July 30, 2019

CHAMPION—July 29, 2019


Oh! They tell me of an uncloudy day! Such a one is a gift, but so is a partly cloudy day when fancy fluffy puffs of water vapor are shadow running over the rolls and folds of verdant hills and fields. A ridge runner gets a visual symphony of undulating colors. How many greens are there? Why are far distant hills blue? A trip to town is an adventure. It was a treat to rendezvous with J.C. Owsley for lunch on Tuesday. He picked up the tab and picked up spirits of some who are feeling isolated by their enlightened beliefs. ‘Enlightened’ is a subjective term, so it can mean anything based on personal feelings, tastes, or opinions. “Of all the saddest words that I have ever heard, the saddest is the story told me by a bird. He had spent about an hour chatting with a flower…” —a lonely little petunia in an onion patch.” It takes patience, tact and perseverance to engage positively with people who believe the exact opposite of your beliefs. Why bother? It’s like the Old Boy says, “Everybody’s got to be somewhere.” We are all here.

Sisters Marjorie Carter and Linda Keys at the Downtown Pawn Shop have been great supporters of the Skyline Fire Department and many other good causes in the area for a long time. They have operated their business on the east side of the square in Mountain Grove for twenty-five years and have served the community well. After trying unsuccessfully to sell the whole business, they have decided to close it on November 1st. There is a beautiful five-string banjo hanging on the wall there and several guitars, acoustic and electric. There are lots of tools and guns, as well as some lovely jewelry on their shelves. It will be sad to see the business close, but it will be a nice change for the sisters as they retire. Imagine not having to go to work on Monday morning. We will miss them, but we wish them well.

Skyline VFD Merchant Supporters

For those who were not able to attend the Holt Up and At It 4-H Picnic, Connie Brown, Sharry Lovan, Phyllis Proctor and others generously shared photos on the internet. The music was great, the food was tasty, the games were fun and the wonderful 4-H Club benefited—head, heart, hands, health. More of this kind of entertainment is coming up with the Skyline VFD Picnic which will occur on August 9th and 10th. It will be another chance to get acquainted with new people to the area and to reunite with longtime friends for an episode of remembering old times and for making new memories, all while supporting the vital little fire department that protects our lives and property. Those volunteer fire fighters, first responders all, leave their jobs and fields and dinner tables to come to your aid. Champions!

Wednesday was a perfect day for visiting around the tables in the meeting room in the Historic Emporium and for porch-jamming. A fiddler and harmonica player were welcome additions to the guitars and mandolins. Red Wing, Old Indiana, The Flowers of Vanzant, Florida Blues and I’ll Fly Away drifted out across the Square. Those good looking cowboys (one of them wears a big hat) from Mountain Grove meandered in from their amble up Cold Springs Road and back. They unsaddled their horses and took care of them before enjoying their refreshments out on the wide veranda. They sang along with fine voices. In homes and barns, in American Legion halls and restaurants, on patios and porches people in these parts get together any day or night of the week to jam. They are teaching and learning old and new songs and tunes–enjoying the fellowship and the healing qualities of music.

Reba Bishop was in Champion Wednesday, but did not let on that her birthday was coming up on July 28th. Several other interesting people have birth anniversaries coming up. Our friend, Karen Ross, celebrates on the 29th. The first of August is remembered as the birthday of Elita January. She passed away several years ago, but is frequently and well- remembered. Herman Melville was born August 1, 1819, so he has his 200th birthday being celebrated in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where he lived for many years, writing Moby Dick and other things. The second of August is the special day for a special Champion grandson. Seamus is a very cool young man and everyone who knows him agrees that he will go far. R.D. was 66 last year, so he must be 67 this year. They say a person really gets busy when he or she retires, so now that Trish is retiring, she might be helping R.D. to be busy as well. Like the Old Boy says, “Everybody’s got to be somewhere.”

It turns out that the Old Champion gardener who thought she was ahead of the game because she had so many volunteer tomato plants is stuck with a bunch of ‘chocolate cherry’ tomatoes. They are a little bigger than regular cherry tomatoes; they taste like tomatoes, but are dark and mottled in color. Last year she offered some prime examples to Elmer Banks who declared that he would not eat purple tomatoes. The many, many volunteers all have turned out to be chocolate cherry. Alas. Moreover, sometimes plants purchased from local outlets do not necessarily correspond to the names on the tags in the pots. The up side is that, with good luck, she will have next year to have the perfect tomatoes. Just now, the okra, corn and beans are stealing the show. It is “inch by inch, row by row” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Chocolate Cherry volunteers.

July 23, 2019

CHAMPION—July 21, 2019


A lonely little petunia.

The Wednesday porch jam at Champion was invited inside because of the heat. Next time the temperature and humidity reoccur the way they did that day, the musicians will listen to rational voices and go inside. Any time during the week people are sitting down to visit on the wide veranda at the Historic Emporium or around the tables in the air conditioned meeting room. It is a very sociable kind of place. Friday was the last day for Karen Ross on the Route 72 mail route. She was met with cake and cards of thanks for her good service all these years. Our new carrier will get a good reception and we will look forward to getting acquainted.

To the reader of The Champion News who complained that he has not had to look up a word lately, we proudly give you the word ‘fissiparous.’ (fis SIP arous). To save you the trouble, it means inclined to cause or undergo division into separate parts or groups. Feel free to construct your own sentences using this interesting adjective, for example: “The fissiparous nature of party politics has even the most enlightened head spinning.” To the reader who feels isolated due to enlightened beliefs, enjoy the wonderful song, “I’m a lonely little petunia in an onion patch.” The tune was written in about 1946 and falls in the genre of Tin Pan Alley. It was a favorite of Arthur Godfrey. 1946 was a good year. The war was over. People were optimistic for a good future ahead. The General Assembly of the United Nations held its first meeting. The United States Atomic Energy Commission was created. It later became the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. These days about twenty percent of our electricity is generated by nuclear power plants. “Real power…I don’t even want to use the word…fear.” These days it is hard to discern exactly what it is we fear…mice, snakes, spiders, bears or the dissolution of democracy.

Sharry Lovan just had birthday. She hosts a great music jam at the American Legion Hall in Willow Springs every Monday. There is a pot-luck at 6:30 and music from 7 until 9. Everyone is welcome. She grew up in a musical family and thinks she has sung in every little country church for miles around. It was a treat to hear her at the Vanzant Picnic. Maybe she will sing for us again at the Holt Picnic and then at the Skyline Picnic. We are glad to see her anytime we can. I.P. Henson’s great granddaughter and his great, great granddaughter have birthdays three days apart sometime in early-mid July. (Corrections are welcome.) Nephew and uncle, Ethan Alexander and Zee Heffern share the 19th for their birthday. Then, Skyline School teacher Terry Prock had his on July20th. Bus driver, Ronny Trammel, enjoys the 23rd. Grace Crawford will be in the 8th grade this year. She shares her birthday on the 25th with cook, Dorothy Curtis. That is also the special day for Thomas Jarnagin’s old Grandpa John. Fifth grader, Jace Borders will party on the 27th. Teacher, Crystal Sartor, has the 29th for her birthday. She shares it with Karen Ross who now delivers mail on Route 71. Eugene Elliot will be in the second grade. His birthday is on July 30th. Scribbled notes in a 2009 calendar, a gift from The Douglas County Herald, would indicate that Roberta has a birthday on July 28th. There are music notes by her name and a question mark. The question mark is about the date. There is no doubt about Bertie’s wonderful music. So we sing “Happy Birthday” to all of you and hope you enjoy every day as much as this special one.

It is a relief to have the temperature drop whether the promised rain materializes or not. Summer is full on now. We will have several more chances to go to the creek. Meanwhile, the corn is as high as an elephant’s eye and kitchens are overflowing with green beans, tomatoes and cucumbers in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


July 16, 2019

CHAMPION—July 15,2019


Vanzant Picnic

The Vanzant Picnic drew another great crowd. These summer gatherings are perfect opportunities for neighbors to get together. The drawings, the games, the good food and wonderful music made it fun for everyone. Bertie and the Boys closed out the evening’s entertainment Saturday and they were well worth the wait. Jim, that tall cowboy with the big hat, could not make it out from Mountain Grove for the picnic. He has a hitch in his get along which friends hope will be healed up by the time Andrew Hardin leads the Bud Hutchison Champion Fall Trail Ride in October. Kenny, the good looking one, shared that report and seemed to be having a good time even without his friend there. The consensus of opinion out among the picnickers was that we live in a special part of the country where events like this tie communities together. John and The General, along with a couple of others, kept a steady shuttle service to and from the forty acre parking lot. Both days were scorchers and though no one waited for the sun to go down to have fun, it was a relief when it did. All in all, it was a lovely affair and the volunteers are to be commended for their hard work and community spirit. The Holt 4H Picnic will happen in a couple of weeks, then the Skyline VFD Picnic. Another splendid summer social season is in full swing–a spectacular start.

Lee and Glenda Unger have kin folks in Red Bank. They live up in Illinois and make a trip down this way every so once in a while. They subscribe to the Douglas County Herald and keep up with things going on in the area. They made their second annual (we hope) trip to Champion on Wednesday and were there for the serious little thunder storm that almost drowned out the music of the porch jam. Lee said they like hanging out on the North Side of the Square. It was there they heard about the Vanzant Picnic. They had reservations to go to the Dixie Stampede Friday night, but decided to make the journey over to Vanzant from their lodgings in Branson instead. They sound like Champions.

Grandchildren bring much joy to old folks. When Hovie and Dawn Henson were in town over the Fourth of July holiday, Hovie was excited to report that their granddaughter Avery Roden, down in Houston, had just been inducted into the National Honor society. He has previously bragged about her martial arts prowess in national competitions. It is just the nature of grandparents to go on and on. Connie Brown let us know that her dad, Robert Brown, had celebrated his 79th birthday on July 7th. He and are alumni of the Champion School. Bentlee Seaborn will be in the first grade when school starts up at Skyline in the fall. Bentlee and kindergarten student, Lily Trujillo, share July 10th for their birthday. Jude Hicks will be in the third grade. His birthday is July 14th, Bastille day. In the future, his history studies will let him know how special that day is for the French people since 1790. He might learn of Jean-Paul Marat who became one of the most influential men of the French Revolution through his newspapers and pamphlets. Judy Collins sang a song that tells much of his story. Oddly enough, it seems applicable to these times as well. History seems to repeat itself.

Tomato blossoms.

Gardeners are happy for the rain. Before it dries up they plan to be out there weeding. When the ground is nice and wet, the weeds seem to almost jump into your hand. A few years back one heard the song ‘Home Grown Tomatoes’ about the same time she heard about ‘switching the tomato plants.’ At first it was thought that the idea was to trade some tomato plants for other tomato plants, but that was not the case. The gardener was suggesting that one should take a switch to the tomato plant in the way your grandmother took one to you, but perhaps a little more gently. The point of the exercise was to improve pollination. Since the tomato flowers have both male and female parts they rely on pollinators such as bees to do the magic that starts the fruit. Just gently shaking the flowers will do the trick if you are short of bees. No need for a switch, Grandma. Some will be heaving sighs and rolling their eyes as gardeners come at them with cucumbers, green beans and zucchini. Be patient with your gardening friends. They are high on fresh food. They cannot help it. They are singing, “Just two things that money can’t buy and that’s true love and home grown tomatoes.”

Some Champions still get mail addressed to Route 2 even though it was changed to Route 72 several years ago. We are lucky to live in an area where we know our postal carriers by name. It has been a joy to have Karen Ross at our mail boxes these past years. We can let the folks on her new route (Route 71) know that they will be enjoying a diligent and genuinely pleasant mail carrier. Over the years Champion has had a number of carriers. Homer Akers had a reputation for going fast and being on time. Cletis Upshaw delivered the mail here for many years. You could set your clock by him and if you were lucky you would be at the Champion Store when he was there reminiscing and telling stories. He knew everything that was to be known about this part of the country. Bob Chadwell kind of took after Homer Akers except for the being on time part. Then we got Karen. We will miss her, but she said she would not forget us and, though we are looking forward to getting acquainted with her successor, Karen will always be a Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!

Ruth Collins had her granddaughters with her again at the picnic.

July 5, 2019

CHAMPION—July 2, 2019

A lovely family visit kept some Old Champions away from their television news for a few days and it was a genuine relief. When they turn it back on they will doubtlessly be amazed at the new batch of absurdities masquerading as foreign policy. We observe Independence Day on the Fourth of July though the Continental Congress made the decision on July 2, 1776. We can only imagine what those founding fathers would think of the current state of affairs. The occasion is celebrated with pyrotechnics from China that scare our dogs and strain our many Veterans and others who suffer with post-traumatic stress syndrome. Yet those stunning displays of fireworks along with rousing music can still stir up a little patriotic fever in the hearts of the most disillusioned. Huzza.

CHAMPION—July 4, 2019

July 4, 2019 found the creek banks full of families and friends. They shared their favorite summer foods: watermelon, bratwurst, brisket, banana pudding and the like. The ‘organ recital’ of health reports was balanced out nicely with the good news of garden successes, antics and attributes of favorite dogs, travels, and the exploits and victories of children and grandchildren. Year upon year family groups and groups of families gather at this time for the joy of continuity. It satisfies the need to belong. Community, however loosely organized, is the tie that binds. As the Nation celebrates its birthday, people across the whole country are gathered on creek banks, back yards, patios and parks commiserating and struggling to dredge up confidence that democracy will survive these tumultuous days of black caviar money and the notion that only losers let the rules stop them from winning, after all, cheating is the highest form of trying. But that is not who WE are. Many are feeling nostalgia for the innocence and optimism that allowed patriotism. Down here on the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek WE THE PEOPLE still sing “God Bless America” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


July 1, 2019

CHAMPION–June 30,2019


Early arrivals at the Champion Bash-Fling were Barbara and Kenneth Anderson, Dean Upshaw, David Upshaw,
Dailey Upshaw, Danny and Jenny Johns, Judy and Eldon Russell, Betty and Dale Thomas.

The Champion Summer Bash-Fling was a pleasant affair. Shade trees and good food, music and seldom seen friends made for a wonderful day. The creek was full of children and the birthday girl was full of good cheer. She said everyone seemed to have a good time even though it was a little hot. She was glad to meet some out-of-towners who came to enjoy Champion for the day. She said she was so excited and grateful for everyone who came out and they are definitely planning to do it again next April or May. She hopes the rain will not delay the fun next year, though she has nice things to say about enjoying the rain. She and the Prominent Champion are already planning the Skyline Picnic with will happen August 9th and 10th this year. Time flies when you are having fun.

Birthdays are for celebrating if you want to. Sherry Bennet, a favorite local chanteuse, and Nick Masi, octogenarian plus three, enjoyed the 25th of June as their day along with Eric Arthur Blair (George Orwell), who was born on that day in 1903. Mr. Blair has given us a great deal to think about in these days which seem to fulfill his dystopian prophecies. Susan Handcock celebrates on June 30th. The General’s son, Michael, shares the first of July with an Old Champion, now eighty years old. The second is for Beverly Barnhart who is recovering from having fallen off a tractor seat. It is an interesting story. Alvin will tell his classmates from the Mountain Grove Class of 1959 all about it when they have their alumni dinner on July 5th at the Freewill Baptist Church. He will be glad to know that “The Hoover”’ will be there. Virginia Canada has a birthday on July 5th and some considerable connections to this part of the world. There is always a reason to celebrate.

There is sadness to report also. Bonnie Brixey passed away on Sunday. Her funeral will be at the Denlow Church at 10:00 a.m. Friday, July 5th.  She and Pete always loved to go to the Denlow School Reunion. They did not make it this year but were happy to enjoy the photographs on line of the Fairview and Denlow School students and could identify them all. She was pleased that the people who own her old home place keep it up well. She said that her Mom and Dad built that house for $100.00 with a lot of used lumber and rocks that came out of Clever Creek over south of Cold Springs, the labor was provided by her Dad’s father and brothers. They had a lot of fun growing up there. She read The Champion News on line and said she liked it that it always ends: Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Bonnie’s house.