June 23, 2019

CHAMPION –June 21, 2019


Summertime road to Champion

Summer time, summer time, sum, sum summertime…..” It is here! Champions are serious about flip flop weather. Particularly serious is the January birthday girl who chooses to celebrate her big day half way down the calendar for the joy of flip flops. This year the Champion Spring Fling has morphed into the Champion Summer Bash. It is official and it will happen Saturday, June 29th. Happy birthday, dear Sami! The fun will start around 11 in the morning and goes well into the afternoon. The fun need not stop. What you do on your own time is up to you. While you are at Champion you can enjoy the chance to meet up with old friends and to make new ones. All you musicians are invited to bring your instruments for a jam under the big oak tree. Everyone, bring your lawn chairs and a sunbonnet or hat might be a good idea. It is going to be a lovely day. There will be all kinds of good things to eat available from The Prominent Citizen himself and his helpers. Some Old Champions expecting company from the north and the south will have one less meal to feed them and they will get a quality experience of an awesome Ozark community. Katlyn McConnell sends her regrets from some distant adventure. We will have a good time anyway and we will tell her all about it next time she is in town.

Meanwhile, our beloved mail carrier, Karen Ross, will enjoy commemorating forty years of marriage, all to the same lucky man! She enjoys the radio on her route. She might hear “My One and Only Love.” Sweethearts still. Axyl Miller will be in the first grade in the fall. His birthday is June 17th. Daniel Parkes is in the 7th grade. His birthday is June 19th. Easton Shannon, 3rd grader, and Kash Hurt, first grader, share the 24th for their birthdays. Other special observances are for Tyler Clark, who was born June 20, 1988, and for Linda K. Watts and Sierra Parsons both born on the Vernal Equinox. Elizabeth Warren and Ava’s Cinita Brown share the 22nd for their birthdays. Nick Massey and Sherry Bennett enjoy the 25th for their special day, though Sherry had that song sung to her last Thursday. Esther Wrinkles is remembered on her birthday which was on the 28th. She was born in 1917, and left us in 2013. Ms. Eva Powell has the 29th of June as her birthday. So does Butch Kara, who is putting a lot of hard work in on making the Pioneer Heritage Festival of the Ozarks happen again the first week end in October? Happy birthday, all you students and all you adults from your friends in Champion!

Alvin Barnhart is a member of the Mountain Grove High School Class of 1959. They will be observing their 60th Class Reunion with a dinner Friday evening, July 5th at the Freewill Baptist Church. Alvin thinks as many as fifty might attend. There were about a hundred students in the class. Twenty-seven are known to have passed on. Hopes are that “The Hoover” will read about it in The Champion News and will drive all the way up from Houston, Texas. That is what happened last year. He and Dawn always bring fun with them and are always welcome.

The Summer Solstice came with some fast and hard hitting little thunderstorms, but it is like Bertie sings, “Storms Never Last” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


June 17, 2019

CHAMPION—June 17, 2019


Champion Elderflowers

Richard and Kaye Johnston ventured into Champion on Wednesday. Kaye had peeled potatoes for the Senior Center up in Salem that morning. She volunteers there on Fridays too, answering phones. Because of Kaye the crowd was not totally lacking in Upshaws but they were still four short. The General was hauling hay, and the brothers might have been scared off by the threat of a hard rain, though the weather was not very threatening and they are not scared of much. It was a pleasant if small gathering. Wes Smith tried to leave the store several times in order to go to work, but had interference. He and Pat celebrate their anniversary on June 15th. They tied the knot in 1983. They are both retired now and often are seen in the same company. The Cowboy was talking fast cars with Bob and Don and discussing happenings on his soap opera with his niece. He rushes home to be sure to catch the next episode. Champions are careful not to try to delay him or to get in his way.

It was a real treat to have Eula Lakey at the Vanzant Jam on Thursday. Since there were sixteen in the circle, The General opted not to play, though his fans are much looking forward to a reprise of his original “Over and Under Down Yonder.” Meanwhile, it was fun to have Wilma Hutchison join the circle for a song. She has nice voice and wonderful enthusiasm. Judy and Eldon Russell reported that Bertie and the Boys had done a bang-up job at Roy’s Store last Friday and said that the crowd was mostly made up of folks from the Vanzant Jam. It is a gift when someone who has been absent for a while shows up again. David Richardson is so busy since his retirement that he could not remember where he was the previous Thursday. “Beulah Land” is one of those songs that wants just the right voice. That voice is recovering and hopefully will sooth the bunch again as the last song of the evening, as she has done so often. Up in Edgar Springs they only jam once a month, so an accomplished Dobro player from up that way, who enjoys a good pot-luck supper, has found this group and is making a habit of it. Gina Hollingshead shared her recipe for wilted lettuce with a friend who was thinking about elder flower fritters. It is a beautiful time of the year for music, garden produce, old time recipes and friendships.

On Sunday we celebrate our fathers. Telephones ring. Packages with ugly neckties and good barbeque tools arrive. Those lucky enough to have their fathers with them still and to have them close get the joy of the hug that says, “Thank you for being my Dad,” and “Thank you for being by Kid!” It is a two way street. Memories of good times together, lessons learned from each other, together with respect and admiration for each other make the parent-child continuum one of life’s sweetest gifts. Thanks, Old Man. The gentleman had a beautiful day for it, but these days all seem to be ideal here in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


June 11, 2019

CHAMPION—June 11, 2019


Civil War Bus Tour [enlarge]

Forty-seven showed up Monday morning for the Civil War Bus Tour sponsored by the Ava Area Chamber of Commerce. Marilyn Alms explains that it is part of a state wide effort to introduce the interesting tourism available in the State of Missouri. She said that she thought Ava was the first community that she knows of who have done a presentation like this. There is a full week of activities available, all of it free. Judy and Eldon Russell took the tour Monday and said they had taken the Mill Tour last year and really enjoyed it. Contact the Chamber of Commerce at (417) 683-4594 to find out more. Monday’s Civil War Tour stopped at a number of Civil War grave sites in town and made a foray out past Cow Skin Creek to an old cemetery where a number of Home Guard combatants and Civil War Veterans are buried. Ms. Alms and author-reenactor, Tim Ritter of Fair Grove, gave commentary at each stop based primarily on the keen observations of Columbia J. Makin (1871-1958), which appear in a recently published book, “Dear Descendants.” She dictated the stories to her daughter to preserve family history for future generations and in the process produced a valuable record of the town that now claims 2,993 residents. Mrs. Mankin’s original book has been augmented by many pages of photographs and an introduction by Douglas County native and historian, Cinita (Davis) Brown. Folks like Mrs. Mankin and her daughter, Orla Mankin Vaughn, Cinita Brown, Marilyn Alms and Tim Ritter put in the effort to make the past understandable and relatable to us today. Let us not leave out Sharon Sanders whose labors with the Douglas County Museum are inspirational. History is the study of life in society in the past, in all its aspect, in relation to present developments and future hopes. Seeing where we came from helps us understand how we got to where we are and helps us plan for where we are going. Go to Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

The Douglas County Museum

June 10, 2019

CHAMPION–June 10, 2019


Because the Fourth of July will occur on a Thursday this year, it was decided by a show of hands last week that the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam will not happen that night.  The following Thursday, the 11th, preparations will be underway for the Vanzant Picnic on July 12 and 13, so there will be no jam that night either.  Two weeks without a jam will be hard on some folks, but there should be no further disruption until Thanksgiving.  The year is flying by and Champions are thankful every beautiful day that dawns.  Music is one of those gifts in life.  As Carl Perkins said, “Singing seems to help the troubled soul.”  A person can also use music to lower blood pressure and lift spirits.  It is good medicine.  If you are connected to the internet, you can find almost any music you like.  Father’s day is coming up and one remembers a father who could recall a song that fit any situation.  It made for a pleasant childhood and an overall optimistic outlook.

Haymakers are hard at it.  The countryside hums with machinery.  Even with the lush foliage to absorb it, the droning of equipment is the soft distant background for the buzzing insects and singing birds.  A few cool dry days will benefit farmers who are laying up stores for future need.  Meanwhile, those buzzing insects might really be a condition called tinnitus, something that many old folks might understand.  For those gardeners who plant more than they can tend, and for people who are only now realizing they are old:  there, there.  Buck up.  Remember being young like Skyline School eighth graders, Wyatt Hicks and Zachary Coon.  Wyatt has his birthday on the 13th and Zachary has his on the 17th.  First grader, Axyl Miller celebrates on the 17th and Daniel Parks, in the 7th grade, has the 19th for his special day.  Ava’s lovely Janice Lorrain has the 15th for her party and Champion grandson Foster Wiseman has the 16th for his.  He may be 16!  What?  Time goes by.  Folks visiting from the city are heard to say that being in this part of the world with all its rural magic and small town charm is like going backwards in time.  Of course, looking at the rapidly eroding world situation, everyone must feel that way on some level.  Still, these are being glorious days in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


June 6, 2019

CHAMPION–June 6, 2019


A Friday foray in to the post office in Norwood gave one Old Champion a chance to enjoy the profusion of Echinacea blooming along both sides of Highway C.  The purple cone flowers mixed in with the tall grasses, the Queen Anne’s lace and the daisies all make for a glorious trip, especially with the background of lush green foliage everywhere.  It is not quite summer—a spectacular time of the year.  Echinacea is said to be an herb that encourages the immune system and reduces many of the symptoms of colds, flu and some other illnesses, infections and conditions.

Once again Champions are in the enviable situation of not having to haul water to fill our mud holes.  The consensus of rain gauge readings was in the neighborhood of 3+ inches all of a sudden Tuesday.  The creeks were not up so much, but roads are badly washed in spots.  “Don’t that road look rough and rocky?”  The Cowboy has just thrown his hands up, saying he is about done with rebuilding fence.  The last one that needed rebuilding was pretty—welded steel pipe and recently painted.  The Prominent Champion said it was probably the paint that brought it down.  Long ago each of them thought a nice bottom land farm would have been just the ticket, but now neither of them would take one as a gift.  Reports are that as many as 250,000 acres of farm land are currently underwater across the country.

It was pleasant to see some of the ‘regulars’ around the tables at the Historic Emporium—Bob and Ethel, Don and Reba, Wes, Mutt, Dean and Dailey.  Not everyone can make it down to the Bright Side every Wednesday, but they are glad when they do.  Charlie Lambert and Delmer Dooms came down from Mountain Grove to meet up with Alvie Dooms.  The fair Janice Ray had a rendezvous with some motorcycle goof.  When the Rt. 72 mail carrier, Karen Ross stopped in on her route, she was regaled with stories about Homer Akers when he ran the route.  (Wait a minute Mr. Postman!)  Alvie said the many stories about Homer were not exaggerated enough to meet the true history of it.  He also answered the question about who might have been the musicians who played for dances upstairs at the Denlow Store, i.e. himself, his older brother, Edgar, and J.P. Ferrell.  Now there are stories about Alvie on The Voice of America.  Out on the wide veranda Charlie was coaxed into playing a tune on the mandolin.  He played the Spanish Two-Step and what a lovely tune that is!  He has not been playing much recently, but his many friends and fans will try to remedy that.

Summer school is in session at Skyline School.  Nurse Bridget Hicks enjoyed her birthday there on the 4th.  She has a sunny disposition and a talent for encouraging and instructing our able Skyline Archers.  Thanks, Bridget!  One sings, “Many a fine tune can be plucked on the banjo.  Take for example ‘My Grandfather’s Clock.’  For that one and more than two hundred others, enjoy the fine plucking of David Medlock.”  His birthday is on June 6th.  Surely the Vanzant Jam will find a way to celebrate him.  Champion friend, Kaitlyn McConnell (no relation to Mitch) also enjoys D-day for her birthday.  She does a great deal to promote the history, culture and appreciation of the Ozarks with her great blog “Ozarks Alive.”  Look up her great work at www.ozarksalive.com  Wayne Sutherland was 85 on June 7, 2015.  His lovely daughter, Greta, had her birthday on the 5th.  He was seen on Monday’s McClurg Jam posting on the internet enjoying the music.  He was also there, together with more than 80 others, a couple of weeks ago in a tribute jam for J.R. Johnston who left us recently.  There were jams inside and outside that night.  The little building could not hold all of them.  Fortunately there was no rain and there will be no end to the remembering of J.R.

There is also no end to the remembering of those who stormed “The Shores of Normandy” to fight the tyranny of fascism.  Our precious democracy once again seems at risk, but we are hopeful yet in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Rough and rocky…