March 15, 2019

CHAMPION—March 12, 2019



Like the old boy says, “The older we get, the less it takes to keep us busy.”  Time can easily get away from us and we sometimes find that we have let too much of it slip away without seeing old friends.  It might take some courage and planning to make that call and take that drive, but reconnecting can be a positive thing.  Our old friends may have aged the way we have, or less, or more, and there is likely to be the ‘organ recital’ of detailing our health issues for each other.  A couple of hours of catching up with family and mutual friends might be good for everyone even if all the news is not good.  On any day this time of the year a venture out into seldom seen countryside is a chance to be dazzled by the subtle winter colors.  Riding the ridges on the way back gives us a chance to process the new information and to marvel at the waving red-gold grasses, the green-gold carpeted acres dotted with cows and ponds, hemmed in and skirted by gray and green woods all the way to the blue hills on the horizon.  Top it off with the joy of arriving home again and there is a Champion Sunday afternoon!

Sunday evening the Douglas County Extension Center held its annual dinner and the old boy delivering the keynote address was Wes Davis.  One hundred nineteen Ava sixth graders know him as their science teacher and a couple of adorable one year olds know him as Dad.  He talked about the Agricultural Stewardship Assurance Program, giving the group some good information about sustainability and some good laughs.  There will be stories told about him off in the future—old boy stories.

Skyline School birthdays include Willow Townsend, first grader on the 15th, the wonderful Ms. Helen Batten on March 16th, and seventh grader Myla Sarginson on the 18th.  Others reveling on the Ides of March are Six Foot Sam, an alumni of Skyline now a fiddling Scotsman, Jacob Masters who will be 16 and is a baseball star in Texas, and the fair Irish lass, Ursula, mother of Demetri.  Gordon Reynolds celebrates on the22nd.  Don Powell and the lovely Elva Upshaw share the 23rd with Judie Pennington, who has seen a bear up on Tar Button Road.  Don Bishop also celebrates on the 23rd, but he jumped the gun and had a fishing expedition with a grandson that is sure to amount to great birthday memories for both of them.  Meanwhile, Reba was busy posting a picture on the internet of Champion School students and staff taken November 30, 1916.  Go to to get a look at it.  It is full of familiar names that will ring bells with Champions.

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.”  Helen also reports, “We are having another ‘Fun Run’ April 13th and we are calling it a ‘Donut Dash.’”  More information will be coming out about that soon.  Last year’s event was a lot of fun even for people who just watched the runners arrive at the finish line.

Reports are that Bertie and The Boys brought the house down in a performance at Roy’s Store in Dora on Saturday night.  There was a fine fish dinner and pie, pie, pie.  The banjo player favors banana cream pie, and that old man who really can play the mandolin is a strawberry rhubarb fan.  Roberta has a beautiful voice, a great repertory and some fine musical friends—Dave, Dennis, Montana, Terry, and Teddy—The Boys.  This success surely guarantees a repeat performance and when that happens, efforts will be made to get the word out early for pie and music lovers.  Another favorite local musician, Sharry Lovan, had an argument with her cedar chest on Sunday morning.  She wound up with a broken little toe.  There is no indication that the cedar chest felt a thing.  Sharry did get her bed made and did get the sympathy and commiseration of many friends.  She has a big show scheduled for the Saturday, the 16th, at the beautiful Star Theatre in Willow Springs.  The show must go on!  It will.  Sharry is a trouper.

One Old Champion has been having an eye caught by a brilliant blue or a flash of silver or red along the roadside as well as by a bright flapping white.  The white is a plastic bag, and the bright colors soda and beer cans and plastic bottles.  For a while she has been on her high horse about a fellow who frequently walks to the city center, passing this litter every time without seeing it or without caring.  But she has not stopped to pick it up either.  So she has decided to dismount the high horse and do a little righteous litter picking.  They say people are more apt to litter if there is litter present already, so the exercise might be preventative as well as curative.  Another Old Champion argues that a floorboard full of beer cans might represent an issue at a traffic stop.  Drive safely on your way down to the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek. Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!


March 5, 2019

CHAMPION—March 4th, 2019


The new normal for weather is unusual. It seems that is the way it will be from now on. Being well, warm and content is a circumstance that evokes gratitude among Champions all year long in all kinds of weather. We just take what we get and are pleased that it is not worse. Particularly this is so when we look at others not so far away in every direction who are not faring nearly so well. One of those climate change activists recently said that it will not just be the coastal areas affected, so those newcomers to the Ozarks thinking this will be the new coast in a few years, too bad. You are in it with the rest of us. But, welcome. It looks like this will be a challenge for the young folks. Old Champions wish you much good luck at the same time some of us apologize for not understanding the situation sooner. Sixteen year old Greta Thunberg has stepped up to be one of the leaders of her generation to address the situation. She lives in Sweden where she is also experiencing unusual weather.

One hundred sixteen young people came to Skyline on Saturday for the State Qualifying Archery Tournament. They came from Gainesville, Cabool, Manes, Mountain Grove and Norwood to join our great archers for this event. It is nice to have a sport where girls and boys regardless of age or size can compete together. Each individual is really competing with him/herself. It is the quiet kind of excitement, punctuated with thumps, that observers can enjoy. The good coffee, brownies, and Frito pie help. The eighth grade class ran the concession stand and the report is they have passed their goal for funding their class trip and are now applying the profits to their graduation expenses. Skyline’s Joshua Garner qualified to go to the state tournament and placed second in the Middle School Male Division. Heidy Strong placed third in the Middle School Female Division and Gracie Nava placed third in the Elementary Female Division. Congratulations to you Skyline Champions!

Bailey and Violet

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.”

Violet is a chicken. She is a hen who had an injury early in life that caused her to have only one good leg. She has lived a long time and has made at least one really good friend, Bailey. On a recent visit, Bailey pointed out that Violet has grown some rooster feathers. She had a plausible scientific explanation about how it happened. Bailey’s birthday is March 9th. She is a middle school student in Portland, Oregon. She shares her birthday with local broom-maker, Kay Dennis. Brice King is in the second grade. His birthday is March 10th. Mrs. Casper is the great music/art teacher at Skyline, responsible for wonderful school musicals. Her birthday is March 12th. That was also the birthday of a favorite Champion who passed away a few years ago. He was called a risk-taker and was much respected for his keen eye and many skills.

This is the time of the year when local skunks are on the move. They have a romantic agenda. Linda was on her way to Springfield the other day and counted seven skunks dead on the side of the road. About 9:30 on a recent Thursday night one was seen dead in the north bound lane on 95 Highway south of Drury and then another at the intersection of 76 and 95 was just strolling around seeming to enjoy the headlights of a motorist hoping not to hit it. Louden Wainwright wrote the song “Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road.” People who are considered to be punks, scoundrels, ruffians, hoodlums, and stinker are called skunks. Getting skunked means being shut out or to be overwhelmingly defeated. ‘Skunked’ also means to run out on a bill: “He left town and skunked the landlord.” It is a New England phrase that came into use around 1831. One is reminded of a current skunk, skunking working people. (Hopes are that no one will need this recipe, but it is a good one if your dog gets sprayed: 1 quart hydrogen peroxide, ¼ cup baking soda, and 1 teaspoon dishwashing liquid. Work it through the fur. Let it sit for about five minutes then rinse thoroughly.)

On March 4th, people often say, “March forth!” March has come in like a lion and is about to spring forward on the 10th of the month. On the 14th we can celebrate Pi Day (3.1415926535 etc. ad infinitum) and explore infinity. On March 15th we can think about the soothsayer having warned Caesar about the Ides of March. That is according to Shakespeare who also had Macbeth thinking about glum things that seem oddly appropriate now citing “A poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.” Mardi Gras is going on in Louisiana and other places and Ash Wednesday is the duo-birthday of an old Champion couple who now have a combined age of 152 years. Meanwhile Spring will arrive on March 20th. Champions are ready. Snowbirds from Wyoming are hoping that the Champion Spring Fling will happen before the first of May since that is their departure date. The Fling date is to be set by The Prominent Champion Spouse, who has a big day planned on March 28th. She is much loved and her friends all hope that day goes well for her and that she will be ready to party before the snowbirds fly. “The snowbird sings the song he always sings and speaks to me of flowers that will bloom again in spring” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!