February 27, 2019

CHAMPION—February 25, 2019


Last week mud was the topic of conversation around the tables in the meeting room at the Historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square in Downtown Champion. Epic tales of being rescued from mud, sinking in mud and other dirty stories brought out the laughter. Bob said Ethel has good mud boots. She is the opener and closer of gates, allowing them to feed and tend their cattle. She is indispensable. This week the discussion will be about the wind. “They Call the Wind Maria.” There were a great number of things “Blowing in the Wind.” The stories that will breeze in this Wednesday will be “Wild as the Wind” and will all be accompanied by gusts of gratitude. The whole country is subject to weather related difficulties. Living out on the surface of the Earth makes us vulnerable no matter what we look like, how much money we have, how we worship, or what our political affiliations and world view may be. Terri Ryan, Skyline’s officer of positivity, has introduced us to Amy Weatherly who said that some people could be given an entire field of roses and only see the thorns in it. Others could be given a single weed and only see the wildflower in it. Perception is a key component to gratitude. And gratitude, according to Ms. Weatherly, is a key component to joy.

Joy will be happening at the Vanzant Jam Thursday. The happy birthday song for Ruth Fish Collins, who celebrated on February 24th, and for Dennis Shumate, who will have his big day on March 3rd, will be led by The General himself. It is sure to be a hit. Skyline prekindergarten student, RyAnne Harvey and Mrs. Barker also celebrate that day. Norwood’s Linda Hetherington, who operated The Plant Place there for many years, shares her birthday on the 5th with the lovely Krenna Long who lives north of that fair city. Skyline fifth grader, Rylee Sartor, will celebrate on the 6th. Birthdays are not a big deal to some people, but they are to others. You celebrants are big deals to your friends and families, so have happy days. March 2nd is the birth anniversary of Dr. Seuss. He was born in 1904. He passed away in 1991, but he left us with sixty books and lots of fun and good advice in “Oh! the Places You Will Go!”

Helen Batten writes from Skyline that the school plans to host a forum on March 19th at 6:30 to talk to school board candidates. “We have sent a letter out to invite them and they plan to attend. Deborah Barker will moderate the event and Terri Ryan will be timer. We will have a prepared list of questions and each candidate will be able to speak. The community is invited to bring written questions if possible. There will be high school students available to watch a movie with the younger children. PTO is providing coffee, water and cookies.”

Another exciting archery tournament is scheduled for Saturday, March 2nd at Skyline School. These events are held in the gym, so the cold weather expected should not cause a problem as long as roads are clear and it is safe to travel. Students from all around the area will participate in the competition. The whole community is welcome to observe quietly from the bleachers. The eighth grade class will operate a concession stand, the proceeds of which will help them on their way to their class trip in the spring. Meanwhile, enjoy these talented young people as they hone their skills on Saturday.

Robins strut around a Champion yard like they own the place. We know they are harbingers of Spring and that it is due to arrive on March 20th. Gardeners are getting busy with plans—what to plant, how much and where. They will wait for the manure hauling until the mud subsides. In the interim they have time to wonder if it is true that the Missouri Senate can really reverse a decision made by voters in November when they overwhelmingly approved a Constitutional amendment known as “Clean Missouri” with more than sixty per cent of the vote. Senate Bill 132 starts the undoing of the provisions for change that the voters called for. Why bother voting? That is a question that may come up again. Someone recently said that we have been cautioned so often about not discussing religion and politics that we have forgotten how to have a civil conversation about religion and politics. Try it if you like, or talk about the mud, the wind, the garden, your grandchildren or your favorite song. Bloody Mary sang a good one to American lieutenant Joe Cable back in 1949, but some like Ella Fitzgerald’s version better: “Happy talk, keep talking happy talk. Talk about things you like to do. You’ve gotta have a dream, if you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true?” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


February 19, 2019

CHAMPION—February 17, 2019


They all think they are Sycamores.

It seemed suddenly Sunday that all the bare trees had become sycamores. The beautiful sycamores gleam white against the backdrop of cedars and pines and reach up majestically from mustard colored grasses. The thin icing of each branch and twig on oak, walnut, elm and sassafras, hackberry, ash, redbud, and dogwood transformed them all to stately sycamores. It is a trick of the light to delight, and to those who can enjoy it through our windows, a beautiful sight in Champion!

Sunday’s moon.

Buzzards have returned to the area. A couple of them were spotted soaring over in Vanzant on Monday and several are roosting in Orville’s barn over on Cold Springs Road. They are not particularly attractive, but they perform an important function in nature. At this time of the year they are much appreciated as harbingers of spring, even on a frozen perch. Travelers to town on Monday were dazzled by the sun glinting on the ice coating almost everything. February has been a wild weather month—sunny and hot, rainy and dreary, now freezing and slick with a ring around the moon. “Thunder in February—frost in May,” is the old saying that has proven out over the years in this part of the world. Seeds are showing up on store shelves and that lifts the spirits of winter weary gardeners. In a few months the oppressive heat will be the subject of the conversation.

“Hot rolls or chocolate cake for Valentine’s?” she asked him. “Hot rolls,” he replied, and she made them, smiling at the flowers and candy and the card from him, still romantic after sixty years together. Lena said that one of the nicest Valentine’s gifts she had received from Jerry over the years was a weed-eater. It is the thought that counts. Sometimes he smiles at her and sings, “I love you just the way you are, I wouldn’t change you if I could.” Ricky Skaggs does that tune too, but he is not looking at Lena when he does it. It was Sweethearts on Parade at the Vanzant Jam on Thursday and all over the whole country. A day devoted to love and affection is just what we need at this juncture. It was a treat to have Sharry Lovan and Jack at the jam. They did not come on their motorcycles as they sometimes do when they visit Champion. Sharry has great things going on at the Star Theatre in Willow Springs and is about to record a CD in Branson. She grew up singing gospel songs with her family in about every little country church in the area. She said they tied the bass fiddle to the top of the car and off they would go. Plans are perking for the Champion Spring Fling—date to be announced–and we will hope to see them here again. There will be picking and singing out on the wide veranda at the Historic Emporium and under the big oak tree that is the sign post for Lonnie Krider Memorial Drive in Downtown Champion. Music has such therapeutic properties. Somewhere between the cold medicine from the pharmacy isle at Henson’s Downtown G & G and the Thursday jam, The General showed dramatic signs of improvement over his cold. He reported having seen geese flying toward the southeast on Sunday.

Birthday wishes go out to Carson and Drayson Cline’s mother, Staci Krider Cline. Her birthday is February 23rd. They live over in Tennessee these days, but they get back to Champion often to visit with family and friends. Another year will go by with no aging for Frankie Proctor. His birthday is February 29th, so he is not due for a celebration until the year 2020. He will most likely improvise with the help of his family. His Aunt Amy Collins was born on February 20, 1930. She passed away on the 14th just shy of her 89th birthday. She was one of a dozen children in her family who grew up in and around Champion. Another of her nephews remarked recently that with the passing of Amy’s generation, we are closing the book on a great deal of history. He laments not having asked more questions of them. As he and the rest of us become the ‘old folks,’ will our grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces and nephews regret not having inquired of us details of our upbringing and our lives as young people? They are busy with their own lives now, so we will sit by the fire and wait, wondering if they have heard that tune, “I wonder how the old folks are at home.”

Skyline School students and teachers are busy. President’s Day and bad weather days have given them some time off, which is a good thing, but they will have to make that time up later, which is another good thing. Among the exciting things going on is another archery tournament. This one will occur on Saturday, March 2nd. The eighth grade class will have a concession stand, the proceeds from which will help them make a class trip to Silver Dollar City later in the year. Watching these talented, disciplined young people exhibit their considerable skill is an encouraging exercise for people who might spend too much time concerned over current events. We are reminded of that famous quote, “Real power is—I don’t even want to use the word—fear.” These young folks are not afraid and that is reassuring. They are gaining self-reliance and developing the critical thinking skills that will allow them to navigate the increasingly complicated world they will inherit. “May you live in interesting times” was thought to be an old Chinese curse, but it turns out that it may be attributed to a British Ambassador to China in 1936. Even though these days may remind us of what things were like in 1928 or 1936, we are, in today’s parlance, ‘chill’ here in Champion– Looking on the Bright Side!

Champion sparkles!

February 12, 2019

CHAMPION—February 12, 2019


A Champion Winter

Cold, cloudy, drizzly, wintry weather is wonderful weather for enjoying a nice fire and thumbing through seed catalogues, planning for the spring garden that will soon be occupying all the energy Champions have to spare. It is a good time to catch up on the mending, for cooking chili or apple crisps and for practicing those tunes and songs that make you feel better no matter what the weather. The Vanzant jam was cancelled last week because of the threatening conditions. It is definitely ON this week and chances are good that it will be well attended and much enjoyed. It will be Valentine’s Day and that will add to the sweetness. Meanwhile, the sun comes out, as it eventually always does, even if sometimes accompanied by a cold wind. Sunshine seems to always lift the spirit and the emerging daffodils appear not to be phased by the ice and the snow and the cold wind that blows. They will be out beautifying the world well in advance of the Vernal Equinox which will occur Wednesday, March 20th at 4:59 p.m. Central Standard Time.

Trish Davis is the grandmother of twins who have just had their first birthday, so Granny is having double fun. She lives over just east of Ava, but it is like the old boy says, “Everybody’s got to be somewhere.” Her birthday is February 17th. That is Linda Clark’s birthday too. She is the grandmother of triplets who are now four years old. Linda has always has had a lot of fun. Wayne Anderson was her Dad, so she grew up in a house with laughter and music. Pete Proctor’s birthday is the 18th. He does a good work with the American Legion in this area, helping Veterans in a number of different ways. He and The General take care of the Denlow Cemetery and perhaps a number of other things most of us do not know about. Pete’s mother was Ruby Proctor. She was born in Tedrick, February 19, 1925, the daughter of John and Goldie (Stout) Hicks. She grew up in Champion and always loved it here. She passed away in 2014, but is still well remembered for her good humor and sweet smile. Another Champion daughter is the lovely Joanna Bell. She was born February 21, 1969, so is about to have a significant birthday. So to Trish, Linda, Pete and Joanna, your friends wish you well and many happy returns of the day.


Sometimes THE CHAMPION NEWS does not make it all the way to ink. The Mountain Grove News Journal changed its format a while back and put a 500 word limit on the community articles. When, from time to time, Champion does not make it into print, some folks call them up to complain. That is very nice of them and we appreciate it, but it looks like the News-Journal is undergoing a number of changes, even as the whole town has in recent years. The Douglas County Herald has not given much of an edit lately, except for any particulars about benefit events which copyreaders there think justify an advertisement. Of course, our little local newspapers need advertising revenue to continue in business. Back through the years, The Herald’s editors have omitted chunks of the Champion items when they are perceived to be controversial or not adhering to the conservative leanings of the paper. That has not been the case so much recently, which causes us to think the editors are becoming more centrist, or that we are becoming more skillful in couching liberal partialities in homespun language, or that we are becoming more centrist, wary or hypocritical. There is room for reflection.

Leonard Peltier reflected on February 7th, 2019. “Each of you who have fought for my freedom have been a part of the greater struggle of native peoples or treaty rights, sovereignty, and our very survival. If I should be called home, please don’t give up the struggle.” He is 74 years old, in poor health, and has been in prison for more than 40 years, convicted on false evidence. One has suggested the current president might deal a blow to the FBI, with which he has personal issues, by pardoning Mr. Peltier. It is just a thought.

The welcome raindrops may have the creeks running high, but people determined to get there will go by way of the pavement to sit around the old wood stove at the Historic Emporium to hear the yarns spun, to pat their feet to the music and to visit with friends and neighbors. Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


February 4, 2019

CHAMPION—February 4, 2019


Something beautiful in Champion.

Monday might have been that day that Lonnie Krider alluded to about this time every year:  “There’ll come a day in February when a dog looks for the shade.”  It seems early in the month, but Champions will take a pretty day any time we can get one.  A local Old Pollyanna says she can find something beautiful in every day in this part of the world.  She is a big Willie Nelson fan (“Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain”) and recently noted a quote by her hero:  “We are the same.  There is no difference anywhere in the world. People are people.  They laugh, cry, feel, and love, and music seems to be common denomination that brings us all together.  Music cuts through all boundaries and goes right to the soul.”

One hundred twenty six archers from six area schools participated in the archery tournament at our Skyline R2 School on Saturday.  The previous two tournaments had been canceled or cut short by bad weather, but Saturday was a beautiful day for the archers, coaches, and spectators to be out.  Skyline student, Joshua Garner took second place for middle school boys, and Faith Crawford took third place for middle school girls.  It is a quiet sport.  The tournaments are well organized and executed with an emphasis on safety.  Dean Brixey enjoyed coffee from the concession stand and watched some of the morning flights.  He attended Skyline back in the 1950s when there were only four teachers.  He has watched the facility grow over the years and enjoys any opportunity to attend a function there, particularly since he has grandchildren in attendance.  It was a treat to spend a day around a gymnasium full of well behaved, thoughtful young people.  It is inspiring to see their confidence and their competence.  It is also pleasant to observe competition that is not aggressive.  They encourage each other.  The physical skill, the concentration and the rewards of diligent practice must surely carry over into academia and other aspects of life.  They are generous and helpful to each other.  For example, the Skyline R-V and Norwood R-1 Archery teams invite everyone to attend the Pirate State Qualifier Archery Tournament in the Norwood multi-purpose gym on Saturday, the 9th, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  This event is dedicated to the family of the Manes R-V archery coach who recently lost her 19 year old daughter in an auto accident during inclement weather.  This is another chance to get out and enjoy an exciting, if quiet, sporting event and to help someone who can really use the help.  That is one of the benefits of living in this beautiful part of the country—neighbor helping neighbor.  Champion!

Cowboy Jack will celebrate a birthday on February 7th.  He does not ride much these days, but he has some great stories to tell about trips down the trail.  Poetry has been written about him.  Aidan Acree is a second grade student at Skyline with a birthday on the 8th.  That is the special day for a special daughter-in-law, the beautiful mother of Champion granddaughters.  Joshua Garner, Skyline sixth grade archer, shares his birthday on the 13th with the lovely Claire Shannon Johnson, and Sondra Powell who attended Skyline some several years ago.  The 14th is for Ms. Shelby Ward, and the 15th for seventh grader, Jaime Casiano.  Madison Bradshaw, fifth grader, celebrates on the 16th.  We celebrate our friends and family as they complete another trip around the sun.  “Now’s the end of the beginning.  The days are flying faster than the sun.”  That is a line from Graeme Laird’s song over in Edinburgh at The Royal Oak–a folk music pub that has been around for a long time, known as the ‘song-pub.’  The many favorable responses to these music links included on the Champion News website only go to encourage the practice.

A pretty note comes to The Champion News (Rt.72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717) from Eva Henson Phillips down in Bella Vista, Arkansas.  She was writing on January 29th and said, “We are staying warm by the fire side.  It is 9◦ this a.m.  Been cold and windy.  Had 3 little snow flurries.  Not a big amount.  We still work at the thrift store and pick up items that are donated.”  A while back, her friend, Sally, had mentioned that ‘Tiny’ might be coming back to Ava for an alumni luncheon.  She did not get to come, but she included this note about her friend:  “I’ve known Sally Wagoner a long time.  When we went to church at Drury, she was among the beautiful teen girls.  I was about 10 and envied them because they could go and come as they pleased.  Everyone back there calls me ‘Tiny.’  Most think that is my name.”  She goes on to say that they are planning to come for the Champion School reunion.  “I so enjoy the day.  I walked every day to and from school in all weather.”  It will be a treat to see the whole bunch and the reunion is just a few short months away.  The time goes by quickly and much will have happened between now and then.

Heads are set spinning just trying to keep up with everything that is going on.  We seem to be in a time unlike any we have ever known when, for example, each of the cabinet members of the government seems to have been handpicked for a determination to dismantle the agency he or she leads.  And, once again, we are reminded by Frank Zappa that “Politics is the entertainment division of the military industrial complex.”  We are living in a violent world, already over populated, with the population slated to sky rocket in the coming years.  The great Mahatma Gandhi said that there are seven blunders of the world that lead to violence:  “ Wealth without Work, Pleasure without Conscience, Knowledge without Character, Commerce without Morality, Science without Humanity, Worship without Sacrifice, Politics without Principal.”

Come on down to the Recreation of the Historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square in Downtown Champion for a chance to share your favorite philosopher with your friends or to go back in time just a little way to where things seemed normal.  Maybe Pat Smith will bring her spoons to play along with the Wednesday-jammers.  Perhaps she will bring her Bible where she is known to preserve important papers.  She is reported to have a copy of that epic poem there that starts, “Cowboy Jack was flat of his back…”  A search of the archives at www.championnews.net has not located the poem, but surely it must be there somewhere.  Whether or not you find the poem, the cyber stroll through this site is well worth the effort.  You will enjoy it if you have a connection to the place because of your own history.  You might enjoy it because it is the kind of place you wish you had lived or the kind of place you hope to live someday.  Perhaps you should come in person—down to the end of the pavement where country roads meet near the confluence of The Clever and Aulde Fox Creek where optimism is a thing–Champion!  Looking on the Bright Side!

More beauty.