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