January 28, 2019

CHAMPION—January 28, 2019


A Champion Groundhog!

Groundhog Day became an official commemoration in 1887, though the superstition goes back to ancient times in distant ancestral lands.  While the tradition remains popular in modern times, studies have found no consistent correlation between a groundhog seeing its shadow or not and the subsequent arrival time of spring-like weather.  The 1993 movie promotes the ideas that there are second chances, and third ones, ad. Inf., and that given the chance to do things over again, we could do better.  One Champion says that changing things in the past could have unexpected domino effects, so if you are happy with where you are, have no regrets.  Buffy St. Marie sings, “Groundhog, groundhog, what makes your back so brown?  I been living in the ground so darn long, it’s a wonder I don’t drown, drown, it’s a wonder I don’t drown.”  And like our pretty rodent friend we will just wonder at the weather.  Those folks at the National Weather Service sure did a good job without pay during our recent shut down.  And Champions are want to say that something beautiful can be found here any day of the year.

With luck, the twice thwarted archery tournament will occur at the Skyline R-2 School on Saturday, Feb. 2nd with flights on the hour from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m.  Skyline archers will be joined by students from Norwood, Mountain Grove, Gainesville and Gasconade.  Weather has interfered with the last two of these scheduled events, so the community hopes this one will fly.  The 4-H club has a concession stand; the gym is a warm venue; your neighbors will be glad to see you out supporting this wonderful program.  One likens archery to the study of music for concentration, precision, and the tangible rewards of diligent practice.  Champions have been busy clipping those ‘UPC’ (Universal Product Code) barcodes off the Always Save and Best Choice products.  The Box Tops for Education coupons are on all kinds of things—some Reynolds products, some General Mills, some Ziploc and others, as well now as some Nestle products–Nestle Pure Life Water.  Having public education subsidized by the big multinational corporations is a boon and, in this political environment, every boon is a good one.  There are whole public relations departments within these companies dealing with corporate social responsibility, promoting what they call ‘shared value.’  Up in Michigan, Nestle pays $200.00 for 130 million gallons of water and folks over there in Flint are wanting yet.  Probably, someone with a mind to do so can find something hard to say about any big company.  An exceptional woman, Exer Hector, said on more than one occasion, “Well, thanks for what little you did do.”  One of the nice things about the money that the school gets out of these label-savings programs is that it is not earmarked.  The school can spend it where ever it needs to.  Another nice thing about these programs is that they give the community and people who do not even have kids in school an additional chance to help out.  It is also good to know that there are ‘corporate social responsibility’ standards at least being discussed.

Ellie Carson graduated from the 8th grade at Skyline in 2003.  Her family moved to this area in 1998.  She went on to become a Mountain View Police Officer and Missouri State Park Ranger.  She was off-duty on December 28, 2018 when she was struck by a pickup truck as a pedestrian.  She was transported by helicopter to Mercy Springfield where she underwent surgeries for a crushed hip socket, a severely lacerated liver, a collapsed lung and broken ribs.  She will be unable to work for months to come.  A spaghetti dinner benefit is planned for Officer Carson at the Mountain View Community Center on February 16th.  Contact the Mountain View Police Department (417-934-2525) for more information and how you might help.

Just across Fox Creek and a forty acre field, a Mr. Cooley will have a birthday on February 1st.  He shares the day with Sarah Cloud.  Zack Alexander, Champion grandson, will be 13 years old on that day as well.  He lives up in Springfield, but spends quality time in this neck of the woods.  His aunt Angie celebrates on Groundhog Day, as does Connie Grand who rumor has it will notch up into the next decade.  She shares the day with another very talented artist, Charlene Dupre.  Charlene is retired now.  Her last teaching job was in Norwood, and she spends part of her year here and part in Florida, illustrating that one just thinks she is busy until she retires.  The 2nd was also the birthday of a sweet friend, Judith Sharon Parsons.  She passed away in late December leaving many with hearts sad but also full of good memories.  She too was a skilled artisan and the many works she shared over the years are treasures.

If we held a moment of silence for every victim of the Holocaust, we would be silent for eleven and a half years.  As we watch the current political turmoil here and in many other places in the world, it is not impossible to believe that fascism could rise again.  More than 70 years ago Allied troops liberated the death camps.  Who will liberate us if we fall under authoritarian rule?  Being thoughtful and informed, compassionate and empathetic while we participate in our democracy might help to prevent those fruitful seeds of distrust from germinating in our great garden of ignorance.

Meanwhile Burns Night was splendid with traditional food and drink and many lines of Bobby’s poetry as in, “Who know them best, despise them most.”  This part of the world can boast of its Scot’s ancestry.  They came here as immigrants, shanghaied indentured servants, or as stolen or sold children in the time of great difficulties there.  It seems that there are difficulties everywhere, yet.  English, as spoken in Scotland, combines with some Gaelic and local slang for Bobby Nicholson’s song, “It Wasne Me” (It was not me) to lend us an ear to our shared struggles.  Enjoy a link to that song at www.championnews.us and know that we have plausible deniability in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Always something beautiful in Champion.

January 21, 2019

CHAMPION—January 21, 2019


The Super Blood Wolf Moon Eclipse

What is more lovely than bright moonlight on fresh snow? It was a gift to have the clouds part on Saturday night after an exciting day of wild blizzard conditions, off and on. It was the kind of snow that held on to every branch and twig. The moon shadows were as India ink drawings on soft blue-white parchment—stark and stunning in the still air. The Super Blood Wolf Moon Eclipse will have everyone talking in Champion on Wednesday. Was it an uncloudy sky? Were they able to stay awake? Were they willing to get out in the cold? Did they watch it on the internet? Did they think they would just wait for the next one in 2021? The internet practically exploded with pictures and awed comments. More than one person wrote, “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore!” Lovers must have been watching in warm embrace against the bitter cold.

Back in the early 1970s, an adventurous young woman came to visit in the Ozarks and decided to stay. She had a couple of dogs, which made staying with friends difficult, so she enlisted the aid of a new acquaintance to help her find a place of her own. This new friend raised chickens, which she very much liked, and she soon found herself very much liking the tall, handsome man as well. He lifted her in his arms to carry her across the swollen creek to get to the house she would occupy but only for a short while, though it had electricity and good water. She wound up in the arms of that man for more than forty years, making good memories and a couple of beautiful children along the way. Grandchildren now have favorite chickens. They will miss their beloved grandmother as will all her loving family and many dear longtime friends.

Bonnie Brixey Mullens was cited on the internet the other day for assisting her great granddaughter, Dominique, in the making of a strawberry-rhubarb pie. The pie did not show up significantly in the photograph as it was over topped with ice cream. Great grandson, Warren, is more of a chocolate pie kind of guy. He makes those and banana pudding. Another strawberry-rhubarb aficionado is the elder Backyard Bluegrass guy. These days he might get his pie over at Dora, made by the charming, musically talented Roberta. In older days, Esther Wrinkles was the pie maven. Dennis said they played many a show for Esther. She has been gone from us since about this time of the year in 2013. We miss her yet. She loved bluegrass jams and would be very pleased to know that one is still going on in Vanzant—going strong.

Up in the distant northwest somewhere, young Thomas Jarnagin’s dear old dad, Todd, has a birthday on the 24th of January. Skyline first grader, Blake Macintosh, also celebrates that day together with prekindergarten student, Lexi Webster. Cowboy Jack’s lovely wife, Joyce, has her birthday on the 26th, as does sixth grade student, Brooke Johnson. Our esteemed Lady of Sarcasm, Kaye H. Alexander, gives her royal wave in Springfield on January 27th. Fifth grade student, Kimberly Wallace, will party on the 29th and the next day is for sixth grader, Erika Strong. She shares that day with Sherry Bennett’s beautiful daughter, Nada Hutsell, and with James Brixey, who was forty years old in 2012. Your Champion friends wish you happy birthdays all, young and old, near and far.

A nice old house up on the hill by the store in Denlow was consumed by fire on Wednesday. It was not occupied at the time and firefighters think that it was probably caused by old wiring. The house had a lot of history. Kenneth Anderson lived there when he attended the first grade at the Denlow School in 1948-1949, according to ‘sources.’ Kenneth is good natured and probably will not mind having those dates made public. He is a staunch supporter of The Champion News and is routinely seen about with the always pretty-in-pink, Barbara. Jimmy and Erma Hopper lived in that house from the 1950s to the 1970s. In recent years it was occupied by Ms. Monie Hicks. She has now gone off to Texas to live with a daughter and her granddaughter was moving into This Old House. It was reported that she had just taken her belongings there, but was back in Springfield working when the fire happened. Fortunately, no one was injured, but it is still cataclysmic to lose all one’s possessions in fire, or storms, or floods. Everyone knows someone who has had this experience. Some memory laden things cannot be replaced.

Champions are saddened for their friend, Karen Ross, who recently lost her mother. Reading the obituary for Flora Kathleen Mason, we are sorry not to have known her—a pleasant, hardworking, creative person devoted to her family and friends. Her light shines on in her daughter and her big family will always have those precious memories of the wonderful woman who cooked and sewed and laughed with them and set the example for a life well-lived.

Skyline’s Archery Tournament had to be cut short Saturday because of the inclement weather. Everyone made it home safely though and they will have another chance on February 2nd. One Old Champion got stuck with a pan of brownies intended for the 4-H concession stand. She will have another chance too, but imagine being snowed in with a pan of brownies. Alas! It will be Groundhog Day, and that is always the prime time for second chances. Hopes are that the community will fill the bleachers to watch this fascinating exercise. These tournaments are well organized and all the participants are learning skills that will last them through their lifetimes. Some area sports fans were much disappointed on Sunday evening when the Chiefs lost their game in overtime. It would have been terrific to see them at the Super Bowl. It was a very exciting game, even for people who do not routinely watch football.

Here are a few quotes of famous men to contemplate: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” “Real power is—I don’t even want to use the word—fear.” “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Come down to the wide, wild wooly banks of Old Fox Creek and mull it over with your friends and neighbors around the ancient wood stove in the meeting room of the Historic Emporium on the North side of the Square in Downtown Champion-Looking on the Bright Side!

The Champion News mailbox in the snow.

January 14, 2019

CHAMPION—January 14, 2019


While many all about were encased in ice, brittle and wind broken, some fortunate Champions weathered the week-end winter storm well. The roads are muddy, but mail arrived on time—thank you Karen Ross and associates. It is cold—but we have firewood, propane and electricity—thank you to a fine infrastructure and hardworking householders. A few quiet days at home have been a welcome breather from the marvelous hubbub of the holidays and the ominousness of starting a new year amid the political, cultural and emotional upheaval of these times. Family and friends keep us conscious of what is important. Champions are ever mindful of their own good fortune and conscious that others near and far are not faring so well. Barbara Krider up in Elmwood, Illinois posted a beautiful picture of snow in her yard on the internet, saying, “Winter 2019 so it begins.” Lori Kline Cox posts a lovely scene from their rural home up by Kansas City. She thinks it will be three days before she can get out of her driveway on account of the downed trees and Johnny not having much gas for his chain saw because he thought he would not need it. He likes Jonny Cash and could probably learn the 1959 tune, “Snow in His Hair.” Connie Brown has some great photos of ice in her Mt. Grove neighborhood and Reba Bishop shared a picture of ice on tress in the Dogwood area. She says, “Beautiful but so destructive.”

The weather is slated to be harsh on Sunday the 20th, and the planned gathering of friends and family for a memorial celebration of the life of Judith Sharon Parsons will be postponed until warmer weather.  Judy passed away on December 27th. Her many friends will share their memories of her and her genuine kindness. She had a mischievous twinkle in her eye and wonderful deep, musical laugh always at the ready. Her patches in friendship quilts and baby quilts are treasures for those lucky enough to have them. She was as skillful in her needle work as she was loving in her heart.

The Champion January birthday calendar is a busy one. The General’s very most favorite daughter-in-law, Mrs. Upshaw, was celebrated on the 13th. The 14th is for Kathryn Partel, who was a regular visitor to Champion before she and Dave moved off somewhere—still too blessed to be stressed. Also for a Champion brother, Willis Masters, who only visited here one time back in about 2000. Walking back down to the house from the spring, he said, “Sister, I’m glad you got what you always wanted.” He passed away out in west Texas in 2016 at the age of 73. The 16th is for Miley Schober, Campion granddaughter, and for Skyline 5th grade student, Aaliyah Irby. The 17th is for Miley’s cousin Rese Kutz, and for Betty White who will be 97. The famous Brooke Quiet-Timber has that day for her celebration as well. Third grade Skyline student, Jacob Brixey, and Mary Beth Shannon share the 18th. The 19th is for Champion’s friend, J.C. Owsley, up in Cross Timbers and for our Preeminent Champion at Henson’s Downtown G & G. Alvin Barnhart will have Beverly helping him enjoy his day and Sharon Woods with have her Buzz. Both enjoy their birthdays on the 20th. Skyline 6th grade student, Kyle Barker, has the 21st as his special day and the 22nd is for 4th grader Elizabeth Hinote. Brenda Coffman Massey has nephews and other kinfolks with birthdays in January, but probably none of them will have as much fun as she will on the 22nd. In the whole tri-city area (Champion, Denlow, Vanzant) she sets the standard for fun. The always lovely Sally Prock will have that song sung to her in recognition of her birthday on the 23rd. Happy birthday to all you Champions near and far. It’s like the old boy said, “Everybody’s got to be somewhere” and Saturday that somewhere will be a party for one year old twins girls. Their old grandpa will be practicing up to tell them stories about his old dad. Congratulations, ladies, you have joined a great family and will most likely never be bored.

Hopes are that the Skyline Archery Tournament will go on, unaffected by the bad weather forecasted for next Saturday. The last tournament scheduled here had to be called off because of icy road conditions. It was a good call as there were several accidents in the area that day. Otherwise our many talented archers might have to stay home listen to that great song by Harry Nilsson, “Me and My Arrow,” which is heard in Nilsson’s fable, “The Point!” It tells of a boy named Oblio, the only round-headed person in the Pointed Village, where by law everyone and everything must have a point. There are a number of good lessons in the story that speak to the strange circumstances we find the world in today–rife with distractions to obfuscate, confuse and intimidate. One is reminded of that quote by a currently controversial individual: “Real power is—I don’t even want to use the word—fear.” Oblio had his struggles but ultimately found that he indeed had a point. If they are unable to shoot perhaps our young archers will enjoy some old poetry. Longfellow’s “The Arrow and the Song” is well worth the effort. It ends, “Long, long afterward, in an oak/ I found the arrow, still unbroke; / And the song, from beginning to end, / I found again in the heart of a friend” in Champion…Looking on the Bright Side!


January 7, 2019

CHAMPION—January 7, 2019


Leave a little something in the garden for the winter birds.

One might think that a birthday party on December 31st stretching all the way into January 1st would be enough, but no.  Everyone who enjoys these celebrations should have all the lauding and applauding that the party can muster.  In the very spot where that epic party occurred, forsaking the old year (while holding steadfastly to The General and his birthday hat) and welcoming the New Year, in that very spot on Thursday there arose a huge chorus singing that song, “…..Happy Birth-day dear Bonnie (Bonnie Doria—avid Travis fan), David (Upshaw—nephew of The General) and Two-Two (nickname given to Travis Hathaway by Jim Orchard on account of him now being 22), Happy Birthday to you!”  Twas indeed a rousing rendition.  The fair Rachael Evans will enjoy her day on the 8th over in the UK, a distinction she shares with Elvis.  Skyline sixth grade student, Kaylee Casiano, can look forward to that song on the 9th.  Elizabeth Johnston Lawrence will also be delighting in that day, though the internet reveals there have already been parties in her honor.  Champion friend, Tom Van Dyke, down in Needville, Texas will have the 10th for his own.  Bob Liebert, of Teeter Creek Herb fame, shares his birthday on the 11th with Champion Wilburn Hutchison, who might be getting up there in years.  Lovely Diane Wilbanks has the 13th for her day.  That is a day we also remember Norris Woods who passed away in 2015.  He made the Vanzant Jam a happy, encouraging, accepting place.  It is still that kind of place, though we miss his company.  There were eighteen in the big circle of musicians for the first Thursday jam of 2019.

Terri Ryan writes from Skyline School saying, “We have a home archery tournament coming up on the 19th.  We have 186 archers pre-registered.  Some will drop out before that day, but the number is still exciting.”  The last home tournament was canceled due to weather issues, but hopes are that this one will go on as planned.  It will be an all-day affair.  There will be a concession stand, the proceeds of which help fund the program.  It is a great chance to spend some time watching a lot of talented young people compete in a setting that challenges their poise, confidence and skill.  Even if you do not have children in school, this little school is important to the whole community.  It is one of two rural schools left in Douglas County.  Those of us, who have priceless memories of our own rural school experiences, here or elsewhere, will be up for an episode of enjoyable nostalgia.  Champion!

In addition to having had access to all the great holiday dinner leftovers, that space between Christmas and New Year’s Day gave some the chance to put their feet up and enjoy the books they received as gifts.  One deals with the F.D.R. period, where one learned for the first time about Henry A. Wallace (1888–1965).  He was vice president from 1941 to 1945.  He studied agriculture at Iowa State and was known as the intellectual-farmer during his many years of public service.  He epitomized the ‘common man’ and was widely acclaimed for his impeccable ethics, which is no longer common in many high places.  He is quoted as having said, “A Fascist is one whose lust for money or power is combined with such an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence to attain his ends.”  Wallace’s biography is an interesting read that shows him to have been a controversial figure during his time and in these times as well.  A currently controversial figure is quoted as having said, “Real power is—I don’t even want to use the word—fear.”  These are interesting times and since there is a little something scary about them, more people seem to be paying attention and maybe that is a good thing.

One of the good things that happened on Wednesday last down at the Historic Emporium was that Reba Bishop shared her cornbread salad recipe which had been a big hit at the Champion Christmas party.  Another good thing was that a great-niece, visiting from Louisiana, had the chance to stand around the stove and meet a bunch of nice Champions.  She and her husband live exciting and interesting lives down in Baton Rouge and for a tranquil vacation sometimes choose Champion.  The dynamic duo of Robert and Robert provided musical entertainment and the top prize for a costume most representative of hard work was awarded to a Prominent Champion.  There is no trophy, certificate, or monetary value associated with this prize.  Actually, there is no mention of it, just some acknowledgement via the exchange of meaningful looks among observant people who may or may not be as hard working.  Mild weather is inspiring some to finally get a start on cleaning up last year’s garden.  One approach is to leave the dead plants there as an amenity to the wintering birds.  Others suggest that it is very important to remove squash plants immediately once they have been frosted or are no longer productive.  The reason for that is to protect next year’s garden from squash bugs.  As seed catalogues begin to choke mail boxes and the new almanacs are already being dog-eared, some Old Champions yawn and stretch and think about Woody Guthrie’s song “Talking Hard Work.”  He said the hardest work he ever did was when he was trying to get himself a worried woman to help him ease his worried mind.  He goes on to tell just what all he had to do to show her he was not afraid of hard work.  It makes a person want to turn off the coffee pot and go outside and do a little something.  Meanwhile, there have been favorable responses to the musical links provided in the posts at www.championnews.us.  Look there for all the words to Guthrie’s masterpiece on work to see if you are reminded of anyone you know.

Sometimes the holidays can be difficult for people.  When you are in the bottom of the barrel, the only way to look is up.  Perhaps the view is a little narrow, but certainly prospects are sunnier looking up–it is the very essence of optimism in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

The garden ready for some winter work.

CHAMPION—January 7, 2019



Woody Guthrie (1930 to 1956) was known as the Dust Bowl Troubadour. The words to this song might ring a bell and bring a smile to people of a certain age in this part of the world. Guthrie was of the opinion that music is good for us. Enjoy this epic “Talking Hard Work:”


While we are on the subject of hard work
I just wanted to say that, “I always was a man who likes hard work”
I was born working and I worked my way up by hard work
I ain’t ever got no where, but I got there by hard work

Work of the hardest kind I been down and I been out
I been disgusted and busted and I couldn’t be trusted
I worked my way up and I worked my way down
I been drunk and I been sober, I been baptized and got hijacked
I been robbed for cash and I been robbed on a credit

Worked my way in jail and I worked my way outta jail
Woke up a lot of mornin’s, didn’t know where I was at
The hardest work I ever done was, when I was tryin’
To get myself a worried woman to help ease my worried mind

I’m gonna tell ya just how much work I had to do
To get this woman I was tellin’ you about, I shook hands
With ninety seven of her kinfolk and her blood relatives
And I done just the same with eighty six people
Who’s just her friends and her neighbors

I kissed seventy three babies and put dry pants
On thirty four of em’, well as others done this same thing several times
Well there are a lot of other things just like this
I held one hundred twenty five wild horses
And put saddles and bridles on more than that

Harnessed some of the craziest and wildest teams in that whole country’
I rode fourteen loco broncos to a stand still
And I let forty two hound dogs lick me all over. Seven times
I’s bit by hungry dogs and I was chewed all to pieces
by water moccasins and rattlesnakes on two river bottoms

I chopped and carried three hundred fourteen arm loads
Of stove wood, one hundred nine buckets of coal
Carried a gallon of kerosene eighteen miles over the mountains
Got lost, lost a good pair of shoes in a mud hole
And I chopped and weeded forty eight rows of short cotton

Thirteen acres of bad corn, I cut the sticker weeds
Out of eleven back yards, all on account of ’cause
I wanted to show her that I was a man and I liked to work
I cleaned out nine barn lofts, cranked thirty one cars
All makes and models, pulled three cars out of mud holes
And four or five out of snow drifts

I dug five cisterns of water for some of her friends
Run all kinds of errands, played the fiddle for nine
Church meetin’s I Joined eleven separate denominations
I joined up and signed up with seven best trade unions
I could find, I paid my dues six months in advance

I waded forty eight miles of swamps and six big rivers
Walked across two ranges of mountains
Crossed three deserts, I got the fever, sun stroke, Malaria, blue
Moonstruck, skeeter bit, poison ivy,the seven year itch
And the blind staggers, I was give up for less, lost and dead

A couple of times struck by lightning, struck by Congress
Struck by friends and kinfolks well as by three cars on highways
A lot of times in people’s hen houses, I been hit and run down
Run over and walked on knocked around, I’m just sittin’ here
Now tryin’ to study up what else I can do to show that woman
That I still ain’t afraid of hard work