August 13, 2019

CHAMPION—August 12, 2019


David Medlock, Dennis Schumate, Sharry Lovan, Gene Collins, David Richardson and Sami McCleary Hutchison
(David and Sami do the free drawings), Teddy Collins, Kelly Hinds and Herbie Johnston
at the grand finale of the 33rd Skyline VFD Picnic.

The 33rd annual Skyline VFD Picnic was a splendid success. Both days started out hot, but by evening, temperatures were perfect. David Richardson did an excellent job as master of ceremonies and the music was great from start to finish. Zola Pike won the beautiful, hand-quilted “Flight of the Eagle” quilt, made and donated by someone who wishes to be anonymous. If she wanted to be praised and admired, she would have told us her name. Thank you anyway, whoever you are. Thelma Sanders won the 50-50 drawing and will be able to make a nice deposit in her savings account, if that is her plan. The free drawings made a lot of picnickers happy. Those prizes contributed by local merchants help to make this a very popular event while proving to be excellent advertising for the generous merchants. The community is pleased to support the merchants who support our fire department. The wonderful picnic food and games made for a good time, but the best time was reconnecting with old friends and new ones. We know we live in a great part of the world. Thanks to all the hard working volunteers who make this gathering better every year. Mr. Rogers (Fred Rogers) said that his mother told him when he was frightened because of something scary in a movie or something scary in real life, like storms, or accidents, fire or war, he should look for the helpers. We look for help from our brave volunteer firefighter helpers here and thank them for protecting our property and our lives.

Good news comes as adopted Champion granddaughter, Greta Thunberg, is preparing to board a solar powered racing yacht to come to America! She will be at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York which will happen in September. In her way, she is being one of our helpers, looking out for the future of all our grandchildren. She is a Champion indeed.

A nice friendly dog has strayed onto the place of Drew Durbin who lives over near Alvin and Beverly Barnhart and is lucky enough to have such nice neighbors. The dog is brown and white, short haired and about 70 pounds. It might be a boxer-bulldog mix—a pretty dog. If his owner recognizes the description and wants to reclaim the lovely animal, call Mr. Durbin at 520-705-2470. It would please him to have the animal go home. His appetite is larger than the two ten pound dogs that officially live there. If he is a singer, Mr. Durbin might be singing, “Move it on Over,” or Nelly McCay’s, “The Dog Song,” if he is a singer. Whether or not he sings, he has moved into a good neighborhood where even the stray dogs are friendly.

Uncle Al, the Lonesome Plowboy sang a song, “Eleven cent cotton and forty cent meat, how in the world can a poor man eat?” Some say, “seven cent cotton,” but the gist is the same. Uncle Al was a cotton farmer out in West Texas back in the 1930s and 40s. Back in those days the economy was improving from the Great Depression, not unlike today as we are recovering from the great recession. The current economy is going great for people who are already doing well. For old folks on fixed incomes, small family farmers and some people who always find themselves generally underfunded, the economy is not necessarily doing that well. Poor people only have money for food and fuel and those things are getting more expensive. Other necessities often get short shrift. If you are one who thinks the economy is doing well, you are in a fortunate minority. Good for you.

The past two years Darrell and Barbara Cooper celebrated their 45th and 46th wedding anniversaries at the picnic. This year their 47th anniversary fell on Sunday the 11th, but they were out at the picnic having a good time anyway. In the year 2023, their 51st anniversary will be on Friday at the 37th Skyline Picnic. See you there! Dean Upshaw has had his birthday celebrated at the picnic on more than one occasion. It occurs on Tuesday the 13th. School will be starting on the 15th and youngsters are getting ready with new clothes and school supplies and with optimism for the year ahead. They may not be aware that these are going to be the days they remember with fondness in distant decades. The Champion School reunion will be August 31st. It always occurs on the Saturday before Labor Day. Every year there are fewer in attendance it seems, but it is still a much treasured annual event. Ruth Daharsh writes that her mother, Ethel Luellen Anderson, was unable to attend last year, but is determined to make it this time to see and visit with her old school chums and enjoy the nostalgia that young Skyline students will be learning about one day off in the future. It is at this reunion when the shade of the magnificent old walnut tree is most missed. The tree was topped in February 2015, and the wild honey bees that had occupied it for generations were able to hold on for a couple of years. The top sprouted out again, a 35 foot tall bush, interesting, but not throwing much shade. Alas! Things change whether we like it or not. Someone recently said, “If you want to know how to predict the future, invent it.” Daydreaming is a well-recognized precursor to invention, so if you see a child, an adult or an elderly person staring off into space, do not jump to the conclusion that he or she is an idler or impaired, but rather consider that this person might be inventing the future that allows us all to be Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!


August 6, 2019

CHAMPION—August 5, 2019


A question came up during the organizational meeting of The Pioneer Heritage Festival of the Ozarks (PHFO) on Saturday.  Who in the area is growing sorghum that they would be willing to donate for the event when it comes up on the first week end of October?  The PHFO does not need a large amount, just enough for a display alongside the sorghum mill being repaired and donated for the occasion.  If you have a little sorghum to share, drop a note to and the Pioneer folks will get the message.  They are working hard to make their third annual event another sterling success and all those at the meeting were very excited to learn that the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department Picnic is about to happen again—its 33rd year!  They will come out to see how a little volunteer fire department picnic has had such longevity.  They are in for a treat.  Many will remember the hilarity last year as Beverly’s little sister had to be rescued from D.J.’s tractor-pulled barrel train.  There is a photo commemorating this incident up on the wall in the Vanzant Community Building and online at where many pictures of picnics past can be found.  This week local merchants are pledging their support with donations of goods and services to be shared as door prizes.  Members of the fire department are out shopping for the ingredients for the pies, cobblers and cakes they will contribute to the cook shack and the cake walk.  “Oh me, oh my!  Love that Country Pie!”  With the fun and games, the great music, picnic food and the chance to reconnect with people that you only ever see at these summer festivals, Friday and Saturday night this week will be prime time for enjoyment.  It is also the opportunity we have as a community to express our appreciation of the generous volunteer fire fighters and first responders who put their own lives on hold while they come out to protect our property and our lives.  For some of those PHFO folks who might be unfamiliar with this part of the county, the picnic grounds are adjacent to the Skyline R2 School at the intersection of Highway C and 76 Highway.  It is about 15 miles south of Norwood and about half way between Mountain Grove and Ava and about three miles North of Champion as the crow flies.

Greta Thunberg

Sparky Clark Shannon had a birthday on August 3rd.  Lavonne Carter has one on August 6th and Carson’s Uncle Roger will have one on the 8th.  He was born in 1968, so he is getting ‘up there.’  Lynette Cantrell, a talented musician who shares her mandolin music freely and joyfully in jams around the area, will celebrate on the 9th.  Sometimes Dean Upshaw’s birthday happens during the Skyline Picnic, but this year it will be on the following Tuesday the 13th of August.  All of you are recipients of Happy Birthday wishes from your Champion friends.  Steven Pinker’s birthday is September 18, 1954.  His latest book is “Enlightenment Now, The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress.”  In 576 pages he explains that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise, not just in the West, but worldwide.  He is most encouraging and the reader is left with a conviction that reason and science can enhance human flourishing, though it seems contrary to the currents of human nature.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could use your help right now.  He is having an existential conflict.  Write to him:  Mitch McConnell, Russell Senate Office Building, 317 Delaware Ave NE, Washington, DC 20510.  He will really appreciate knowing how you feel about the important issues of the day.

Anyone who has a granddaughter can tell you that granddaughters are some of the world’s greatest treasures.  Some old Champions are adopting a 16 year old Swedish girl for their surrogate granddaughter.  Her name is Greta Thunberg.  She is a dynamic young lady, willing to speak truth to people who find the facts inconvenient.  She is on her way to New York to attend the United Nations Climate Action Summit.  She has been offered a ride on a sixty foot open-cockpit racing yacht to cross the wide Atlantic Ocean.  The trip will take two weeks.  She is traveling with her father and a film maker.  They will all be more than welcome in Champion should time and circumstances permit.  She will likely be a world leader in the years to come and her Champion want-to-be grandparents could not be more proud of her if she were blood kin.  Thank Heaven for Little Girls!  Many aging Champions and their neighbors are in the enviable position of having daughters living nearby.  Yes, there are many fine sons as well, who look in on the old folks and help out around the place, but daughters really seem to step up when things get tough.  Lucky is the family with daughters!  Even if they are not your daughters, feel free to acknowledge their good works with kind words when you see them supporting and encouraging their old folks.  Family Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!