usually love to have their birthdays remembered.  Sometimes adults struggle to find the fun again when life has been disappointing.  Birthdays give us an opportunity to express the affection and appreciation we feel for friends and family any time of the year.

Champions are remembering Louise Hutchison who passed away on Sunday.  Louise had suffered a stroke a few years ago, but had been able to stay at home until recently.  Before that time she had always been very active in the community.  She was a terrific cook and enjoyed entertaining.  She and Wilburn kept a big garden and shared and put up a lot of food.  She put in a number of productive years working with the Skyline Volunteer Fire Department and made pies to rival those of her friend Esther Wrinkles.  She liked to tell the story about Ed Henson calling her up at 6:30 every Christmas morning to ask if her refrigerator was running.  She would say, “Yes,” and he would laugh his easy joyful laugh and say, “”Well, you better go catch it!”  It was their joke.  Louise was a big part of the community for a long time.  She won the First Ripe Tomato in Champion Contest in 2008, with her beautiful Parks Whoppers.  She was a fun loving person with a great laugh.  She will be much missed and long remembered.  She once said that her favorite song was “What a Day That Will Be.”

On a lovely sunny Saturday Champions took advantage of marvelous weather to utilize their outdoor clothes drying apparatus strung from tree to tree.  On Sunday afternoon they watched the neglected clothes pin bag dance sideways and flip around the line so as to spray clothespins far out into the backyard.  “They call the wind Mariah.”  The corrugated PVC roofing over the garden shed and that ‘other shed’ out back of the house, came loose in chunks to sail abruptly to the southwest.  The last of the autumn leaves have taken to the air and ere long the hillsides will bristle with bare brush of varying heights.  The grasses are changing color and may all have wearied with the waving.  Every day, the changing scene in this glorious part of the world is captivating.  KY3 said there were gusts up to 51 miles an hour.  Mariah has had her way.  Travelers homeward are cautioned to be defensive in their driving.  High winds and all kinds of precipitation make the roadways perilous.  Champions are attentive to their phones for news of safe arrivals.

What a delight to have the angry, besmirching political commercials on our televisions and internet replaced by crass Christmas consumerism!  The music is decidedly more jolly and the idea that we can actually purchase happiness for ourselves and our loved ones is compelling and all with hard cash or with just the click of a mouse or maybe easy credit.  Seriously, this season can be stressful even in the best of times, let alone these times when we are awash in obvious flimflammery, moral decay, indifference and blatant cruelty.  Yet for us today, we “Keep on the Sunny Side” in Champion!—Looking on the Bright Side!

Champion’s changing scene.

November 19, 2018

CHAMPION—November 19, 2018


And it will surprise you…

Champions say, “Count Your Blessings.”  We have not far to look to find many in much less agreeable circumstances.  This week families and friends will gather for feasting and acknowledging good fortune.  There will be news to share–some wonderful, some sad and we will all gaze at each other, glad again for closeness with good people.  It has been reported that two of the big fires in California were caused by downed power lines.  It is our good fortune to live in an area where electricity is furnished by electrical co-operatives—customer owned utilities, well run and maintained.   We are also blessed not to have extraordinary dry conditions and terrible strong winds.  There in California, many are dead.  Many more are missing.  Many lives have been altered forever.  As we set about to give thanks for our blessings here, a hope for healing and recovery goes out to them from the Champion heart.

Over in Ava, Fern Bishop had a 90th birthday celebration on Wednesday.  Her son and his wife joined Fern’s friends, Linda, Wanda and Sybil for cake and reminiscing.  Some of that cake made its way to Champion were it was summarily finished off—fresh raspberries and all.  Carole Callahan Barnhart also enjoyed her birthday on the 14th.  Hopes are that she had a great day that matches her great smile.  Jacob and Jenna’s old grandpa had his day on the 18th.  He is back in the neighborhood and friends and family are glad to see him.  An alumni of the Champion School, Elva Ragland’s birthday is the 19th of November.  The anniversary of your birth is as good a time as any to let you know that you are loved and appreciated every day.

One of the great things going on at our great K-8th grade Skyline R2 School is that this month they are collecting canned and packaged goods that they will donate to the Senior Center in Ava to be distributed where they are needed.  Meanwhile the pre-K through 2nd grade have a fundraiser going to help them pay their way into the Wonders of Wildlife sometime in the spring, a costly but very valuable learning experience.  Pop in to the school or into Henson’s Store in Historic Downtown Champion to see how you can help.  The Skyline Archery team had their first tournament on Saturday up in Norwood.  Terri Ryan reported that it went well.  She said they had several new archers.  “Some of our experienced archers shot their highest scores yet, so that was pretty exciting.  Our first tournament at Skyline will be December 8th.”  She says they will have four tournaments this year.  This first one will be on a Saturday so the community will have a chance to come out to see some amazingly skillful young people do their stuff.  The procedures for the tournaments are very interesting and well organized with safety and precision as the focus.

The Vanzant Bluegrass Jam was jam packed on Thursday.  Seventeen people with musical instruments circled up for the fun of it.  Lynette Cantrell was there with her brother, Roger, visiting from Seattle.  His was the first ever bouzouki brought to the jam.  It has eight strings like a mandolin but a two foot long fretboard.  This particular instrument is unusual in that it has a flat back as opposed to the round, potato bug back of the traditional bouzouki.  He was able to subvert it to bluegrass, playing a great rendition of “Oh Them Golden Slippers.”  Roger said that the jam he goes to back home is more organized which prompted the question, “What do you mean by that?”  He said they have a regular play list and everyone knows all the songs.  That answer left the inquirer wondering how they ever hear anything new or how they might ever be surprised.  Most likely they enjoy it the way they do it as much as folks here enjoy it our way.  Our way will resume on the Thursday after Thanksgiving.  Everyone is welcome at the Vanzant Community Building.  Potluck is at 6 and music happens from 7 to 9.  The potluck is a feast every time.  Bonnie Bean was kind enough to share her chicken pot pie recipe.  It has fat fluffy biscuits on the top.

The Champion News on-line has been getting mail both of the snail and cyber variety.  The snail mail (TCN, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717) came with the much appreciated annual support for TCN from J.C. Owsley over in Cross Timbers.  Again he dedicates his contribution to the memory of R. C. Dobbs.  “Ralph was one of my post-graduate professors at the University of Missouri Columbia.  He was also a dear friend and mentor.  He grew up in Eastern Douglas County.”  “A student of everything who was known for his friendliness and humility” is the way another friend eulogized him in 2014.  He was born in Bertha in 1922, and after high school joined the CCC.  He started college at SMS in Springfield and ultimately earned degrees at the University of Missouri in Columbia and at Indiana University.  Meanwhile, he served in the South Pacific during World War II and left the US Marine Corps as a Captain.  In 1965 he joined the graduate facility in the College of Education at UMC.—Dr. Ralph Dobbs.  He and his wife raised five daughters.  He volunteered in a number of ways to help Veterans, making an effort to greet them frequently as they returned home.  He loved The Honor Flights and did the hard work that made them happen for many Veterans.  He raised registered polled Hereford cattle and was a very polished, down to earth Champion—even if he was from over there on Fox Creek southeast of Gentryville.  J.C. has some interesting and pleasant friends.  It turns out you have to be one, a friend, to have one.

Cyber mail to The Champion News online comes from our old friend Eulalia Jasmin.  She is wowed that now any mention of a song in the text leads to an internet link that plays the song!  She asked that the staff go back to 2006 through all the archives to link up all the music to real sound.  Alas!  Those are too many songs!  Who would imagine there might be too many?  The new feature commenced October 29th and will go on henceforth.  “Put another nickel in, in the nickelodeon.  All I want is loving you and music, music, music”… in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Some of Vanzant’s Thursday Circle

November 12, 2018

CHAMPION—November 12, 2018


Jonnie by the fire.

“What happened to Fall?” grumbles one Old Champion who had also asked, “What happened to Spring?” when the weather went directly from Winter to Summer.  We did enjoy some spectacular autumnal colors for a few days, but the cold seems to have arrived early.  Quit your bellyaching and make the best of whatever comes along.  Here in the awesome Ozarks we are not experiencing record drought and 60 mile an hour winds.  Point being, it could be worse.  Things change and Champions adapt.  The woodshed and propane tank are full.  The faucets that require it are set to drip.  Those wintertime inside projects are being remembered i.e.:  deep cleaning, de-cluttering, making Christmas gifts, writing letters, reading books, making music, drinking hot chocolate, eating cookies, dawdling on the internet half the day when there is work to be done.  Jonnie, the family dog, sleeps by the fire like a Champion.  Hello winter.

It has been a pleasure to spend this last week honoring our Veterans.  Skyline students held an assembly at 2:30 on Friday afternoon to honor parents, grandparents, neighbors, and friends who serve or have served in the military.  It was an opportunity to thank them.  All around the country, all around the world, there have been observances to mark the end of the War to End All Wars.  The internet has been full of photos of our Veterans.  Among them is one that includes Bryan and Lee Proctor, and their Dad, Pete, and Pete’s brothers, Gary and Frankie–all in uniform, Ruby’s sons and grandsons.  Pete recently spent some time at a VA Hospital and came home with five holes in his belly to show for it.  Phyllis is taking good care of him and, as he is restricted from picking up anything heavier than 10 pounds until the 29th of November, he will have to enjoy his thanksgiving dinner just one forkful at a time.  Meanwhile, Pete does a lot of work through The American Legion that recognizes and supports Veterans.  Pete is a genuine Champion.  Lane Sutherland posted a picture of her Uncle Lee Cooley, Corporal, Army Co. D, 121st infantry who served in WWII.  It has been an education to see how many men and women from these parts have been willing to serve.  Last year Elva Upshaw posted a picture of her dad at Robins AFB in Georgia when he was going through the combat crew training course.  He wound up being a Master Sargent before he was summarily promoted to admiral by The Champion News, and then laterally to General when it was learned that he could not swim.  Joking aside, this part of the world has been well represented in all the armed services in all the Nation’s conflicts.  Champions all!

Champion birthdays include that of Jill Sterling, now married to some guy named John.  She celebrates the 13th.  That is also the special day for Skyline third grader Madelynn Vivod.  The 14th is for second grader Isabella Jeffrey.  The 15th is the special day for Richard Heffern.  He lived in Kansas City for years and recently moved to Springfield, where he has jumped into all manner of community service.  He has a cabin in Champion and a Champion heart.  Seventh grade student, Raven Hull, will be celebrating on the 16th.  The 17th will find third grader, Caleb Barker, and seventh grader, Abigail Whittier both having parties.  Your Champion friends and family wish you all happy days even when it is not your birthday.

Skyline Christmas Wreath

Skyline teacher Terri Ryan posts, “The next stage of our Wonders of Wildlife Field Trip fundraiser for preschool through 2nd grades has begun.  All proceeds raised will go for student admission fees.”  To help out, call Helen Batten (who made the beautiful Christmas wreath she donated to the cause) at Skyline (417-683-4874) or pop into the Re-creation of the Historic Emporium over on the North side of the Square in Downtown Champion—that would be Henson’s Downtown G & G.  Tickets will be available there and the good feeling of helping these kids will last and last.

The horrific fires in California are bringing changes to many.  One wonders if the 150,000 and more people displaced from those terrible fires will be considered refugees, and if they need to walk eastward to find shelter and aid, will they be met with a wall and concertina wire?  Those five thousand troops on the southern border waiting for the refugees fleeing violence, oppression and deprivation who will arrive in two months, those soldiers could be home with their families, or out in California helping to fight fires and save people.  The world over, people, even rich people, have catastrophes that interrupt their lives.  Some people think that climate change has been exacerbated by man’s activities.  Others pretend that it is not happening at all, but it is.  The climate is changing.  Just ask your grandpa.  Champions recognize that many are suffering.

Someone said that if you are not accustomed to driving on ice or snow, just pretend that you are taking your grandmother to church.  There are two gallon jars of sweet tea in the back seat and a sweet potato pie.  Grandmother is in the passenger seat in a new dress holding a crock pot of gravy in her lap.  Drive like that.  A regular devotee of The Champion News at has noticed that of late any mention of a song in the text will send the reader to actual music.  Technology is cool.

It is a relief to have the election over.  All those negative political advertisements were oppressive.  They seemed to add to all the stress.  As the results continue to come in, we are reminded that we are a Democracy and, in spite of what may be going on, we are still “America the Beautiful” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Champion the Beautiful

November 5, 2018

CHAMPION—November 5, 2018


Evening splendor in Champion

On the eve of the election, it is anybody’s guess about what the results will be. Chances are more than likely that about half the country will be angry and disappointed while the other half will be grateful and overjoyed. Hopes are that the winners will be graceful and inclusive, that the losers will be gracious and civil and a spirit of peaceful accord will prevail on both sides. It will certainly be a great relief to be shed of the unrelenting political advertisements. Imagine what those advertising budgets could have bought in terms of benefit to the electorate. What will replace those ads? Pharmaceuticals and law firm hype will fill in the spaces between news reports and opinions, leaving some old folks nostalgic for lines like, “You can trust your car to the man who wears the star”; “It’s what’s up front that counts”; “See the USA in your Chevrolet”; “The best part of waking up…” Hopes are that we will all wake up to a calm resolve to move forward productively.

Wake up happy on your birthday: Skyline 7th grade student Hailey Hall celebrates on November 4th and 5th grader Mason Solomon on the 7th. The 8th is the special day for Zack’s Champion granddad. Elizabeth and Seamus also call him ‘granddad,’ or something that means the same thing. Skyline 2nd grader, Axel Webster, will party on the 9th of November and the 11th will be remembered as Chuck Barnes birthday. He has been gone a long time now, but is well remembered. He lived all over the world and had wonderful stories to tell.

Black Elk began to tell his story in 1932. He told it to a guy named John Neihardt who published the book Black Elk Speaks. Black Elk was born in 1863 and was the second cousin of Crazy Horse. He witnessed the Battle of Little Big Horn at the age of 12 and was present at the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890. He told Neihardt, “I could see that the white man did not care for each other the way our people did. They would take everything from each other if they could. Some had more of everything than they could use, while crowds of people had nothing at all. This could not be better than the old ways of my people.” Perhaps we will find some new ways.

It is hard on a community to lose a valued member. Champions join their neighbors in Vanzant feeling the sudden loss of Sharon Upshaw who passed away Friday. She leaves a big loving family, and a great number of friends and neighbors who knew her to be devoted to her family, to have a great laugh and endless patience. It is a struggle to find words and ways to comfort and console. Heartache never goes away. Precious Memories linger always.

Rain and cooler temperatures are working their magic on the autumn leaves. They are coming down in rafts revealing home sites hidden during verdant seasons. All our seasons have their beauty. Every hour of the day has some splendor about it in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side.

A spectacular Champion sunset

November 4, 2018

CHAMPION—November 4, 2018


Sharon Upshaw and part of her big loving family.

It is hard on a community to lose a valued member. Champions join their neighbors in Vanzant feeling the sudden loss of Sharon Upshaw who passed away Friday. She leaves a big loving family, and a great number of friends and neighbors who knew her to be devoted to her family, to have a great laugh and endless patience. It is a struggle to find words and ways to comfort and console. Heartache never goes away. Precious memories linger always.

Sharon Upshaw November 5, 1950 – November 2, 2018