April 23, 2019

CHAMPION—April 21, 2019


Champions are not weary of the excessive extolling of the beauty of nature in our part of the world. This seems to be an outstanding year for every booming thing. Once again we are celebrating the most glorious spring we can remember. The woods are filling in quickly. Soon all those cabins, chateaus and palatial estates will disappear from view. Mushrooms are still being found and ticks are being the nuisance we expect them to be. Were it not for the ticks and the chiggers, the countryside would be overrun with tourists (touristers) and land speculators. That does not mean that we have to like the ticks, but it shows that to everything there is a season and a time to every purpose, under heaven.

Myrtle Harris

Myrtle Harris had a spectacular birthday party on Saturday. She is 90 years old. The balloons, the cards, the cake, the band, and the many friends and family congratulating her kept her smiling through the afternoon. She is probably smiling yet, grateful for the loving family who arranged the tribute. It was a glorious spring day. Bouquets of flowers added just the right touch for a lovely lady who is well known for her own green thumb. Taegan Krider is a third grade student at Skyline. Her birthday is on the 30th of April. She has a long way to go to catch up to Myrtle, but chances are very good that her birthday will be memorable for her too. She has an enormous family. She is a descendant of people who are kin to almost everyone in the county—a fortunate young lady. All the reports are that the spring music program at the school on Thursday was just wonderful. Mrs. Casper has the gift of being able to coax the talent out of the children in a way that makes everyone feel good. Parents and grandparents are simply swollen with pride and joy at the accomplishments of their young ones. It was a Hoedown to be remembered. Mrs. Casper, Mrs. Downs and the Skyline student body showed a wide range of talents. The General said he saw the Hoedown Program, “I rate it as ‘’OUTSTANDING!” With it all capitalized like that, you know it was good. Meanwhile, over at the Vanzant Bluegrass Hall, the circle swelled to twenty participants. What a night! A dedicated musician, unhampered by farm and yard chores, housework and child rearing, or having to work for a living, could find a jam most any night or day of the week somewhere in Douglas County or in the general area. Optimists believe this is the way it is all over the country, but it might not be so. We will just count ourselves lucky to be where we are.

Myrtle’s 90th

It happens sometimes that people we may love and care about, family and friends, may hold beliefs and opinions that are exactly the opposite of our own beliefs. At some point we finally ask ourselves if they think we are as off the wall, out of touch, misinformed, and delusional as we think they are. How can we have grown up together, or just exist in the same world, and be so disconnected? Do I offend and dismay my loved ones and break their hearts the way they do mine? The division is stark. It is hard to imagine how we can carry on. But we do. We talk on the phone. We meet for coffee.

Gardeners are doing the hard work now that will give them vegetable rewards later. They will be diligent in their efforts so that between the planting and the weeding they may take advantage of the many exciting things going on this time of the year. Among the upcoming events is the Skyline 5K Fun Run, being billed this time as the Donut Dash. It is sponsored by the Skyline Wellness Committee. It had originally been scheduled earlier in the month, but unsettled weather caused officials to postpone the event until this Saturday, April 27th. Participants will meet at the school at 7:30 a.m. and the race will start at 8:00. Last year the Skyline Volunteer Fire Department, together with the Douglas County and Wright County Sheriff’s Departments did an excellent job of controlling the traffic so that the runners could feel safe as they pounded the pavement. It is a good community effort to promote fitness.


The Champion Spring Fling will be on Saturday, May 11th starting at about 11 in the morning. Bring your lawn chairs, and your sun hat. If you are a musician who likes to jam, bring your instruments. You will meet new friends and probably run into old friends you haven’t seen in a long time. Invitations are going out. It will be another fine day down on the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek.

Our Champion friend, J.C. Owsley, has been on an epic trail ride out in Nebraska through the Soldier Creek Wilderness, the upper end of the Deer Creek Watershed and on the Fort Robinson Trails. Ride ‘em cowboy! On the 15th, Bud Hutchison’s Spring Trail Ride will take off from Champion early in the day. The riders generally take up Fox Creek Road and wind around on the Shannon Ranch for a while before they come ambling back into Champion from the east in the early afternoon, looking for ice cream and a rest on the wide veranda in the shade. They will have stories to tell about Bud and reports of their day’s adventure. Wilma is recuperating from a fall and hopefully she will be far enough along in her recovery to venture out for the spectacle. The Historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square is equipped with a ramp to make access easy for folks with mobility issues. These are special events, but any day down on the wide banks of Auld Fox Creek is a day well spent in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


April 16, 2019

CHAMPION—April 15, 2019


The world over people are suffering hardship and loss.  Folks in the mid-west are not nearly recovered from the severe flooding there.  Hurricane victims in Florida, Puerto Rico and other places like the countries in East Africa are struggling.  Now we hear of the tragedy at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.  Sometimes all we can do to help is to say that we acknowledge your suffering and wish you well.

Gardens are beckoning.  There is optimism in laying out the rows, in the tilling and raking, the transplanting, seeding and mulching.  There is every chance that this will be the best, most fruitful and lovely garden yet.  For some older gardeners, the paths are getting wider and the garden beds more narrow, but the enthusiasm is there, balanced out with the rheumatism.  When it is time for weeding, some old folks alternate the chore with reading in the shade, perhaps Ralph Waldo Emerson who said, “What is a weed?  A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”  Some say that dandelions are not weeds at all, but are from the same family as sunflowers.  The seeds can travel on the air up to five miles before they land to sprout in someone else’s garden.  They say every part of the dandelion is edible.  (1 cup of greens has 535% of your daily recommendations for vitamin K and 112% of vitamin A)  Up until the 1800s, dandelions were seen as extremely beneficial.  People would remove grass to plant dandelions.  They are one of the first blooming plants in the spring that support our very important pollinators.  The dandelion is the school flower of the University of Rochester in New York.  Pete informed some garden enthusiasts over at the Vanzant Bluegrass Hall last Thursday that it will be time to plan the corn when the hickory leaves are as big as squirrel’s ears.  There are eight species of hickory trees in Missouri and four species of squirrels, so we are blessed with latitude so long as the signs are right.

Wilma Hutchison says that if you need to have a place like Heart of the Ozarks Healthcare Center, that one is great.  She says the people are friendly, the food is good and there is always something interesting going on.  She is anxious to go home, but since she will have to be there for a little while, recovering from a fall, she is going to make the most of it.  Wilma has a sunny disposition and likes people, so she will enjoy the visiting until she can get home.  Her Champion friends wish her a speedy recovery.

Texan Dave Thompson used to sing Old Lost River for his friends in these parts.  His birthday is April 17th.  Myrtle Harris will celebrate her 90th birthday on Saturday the20th at the Vanzant Community Building.  It will be at 1 o’clock with cake, ice cream and a three piece country band.  She is celebrating on the 20th, but Myrtle’s birthday is the 19th, also the day for Mrs. Heather, an aide at Skyline School.  Mrs. Mayberry is a teacher there with a birthday on the 21st.  Jordan Ellingsworth, second grade student, and fifth grader, Shelby Wilson, will enjoy the 23rd and 24th, respectively, for their big exciting birthdays.  Tree-guy, Jacob Moffett, celebrates on the 24th as well.  Happy birthday wishes to all of you from The Champion News.  Have some fun.  The Skyline Fun Run 5K Donut Dash has been rescheduled for Saturday the 27th.  Hopes are that the weather will be altogether better and that the run will indeed be fun.  For fun, spell this out loud:  “OICU812!”  Here is an interesting conversation:  “AB, C D goldfish?” “M N O goldfish, AB.”  “O S A R.”

For the many who have not yet become so old and poor that they no longer have to pay taxes, it is a relief to have April 15th finally over.  There are complaints about new forms and refunds are not turning out to be what people were expecting.  But still, what a gift it is to be a taxpayer and to reap the rewards of our communal alliance.  We pool our resources to support our infrastructures, our schools, our wonderful Medicare, our Military, our environment, and many other things that benefit us all.  If gormless administrators squander, siphon and misappropriate our investment and shirk their own contributions, never mind.  We have sports, television, church, the internet, the garden and our jobs, complete with FICA deductions, to keep us occupied and our attention diverted from the realities.  Being ever so vigilant is exhausting.

We are reminded that mushroom season is also about the time that the copperheads make themselves known.  Some information from reliable sources on the internet say that if an adult bites you, you may only get a dry bite.  If you smell cucumber for no reason, you are within striking distance of a copperhead and you have already disturbed him.  Juveniles often have a yellow tip on the tail.  Possums eat copperheads, so leave the possums alone.  Other snakes, such as rat snakes compete with copperheads for food.  King snakes eat copperheads so leave them alone.

If there is one thing Vanzant could use, it is a few more Upshaws.  The General’s sister-in-law, Sue Upshaw, is coming to town together with her daughters, Loni and Darcy, and Darcy’s husband, Ron Cecil.  They will enjoy the beauty of spring in the Ozarks for a few days, lodging at Chateau Upshaw in the City Center.  They live way out west and Loni lives way, way out west in Alaska where she is a Major in the Salvation Army.  This bunch proves that a family can be close even if they are far flung.

The charming instigator of the Third Annual Champion Spring Fling has not, and will not come unglued, but she has finally set the date!  Saturday, May 11th starting at about 11 a.m., there will be lots of great food and music on the Square.  Bring your lawn chairs, your sun bonnet and your friends and get ready for an old fashioned spring social down on the wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek where country roads meet the pavement.  Everyone is welcome.  Go to the May 7, 2018 post and to the one for May 8, 2017 in the archives at www.championnew.us to see what it is all about.  You are liable to see people you have not seen in years and likely to meet some new friends and neighbors.  Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


April 9, 2019

CHAMPION—April 7, 2019


Riding the ridges, hitting the high spots, on the way to town is glorious this time of the year.  Luscious greens spread across the undulating hills.  The winds have taken the last of the leaves from the deciduous trees giving us a last glimpse of the voluptuous topography before they leaf out again.  Redbuds will soon be bursting forth to dazzle the already busy mushroom hunters.  The brilliant yellow Forsythia blossoms that grace so many yards will begin to fade before long.  Then it will be time to prune them, looking forward to next year’s beauty.  Meanwhile we have flowering quince, the wild phlox, wild plum and “cherry pink and apple blossom white” lets us sing of spring.  The first hummingbird was sighted on April 6th this year.  The ratio for ‘hummer-goo’ is 1 to 4, one part sugar to four parts water.  They say red food coloring is not only not necessary, but harmful to the birds.  It is also important, they say, to thoroughly clean the feeders between fills.  The first farmer’s market day in Ava was a great success.  The weather was beautiful, then windy and foggy, then beautiful again.  It is a splendid market, well worth a Saturday morning trip to town.  Back in the old days, a Saturday trip to town was a big deal.  J.T. Shelton said that back in the 1930’s the Square in Downtown Champion would be packed with wagons and people visiting.


Beverly Coffman Emery will have that song sung to her on Thursday, though her birthday was Saturday.  Chances are that her wonderfully enthusiastic (wild) sister will have given her a good deal of attention.  Buddy gets his attention too.  The bunch might as well sing to Studebaker Bob Berry at the same time since his birthday will be Sunday the 14th.  The lovely Mary G. will treat him to some spoiling for days before and after the event.  Tennessee/Champion, Dillon Watts celebrates his birthday on the 12th.  He has picked a banjo in the Vanzant Bluegrass Hall as recently as last summer.  His Uncle Dustin Cline, also now of Tennessee, and his great Aunt Vivian Krider Floyd, of Rogersville, share their birthdays on the 15th with Skyline students, Wyatt Lake, fourth grader, and Justin Hammett in the eighth grade.  Mr. George G. Jones, now of Stockton, also enjoys Income Tax Day as his birthday.  His many friends are hoping for a reprise of last year’s party.  Happy birthday wishes to all of you from your friends at The Champion News.

Friends remember Bud Hutchison on his birthday.  He was born April 8, 1935 in Champion.  He passed away in April last year.  His spring and fall Champion Trail Rides became a tradition that the community enjoyed.  Twenty or so of his riding friends held a memorial ride for him back in the middle of October.  See pictures and the story in the October 22, 2018 post at www.championnews.us.  It was reported that Bud would have had a great time.  Mysterious Mountain Grove cowboys had come out for the expedition.  “The tall one with the big hat made the whole trip.  The good looking one had a pulled muscle and just came out to see his friend and the others off on their big adventure.”  The spring ride generally happened in May, so perhaps there will be some to come ambling through again.  Wherever his friends are out on their Happy Trails, they will carry with them fond memories of their old friend, Bud.


It looks like the Skyline Doughnut Dash Fun Run will be blessed with cool weather on Saturday.  The race will start at 8:00 AM, early for some folks.  Five kilometers is 3.10 miles and quite a dash for any save the young and fit.  Some old folks are going to stroll along the race course while it is being protected by the Skyline Fire Department and law enforcement in order to pick up some litter.  C Highway, with its two narrow lanes and no shoulders, is up and down and significantly curvy, making it hazardous for pedestrians, so the opportunity to be out there tidying up is a nice part of Champion spring cleaning.  The Skyline Wellness Committee is doing a great job promoting health with great activities like this Fun-Run.  Staff appreciation days this year will be April 15-18th.  It is a chance for students and parents to show teachers and all the other nice people who keep our precious little rural school running how important they are to the whole community.  If you can read, thank a teacher—Champions all!

Just sit around all winter being comfortable and then, at the first crack of spring, get up and get busy.  See where that gets you–fatigue, sunburn, tick bites and disproportionate satisfaction with accomplishment and/or disbelief at your diminished abilities.  “Thanks for what little you did do.”  Warm days might cause a person to get ahead of himself, [not ‘their self,’ because we, at The Champion News, steadfastly reject the ‘singular they,’ which has caused one to be labeled as a ‘grammatical dinosaur.’  The implication is that the English language is a living language that evolves.  Hogwash a bunch of evolution.] causing him to plant tender plants prematurely.  Here in Champion, we have had frost as late as May 10th.  Remember that old adage:  Thunder in February, frost in May.  The adage may be old, but the weather is a whole new ballgame.  Greta Thunberg is a Swedish teenager who speaks better English than most of us living here in America and also speaks to the importance of recognizing that the climate is changing.  Once it was said, “The Rain in Spain Stays Mainly in the Plain.”  Perhaps the best we can do here in the Ozarks to mitigate our part of the human effects on the climate is to not throw a tire onto our brush pile to keep it burning.  Welcome to Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


April 2, 2019

CHAMPION—April 1, 2019


Old Champions and old folks everywhere seem to enjoy harkening back to their youthful, vital days. The other day one was remembering what Ava was like when he was in his late teen-age years and early twenties. There were two theatres on the square and a roller rink. He almost killed himself, he said, trying to learn to roller skate backwards and it sounded like he was on the snapping end of crack-the-whip pretty often getting thrown up against the wall. He said the soda fountain at the Rexall Drug Store was a long one that filled up with factory workers on their thirty minute lunch breaks. He cited a time when a car load of them were headed back to work when the driver took that turn (by the new bank at the roundabout) too fast and overturned. Apparently no one was badly hurt, so they rolled it back on its wheels and went on their way with the top of the car all caved in. Then he went on to tell about a fast trip to Omaha in his new 1969 Chevelle with Charles Lambert. That was an interesting story that ended up wishing that Charlie would make it back to Champion more often.

If you get to Mountain Grove, you will see that Downtown Pawn on the East side of the square has a ‘For Sale’ sign in the window. The business has been there for a long time. Owner, Marjorie Carter, and sister, Linda Keys, have been great Champions of the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department over the years. They have displayed flyers in their windows, bought quilt tickets, donated great things for the silent auctions, and big items for the fire department fund raisers, including a wonderful Dobro a couple of years ago. They have kinfolks down in this neck of the woods and are fans of the Skyline R-2 School. Marjorie says she would like to sell the business and not just the building. There are too many empty buildings on the square already and the business is vital to its customers. Skyline and Champion friends appreciate their support over the years and wish Marjorie and Linda good luck. They will have a special invitation for The Champion Spring Fling when the date is set for that epic affair.

That epic affair is on the horizon, but Champions do not yet know exactly where. Well, we know where, we just do not know when. It is all up to the Prominent Champion Spouse to set the date. It is, after all, her birthday present, though her birthday is in January, this is her party. She has had a couple of little things going on, so when she feels like it, she will mark the calendar and we will all shout, “Woo hoo!” Skyline fourth grade student, J.P. Rhodes’ birthday is on April 1st. His birthday will always be celebrated with fun. He will surely develop a splendid sense of humor as the years go by. The General thinks April Fools’ Day is a National Holiday. He has already made arrangements for a hangover cure at the Junction on Tuesday morning with his coffee klatch buddies. They will share their favorite quotes of the day. Edgar Allan Poe, “I have great faith in fools—self-confidence, my friends call it.” From the Talmud, “You can educate a fool, but you cannot make him think.” From Will Rogers, “The trouble with practical jokes is that very often they get elected.” And last by a guy named Miguel de Unamuno, “A lot of good arguments are spoiled by some fool who knows what he is talking about.” Jerry Wagner does a fine version of “Now and Then There’s a Fool Such As I.”

The Skyline Wellness Committee is hosting the second annual 5K Fun Run on Saturday, April 13th. They are calling it “The Doughnut Dash.” It is too late to order a t-shirt, but you are welcome to check in at 7:30 AM and start the race at 8:00. The PTO will have snacks available and everyone is welcome to run the race or to stand at the finish line to cheer the competitors as they complete their run. There will be prizes for the top finishers in each category. Last year Levi Hicks won first place with a time of 23:39. Andrew Harden was in second place with a time of 23:45. Rowdy Woods had a time of 24:33 for third place.

Old friends meeting up recently were happy to have the chance to catch up on each other’s heath, families, and mutual friends. One was wearing a button on his lapel that said, “Clemency! Leonard Peltier #89637-132,” which sparked a lively discussion. The friend with the button said that enough is enough. Peltier has been in jail for 42 years for something he did not do. His friend agreed but contended that the word ‘clemency’ implies guilt—that it shows mercy in the severity of a punishment due. He said Leonard Peltier is not due punishment. He is due a pardon for having been wrongfully convicted. “In the Spirit of Crazy Horse” is a ballad by Jim Page that tells some of the story.

You hear it said that a person would not know a snake if it bit him, or a certain substance from Shinola, a bodily orifice from a hole in the ground, or a gift horse if it looked you in the mouth. That last one should be “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” Anyway, now we have another for that list. He doesn’t know ‘come here’ from ‘sick ’em.’ A newcomer once told The Prominent Champion just where the raccoon excrement was on the pump handle. He said, “Around here, we say axel grease.” That is genteel Champion speech.

One fellow, already with a case of poison ivy, reports moving seamlessly from one season to another, picking his first tick after hauling in his last load of firewood. He will be scratching, but warm in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!