December 31, 2018

CHAMPION—December 26, 2018

 


Foggy Mountain Champion

Some folks call the days between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day the “Witching Week” and say nothing that happens during this time counts. Of course, that may depend on what is being counted and who is doing the counting. Over in the UK, these days are called the “Gusset.” A person would say, “Well, I’m three days into the Christmas Gusset and still eating turkey.“ A seamstress will tell you that a gusset is an extra piece sewn into a seam to give it ease in a stress spot so that a garment is not too tight, or to give extra room at the bottom of a bag. Construction folks use gusset plates all the time for structural support. We can use these tranquil unstructured days as a hiatus from the hectic hype of the holiday and to contemplate the coming New Year. If you have it in mind to accomplish big things in 2019, you might provide for a gusset here and there just to ease things along and make them strong. Champions encourage any worthwhile ambitious endeavor. As to resolutions: old Champions might say, “I’m just going to keep plugging along,” or “I don’t make them, because I can’t keep them,” or “I’m going to just try to act like I have good sense, the way my Mother told me.”

Charlie Brown said that happiness is a warm puppy. A hard working Old Champion says that happiness is a well-stocked woodshed. There are some that think you should not have too much wood stored in advance because you might pass on before it got burned and some less deserving person might be warmed by your effort. Teenaged persons are known to have said they do not care what happens after they die. As the absolute certainty of our mortality dawns upon us, we are chastened to make the most of every living moment. Back up to the wood stove. It happens that some folks find that it is more difficult to stay warm with wood in moderate weather than in cold weather. Life is fraught with difficulties even in moderate times. “C’est la vie,” say the old folks, “it goes to show you never can tell.”

January birthdays start out with Arne Coon, J.W. Masters (1884), and Jan Liebert of Teeter Creek on New Year’s Day. Kabela Clark shares her birthday on the second with guitarist, Leland Isley, and bassist, Linda Millard. We remember dear Esther Howard and her beautiful hats on her birthday, the third. That is also the special day of young Jacob Coon, now a sophomore in high school. Sweet Sami McCleary, Mrs. Prominent Champion, and Sweet Janice Ray’s spouse share the fourth. Hopefully they will be well celebrated. The 5th is the day to commemorate Georgia Ann Pendergraft Masters (1888). The sixth is for Skyline’s maintenance man, Bud Watkins. He takes care of our wonderful little rural school. Travis Hathaway was 20 years old on January 7, 2017. The lovely Savana will probably sing “Happy Birthday” to him. He will smile that smile. Your friends and family wish a happy birthday to all you Champions near and far, past and present.

J. Henry and Company has been selling music supplies since 1887, according to current advertising. They are now offering a banjo mute for sale for $19.95. It guarantees up to 100% sound reduction. Shipping weight is 9 pounds. That will be a good joke for the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam on Thursday, though no one would raise a finger to shush any of the fine banjo players who attend. Pot luck is at 6:00 and music from 7:00 to 9:00—always a lovely affair. Some say that “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” is the best instrumental bluegrass song ever done. Steve Martin and Earl Scruggs did it together a few years ago.

It has been a real joy to see all the family gatherings posted on the internet. Great bunches of people who love each other face the camera and smile, then go on about their laughing and feasting. Lannie Hinote has been down from Alaska in the midst of a large assembly of Potters. The Bennett bunch is legion, as are the Upshaws, Kriders, Watts and Clines, the Smiths, Hutchisons, and Hensons. From across the country and across the seas family gatherings, large and small, in person, on the telephone, or cyber-linked, attest to the importance of family ties—something we have in common with all nations. As the world seems to be in kind of an uproar these days, it is good to remember we are all on the same little blue dot in the universe. Here at home, Senator John McCain told us not to “despair of our present difficulties but believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here.” There is much suffering and unrest in the world. Compassion is learned in the family circle.

It will be worth your while to make a journey down to the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek sometime in the New Year. The comings and goings at the Re-creation of the Historic Emporium will help you remember what real community is all about. Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


Little Champion Wood Shed
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December 24, 2018

CHAMPION—December 24, 2018

 

Christmas conjures up all kinds of memories.  One time Wilburn Hutchison told a story about a lady who lived on Cold Springs Road just north of Wolf Pen Hollow.  There is a nice spring there and this lady had a spring house where she stored the divinity candy she made for Christmas.  Well, Wilburn and his friend, Fleming Gere, got into that candy and got it all.  There was no report of what kind of punishment Fleming drew, but Wilburn had to carry 100 buckets of water for the lady.  Connie Lansdown has probably heard a more accurate version of that story from her Dad along with many others stories.  Christmas will be different for that family this year since the passing of Louise in late November.  Connie said she and Wilburn and all the family very much appreciated the cards and notes and flowers from people remembering Louise.  She was very well regarded in the community.  She had been a cook at the Skyline School and was active in the Skyline VFD and her church.  She will be long and well-remembered by the many friends she made along the way.

Royce and Jo Henson are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary.  They were married on December 13, 1958, in Miami, Oklahoma.  They have four children and eight grandchildren.  They live in Springfield, but come back to Champion frequently.  They make it back for the Champion Spring Fling and for the Pioneer Heritage Festival.  On any Saturday before Labor Day there is liable to be a whole string of Hensons up and down Cold Springs Road and down Ivy Lane as Royce shares his memories of his childhood home with his children and grandchildren.  There was a rumor that Eva Loyce (Tiny) was in Ava last week for an alumni luncheon with her classmates.  It is the sweet nature of home that calls us back for nostalgia.  “There’s No Place Like Home.”

Wednesday is always a lovely day in Champion.  This last Wednesday before Christmas was especially pleasant as friends and neighbors gathered at the Historic Emporium for some good food and visiting.  It was a chance for people around the area who rarely see one another to get caught up on each other’s news and to share their various plans for the holidays.  While the leader of the band was noticeably absent, our most recently retired mail carrier joined the Wednesday jam with her spoons.  She requires a lively beat.  It made for a lot of fun and hopes are that she will make it a regular habit in her retirement, which many have learned is when things start getting really busy.  Of course, Christmas has our own Rt. 72 mail-carrier busy.  “Flags Up!” was one of the photo-essays created by the celebrated photographer Lillian Virginia Mountweazel.  She was known for her unusual subject matter and her collection of photographs of rural American mailboxes was exhibited extensively throughout Europe.  Sadly, the Ohio born photographer died at the young age of 31 in an explosion while on assignment for Combustibles Magazine.  She would have had a lively time following our intrepid Karen Ross along her many miles of rough and rugged country lanes.  If you have not done so already, put a note or some cookies in your mailbox to tell your carrier how much she/he is appreciated.

The General

There is a tradition among some families to celebrate Christmas in July.  That may be because they just want an additional Christmas, or perhaps it has something to do with December birthdays.  A favorite great niece, one of several, Corinne Zappler, has her birthday on the 27th of December.  She loves visiting in Champion and her family here loves having her.  Skyline sixth grade student, Logan Hull has his special day on the 29th.  He may like having his birthday mixed up with the holiday season and if he does not, he will find a way to remedy the situation as the years go by.  The same is true for Champion grandson, young Eli Oglesby, with his birthday on the 30th.  His great uncle, The General, will be celebrated roundly by the whole tri-city area (Denlow-Champion-Vanzant) as his is the last birthday of the year.  That being New Year’s eve, he may have always thought the world-wide parties were for him.  None of his friends will be willing to disillusion him.  Happy Birthday to all you Champions!

By the time this appears in ink, the most looked forward to day of the year will have passed.  Wrapping paper and tinsel disposed of, Christmas dinner left overs will have lasted for days.  Thoughts go out to the many who, for one reason or another, were not able to be with family during the holidays.  We start a new year and there is every possibility that it will be a good one where strong family ties and long-lasting friendships are paramount.  “Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?” Nope.  Not in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

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December 17, 2018

CHAMPION—December 17, 2018

 

The house was packed for the 2018 Skyline School Christmas program.  It is great to see the community come out on a rainy, muddy and foggy evening to support these great young people.  The National Anthem played on xylophones and drums was a treat and once again, Mrs. Casper and Mrs. Downs have done a terrific job orchestrating the evening.  One of the lovely things about these concerts, apart from the adorable children being adorable, is the look on the faces of parents and grandparents as their little ones perform.  Those looks of pure adoration make every face, young and old, beautiful to see.  Andrea Strong won the Christmas Keep You Busy Basket raffle the preschool through 2nd grade students held.  They now have enough money for their fieldtrip to Wonders of Wildlife.  Teachers and staff will not have as much time off during the winter break as the students will have.  They will be getting things ready to start another great year in our important little school.  Thank you.

Folks at Vanzant will be singing “Happy Birthday” to Mary Goolsby on the 20th.  Destiny Surface, sixth grader, and Rachel Prock, first grader, also celebrate birthdays that day.  The 21st is the winter solstice and the birthday of first grader Paige Jonas, as well as a favorite fiddler, Jerry Wagner, who will also be serenaded at Vanzant Thursday.  Pre-kindergarten’s Chase Cauthron will enjoy the 23rd for his birthday along with his dad, David Cauthron, Sharon Sikes and Butch Stone.  Happy Birthday all you Champions!

Determined equestrians made a roundtrip excursion from Veracruz to Champion on Saturday.  They were not on a Coddiwomple, because, while they traveled in a purposeful manner, their destination was not at all vague.  Somewhere along the trail they were joined by a gritty pooch, call him Champ, who protected them and their horses from harassing farm dogs all along the way.  Andrew Hardin and Jeff and Casey Alcorn had a fine day for their jaunt and a pleasant lunch at Champion.  A variety of circumstances kept away a number of others who had wanted to be on the ride, so Andrew, Jeff and Casey, along with Champ, the fierce road dog, had extra fun and enjoyment to compensate for their missing friends.  It is a kindness, a gift, if you will, to have extra fun for our special friends who, for whatever reason, cannot get their fun together at this time.  They will appreciate it.  Meanwhile, a good dog is a treasure.  Friends from over west of Ava have just lost their old friend Tawney.  She was the family dog for 15 years and, with her dog friend Jazz, ran freely over the family acres, “harassing wildlife and decimating the armadillo population”—a happy dog life.  But like Red Foley’s “Old Shep,” she grew old.  Her owner said of her passing, “That morning she had seemed to be dreaming, giving little yips and her legs moving slightly, maybe chasing the memories of rabbits and armadillos with her old companion Jazz, who preceded her to the Pet Cemetery by some years.”  Sad news comes from Champion too about a family dog run over by his master.  It was just a tragic accident, but hearts are broken.  A good neighbor has a sweet little kitten to share, hoping to ease the little boy’s sadness over the loss of his special dog.  These experiences represent the down side of having a beloved pet.  The up side we all know.

Pete and Bonnie Mullens are having a good time over there in Douglass, Kansas.  She says they are still able to do most things for themselves, but they get some good help from their children.  Hopes are that 2019 will see them around home in these parts for a long overdue visit.  Another local personality, Gary Hutchison, has inadvertently provoked a new interest in “All the Late News from the Courthouse” which now can be heard online at www.championnews.us.  Look at the posting for December 15, 2018.  Professor Haden reminded us that politics can be goofy at every level from the courthouse to the White House.  It is funny and sad at the same time.  You can read the lyrics written in Darrell’s own hand and wonder just what he would have to say about all the current ‘late news.’

This time of the year, especially, we hear sweet stories of generosity and kindness that make us feel good.  There seems to be no shortage of these kinds of stories, because there is no shortage of people who can use kindness and generosity.  We do not hear many stories of people who just sit on their hands at the suffering of others or very much about those who never get help…other than statistics.  The world over there are people in dire circumstances.  It is said that “the poor will always be with us.”  Even here, in one of the world’s richest countries, income differentials are widening.  Worldwide, the poorest 40 percent accounts for 5 percent of global income and the richest 20 percent accounts for three-quarters of the world income.  As we watch the wild fluctuations of the stock market and as we are reminded of the salacious scandals of the Warren G. Harding presidency and the outrageous and unrepentant corruption of the government at that time with the Teapot Dome Scandal and the abuse of Veterans, a replay of the Great Depression seems to be in the thoughts of some Old Champions and pundits.  Some of the causes of that calamity listed in histories of the time include:  (1) European trade policies—the Smoot-Hawley Tariff in 1930, similar to some of our current tariffs.  (2) The Dust Bowl.  Today we have hurricane and flood ravaged states and catastrophic wild fires in others.  (3) The stock market crash of 1929.  Today, December 17, 2018, news reports that the market is experience the worst decline since 1931, and there is a serious potential for a rise in the interest rate.  (4) Consumer spending.  The flat spending figures we see now are attributed largely to market insecurity and weak income growth.  Volumes are written about the causes of the Great Depression, and there are many among us who experienced it or are the children of those who did.  One is reminded of that Woody Guthrie song about Pretty Boy Floyd, the outlaw.  There are certain kinds of criminals who can electrify public opinion.  To some they are just common thugs.  To others, they are heroes.  Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd was exactly that kind of criminal.  Good holiday fun will include some history studies of Pretty Boy and President Harding.   There will also be an abundance of holiday cheer in Champion–Looking on the Bright Side!


 
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December 15, 2018

“ALL THE LATE NEWS FROM THE COURTHOUSE”

 

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All the Late News from the Courthouse
lyrics

This song was written by Darrell Haden about the Douglas County Courthouse during a certain period of time that many may remember. The song was banned on local radio stations for a while and raised more than a few eyebrows. Professor Haden generously shared this song with The Champion News. He passed away in 2014. It would be most interesting to hear how he would characterize our current National situation.

Walter Darrell Haden was born and reared within “hollerin’ ” distance of Smallett Cave. A graduate of Ava High School, he studied at Missouri University and at Southwest Missouri State College for his B.S. degree and at Northern Illinois University for his M.S. degree. He taught grade school one year in his home community, high school English nine years in Sterling-Rock Falls, Illinois, and college English for one year at Belmont College in Nashville, Tennessee. He has done graduate work beyond the M.S. degree at Illinois State Normal University, Purdue University, and at Vanderbilt University. He was a professor of English at the University of Tennessee at Martin until his retirement in 2006. His prose has appeared in the Tennessee Philological Journal, the White River Valley Historical Journal, the Secret Place, and the Douglas County Herald; his poetry in the Denver Post, the Chicago Tribune, Springfield (MO) Daily News, Colorado Springs Free Press, and Towers Magazine; his songs recorded and published by major companies in Nashville, Tennessee.

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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 champion@championnews.us 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 www.championnews.us 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.
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