December 10, 2018

CHAMPION—December 10, 2018


Champion Winter Finches

The internet is the latest thing to be called the ‘window to the world.’  We can go out on Google-earth and see pictures of any street address in America or China, Australia or Russia.  We can look at houses on the beach in Kennebunkport, Maine or at an address in Cabool, Missouri or our neighbors up on C Highway.  We have access to the whole world from our laptops, but the view out our own windows in the beautiful world of Champion is a real and present enchantment.  On a sunny Sunday after a dreary few days of cloud and cold, the everyday things, the ordinary things can look new or different.  A good housekeeper says to wash your dirtiest window twice a week.  To clarify, that means two windows a week—every week.  Depending on how many windows in your house…well, it does not matter.  Eventually all your windows will be clean-er.  Even through a dirty window, the purple finch is a glorious little bird.  It is a treat to have an uncloudy day, but a partly cloudy one with a brisk wind can bring unexpected visual pleasures as shadows race across the hills and fields.  Champion is a beautiful part of the world in all seasons.

A snowbird from Wyoming, enjoying the relative mildness of Champion winters, remarked at the number of birthday notices in The Champion News.  Some folks do not want any kind of mention of their birthdays, but probably none of them are children.  Eva Coyote, Kai, up in Portland celebrates on the 11th.  Skyline first grade student, Kennedy Hinote will celebrate on December 13th.  The 14th belongs to Spike Jones who was born in 1911.  His band was the ‘City Slickers’ and their music was zany and wonderful — very popular in the 1940s and 1950s.  He chewed gum and wore crazy plaid suits and played a cowbell xylophone on tunes like “That’s Amore.”  (He may rival The General as far as cowbell playing goes.)  Others sharing Spike’s birthday include 17 year old Xue Lynn of Champion, dear Judy T. Ing, who broke our hearts when she left us a few years ago, and 417 Photography’s Shannon Alexander up in Springfield.  Pre-kindergarten student, Lane Keller will have a birthday on the 16th.  Lane and his classmates at Skyline are excited about the Christmas program they will be performing on Thursday evening under the direction of Mrs. Casper.  One little Champion is going to be a reindeer.  These programs are always delightful and our precious children get a chance to be part of something big and brilliant that they will remember far into adulthood and maybe all the way to dotage.  Champion!

Our mailboxes are seeing a lot of action during this season.  Unexpected packages, annual Christmas letters from old friends full of their family news, and Christmas cards addressed to “TCN,” some with much appreciated financial support, mix in with the newspapers, bills and solicitations in the big mailbox down by the road.  Anytime of the year is appropriate to share some cookies with our intrepid USPS mail carriers.  They help us stay connected to the real world.  The mailbox found a note from our old friend Eulalia Jasmin who is off on an adventure in Latin America.  She loves the new music links in the posts at and suggests “Cuando Calienta el Sol” as a song with universal appeal.  She says that her favorite rendition is by a group called ‘Los Panchos,’ but she thinks Champions might appreciate the Johnny Rodrigues version more because he sings part of it in English—“Love Me With All Your Heart.”  Sandy Halteman writes in from Osceola, saying “I just discovered The Champion News and so enjoyed reading it.”  Sandy thinks Champion looks like a wonderful community and plans a visit to our area soon.  It is a real gift to make new friends.  Gary Hutchison is an old friend living up in Mountain Grove.  He went to school at Champion for the first three years.  He was lucky enough to have Lorene Hick as his first grade teacher.  She always said he was her favorite student.  He sat on the front row and if he got sleepy he would just take a nap.  She never said a word about it.  Gary was not a big fan of Arthur Porter who replaced Ms. Hicks.  He did not like having to do the “do re mi” every morning.  Gary said, “…every blamed morning!”  He was also still holding a grudge over having to taste Limburger cheese at Porter’s insistence.  The principal reason for Gary’s call was to verify that Darrell Haden’s “All The Late News From the Courthouse” was still available on CD.  His aim was to get a copy for Wilma Hutchison, with whom he had just had a two hour conversation.  It is not at all difficult to have a two hour conversation with that gentleman.  Wilma will get her CD when she shows up at the next Vanzant Jam.  It sounds as if Gary will have a great family Christmas and he wished the same to all his Champion friends, and a happy New Year!  Meanwhile, Katelyn McConnell has included a nice piece about The Champion News in her wonderful blog, Ozarks Alive.  Thanks, Katelyn, and welcome to the new readers you bring with you.

Game cameras are capturing night time pictures of black bears in the woods around Champion.  A particularly big one up near Wolf Pen Hollow has neighborhood residents wary about roaming around after dark.  They have read the ‘Be Bear-Aware’ material and proceed with caution, clapping hands and singing loud.  Winter will officially arrive on the 21st and daylight will begin to last longer, but the bears may be out any time.  Christmas excitement is building.  Travel plans are being finalized, menus are being planned, decorations are going up and special thoughtful gifts are being conjured up.  All of the holiday hoopla and the bountiful wildlife out our windows may, for a few moments at a time, take our attention away from our great National absurdities.  One Champion thinks these tumultuous days are reminiscent of 1928.  That is when Jimmy Rogers wrote “Blue Yodel,” so while times were rough then and got rougher during the next few years, music proved, as it does today, to make hearts lighter.  Come down to the wild, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek and sit around the ancient wood stove in the Re-creation of the Historic Emporium over on the North Side of the Square.  Join friends to discuss wildlife, holidays, music, the Great Depression, current events and the genuine beauty of Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Shadows race across Champion hills and fields.

December 3, 2018

CHAMPION—December 3, 2018


Robins wander in the winter.  They need more food when it is cold, so they move here and there in response to diminishing food supplies and harsh weather.  Champions were happy to host them in flocks for a couple of days.  Some may linger, but others will move on.  Every season has something spectacular to recommend it in Champion!

Luxe Krider’s birthday is December 2nd.  She had her party early when lots of her cousins were visiting from Tennessee and Marshfield.  It was a Peppa Pig party for the 4 year old, and the photos in the internet will attest to everyone having had a good time.  The 4th is the birthday of Skyline School 4th grader, Emma Webster.  Bobbette Spivey and Dawn Henson share their birthday on the 5th with Skyline second grader, Michael Hall, who lives near here.  Bobbette lives in West Plains and Dawn lives in Houston, Texas.  Zack Godshall lives down in in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  He shares the 6th of December with Ed Bell who lives up north of Mountain Grove.  Ethel Leach enjoys her birthday on December 7th.  She is married to Bob who was born in Douglas County and lives here yet.  Noam Chomsky shares Ethel’s birthday, but the philosopher was born in 1928.  “Is the Man Who is Tall Happy?“ is an animated documentary written about him by a Frenchman in 2013.  Any Frenchman writing about Ethel would include her lovely smile and good humor.  Bob is a lucky man.  Chris Tharp, from down in Vera Cruse, has the 8th for his special day.  Richard Johnston will be celebrated by a big bunch of family on his birthday, the 9th.  Your Champion friends and family wish you all happy days all year around.

The Archery Tournament at Skyline School will start at 9 in the morning on Saturday, the 8th, and will go on until the early afternoon.  The whole community is welcome to observe.  It is a great chance to support our terrific little rural school and the talented children who go there.  More talent will be on display at the Skyline Christmas Program which will be held, Thursday, December 13th.  Ms. Casper is the Music and Art Director at Skyline and is always able to inspire our young people to showcase their creative gifts in imaginative holiday programs.  Even if you do not have children or grandchildren attending Skyline, the Christmas program will lighten your heart and get you in the mood for a “Holly Jolly Christmas.”  Meanwhile, the pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, first and second graders are working toward their springtime trip to The Wonders of Wildlife.  They have put together an interesting basket of activities to keep the family busy for a little while during the Christmas break.  Get a look at it at The Champion Store, Henson’s Downtown G & G, and/or the Recreation of the Historic Emporium, all on the North Side of the Square in Champion.  If you are only middle aged, these children will be running the world when you are old.  Education is a big deal.

As if by clockwork, Suzie Freeman’s Christmas card was the first to arrive in the Champion mailbox.  She says that she and Wesley are still ‘a kickin’’ down there in McKinney, Texas.  They have been married 53 years and it sounds like they are doing well.  Suzie is now the oldest of six sisters and sets a splendid example of cheerful good behavior.  Wesley is still making his wooden truck replicas.  They are remarkably accurate representations.  He is working on number 119.  The US Postal Service is the marvelous institution that helps keep us connected to that rare grandchild who writes a letter, and to our creditors and solicitors.  The USPS also delivers the packages we have ordered on the internet and the surprise Christmas presents.  Our intrepid mail carriers, Karen Ross and her substitutes, are much appreciated by those living on Rt. 72, particularly by The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  One is reminded of an old Bob Wills song, “Got a Letter from My Kid Today.”  Pat Smith has been an intrepid mail carrier for 30 years.  She lives just up the hill from Champion and has driven to Mountain Grove every work day for all those years.  She is officially retired now and was seen recently on the internet playing spoons and singing a parody of “This Old House.”  The verses were all about the things she will and will not miss.  Hopes are that some Wednesday she will bring her awesome spoon playing talent down to the Historic Emporium for a little mid-day jamming.  Pat is a big fan of The Champion News and, according to one source, has specific articles cut out, folded up and stored in her Bible.  Champions are her fans as well.  Congratulations, Pat!  A distant reader who writes in to is very excited about the links showing up on the website when a song is mentioned.  He recommends a Weird Al Yankovic tune, “One More Minute,” as a possibility for a future link.  While this one may not work (look it up for yourself), nevertheless, suggestions are always welcome in Champion.

A sentence from an article in the Douglas County Herald of 100 years ago was striking for its eloquent language:  “A joyous Thanksgiving this of 1918, yet deeply tinctured with a pathos and glory of the white crosses which our nation claims upon the fields in hillsides in France.”  The language is beautiful and brings to mind the valor of all our Veterans who have extended themselves for the sake of the Nation.  It is amazing that so many of them are currently homeless or have unaddressed medical conditions relating to their multiple deployments in dangerous parts of the world.  Others are victims of computer glitches that have delayed or denied the G.I. Benefits that were guaranteed them when they joined up.  The wonderful G.I. Bill has been responsible for many of our best success stories.  One old Champion, who has never served, has suggested that prior to enlisting, a candidate for any branch of the service should spend a semester working in a VA Hospital, helping and talking to our wounded, aging and infirm heroes.  Champions appreciate our many local Veterans and hope that courageous young people will still be willing to commit to service in spite of what they see currently.  It is reassuring to know that “The Times They Are A Changing” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!